Today is Valentine’s Day, yes. But for Josh and I it’s always been just a wonderful excuse to make a big deal out of the day we were engaged! He proposed on a national holiday, when I expected him to be all sentimental and romantic, so that I wouldn’t be suspicious. I still kinda was... but aren’t we always, ladies? :)
Today is eleven years since he proposed. ELEVEN. We have walked through over a decade of learning to love each other better every day.
I wasn't planning to write this post, but I was reminded while reading through Scripture this morning of how valuable the marriage relationship is. It is so valuable, that Paul used the example of Christ and the Church to explain the marriage relationship. It's no wonder then, that this relationship is also highly attacked in our culture.
The truth for many of us when we enter into a relationship with our future spouse - is that it's mostly based on feelings. We feel a spark, a connection, an indescribable pull towards the other person - chemistry, some call it. And for the rest of our marriage, we fight to keep that "spark" alive. To not lose the flame that once lit the fire and passion beneath which our relationships were built.
I absolutely felt that natural pull towards Josh very early on in our relationship. We met casually while shooting around in the basketball gym, my first year in college. But I first really noticed him while we were playing a co-ed game of flag football a few weeks later. He was the one looking hot and sweaty scoring all the touchdowns on the other team (what else can I say?) In our case, we dated for about two and a half years before getting married, and experienced what it was like to lose a little steam. Like that time he moved four hours away, after graduating college, to take on a full-time job in ministry and left me all alone in the dust. I was sure he was going to find someone better suited for him (maybe someone who wasn't so unsure of herself and what she was going to do with her life and didn't change her degree three times) so I did the only rational thing and broke up with him first. That lasted about a minute. Because... there was that pull again.
I believe God works through natural chemistry. But I also, absolutely, believe He can work without it too. It is a gift to be drawn and attracted to your spouse. But it is integrity and commitment that keep us there.
Josh and I, both, had great mentors going into marriage that taught us this. And now, eleven years later, I can attest to it. We have seen marriages end over trivial things and marriages stay together despite huge challenges. The difference has always come down to valuing commitment over feelings.
In my Scripture reading, I found it interesting that the only time Jesus specifically addressed marriage was when He was basically being interviewed on the streets by the paparazzi. I imagine a camera crew and mics shoved in his face as he's walking about his business.
Pharisees: "Jesus, can you tell us whether or not a man is allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?"
Jesus: "Have you even read your Bible?" (sidenote: I love that he shoots back at them like this) "God created two different genders - male and female - from the beginning. And He said, 'This is why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.'"
Pharisees: "Well, why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?"
Jesus: "Moses permitted divorce, ONLY, as a concession to your hard hearts. But this is not what God intended for marriage to be. And I'll add - that whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery... unless his wife has already been unfaithful."
Disciples (chiming in): Sounds like it's better to not even get married!
Jesus: "Well, not everyone can accept this - only those who God helps. Some are born as eunuchs (by definiton, a "eunuch" is an emasculated man, with no sex drive) some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose to become eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can."
Whew! Do you not feel the weight of marriage after reading that? I know I do. Jesus basically summed it up - marriage isn't for everyone. I could get into a political discussion on how the world has stolen the marriage covenant that was originally ordained by God, but I won't go there. There are so many factors in our current society that cause people to marry for the wrong reasons and it's no coincidence that two of the biggest reasons people marry are also the biggest reasons they get divorced - sex and money.
It all comes back to feelings.
When I look at my marriage with Josh, I see a partner in ministry. A father to our children. A loving and faithful husband. Though the feelings I have for my husband are very strong and have only grown deeper over the years - the truth is, we didn't marry for sex or money. So, praise God, our marriage will never fail or succeed because of those two things.
Whatever a house is built on, will be what remains when a storm comes. And they will come (I wrote a few songs about some of ours). If your foundation is blown away, there will be nothing to rebuild on. But if your foundation is faithfully placed in the arms of the One who lovingly created you both - man and woman - He will rebuild (if necessary), sustain and carry you through this life, together, as husband and wife.