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Marriage Is Not About Two Perfect People

They said it would never last. We stubbornly scoffed at them. We were young and so naïve.

I was 20 years old and engaged to be married to a man I’d known less than a year. I promptly ran out to buy my wedding dress and gathered prices on reception halls.

Two months later I was pregnant and the fairy tale wedding unraveled along with my reputation and friendships.  Our family was disappointed but supportive; we moved the wedding up and scaled down the celebration. I’d need a new dress, the off the shoulder summer design would not work for a November wedding.

Good friends stood by us, many church friends did not. A Pastor, who’d taken great interest in us as a young dynamic Christian couple, no longer greeted us with a big smile, instead a cool nod in our direction. Obviously, we’d failed him.

Matthew was born in May and we continued having a baby every other spring until 3 lively children filled our home. The years that followed were filled with love, laughter, tears, mountain tops and valleys.

Fast forward 25 years. Add another child…sans labor and delivery, this one was born in our hearts and brought home from a tiny village in the Chinese province of Xi’an.

It’s been an incredible journey, a road I’m so thankful to have traveled with my best friend. Like any friendship, there have been ups and downs, but always a commitment to come home and honor the promises we made that cold uncertain day in 1987.

Mark and I have spent endless hours counseling couples, many on the cliff ready to dive into divorce. As both sides plead their defense, our first question is, “how are your individual relationships with the Lord?” It’s so easy to blame problems on a marriage, but we have to look deeper than that. Often a marriage in trouble is just a symptom of one or two people who are not walking in personal peace and contentment.

The foundation of a strong marriage is girded on our personal walk with God.

When trials come, it is too easy to retreat emotionally, walk away from our partnership and let bitterness rule our thoughts. When we have the Holy Spirit whispering truth in our hearts, it anchors us, reminds us and draws us to lay down our offense and choose grace. Forgiveness is the powerful cord that weaves through our lives and holds us together.

Many said we would never last, I’m sure they saw what seemed like a shaky foundation. Thankfully we each had an honest personal relationship with a Father who never let go of us as we clung to His hand.

“Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” Matt. 11:29 MSG

Marriage is not about two perfect people making it work, it’s about learning the unforced rhythms of grace as we navigate this dance we call life.

I’m grateful for the partner I’ve danced with and as we celebrate Matthew’s wedding this weekend, and add another daughter to our family, my heart swells with joy and anticipation of the next 25 years and new adventures ahead.

Edited to add:

We had a fabulous dinner last night at Ruth’s Chris in Grand Rapids and had to take a pic on the same stairway that we took pictures 25 years ago.

And a blast from the past:

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