This past weekend me and my husband went to North Carolina for the wedding of our good friends. After a flight full of anxious travelers excessively wiping down their seats to make sure they don’t catch the Coronavirus and a 30 minute anxiety-filled drive up a mountain, we finally arrived to the quaint, straight out of a movie, small town of Highlands, North Carolina. It was such a fun time getting to celebrate our dear friends committing to a life of loving and serving God and each other.
I love going to weddings. I love seeing the joy on the bride and grooms’ faces, the celebration with loved ones…and the cake! One of our best friends, who happened to be the one officiating the wedding, said something during the cermony that really resonated with me. We have this tendency to think the wedding itself as the peak, the top of the mountain and it surely can’t get better than this. And yes, while the wedding day itself is one of the best days of our lives, it’s not the top. It’s only just the beginning of what’s to come.
This caused me to reflect on the day my husband and I said our vows in front of our family and friends almost 3 years ago, and to think back on how little I knew about marriage (still no expert!) and all it would entail and how much we have grown together so far. As I reflect on that day, three lessons top the list of the the many things that I have found to be important to navigating marriage and have helped us grow.
1. Quality is more important that quantity.
By being under the same roof, the amount of time spent together is a lot, but what is most important I have found is how we spend our time together. This is something I have had to work on. It’s easy to get off work and immediately get sucked into phones or TV to decompress, but it’s important to be intentional and spend time quality time together.
2. Find good community that will encourage a healthy marriage.
I wish I could shout this from the rooftop to every newlywed couple! This has been huge for us in our marriage. Find people that will pray with you, cry with you, keep you accountable and encourage you both to continue to grow not only in your own faith but also with each other. Having friends that we can go to for advice, prayer, and support has been so helpful for us.
3. Marriage reveals selfishness and allows for the opportunity to practice selflessness.
I think I found this out day one! Everyone says you learn how selfish you are once you get married and oh boy I see why they say marriage is refining! I must confess that my husband is a lot better at this than me! He is always the one to offer me the last piece of dessert, so I need to work on that one! In all seriousness, it is no longer what I want to do with my money or my time or how I spend my energy. Now there is someone else to consider.
I know the list could go on and there will be more to add as I get older. I am still an amateur who has barely stepped in the waters of marriage, but I can look back to the bottom of the mountain where we started and see the growth that has already happened.
I see the ups and downs, and the unexpected curves we had to navigate. I see the hard conversations, the tears, the arguments, but I also see the joy, the laughter, the prayers together, and all the fun we have had. And I know there is more growth to come.
I know I can’t see what the climb will continue to look like, or what is even around the next curve. There will be more hardships and miscommunications and also more laughter and adventures, but the thing I see consistently when I look back, when I look at the now, and to future, is Jesus.
I am encouraged that even when the waters get mucky, when hope seems dim at times, He will be a constant, consistent source of hope and love.
I see the example of forgiveness when forgiveness is not deserved, the extension of grace and unconditional love and because of that, I am encouraged.
I see Him as our foundation, guiding two imperfect and messy people through life together to experience the joy of His love, and put it on display so that others will see it and know it as well.