It was 40 years ago but I remember the moment as though it just took place. It was our Senior year in high school. He gave me a single rose. It was a Tropicana Rose and it was the most beautiful flower ever given to me. It’s the small things that I remember most fondly. That one rose communicated a sweetness that grabbed my heart. We were 17 years old. Young and clueless…
We have been married for 38 years and he recently gave me a bouquet of sweetness. That single rose is now a full bouquet that represents love, family, hope, pain, triumph, compromise, joy, trials, sadness, trust, prosperity, debt…We know that marriage is a battlefield yet too often we have ventured into the mine fields.
We are aware that God’s enemy want’s to derail us and destroy our relationship, our marriage and our family. We remain focused on giving God the glory in our marriage because we have been rescued by Jesus. Everyday we experience more grace.
“Faith not only sees grace, it delights in grace. Faith is not only like a homing device and radar and metal detector that spots grace in an instant. It is also like an addiction. The more grace you see and taste, the more you must have. And when you get near it, you not only spot it, you savor it, you rejoice over it!” ~John Piper
The best part of living together for this long is that we are still friends. We have always loved each other, but we have not always liked the other. Becoming a friend to a spouse takes years to develop. Neither one of us knew what “friendship in marriage” meant until we realized that we didn’t like each other very much. Not to be confused with loving the other…you can love without liking. We like each other because Jesus has captured our hearts. The love of Christ in our personal lives shows us how to love, to live…to be in friendship with each other.
We broke through the difficulty with learning what “healthy fighting” looks like. We are still learning how to have healthy fights, arguments, disagreeing…while respecting each other’s character and integrity. Too often we attacked each other instead of attacking the problem. Wounds cut deep, feelings hurt, and we began to avoid each other. We would avoid conflicts because it was too much work and effort to solve the problem. A healthy marriage will include healthy fighting.
I will venture to say, based on our track record, that we will be together for many years to come and that Jesus will be the center of our existence. We will nurture the young couples that want to know our secret of longevity and we will just tell them more about God’s grace and Jesus. We will continue to teach our children and their children about the wondrous deeds of God. We have a heritage in Christ alone and that will be our legacy. Our children have a relationship with the Savior, Jesus Christ…and we pray that God will endlessly call our grandchildren to want nothing more than Jesus. We are praying that the lives of our little people will be overwhelmed with more grace.
The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller
What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
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