“If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”….(Matt 19:10).
I’m just going to come right out and say it, marriage is hard, really hard. In fact, to date, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s no wonder Jesus’ disciples respond the way that they do after Jesus teaches on marriage and divorce in Matthew chapter 19.
It’s amazing how quickly two people who loved each other so fiercely can very quickly move from friends to enemies and spend the rest of their days working against one another and believing the worst in each other.
I get that because I’ve been there. I’ve been there in that spot of negative thinking, of believing that my spouse was my problem. Seeing them not as my friend, but my enemy. It’s hard for a person to crawl out from under your perception of them if you’ve already tagged them in your mind that way.
I had to learn how to believe something different, even if what that was, wasn’t quite yet a reality in front of me. Whenever we store up wrongs against us and stop believing in our spouse, we have positioned them as a failure. It’s hard to crawl out from under that when you make someone feel like a failure in your eyes. Friends, co-workers, spouses, and children will all feel inadequate and not good enough for us until we choose to start believing in and seeing the best in them.
Are there times when a spouse or loved one’s behavior becomes so destructive that boundaries need to be set to help protect the future of that relationship? Yes, absolutely. Boundaries are good for you and for them because healthy boundaries allow both of you the time and the space to heal. It protects the integrity and future of that relationship. It reminds that person struggling with destructive behaviors that you are a valuable image-bearer of God, not something to be used as an object of their own destruction, but a blessing to be loved, cherished and cared for.
Once I learned this in my own life, my relationships started to grow, change and heal and some of the people closest to me did too. Sadly, not all will choose to grow with you. Some will want to stay hidden in their unhealth, so please, pray for them. Pray they would find freedom in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Maybe marriage is hard because it’s supposed to be. I see a lot of friends getting engaged or married and I think to myself, “I hope you are prepared to enter into the most challenging and re-shaping experience of your life.” Until we view our challenges as a blessing, we will start to see every difficult relationship as a curse instead of God’s way to change us and make us more like Jesus.
Letting go of myself in marriage has made me less controlling, kinder, a little more humble, a greater encourager and less critical. You see, all of those things I lacked until God used marriage to bring them to the surface. The challenge of marriage was a gift from God to make me more like Jesus. Therefore, be encouraged to grow, change and heal as you submit yourself to one another in brotherly, Christ-honoring, self-sacrificial love. Truly, God can take our messiest relationships and restore, redeem and heal them to complete fullness for His glory. I say this because I’ve experienced that too.
Father, thank you for using some of the hardest things I’ve done in life to grow and change me. Please forgive me for viewing my challenges as a curse. Please forgive me for my self-righteous attitude that has seen the worst in people instead of believing the best in them. Lord, I want to live as a person who understands her worth in Christ, so that she can shower that love on others. Let it be so, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.