Morgan and I have been friends since high school, and I have loved watching her relationship grow! I’m so thankful she was willing to share her experience!
What marriage is really like…
Venue, photographer, caterer, dresses, color coding, bridal party, DJ…. the list goes on! When my dear friend Katelyn asked me to write about what marriage is really like, these were NOT the first things that came to mind. The first thought that popped in my head was a piece of advice that someone gave me: “Try to outdo the other in service.” This statement has become a mantra for my marriage because it is a constant reminder of what marriage is really about! It’s not about me, it’s not about my emotions, it’s not about my husband, and it’s not about chasing the American dream.
It’s about reflecting a picture of Christ and his relationship with His church.
Does my marriage always look like a beautiful waltz where one leads and the other gracefully follows? Of course not; we are 2 imperfect humans living in one house and operating as one flesh. That’s hard! I think sometimes we think about falling in love as this giant emotional roller coaster where boy meets girl, the romantic music plays, girl is caught crying in the rain, and boy swoops in to make her life happy by saying, “I do.” But marriage isn’t a Taylor Swift song or a Nicholas Sparks movie, and I think culture has warped our image of what marriage is truly to be about. I know it did mine!!!
So, here’s a little personal testimony… When I was in college, I was watching this romance movie over winter break (by myself, Ben & Jerry’s in hand) and the end of the movie was so sweet and made me cry! Now this was pretty normal because I’m a cryer when it comes to movies, but when the movie ended I just kept sobbing!!! I stopped and started praying, asking God to give me a love story just like that one. But I’ll never forget hearing this voice in my head and I knew it wasn’t mine.. I knew God was speaking to me and He told me to stop desiring others’ stories because He has one for me that’s even better!!! Isn’t that so true though? God has a story for us that’s better than anything we could imagine up! Yet we still spend hours daydreaming and planning out how we think we should fall in love. I came to realize what a scary place I was in because I was NOT ready for marriage. I was too concerned with falling in love and wanting to feel like the girl in the movie.
“You don’t fall into love; you grow into love.” I heard this quote in a sermon just the other day, and I couldn’t agree more! Growth is hard! It often requires tilling ground, pulling weeds, and pruning dead vines. Falling sounds easy but usually ends in pain and scars, but growth takes work and ends in beauty with good fruit! I know many many stories of two people who get married because it’s what you’re supposed to do in your 20s, and those marriages so often fail because their foundation is emotions and selfish desires. But those things don’t last. My advice to you is to step back and ask God to give you your own story on His time. The Bible says that singleness is a gift from God and it’s actually better to be single than married if you’re strong enough! Wow! (1 Corinthians 7:7-8) Use your time of singleness to grow in your relationship with God because if God does give you another gift (the gift of marriage), you don’t have the time to yourself, and you have to sacrifice your time to take care of the other. But the Bible also says the greatest love is sacrifice (John 15:13). Marriage is truly outdoing the other in service, a picture of how Jesus Christ laid down His own life for His church.
If you’re reading this, I am going to give you some homework. Sorry… I’m a teacher!
If you’re single, ask God to give you your OWN love story and not one from a movie. Remember too that if you’re a Christian, He has already given you the most beautiful love story of all time and thank Him for that! Spend your time of singleness growing in Christ and maturing in your walk with Him. Go on every missions trip and to every church event that you can. Accept the gift He has given you and operate in it.
If you’re dating, count the cost (Luke 14:28-33). Ask yourself, “Why would I want to marry this person?” Dating is a time of evaluating the other (watch Ben Stuart videos on dating if you’d like the best advice ever). Evaluate your relationship to ensure both of you are pushing the other closer to God. If you are, you’re already building a great foundation for marriage.
If you’re married, outdo the other in service. I dare you! See what happens when, for one week, you constantly serve the other without expecting anything in return. I promise it will change everything. It won’t be easy and your flesh and Satan will fight you and tell you that you deserve a break, but ignore Satan and discipline the flesh to serve your spouse anyway. Love is sacrifice and it’s a beautiful dance when you’re willing to lay your life down to serve someone you love.
Written by: Morgan Shrader