Today marks three months of being married to Brandon. Let me just say that we've learned a lot in three months of marriage. Not a day goes by that we're not dependent upon God's grace to love and care for each other as Christ has cared for us. August was filled with a lot of lessons in regards to marriage, so here are five things that I learned and I'm still learning and some wedding photos in the mix:
God's Grace is Sufficient
Paul says it best in his second letter to the Corinthians:
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
2 Corinthians 12:9
Paul shares this with the Corinthians in regards to his own weaknesses and how Christ's power is made perfect in our weaknesses. Marriage definitely brings out and reveals my weaknesses and the weaknesses of my husband, but God's grace is sufficient for us. When I'm struggling emotionally and trying to help Brandon understand what's going on in my head, God's grace is sufficient for my weakness. I don't have to worry about Brandon judging me or not understanding, because God understands and helps me in my weakness.
Marriage Is A Slow Death To Self-focused Living
From all of the books that I've read, I know that marriage is more about holiness than happiness. Happiness is a byproduct of growing in holiness or Christlikeness. However, you can know something in your head but not get it in your heart. I needed to be married to understand that loving a spouse takes a lot of love, which means choosing to love that person more than myself, which takes sacrifice, which means a slow death to myself.
There have been a number of times this past month where I have been given a choice: do what I want to do or lay my preferences aside to love my husband. I could be reading a book and Brandon might ask if I would play a game with him. I could ask him if I could keep reading my book and play a game later or I could set it aside to play a game with him. Playing a game with my husband cares for him, but sometimes playing a game comes at the expense of giving up what I wanted to do.
Jesus says it best when he shares with his disciples:
Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be a slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom of many.
Two of Jesus' disciples asked Jesus if they could sit on his left and right when he would take his throne in glory. Jesus tells them in Mark 10 that those places are reserved for others. Jesus then teaches the disciples about who is the greatest in God's Kingdom. The greatest is a servant. Jesus is the greatest, because he came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. Jesus didn't come to be served but to serve.
I learn more about the character of Christ when God calls me to seek to serve my husband over being served by him. Marriage is helping me to slowly die to my self-focused living and to live to serve others as Christ gave his life to serve others.
Communication Is Hard Work
I've never had to communicate so much with one human before. That might sound humorous, but it's so true! It took marrying Brandon and needing to communicate about everything to make me realize that an area of weakness for me is communicating. I either withhold sharing things with Brandon or I share everything all at once and leave my husband not knowing how to care for me from there. I'm learning more and more that communication is hard work, but good communication helps married couples strive towards understanding and knowing each other in order to love each other and work as a team.
You Don't Need To Go To Africa + Adopt 14 Children to Serve The Lord
I finished reading the book Kisses from Katie in August. It was an encouraging and a discouraging read at the same time. I felt encouraged in finding ways to obey the Lord's command to care for the poor and needy, and I felt discouraged in that I'm not caring for the poor and needy in the capacity that Katie is.
To explain: Katie shares in her book how the Lord sent her to the country of Uganda and as she obeyed Him and sought to love and care for others, the Lord brought many people into her life to love as the hands and feet of Christ. She even ends up adopting fourteen daughters... as a nineteen year old! It's encouraging to hear about what the Lord did in her heart and how her obedience led to loving those she never dreamed she would know and love.
But I wrestled through guilt while reading this book. I would put the book down after finishing a chapter and think, "Why am I not in Africa adopting children and ministering to the poor and needy?"
I would share these feelings with Brandon, and he would lovingly remind me that the Lord has not called us to Africa or to adopt 14 children. At least not yet. But he has called us to campus ministry, and God's Word does call us to care for the poor and needy around us. I don't need to go to Africa or adopt 14 children to serve the Lord. I'm just called to be faithful to what God's called me to right now, and one thing is loving and caring for my husband, which means not running off to Africa and adopting 14 children.
I'm Thankful To Be Married To Brandon
I wake up thinking this every morning; how thankful I am that I get to love, serve, care for, and help my husband. For better or for worse. Marriage is hard work, but it's worth it! It's worth it every time, because with each passing month of being married to Brandon, I learn more about how Jesus Christ loves and cares for me for better or for worse. Knowing the love of Christ for broken and messy sinners, makes me want to love Brandon in my broken and messiness and his broken messiness too!
We've got a long way to go and many more months, years, and lessons ahead. We don't know what the Lord has in store for us, but I'm glad that I get to live life and grow to be more like Jesus with this man.
Our wedding photos were taken by our friend Alyssa Eckhart.
You can explore more of her work at alyssaeckhart.com
What did you learn in the month of August?
Or what have you learned about marriage?
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