Marriage’s ultimate purpose is to point us to Christ. When things are going really well, marriage mirrors the gracious and selfless love of the Savior.
But more times than not, it is the shortcomings in our marriage that illuminate the magnitude of what Christ did for us. This year felt like one major shortcoming for me, and it may have been the first time that I fully grasped the magnitude of my weakness and Christ’s strength.
My husband and I have this thing. We are free to admit things to each other that we wouldn’t admit to any other living soul, without fear of being judged. From silly things to mean things to secret dreams.
When we step over the line (usually by saying something overly harsh or drastic), we have this unspoken rule. We simply say, “Yeah, don’t ever tell that to anyone but me.” We are each other’s safe place; even so, we need to pull back sometimes, and that one sentence is a gracious way of saying, “You need to change your thinking on that, rein it in dude.”
Over the past year, most of our little confessions have been reflective. Once we got past the intensity of some tough times, we both admitted how we were really feeling and what we were really thinking while we were trying to get through it. The most common theme?
If I had known what we were going to go through, I wouldn’t have done it.
If I could have felt our future pain for only 30 seconds, I never would have gone through with those changes.
Despite knowing and experiencing God’s goodness and redemption in all of it, if we really could have known how hard it would be, we never would have moved forward. Our cowardice is just a simple truth. Obedience would have been way too scary. Disobedience would have sounded, ya know, not so bad if we had seen what we would go through to walk in obedience.
Granted, we would have missed all the growth along the way. We wouldn’t have experienced the joy and peace that we have found on the other side of that trial. We have zero regrets. We look back with confidence, because it is so clear that the hard path was the path God deemed as worthy for our sanctification last year. I wouldn’t change it—now. We’re even thankful for it. But we both openly admit, we would have been way, way too afraid to walk through this if we had known what it looked like.
Our lacking, our shortcoming, our cowardice just magnifies the unfathomable love of Jesus.
He knew. He knew what he was facing. He knew what was coming for him. He knew about the suffering, the torment, the humiliation, the pain, the betrayal and—still—he went ahead.
For us, he anxiously prayed that God would take his cup of suffering from Him (Luke 22:42). In agony, he prayed, he prepared, he surrendered to take on all the shame and sorrow and death of all the world over all time, and then he moved forward in that decision.
He moved forward, even though he knew.
So without knowing what our future holds, without having it all figured out, I know I can follow him, the one who forged ahead for grace.