Thursday, August 18, 2011
Grace on a Thursday: Marriage edition, Part 2
I feel like one post (last week's) is not enough to talk about grace in the context of marriage. Don't you agree?
Last week, I decided to focus on the things for which I needed grace, of course from God, but also from my husband. But this week, I want to talk about grace in tougher times, a longer-term kind that keeps a marriage afloat when little else is. I want to remind myself and us all that our vows did not commit us to endure "for better or for best." We said, "for better or for worse." And some days, it's very, very difficult to recognize exactly when we're in the "for worse" part.
Don't we just long for the "for better" part every single day? And when things start to go sideways, we simply wish for it even harder, never stopping to realize that we've crossed over into a worse season. I'm starting to notice that if we can't see the "worse" for what it is, we won't remember to courageously persevere. We'll simply try to survive until we get back to "better". I don't know about you, but the idea of simply surviving my life makes my skin crawl.
Yes, one version of enduring the "worse" is when sad circumstances happen to or around us. That's not what I mean. I mean the times when one of us is personally down for the count. Whether it's an emotional struggle, faith crisis, infertility, job loss, sickness, or something else pushing one of us to the ground, each of our marriages will go through hard seasons because one of the halves of the marriage is going through a hard season. These times don't last for days. They last weeks, months, or possibly years. The spouse still standing must be equipped with a special kind of grace, the kind that continues to sweep the mess aside and pass on that grace when there is no good reason to give. It is lasting, broad-brush grace....well, exactly the kind that God gave and continues to give us. Friends, there is no human way to muster that kind up. I've tried. Only God can fuel us with love and grace that powerful to cling to our spouse when they have no strength to cling back. Which means we have to cling to Him first.
You understand I'm not encouraging anyone to cling to someone who is dangerous. There are moral boundaries that, if crossed by your spouse, change the game of commitment. I get that. But in today's society, it is all too easy to let go of each other during the "for worse" seasons. We all know friends who have. So I sometimes need to remind myself: the reason to courageously cling to my spouse when it seems so unreasonable is that when we let go of God, He didn't let go of us.
I know some of you have been in those rough times. We certainly have in the past. And let me tell you this. When you embrace the fact that this is your real life, and your life is dangling in the "worse," and you choose to allow grace to flood into your marriage....you find freedom.
Grace is a way of letting go. It is relinquishing control over the ugly stuff, letting God do HIS job in you and your spouse, and choosing love despite the mess. Choosing, at times, a moment-by-moment process of forgiveness. It is so freeing not having to be in charge, and not having to play judge over who should get what. Grace says that you get love whether you deserve it or not.
Part of me wonders if I'm making any sense to anyone but myself right now. I must be writing these words for a reason, and you know if you're that reason. If you are, feel comforted by the fact that I'm the reason too. At top of the page, I'm always writing to myself, because God is currently teaching me everything I share with you.
Right at this moment, I'm thankful for my marriage, and the many times God has helped us cling to each other. And I'm so very thankful that when I stop trying, when I lose my courage, it is grace that picks me up, breathes new life into me, and gives me another chance. I really don't know how a marriage can survive without grace. Who can stand before their spouse and give account for all their brokenness? Everyone is too broken, and none of us are forgiving enough. Grace is the only thing that can set us free, and truly teach us how to love.