6.16.12. A date filled with such beauty and joy; a date that displayed God's goodness and faithfulness; a date vividly showed me the gospel. June 16th, 2012, the day Spencer and I got married.
Spencer and I recently celebrated our four year wedding anniversary. The past four years have been filled with all sorts of experiences and emotions, joys and sorrows, routines and adventures. We've walked through hard valleys, laughed a whole lot, lived in three places, worked many different jobs, and grown to a family of four. Through it all we have grown tremendously, individually and as a couple, as we have trusted God and watched Him continually provide and continually show Himself to us.
I could write for a long time about all the things I've learned in marriage so far. But as I reflected on the past four years, four main ideas stuck out to me. I decided to share them in hopes they will encourage you in your marriage, whether you're in the midst of it now or dream of it for the future.
Grace: It's all grace.
The Lord has been doing a mighty work in my heart over the past few years in regards to understanding grace. And I cannot do this marriage thing apart from grace. I need grace. I need grace for myself. I need grace for Spencer. And I need to daily, repeatedly, recognize the grace I've been given by God. When I fix my eyes and heart on Jesus and His sufficient grace, I can rest and be confident. I can be confident in who He is, who I am, and in my marriage. I can be confident in knowing I don't need to earn God's love or approval and I don't need to earn Spencer's love or approval. And when I see the grace I've been given, I can and I must readily extend it and readily forgive. Looking at myself, my marriage, and my husband through a lens of gospel grace is truly transforming.
Love: Love is a choice.
So often people fall into thinking there is only one person for them, their soulmate. But Spencer and I both believe who you marry is a choice. When you find someone you like, get along with, align with on all the major issues, are attracted to, there shouldn't be any trying to figure out if they are the person you should marry. If you want to marry them, then just do it. It's your choice. And love is a choice. It is not a one time decision on a specific day. It is a daily choice. First Corinthians 13 is the go to list of attributes of love. Verses 4 through 7 highlight several of the main ones:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
But these things aren't just automatically guaranteed because you love someone. Each of these is a choice. When you love someone, you show them you love them by choosing to display these. They don't come naturally. And so when I say I love you, it means I am going to choose to be patient with you, choose to be kind to you, choose to not be envious or arrogant or rude or or resentful or selfish, choose to rejoice with you, choose to bear all things with you. Our love will not end because I, because we, make the intentional deliberate choice to persevere. And that perseverance comes through the choices made throughout each day to love.
Humility: There is no room for pride.
Sometimes you hear the saying that the woman is always right, that a happy wife leads to a happy life. But that's just not true, and following that doesn't make for a happy and content marriage. The fact is neither one of us is always right. We have to communicate. We have to work through things together. We have to admit to our wrongdoings, apologize, and seek forgiveness. And honestly, most things really aren't that big of a deal. It is easy to get annoyed or frustrated in the everyday routines of marriage, but we are a team. And although we might process things differently and do things differently, we have to share our expectations and be okay when one of us does things how we weren't expecting. We just have to let some things go. And when the things come up that we can't just let go, we have to look at the circumstance and each other with eyes of grace and a heart of love and a posture of humility. And that can bring about happiness and contentment in a powerful way.
Gratitude: Simply say thank you.
It is incredible how much simply choosing gratitude can impact relationships, outlooks, and life in general. When I realize everything is grace and all I have is a gift from God, gratitude must pour out. When I say thank you, I can't dwell on frustrations or negativity or unmet expectations. When I say thank you, I am taking the focus off of myself. And when I say thank you, I am acknowledging someone else and showing appreciation for what they did. Gratitude has a way of bringing about joy in a beautifully simple way. So when I acknowledge that little things done throughout the day with gratitude, our relationship is strengthened. Joy and contentment, grace and love can flourish where gratitude grows. Thank you, a little phrase holding great power.
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Sarah loves Jesus and her family and is passionate about addressing the urgent spiritual and physical needs around the world. She is the wife of Spencer and mama of Katherine and Claire, and they live in Nashville, TN. She runs a photography business with her husband and writes in order to offer encouragement and invite others to choose grace, joy, and gratitude in the adventure and the mundane. She loves traveling and reading; she will choose unsweet tea over sweet and bootcut jeans over skinny; and she is all sorts of awkward with small talk but thrives with deep conversations.