The first anniversary of my marriage was one week ago today! We had a great weekend remembering our wedding day, laughing about some great things that happened this year, and dreaming about where we want to go next on this beautiful journey together. It was such a romantic weekend, and an especially special one for us. Once the weekend was over, I would be beginning my first experience as a full-time teacher, and in a few weeks, my husband will be leaving for four months of military training across the country. We are officially in a busy time, and a time where we are making the most of every minute we have together before our time apart. We reflected over the past year and the memories we made, and put on hold, for one weekend, the thoughts about the challenges to come. I have learned so much in this one year of marriage. But there are some lessons I regard as some very important ones worth sharing!
1. Appreciate the small things: A couple weeks ago, my husband was away for the weekend because he had drill for the Army. While he was away, he sent me a picture of our old apartment around Christmas time saying, “I kinda miss these days.” Our apartment, and first place together in our college town, was less than 500 sq. feet. We got our first Christmas tree for free, which was a blessing because we could not afford to buy one ourselves. However, we couldn’t put the top part of the tree up because it would not fit in our low-ceiling apartment (which is why it appears to be chopped off at the top). 🙂 This picture made me laugh, and helped me to remember all the fun times we had in that itty, bitty apartment. In the moment, and when life is just moving along around you, it’s easy to not always see the beauty in everyday, small things. But even though we had an itty, bitty apartment, couldn’t afford to do much, and were trying to get through college, we had some of my favorite memories that I will always hold a special place in my heart for. Especially with my husband leaving soon, yes, I find such value in appreciating the small, everyday, beautiful things!
2. “Determine to pray more words over your marriage than you speak about your marriage.” –Lysa TerKeurst: A few months into our marriage I saw this post by one of the writers for Proverbs 31 Ministries Blog and I think it was one of the first most important things I learned early in our marriage. I remember when we were engaged, one of the pieces of advice other women encouraged me with was to not speak bad about your husband to anyone. Not only does it create a bad habit, but I will always forgive my husband when something happens between us. No one will have as much as grace towards him as I will. But when I speak badly of him to someone else, that could change their views on who he is when I will forgive him and move on anyway! This brilliant quote brings me back to that piece of advice. Marriage is complex. God is joining two completely different people into one and that doesn’t go without some struggles. The most important thing I can ever do for my marriage is give it to God everyday in prayer. He will see us when we struggle, when we laugh, when we are apart, and I don’t have to worry about what He thinks about us. Pray, pray, and when in doubt, pray some more.
3. Marriage is NOT a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of operation: Halfway through our first year, we started a bible study together that our church was doing called The Art of Marriage. Living in Athens at the time, we watched the videos just the two of us, on our couch in that itty, bitty apartment I was telling you about! 🙂 This was one of the big things I took away from that study. Marriage is a selfless act of love and respect and worship to God, every day of your life. This commitment to be selfless in marriage reminds me of Mark 8:34-35, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” It’s a constant decision to deny yourself to serve and love your spouse. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t take time for yourself, or do things that make you happy and refreshed. I mean putting the person that you love most before yourself, even when it’s hardest to do. Serving one another is our daily act of worship to God.
4. GRACE: I read an article someone shared on Facebook early in our marriage that grace in a marriage is the most important thing. I absolutely, hands down, agree with that article! No one is perfect, least of all you or your spouse. Yet, God merges our lives together in such a close and intimate way that we are bound to mess up! It’s not always easy to do, but grace, meaning forgiveness oftentimes, has to be at the forefront of your everyday encounters with your spouse. I believe this is something I will need to continue to learn everyday, because my flesh does not always want to forgive when I’ve been hurt. But the act of grace has called me to a deeper place with God and my relationship with my husband every time it has been needed.
I wanted to share these important lessons with you to encourage you today in your relationships with others because honestly, these can all be applied to all relationships, not just marriages. I am not perfect. I have seen the need for these lessons in my life, but it is a constant journey every day. If we did not have the grace of our Heavenly Father, we would not be able to move forward after our mistakes. I am thankful for that constant grace that renews each day.