As I reflect on the last ten years of my marriage, I am grateful to God for so many things; His provision, His protection, His faithfulness, a VERY supportive husband, God’s gift to our family (our two daughters), the list is endless.
I am grateful for all this and so much more. But you know what I'm most grateful for today? I’m grateful for friends that spoke into our lives; friends that were pillars of emotional and spiritual support during the great times and especially the dark and trying ones.
I see the continual increase in divorce rates, especially in the church and I am grieved. Marriage is tough. The intertwining of two lives with different backgrounds, good and bad experiences, and personalities is a lifelong synergy project. Still NO-ONE waltzes down the altar with their dream partner planning to tear it apart.
Almost 15 years ago, the younger self-righteous version of me would lift a haughty nose in the air and say "people who divorce are not spiritual. They are selfish. Don't they understand for better for worse? They don't love God?"
*I close my eyes in shame, glad that version of me is gone*
10 years later, a wiser, humbled, broken and more mature me smiles knowing that every successful day in marriage is a chance to say “Thank You Lord! We made it through this season! The wine is getting sweeter as the days go by."
You don’t need me to remind you that so many factors influence the outcome of a marriage- Submission, finances, emotional support, any form of abuse, love etc.,
(There are so many books and messages on marriage. I also highly recommend you follow my pastor @pgeeman on twitter 5pm every Friday for #MrsMrsBetterHalf. It’s always a blessing)
Very importantly TOO is the role God uses friends and mentors to play in your marriage.
As important as your daily confessions about your marriage are, there is also the fact that the people you give room to speak into your “marriage space” go a long way in influencing your thought life, your perception, and your resilience in making your marriage work.
I remember a particular incident in the first year of our marriage. After a heated argument with my hubby, I stormed out of the house and went to my friend’s place to clear my head. After consoling me and allowing me vent, she spoke some serious truth into my ears that day, and that truth has been one of my core values till today. Besides after my dramatic reaction and her response that day I told my stubborn head “babe, you might not have that kind of support from her again so you better behave next time!” lol.
"It’s just you and me honey" or “don’t let any third party into your marriage” are statements I have long understood not to be 100% true. It looks so, but it isn't so. From media, to religious exposure, to friends etc., there are many external factors that “consciously and unconsciously” influence our view of our marriage.
Your marriage space is a spiritual space. EVERYBODY has a voice/voices speaking into their "spiritual space" intentionally or unintentionally. Words as we know are VERY powerful. John 1:1 says “…THE WORD WAS GOD”. That’s how powerful words are! So the problem isn’t that words are being spoken, it’s WHAT’S being spoken? What non-verbal cues are given? What personal values inspire the words and actions of our friends and family members? Are they values we share? How is their relationship with God and their own spouses?
You may be wondering “why should I care who speaks into my spiritual and emotional space? After all, as a Christian, I am not supposed to be led by the Spirit of God rather than the voices of other?” The voices that speak into our spaces DO matter because in marriage, we will NOT always be strong, or happy with our situations. We will not always feel one with our spouses, or “feel” fulfilled. When those seasons come (and they do come often), when our emotional walls are down and left unguarded, when our hearts are weary from having to stand in prayer, or give endless support, or practice enduring patience, we will need voices drawn from the same value system, who are spiritually mature and emotionally stable, speaking into our lives. And what they say or do (or non-verbally express) in those unguarded periods go a looooong way in shaping the materials we will use to build back our strength and our next line of actions.
In Exodus 17:8-13, Israel is at war with the Amalekites, led by Joshua. Moses, the great man of God, is on the hill with Aaron and Hur. As long as his hands are up, Israel prevails. After a while his hands grow tired, and begin to drop and simultaneously, Israel begins to lose the battle. In a moment of quick thinking, Aaron and Hur put a stone under him and get him to sit down, and each man takes an arm and holds it up until the Israelites defeat the Amalekites. Aaron and Hur don’t discourage him, they don't complain about how powerless he is, nor do they wonder why God has allowed this battle to rage on. They don’t shrink back in fear as they contemplate how powerful the Amalekites are. They were sensitive enough to notice that at that moment, Moses was spent spiritually and emotionally, and simply slipped into his “spiritual space” and held him up. Later he would rest and regain his strength as leader of Israel. Such powerful friendship!
Remember Mary and Elizabeth? It is my personal belief that God chose Elizabeth to conceive John because of Mary. The angel tells Mary she will bear a child by the Holy Spirit of God, and then her cousin, an old woman past childbearing age would be pregnant with child. That’s a supernatural testimony!
Mary carrying her own secret sets off to visit her cousin (about 80-100 miles away). Elizabeth sees Mary, and speaks prophetically. Imagine being Mary. After a long journey (probably on foot or caravan), and with a secret so unbelievable you couldn’t tell anybody. She must have been emotionally spent and probably lonely too, burdened with this big secret. Imagine the relief of Mary when Elizabeth prophesied about her condition; the strength it would have given her. They must have gone into the room where Mary must have let it all out, both of them crying; “Finally someone who not only believes me, but has a personal revelation from God about my situation. Someone with strength to support me.” she would think. If there were emails at that time I’m sure both of them would have exchanged hundreds! Talk about emotional and spiritual support.
I hope I have convinced you that the people who speak into our lives (friends, family members, mentors) play a HUGE role in how far a marriage will go because in the most trying of times, what they say will go a long way in influencing our actions, thoughts and ultimately decisions.
My prayer for every marriage is this “May you deliberately surround yourself with Joshua, Caleb and Elizabeth friends, friends that are spiritual and emotionally mature enough to hold you up when your emotions are going haywire, in trying times, in the times when you are tempted to fight, or give up. May they hold you up till you are able to once again regain balance!”
Little drops of water, they say, make a mighty ocean. Words are like bulldozers or caterpillars: brick after brick, till one day, a city is built or destroyed...for good.
May the wine of your marriage get sweeter in Jesus name amen!