(Since I do)
Six years, and a little while.
(Since that first kiss)
They say with a little work and a whole lot of loving, life just gets better.
It sure does.
And also, gripping Jesus in every step,
that’s how you thrive in it.
Because the it is packed full of life,
and life lays out more than bliss.
It’s easy to stand behind a filter, to hold back out of fear of offense or judgment, to choose looking settled and put together because doing the opposite lends itself to exposure and opens doors for hard conversations, to paint yourself and your marriage and your people in a distorted perfection.
We haven’t found freedom there.
Our story has found freedom and left a door open for others to do the same when we stand in the frames saying,
I’m a mess. You’re a mess. But you’re enough. And I choose this life together.
Today we celebrate four years of marriage, and six years of life lived as Jeff & Margot.
What are we really celebrating?
For Jeff and I, it’s how the gospel of Christ has radically transformed our lives and our love story.
It started rough.
There was no honeymoon bliss. There were two kids, from two very different backgrounds, absolutely head over heels for each other, but carrying a ton of baggage that needed sorting, burying and redeeming.
It’s true, that in Jeff I found the bearded man I wanted to dance on kitchen floors with for the rest of my life. The man I wanted to kiss until I’m old and wrinkly. The man who made me laugh effortlessly. The man who I could make blush on a dime. The man who accepted my two left feet, and whose two right feet made me swoon. The man whose flannel shirts and relationship with nature complimented my own. The man who I brought out the awkward conversations with. The man who swept me away with folk songs, cooking skills, love for all things NPR, and his rule-following good nature. The man who didn’t put his arm around me until the last three minutes of Titanic. The man willing to ask for a fork when I failed at using chopsticks on sushi. The man I found my best friend in.
But those dating years and engagement were the forging fire as Jeff calls it.
People would tell us, it doesn’t have to be so hard.
And we kindly disagreed.
We had a lot of growing up to do. A lot of growing towards the Lord to do.
Which, after all, is what a relationship allows when two people connect. Sitting idle and content wasn’t an option for us if we were to do it with purpose.
God was using this time to bring about our best selves for Him.
We grew up in traditional Christian homes, sought the Lord when it felt right or when we were in need, did the “good things”, prayed at bedtime, and weren’t afraid to talk about God or our faith with each other or others.
But did we get the cross?
Had the death of God’s own son for the sake of our hearts actually changed us?
Did our daily life reflect that radical love, that selfless gift of grace?
(And we’re still working on it)
We were living in sin, choosing our selves, making poor choices, carrying literal and heart scars, making it known that our burdens were too heavy on our own, that our past had caught up to us, that our relationship with the Lord was not priority and in the end that we weren’t able to love each other well because of all of that.
At least not love in the way that is lasting, and sacrificial, full and glorifying to the One who brought us together.
That forging fire was painful.
There were many tears, disagreements, several almost-leavings, a ton of questions and doubt. But it was also so full of conversations with depth and richness, the hard questions, peeling back of dead and rotting layers, the fun in getting to know someone, healing balm of forgiveness and strength, and living life transparently before God.
Before each other.
We held no secrets, we lived palms opened, sometimes clammy, ready and waiting for whether this would be our story for the long haul.
Why do I share all of this?
Because I know without a doubt, that if we hadn’t lived this way, if we had just rested in infatuation and our own doing, we would be headed for a breaking point within marriage.
It’s not about us. So that’s not an option.
The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.
The lens of marriage has been shattered and restored for us the last four years. In the most breathtaking and beautiful way.
We thrusted ourselves into adventure, into leaving and cleaving, into knowing intimately, into pursuing passions and gifts, into intentional prayer, into the Word of God, into challenging one another, into trusting, into drawing out the yuck and spurring it towards glory-giving, into loss and grief, into decisions and surrender, into wearing all the hats from lover to leader to friend to teammate to confidant to calm to parent and more.
But in all of that, through the everything that life has laid out before us…the expected and unexpected, the bliss and beyond,
Marriage has proven itself to be one thing,
Not about us.
It’s not about how happy Jeff makes me, or how happy I make him.
It’s about living life, every single bit of it, in the grace of our Father, knowing that every step we take together is one step closer to home with Him.
We are His bride first.
This marriage, this earthly-messy-imperfect marriage, is being used to sanctify us. To capture and hold and know the holy moments. To give up of ourselves and step into unconditional. So that one day we will step into the forever marraige with Him.
And somehow that makes the laughter a whole lot more filling. The hard times to come less daunting. The pillow talk a lot more rewarding. The letting go a ton more freeing. The obedience a lot less risky. The parenting a daily dose of eternal joy. The forgiveness much less sacrifical. The grace a lot more accessible. The doors easier to leave wide open. The running much harder to do. The honesty more necessary to dish. The adventure more exciting. The genuine a place to abide in.
And the lens left to be unfiltered.
I love doing life raw with him. He’s my favorite, and I thank God for him every single day, even under my breath at two am when we’re fighting over screaming babies or when he leaves his beard hairs scattered on the sink.
What kind of filter are you choosing for your own?