May 29th, 2012 marks 13 years of loving, sacrificial, and partially kept vows. I say “partially” because as I reflect on the vows that I made to Amy, and I have not kept them perfectly. Actually, there have been times where I have been an outright jerk. I am so thankful that we made mutual vows to love one another through the good and the “bad” days. Often times, at weddings, when we hear couples say, “I promise to love you through the good days and the bad days”, and our thoughts never imagine that those bad days would be there because of their own unlovliness or immaturity… but that is usually the case for many of the bad days. But nonetheless, 13 years later, we are in love and we actually like each other!
With this day comes many memories of how we began. I first met Amy 18 years ago, we went on our first date 15.5 years ago, we had our first kiss 13 years ago (that first one took a lot of work, but it was worth it!), and a year later we cut covenant with one another, diving head first in to one of the most exhilarating journey’s ever! Nine years ago we became parents together, which began another exhilarating journey together…
Four years into marriage, we had our first son Noah who is 9 years old, and is now walking with Jesus and growing in his love and understanding of Scripture and Jesus. Then three years later we had our first daughter Mia who is 6, and loves Jesus and is daily figuring out what it looks like to trust this God who she can’t see. Halle was born 1.5 years after Mia and is 4.5 and Isaac came 1.5 years after Halle and is gonna be 3 next month. I am over joyed for the family God has entrusted to Amy and I.
The last 13 years have been full of fun, laughter, tears, sleepless nights, good fights, endless seasons of relentlessness, and plenty of “what the heck have we done!?” moments. These years of marriage and parenting have been “sweet” only because of all the trials, battles, fights, and despair, that have driven us to Christ-sufficiency, not self-sufficiency. Plus, without the bitter tastes in life, we would never know that sweet is actually sweet, thus, it wouldn’t be as enjoyable!
It’s actually those seasons and moments that define our marriage and family. I wouldn’t want “us” without all of the junk we have gone through. I also wouldn’t want all the junk we have gone through without the covenant commitment that Amy and I made to one another 13 years ago, one that we continue to renew day after day. And we definitely wouldn’t have made that covenant commitment to one another had it not been for a covenant keeping God who chased us down, saved us and sealed our salvation and identity in Christ alone. This is the anchor of our love and the reason why 13 years of marriage and four children later, we still want to be together.
Last year I posted 10 priorities about our marriage that were, sort of like insiders, into how we have weathered the good and the bad days of marriage. As I read over them again this year, I am still in agreement with them and thought I’d re-post them, while adding a few more thoughts to some of them. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a list that we keep perfectly. Instead, these ten things have been priorities to us and we have labored imperfectly over each one of them. Ultimately, we trust the perfect life, death and resurrection of Jesus for our righteousness and hope of being with Jesus when heaven and earth are reunited:
1. We both submit to the sovereign God and ultimately trust His will for our lives and the lives of our children. This has removed a lot of questions, doubt, anxiety and frustration about all the “why’s” of life. This is what we know about God. He loves us. He cares for us. We were not accidents. He is actively and daily for us because of Jesus’ sacrifice and His Holy Spirit. (Psalm 115:3)
2. We have both committed to find our joy and comfort in God alone, not from marriage or kids. This is one of those things that we daily fail at, yet we daily come before God and ask for the eyes and the heart to see Him as the comforter and source of joy. Marriages (or anything else in life) cannot bear the weight of being the sole provider of joy and comfort. (Matthew 6:33)
3. We have both committed to being transparent with our lives. This is one of those freedoms you give up in marriage, only to gain more of a radical freedom that one could never imagine. Much like surrendering to Jesus, when a married couple surrenders their rights to living hidden lives, the freedom after that surrender is incomparable. This is often a very hard thing to do, but it is essential to marriage. Many of the “bad” days are because their are lies that lay under the foundation of marriage, and lies suck at building a firm foundation. (1 John 1:5-10)
4. We both treat one another with dignity and worth. We do not slander one another, bad talk one another to our friends, or disrespectfully complain to other people about what we are or aren’t doing. We do not control one another to get what we want. When we do fail to honor this commitment, we openly confess our sin or call out the other person and practice open repentance with one another often. Men, this one is huge for your wife. Let her know (in a thousand different ways) that she is beautiful, that she has value, and is worth more than she could ever imagine. (Psalm 8)
5. We understand our God-given roles. We believe that God has given specific roles to the husband and wife. The husband is to be the head of his wife and is called to love her as Christ loves the church (which means he dies first, not that he rules with an iron fist!). The wife is to submit to her husband in the way that Jesus submitted to the Father (she is not to submit to an abusive jerk). The model of this perfectly loving and submissive relationship is modeled by God the Father and God the Son. Even though we believe in biblical submission of a wife to a husband and biblical love of a wife by the husband (as Christ loved the church), we do not hold any role higher than another role. And because we are friends, we gladly mutually submit to one another. (Ephesians 5:21)
6. We make sure the kids know that Jesus comes first, then mommy and daddy, then them. This may sound weird at first, but the worst thing we could ever do for our marriage or our kids is to make them feel or think that they are the center of our universe. Our kids need to desperately see us place Jesus as the center of our universe, and then they need to see a mom and dad who love one another more than they love them. The fact is, our kids will one day grow up and be gone, but Amy and I will have each other long after that. And whether our kids know it or not at their ages, they want more than anything else in the world for their mommy and daddy to love each other. This gives kids great security and confidence in life. (Col. 1:15-20)
7. We are intentional with our time together. We went on consistent and frequent dates before the kids came, but after we had a couple of kids, the dates were few and far between. Even if we can’t get nights away from the kids, we intentionally plan evenings after the kids went to bed to invest in one another, care for one another, hear one another, and some other things that wouldn’t be appropriate to share here. We learned from an older couple whom we love and respect, that this should take up 14 hours (no less) of our week. I know this seems like a lot, but think about how often you spend time doing other things that aren’t nearly as important. This discipline will transform your marriage… I dare you to try it! (Eph. 5:25-33)
8. We surround ourselves with good friends. We both know that we were created to be in relationship with people and that we need other people to love on us, our kids, and to share life with us. This has been something that we have worked very hard on. Community doesn’t accidentally happen. We have sacrificed a lot to let people in to our marriage and family in really vulnerable ways; but we know it has been one of the most healthy things for our marriage and family. (Psalm 133; Heb. 10:24-25)
9. We are not yes people. Neither of us have ever been very good at agreeing to something if we really don’t agree with it. This could get us into trouble and it has during rebellious seasons, but it has also served to mature us and shape us in to the better parents, lovers, ministers and friends. We respectfully challenge one another in love and trust the Holy Spirit to ultimately change us and make us more like Jesus. (Matt. 7:5)
10. We are in it for the long haul. Amy and I do not even mention the “D” word. There are plenty of hopeless moments in marriage, but we both know that we covenanted with one another and that we are committed to honoring and glorifying God more than being happy. We also are well aware that we married sinners, at we factor that into the whole grace equation. The mystery of glorifying God over seeking our own happiness is that if our chief end is to magnify God in our marriage and family, then we will be the happiest we could ever be.
Thank you Amy for loving me and sticking it out with me so far! And thanks to all of our friends and family who love and support us in this crazy little thing called love! Here’s to the next 13 years!