As a church planter, often times counting is bad because people like me tend to find their significance from the number of butts in a seat on a Sunday morning. This is a bad measure of success, so I have stopped counting… and I sleep much better at night! But counting the number of years of marriage has been a fun thing to do. Each year that comes by and we celebrate another anniversary, we get excited about celebrating the next year (next year is 15 years… can’t wait to get to that one!).
Although 14 years to some couples is only half or a third of the time they’ve been married, for us, that number represents much more than just a number. It represents all that we’ve gone through and been through together. It represents grace, joy, pain, struggle, fear, children, celebrations, transitions, losses, happiness, etc. This morning is our first morning in a new house that we have just moved into, and it marks for me (us) another new chapter… a new chapter where we get to put together all of our hard learned lessons and aim for what the next 14 years will look like.
Amy and I (and the kids), after four years of planting Kineo, have finally and fully moved in to the neighborhood of Alhambra Village, down the street from our church. This move marks a deeper commitment to our neighborhood and to solidarity with those who have been underserved and overlooked. I mention this because these are two words that Amy and I have felt like to each other during some of our worst days together over these last 14 years and we know what it’s like (to some measure) to be underserved or overlooked.
The secret to a healthy marriage is obviously a deep and abiding commitment to Christ Jesus and to seek His glory over the glory of ourselves or our marriage. But once that is in place and pursued as a life long desire (even when you don’t feel like it), seeking the welfare of one another is probably the best lesson I have learned in marriage.
Underserved. If you use this word in the context of marriage, this means that a spouse is being served less than the other spouse is serving one’s self of something else. This is a terrible recipe for joy and happiness in a marriage, not to mention it’s wrongly displaying what marriage was meant to be (self-giving love and sacrifice for the good of the other). My first calling as I press hard into Christ Jesus, is to serve my wife first, yes, even to overserve her, or out serve her. I can track back over the years of our marriage and the crappy days, weeks, or months have been when I have underserved my wife. This new move marks for me a re-commitment to overserve and outserve my wife.
Overlooked. Again, when this word comes up in the context of marriage, ¡este no es nada bueno! Underserving is one thing (and I don’t want to minimize underserving), but overlooking the other spouse is worse. It usually means that you are dodging, ignoring, stonewalling, or have your focus on other people or things so much so, that the other spouse is or feels overlooked. Overlooking a spouse, much like overlooking the poor, the orphan, the widow, or the stranger, always leads to injustice, and God hates injustice. Too many days overlooking one another in marriage creates patterns that only much pain and stripping will cure, and many times, once patterns of overlooking occurs in a marriage, hope for reconciliation seems bleak, and many couples end up divorcing one another.
14 years and counting… because I want each celebration of another anniversary to be better than the last one. I don’t want to forget the lessons we’ve learned and the meaning of marriage to fall by the way side. I want to say at the end of year 14, that we put more time and energy (maybe not money) into our relationship this year than we did while we were planning for a big wedding. I want to outdo our celebrations each year and rejoice in that fact that two sinners are striving to outserve and outnotice one another. I want the gaze I have on Amy to be more intimate and heart moving than the gaze I had on her as she walked down the aisle 14 years ago. I want to display the beauty and worth of Jesus and His bride through our marriage. Here’s to many more years of doing just that, by God’s grace!