When asked how we newlyweds are doing, my husband likes to joke that we’re “pros." Married couples know for a fact that’s a lie, and those who are not married can surely see right through us. We are not finished products yet, so in every moment, God is shaping and stretching us.
Less than two months into marriage, I’ve been faced with my sin more regularly than ever before. Although most days have been an absolute delight, sin has crept in to steal, kill, and destroy our joy. It seems my sin follows a cyclical pattern, which irritates me and makes me wish I could will myself to be “better." I am upset by the same trivial behaviors and actions, and then I become embarrassed that such minor things could upset me.
As I processed my frustrations with my mom, she told me that even after 31 years of marriage, she still has to forgive my dad of the same little things. His forgetting is not intentional or personal. He’s just not perfect, so he can’t do all things right, all things well, at all the right times. And that’s ok. He does so many things right and well, which is a grace she was never promised. (Nor am I.)
I needed to hear that. I needed to be reminded that conflict within marriage—or any relationship for that matter—is meant to be sanctifying. In my perfect little kingdom, I would like for everything to happen however I think is best. But praise be to God that I don’t always get what I want! Instead, I regularly get to see my sin for what it is—self-centered, selfish, and self-serving—which allows me to see grace more clearly and appreciate grace more fully. Free, abundant, unending grace.
At Sojourn Heights, we often sing, “Yours is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory. Amen!” I long for this to be the refrain of my heart, reminding me that God holds all the power, deserves all the glory, and that His Kingdom is much grander and greater than the little kingdom I persist in building for myself.
Dr. Paul Tripp says it well: “When it comes to marriage struggles, worship is the problem and worship is the cure. If God’s kingdom is not my reason for doing what I’m doing in my marriage, my kingdom will be… This tendency in all of us to worship ourselves, which is the anti-social impulse that is so destructive to marriage, is only ever defeated when it is replaced by willing, active, and consistent worship of God.” Consistent worship of God. Oh, that our friendships and marriages and parishes would be marked by consistent, even constant worship! When God receives all the glory from our relationships, it’s good for our relationships and for all who will see the love of Christ through them.