I was asked to give a devotion at a wedding shower yesterday and received a couple of requests for the text of the devo, so I decided to post it here. It's in the form of a Top 10 List and since it's pretty long, I'll break it up into a couple of posts over the next few days. Here are lessons 10, 9, 8 and 7.
In some ways, I feel barely qualified to give a devotion for a wedding shower, since it was less than a year ago that I was sitting in your chair, feeling incredibly blessed, and being showered with gifts and with words of wisdom from somebody who’s been walking this walk for years. But in other ways, I think I’m in a great position to speak to you, because some of the lessons that you’ll be learning and the adjustments you’ll be making are so fresh to me still. And that’s what I actually want to focus on today, are some of the lessons I’ve been learning (and I’m definitely still in process) – and so I’ve titled this “Top Ten Lessons From My First (Almost) Eight Months of Marriage.” I hope this will be an encouragement to you, both in terms of what you can look forward to, and also in terms of what you might want to look out for.
10. You are Embarking on an INCREDIBLY Fun Adventure. We come from such a rich church tradition of studying God’s Word and seeking to understand who we are before God and how our sin affects how we act toward God and in our relationships. I hope that in your counseling and your other pre-marital work that you’ve been learning tons about yourself and how to thrive in your marriage. But I hope that you also aren’t losing sight – which I was prone to do sometimes – of what an incredible blessing God will be giving to you in marriage. After HH got engaged, I received a simple note from a friend that read, “A lot of people will tell you how much work marriage is, but I’ve mostly found it to be a lot of fun.” (It helps that she’s married to an incredibly easygoing guy!) But both parts of her statement are true – some parts of loving and serving C, and the sacrifices you’ll make, will be some of the hardest things you’ve ever done. But God is giving you your best friend, in a specially designed relationship, in a permanent, covenant relationship modeled after how God himself loves us, to multiply all of your joys, to make even simple things like making breakfast special, and to carry your burdens and your sorrows with you. This doesn’t mean that God is withholding his joy from single women, but there’s no doubt that this is special. Enjoy it, and guard your heart from taking for granted that you get to share life with your best friend.
9. Disappoint Early and Often. This is actually advice that some of our friends gave us about a month after we got married. They weren’t talking about disappointing each other, but about disappointing our parents and in-laws, especially when they both live in the same city. Even though you love both families, J, you’re going to find it hard to figure out how much time to spend with which family and how to divide your holidays, etc. They both love you so much that they’ll take every bit of time that you’ll give, but I think our pastor’s advice in his marriage class from last year is invaluable – “be a ‘we.’” Strive to be on the same page with each other, decide ahead of time and communicate your plans clearly, and be sure to create time for your new family during special occasions when eventually you’ll want to have some established family traditions of your own.
8. You are the key to C’s success and happiness. I don’t mean this in a hoaky, Oprah, believe in him and he can do anything, sort of way. But there is a very real sense in which your support for C will help him be a better leader for your family and will set him free to pursue his goals, for his career, for your family, for your spiritual well-being. There are SO many proverbs about what a curse a bad wife can be – a bitter, complaining woman who seeks to undermine what her husband is trying to do; Proverbs says that’s it’s better for a man to live under the dripping edge of a roof than to live with a woman like that. Now that’s awfully negative, but I think women are particularly susceptible to the temptation to be subversive, to undermine what our husbands are trying to do if we don’t agree, rather than having an outright discussion and then choosing to submit if we still can’t come to agreement. J, strive to respect C, to build him up to his face and to others, to support his efforts, and to be a joyful life partner for him. It will be very difficult for him to be all the man he could be without you helping him get there.
7. You can’t make C successful or happy. What? Didn’t I just say that you were the key to his success and happiness? Yes; but that truth has to be held in tension with the fact that there are limits on how much you can control your circumstances or your husband. I may feel this more than a lot of women because I work with HH, but there are times when I feel so tempted to either manipulate the circumstance or to manipulate him in order to achieve what I think is the best outcome. I suspect that you will have times when C comes home from school, and later from work, when he’s frustrated, he’s tired, or when he’s planning something you disagree with. J, these are great opportunities for you to not try to “do,” but just to love on him, and also to pray for him. You can’t control his heart – if he’s struggling with discontentment or discouragement or is angry at how life is treating him, do your best to search your heart with regard to how you’re seeing God and C, encourage him without badgering him, and, most importantly, point him faithfully to Christ. As much as we’d like to be the perfect solution to all of our husbands’ problems, what they – and we – both truly need is God, and God alone.