Monday, July 7, 2008

A Work In Progress

On the last weekend in July my hubby and I will sneak away to Charleston, South Carolina to recharge and rekindle our romance as we celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.

Yes, those flames are still burning after all these years, but let me warn you, it doesn’t just happen by itself. Marriage is a commitment that takes a great deal of work, dedication, and a whole lot of self-denial to keep passion alive.

I wish I could tell you these 30 years have been a joy-ride, or paint a picture of sheer splendor and delight, but the truth is marriage takes hard work and many times it is like an uphill climb.

Although I’ve been blessed with a man who’s love language is service, (and yes, I’m spoiled!) there are still other areas that we both lack in, and often fall short of the mark, especially me!

OK, can I be real with you today?

Because of an extremely dysfunctional childhood, (something I’ve been told would make a best selling novel or movie) I walked up the aisle 30 years ago on one hot August afternoon with a load of luggage. Now I don’t mean carrying an over-night bag, I’m talking about packing for a world cruise.

After exchanging our carefully written vows and a wonderful reception, the challenge began. I came into my marriage as an insecure young woman not only full of hopes and dreams, but many fears and insecurities. I needed Jesus’ healing balm in a desperate way. It took many years, lots of tears, and a good number of “intense fellowships” to come to a place of surrender and freedom.

Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate. ~Barnett R. Brickner

Now, I have not by any means, arrived…but

Today I’d like to share a few tips from the battleground; words that were spoken to me by my Titus 2 mentors. These were women who were tenacious, brave, and uncompromising as they spoke into my life. Many times just the weight of these words seemed unbearable and unfair. I wanted to say, “I quit”, when advice that seemed hard was offered, and I constantly questioned why these exhortations were always spoken to me and NOT my to my husband!

OK, who said things would be FAIR?

Here are a couple simple declarations I had to make too many times to count. I pray they will be helpful to you as you pursue a marriage that is both beautiful and a clear reflection of Christ and his bride. A marriage that is Christ centered.

The first assignment given to me one day after a long lunch was learning to say three simple little words. I must admit that I almost chocked on them at first. After all, this was rarely the case…right? At least I thought so.

I was wrong…

Now, if there is anything that robs you of your rights, and causes you to wave a flag of surrender, it is these words. My instruction was to say them even when I if I thought I was right? Hmmm, could not figure that one out. But pride is stronghold that does not relent without total release.

You can never be happily married to another until you get a divorce from yourself. A successful marriage demands a certain death to self. ~Jerry McCant

My second three-word assignment was always be ready to say…

Please forgive me or I forgive you

At first I thought that seemed simple enough. I can do this one; that was until I thought of all the justifications I had for my actions. After all, if my husband was doing what he was “supposed to be doing” I would not have reacted the way I did. Oh boy, I was a very slow learner.

A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers. ~Ruth Bell Graham

It’s been hard work, but oh, let me tell you the pay off is worth it in the end!

If the foundations of our marriages are truly built on solid ground, we can survive the storms, hurricanes and tsunamis that try to destroy our homes daily.

I realize that as I type this, there are many out there who have endured abuse, infidelity and many other painful situations that were not in their control. I’ve been a witness to this in my own family and with several very close friends. The fact still remains that there is always hope, and God is always ready to help those who truly desire to be able to stand by their commitments and have their marriage be testimony of the faithfulness of God.

Our wedding was many years ago, but the celebration continues to this day. ~Gene Perret

Please join us today over at Chrysalis to see what others have written about their marriage's today. E-mom has posted some pictures from her daughter's wedding. They are so beautiful! Let's celebrate with her today.


Peculiar said...

Susan, YOU HAVE MINISTERED TO ME TODAY!! Thank you, thank you for this well-written, meaningful, insightful, transparent, helpful post! Boy, has God brought you through and it sounds like your life and marriage is a living testimony of that. Thank you Jesus!! I really enjoyed reading this and I love the way you inserted quotes and helpful hints throughout the post. I would like to peruse the rest of your blog some time. Thanks.

Kim said...

Oh...bless your sweet heart and Happy (early ) Anniversary!

30 years...WOW...what a blessing.

Thank-you for your words today...they are so powerful, and something we all need to consider. Marriage IS hard work...but OH so worth the effort we put forth.

Praying you have a WONDERFUL get-a-way time.


Faith said...

This was fantastic...can I count this as my morning devotions??!

Thank you for sharing all of this. I really like the quote you used, too.
What an awesome God we serve and what a testimony your marriage is.
Congrats on #30!!

Kristin Amato said...

Great post! Thanks for being real, and just being you. Your advice is hard to swallow, but oh so true.
I hope y'all have a wonderful time on your mini vacation.
Love, Kristin

Heather@Mommymonk said...

Jerry McCant's quote is particularly catching. Marriage requires death to self in a new way.

Congratulations on 30 years! That is wonderful.

luvmy4sons said...

Loved the quote...great stuff in this post...we are nearing 25 and I amazed how much we are still learnign about how to be ONE...just recently learned another lesson through our finances on that account! Congratulations on your longevity and happy marriage. I came into mine with a lot of baggage from chilhood too! God is good!

e-Mom said...

A beautiful, important post Susan. You've given some fabulous pointers and useful quotes for tasty gobbling.

And you've certainly earned the right to be heard. Congratulations on 30 years of marriage. I hope you enjoyed a delicious getaway in historic Charleston, SC. What a great city!

I ache for your dysfunctional childhood, but PTL for His healing balm in your life.

Along the way, I've discovered that many conflicts in marriage are universal, due to our innate gender differences. Sigh. We're all in it together!

Thanks for participating in Marriage Monday, today Susan. (((Hugs)))

Sheryl said...

Susan, I came by earlier and couldn't pull it together long enough to leave a comment. Happy Anniversary (early). I truly am so happy for you that your marriage brings such joy.

Thank you for addressing those of us who are struggling in our marriages. I know there is always hope and I am trying desperately to hold to that hope when all looks lost. You are truly an inspiration and SUCH an encouragement.

Love ya,

Amy said...

30 years WOW! only through Christ can that happen, atleast I think so. Congrats early.
Your post really spoke to me today. DH and I are going to counseling on Monday nights at our church and it has be the best thing we have ever done for our marriage. We have learned alot and yet have so far to go. But we are taking one day at a time with Christ. Thanks for your post. I am sending a link to it to my sister who is in need of these words. God Bless

Melanie said...

Oh, Susan.. this is a beautiful post about the truths of being married. It certainly is wonderful.. but only if alot of hard work, love and commitment is put in by both partners. And, is centered on God.

Thanks so much for your words of truth today!

Toia said...

I understand what you saying. Saying those three words, "I was wrong", can be like teeth (to me)sometimes.

By the Happy Anniversary in advance. It looks like you will be in my neck of the woods at the end of July.

Christina said...

Excellent post. Marriage is such hard work, but so well worth it. I hate to say I am wrong, but this is one that seems to bring about such peace. My hubby isn't one to rub things in my face either so that helps a lot with this one.

I don't think people today realize that if they would just work all their stuff through they would end up with a strong and happy marriage instead of starting all over again to end up figuring all this out later then it could of been.

Happy Anniversary and I am glad to hear that your marriage is better then ever, this is a strong testament to the young bloggers out there. Hopefully that will take heed.

a woman found said...

"You can never be happily married to another until you get a divorce from yourself. A successful marriage demands a certain death to self. ~Jerry McCan" OH! I love that quote!

So true, everything you wrote! I'm just 15 years into marriage and if the Lord tarrys I pray by 30 I'll be less frequently clinging to pride and much more frequently being willing to be wrong even when I feel I'm right!


Tiffany Stuart said...

Congrats on 30 years soon! Sounds like a precious getaway you have planned.

Interesting post you have here. This was the same two things that I heard at church this weekend. It was a video series on marriage. Amazing to read this again. I'm definitely wondering if God is trying to speak this truth deeper into my heart. I still have pride and it's easy to avoid admitting I'm wrong.

Thanks for challenging me to love my husband through humility and forgiveness.

And as always, friend, thank you for visiting me and commenting faithfully. You bless me everytime you stop by. And then I feel blessed even more when I stop by your blog.

Enjoy your God given mate this week.

And someday, I want to hear your life story over tea!


Denise said...

Beautiful post!!!!!! Oh how we need to teach the younger women the truth of marriage...Oh how we needed such teaching in our youth.... I pray all the time that the Father will take my mistakes , terrible mistakes and let me teach the younger women..... Happy Anniversary......... the Father has brought you to a large place........


Tami Boesiger said...

Good advice, Susan!


Lelia Chealey said...

first of all, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY sweet Susan!!!

2nd, how did you know I needed to read this right now?

Gene & I have attended many, because we help out, Family Life marriage conferences. We have done many studies on marriage and heard many wise speakers on what to do and what not to do. However, the week and a half of what we just went through with our daughter has really caught up with me and took its toll on me this weekend. Needless to say hubby slept downstairs Sat/Sunday nights.
Time to say I'm sorry...both to Jesus and my husband.
Thank you friend!!
Love you,

Tammy said...

Susan, I completely agree with everyone...this was so real, so well written, and so beautiful and filled with God's truth!
Let me just say that I so needed to read this!

I love the quote about "divorcing yourself"

I can identify, in that my childhood was dysfunctional also, and left me feeling insecure in many ways...AND my husband's love language is service also. (Mine is affection and affirmation...when we found this out, we had to wonder it sometimes felt as though our needs weren't always being met!)

Anyway, your post was such a blessing to read- thank you for sharing your heart and wisdom!

Jennifer said...

Thank you for the sweet comment! And again, thanks for your uplifting post today--your writings are so p-o-w-e-r-f-u-l!

I like what you said about "first, we must divorce from ourself". WOW...that is sooo true. Lots of good quotes to entertain the thought here. Looking forward to your next post! By the way, congratulations on number 30!

MiPa said...

Bless you for sharing your heart. Happy Anniversary, slightly early!

Jan Parrish said...

Happy Anniversary! Thanks for being so transparent. What a wonderful post!

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

Beautifully put! And Happy Anniversary!

Kim said...

WOW! What a blessing from God to find your blog this morning (1 a.m. in Alabama!)
This post really ministered to me!
God bless you!
Kim in Alabama