Learning, Life

Seeing God in a flawed, human marriage.

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At the end of this month Tal and I will have been together for 7 years. Together for 7, married for 2. Tal has seen me through my Donovan, Dandy Warhol, and Daft Punk phases, and I’ve seen him through his Rancid (however I’m not sure if he ever liked the music, he did wear the shirt), rainbow suspenders, and Radiohead phases. It’s been good, beautiful, messy, painful, hard, easy, tragic, silly, mellow, stressful, fun, and amazing. The coolest most miraculous part however of being in this union with Tal is what it’s taught me about God’s love, selflessness, and grace.

When you see the analogy of Christ being the bridegroom and his church being the bride you can go one of two ways. You can be afraid that the bridegroom won’t find you attractive, won’t sacrifice himself for you, and won’t love and accept you, or you can run into his arms knowing that he definitely finds you attractive (he made you!), he gave himself for you, and that he loves and accepts you. So with that base here are some of the things in my marriage which have revealed Gods love for me.

A lot of people nowadays wait until there late 20s to settle down, and they do this for a lot of reasons, but one I’ve heard a lot is because they want to really “know” who they are (ask any 80 year old if they ever really knew exactly who they were… Lol, it’s a hard task to get done before 30!), and I think underneath that belief is the belief that they don’t want to or won’t be able to have the grace to see someone through that searching phase of their lives. Meaning, we don’t want to have the grace to let someone grow. We think if we wait until we’re 30, that person won’t change and neither will we (as if!).

I think God gives grace for growth. Tal and I have been together since we were 15 and 16 respectively… We’ve needed a lot of grace to grow. I’ve seen God pour out grace upon grace to me as I camp in different areas of my faith, as I walk as far away as I can, and as he gives me grace to love Tal through his changing, too. In 2009 Tal and I tried to live in Vancouver on minimum wage and an 18 year olds wisdom, needless to say, it didn’t end well. I was fickle. I needed grace. I hated my life after giving it a good, long, hard, ehem 5 weeks, and I knew I needed to go home and reconnect with God. Tal upon hearing this (me in tears sitting at a fountain in front of a business building on Burrard, him coming to visit on his 20 minute break from working at American Apparel on Robson) shares with me that he’s apathetic towards Christ and his salvation. Hmm. So I feel like I’ve received this divine wake up call to reconnect with my saviour, and he is further away than he’s ever been. Grace for growth. Tal had immense grace for me as he had already been renting a place and making good friendships out there, and now his girlfriend was moving home. A lot of his coworkers (with the exception of one “if you really love her you should follow her” (thank you so much Tals coworker!!!)) told him to dump me, that he deserved better, but he loved me, so he had grace for me. He did end up moving home a few months later. It was the strangest time, but a good time. I experienced companionship with God, and the distance I needed from Tal in order to have the time (we were together, however, through this entire season, and I’d see him on weekends).

Imagine if God had peers. Here God is loving all of humanity, and cherishing his children who have accepted his gift of salvation, and we’re still being human. We’re not perfect by any stretch. Don’t you think his peers would be saying, “dump them man, they’ve caused you so much heartbreak, you deserve better”? But he loves us! He’d reply, “I love them, I can’t imagine not having them, I want to be in communication with them, I’m going to give them grace to grow.”

Sometimes in a relationship you really hurt each other. You lie, you hide, you are selfish, it’s really gross, but I think we should all just stand up and admit it. In a marriage though you love someone so much that you are selfless when they’re being selfish and you have grave when they’re being graceless, trusting that when you’re selfish and graceless they’ll do the same. The thing about the the biblical marriage analogy is that in that marriage God is perfect and we’re a mess, but through Christ we have been made righteous enough to be in a union with God. In human marriage we’re both learning to love and live our faith through the Spirit, but we still do crumby things to each other. There are big things, and small things, and love, selflessness, and grace can cover them all.

Since we’ve been married I’ve gone through a couple of seasons of depression. They last a few months, and I really become a pain in the neck to deal with. Our marriage structure is that Tal is the breadwinner and I am the homemaker, and that usually works really really well for us, but when I’m depressed? I stop cooking, I stop doing laundry, I stop cleaning, and I spend money. There was a time last year when the fridge was empty because I hadn’t shopped and all we had really was pancake mix. I made pancakes for dinner every night for two weeks. We didn’t have milk or eggs either, so it was pancake mix and water. Every working man reading this that would admit that he’d need supernatural grace to put up with me through these seasons, raise your hand. Well Tal was given that grace for me. He’d come home, shower in our dirty bathroom, eat his soggy pancakes, cuddle me, and go to bed in our unmade bed. He just loved me through the whole thing. He knew I was acting out of character, but he loves my soul, and so he nurtured me through it all. God gives us grace for situations like these. Tal became immensely selfless when I was being incredibly selfish.

How many times in the Bible does God reveal his selfless love for us? Even in the time of the brutal law of Moses he had grace for the ones who lived by faith!

Last summer Tal and I experienced a hurdle in our marriage that we never thought we’d have to jump. It hurt. There was a lot of anger. There was also a lot of supernatural grace again. Within 20 minutes or so of everything coming to light, we had grace for each other… And I know this wasn’t my own grace or Tals own grace because for some humans this situation would be a deal breaker in a marriage. It was like this curtain of grace fell on to both of us and we were able to not look so much at the physical situation but at our souls and what our actions were saying about how we were feeling, how did our actions show the health or lack of health of our marriage, how did the situation reveal who we were? Yea, there have been consequences and repercussions of all of it, but within days Tal and I were closer than we had ever been in 6 years.

This is another really cool thing about God that I’ve learnt through marriage. God wants us to reconcile ourselves to him, and so he shows this reconciliation over and over and over to us in our lives. Every horrible situation we’ve been through, God turns into a beautiful story. Even last summer, when we were steeped in pain, we came out more honest, closer to God, and closer to each other than we’d ever been! God restored intimacy to us and intimacy to Him! Beautiful.

That grace that fell on us is not even an eye drops worth of grace in comparison to the grace God has poured out to us. I’m letting that sink in. That miraculous grace I experienced a year ago, is nothing compared to the grace God has for humanity.

This has been heavy, here’s something a little lighter, but just as beautiful!

Have you ever read Song of Solomon and imagined God was the “he” and you were the “she”? Please do. If you’re not sure about how much God loves you, it will blow your mind.

Song of Solomon 7:4
(This is the he speaking to the she)
You are all together beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.

So the Bible has this beautiful expression of love between a man and a woman, and then we read that the love between a man and a woman is symbolic of the love between God and us! When you’re standing at the alter with your future spouse it’s not difficult to love them right? You love them! You want to spend the rest of your life with them! How come we can’t seem to see that this effortless love we often feel for our spouses (sometimes there is effort, I know, we’re humans) is poured out to us from God in WAY larger amounts!? It’s like we believe “God loves me, but…” But that’s not truth, if you’ve accepted the salvation of Christ, died to your “self” and are walking in the Spirit, you are righteous and perfected in Gods eyes, we’re covered in the blood of Christ, he looks at us and says “you are all together beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you!”

Lets stretch our imaginations a bit, because why would we have them if we weren’t supposed to use them? The other day I was texting Tal (our primary form of communication when he’s away) and I was saying how lucky I felt to have a husband that worked so hard for me, then without skipping a beat Tal replied, “I’m the lucky one.” I immediately felt like God was trying to teach me something. I was saying I was lucky because of everything Tal has done and is doing for me, and he says he’s the lucky one because… I’m sitting at home waiting for him? No, he’s says he’s the lucky one because he loves me! This is where the stretching comes in — we’re always thanking God for everything he’s done for us and how amazing his salvation is, and how lucky we are to know him, and I imagine him saying, “I’m the lucky one.”

When you think about it, it’s not too much of a stretch. God made us to be in communication with him, but then because of sin, we couldn’t, and he wanted us so badly to be able to come to him! That desire for communication for us was so strong that he sent his Son to die for us, in hopes that we’d accept that gift and run to him. When we accept Jesus and run to God, he’s the dad in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), he’s the groom when he sees his bride coming down the aisle, he’s “the lucky one.” This is so beautiful to me, goosebumps and teary eyes.

Marriage is hard, but beautiful, so is a walk with Christ. Regardless of how hard it is, however, we are being drenched in love and grace. We fall down, we make mistakes, we hurt each other, and God turns these into something beautiful, just like how he turned the story of humanity into a story of reconciliation.

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