I said yes to Jason on August 28, 1994, just three months after he graduated from high school. I'd graduated a year before. (Yep. I robbed the cradle.) He asked me to marry him in my dorm room after eating at Steak and Ale for our two year dating anniversary.
Less than ten months later I said yes again in the form of I do. We went home to a kitchen I'd decorated entirely with sunflowers and to navy and white checkered monogrammed pillowcases. I was beside myself that I was getting to play house with the person who taught me how to look people in the eye. He was someone I was comfortable enough to sing in front of. (It was a good thing too because my heart was full of song).
Sixteen months later, I held my nine month earlier yes in a small bundle where blue eyes peeked out, and knew life would never be the same. Little did I realize that a simple yes and a lot of love weren't the sole ingredients to parenthood (and marriage for that matter).
Committed relationships aren't easy. They're not. Regardless of how easy some make it look, regardless of how exciting the initial yes is, marriage is hard work, just like most anything we'll say yes to that matters.
Marriage is a gift. But it comes with instructions that we're often either too busy to read or in a language that's difficult, if not near impossible to understand. It calls us to be vulnerable and selfless, attentive, and at the same time, at ease. That's not the language of the world we live in.
We make a commitment, unsure of what circumstances will test it. And certainly difficulties and circumstances will test it, if not flat out try to destroy it.
Several months ago the importance (and difficulty) of marriage was on my heart; so much so that I went to Jason and told him that there had to be something God wanted us to do besides pray for marriages.
It was either the next day (or two days later) that an old friend of ours sent a Facebook message asking if Jason and I would be interested in putting together a marriage retreat.
It was one of the quickest and most obvious answers to prayer I think I've ever received. Since then we've been preparing by the way of study and prayer. I've also done a little laughing at the irony of difficulties that have inserted themselves, reminding me of struggle, providing us with marriage material to share.
My easy yeses always prove to be more difficult than I perceived.
- Requires follow through- Saying yes is easy. It's sticking with your commitment that can prove difficult; especially when your yes turns out to be more than you bargained for. It takes more time, energy and heart than you might have initially understood.
- Saying yes requires saying no- Saying yes means that you will inevitably say no to something else. When you make a commitment, your time is switched (to some extent) from something that was receiving your devotion to this new thing. Sometimes you feel torn. You may begrudge what your yes demands you say no to.
- It requires faith-When you say yes, you are only in control over your decisions. You must hope that others will do their part and that nature will cooperate. More important, you trust that God will work things out for his good purpose. Most often his purpose doesn't look the way you planned. His purpose can cause discomfort, doubt and a holy stretching of what you thought you agreed to.
...But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ Matthew 5:37
Jason and I are on our way to the marriage retreat in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. We'd ask for your prayers for safety on the road. Pray for our kiddos. I'd ask too that you remember us as we lead. We ask that you'd pray for the couples that will attend. Pray that God will be heard...and believed.
Pray for those you know who will soon wed; that they will acknowledge that commitment to God is vital to a healthy marriage. Lift up those who are struggling; that they would continue to fight through the hard part of I do, and I will.
Help us all to put pride, indifference and defeat on the back shelf, seeking help in our marriage when help isn't desired or convenient. Pray that we all would experience a marriage that reminds us that God is faithful and renewing and ever abounding in love.