Growing up, I had the ideal family. My parents had a great relationship and I only recall seeing them fight a handful of times. I naturally assumed that a good and happy marriage was the status quo and all I needed to do was to meet the right person. As I got older and began to fall in and out of relationships, I grew frustrated at the fact I couldn’t find the perfect girl. She was always not smart enough or pretty enough. Her voice sounded funny or she was too needy and clingy. She wasn’t good enough, had too much baggage or had an unforgivable past. No matter what it was, I always found something in that other person to push them away.
Fast forward to the end of my most recent relationship. Things ended. I was extremely confused and really don’t know what happened. We both loved each other but we just couldn’t make it work. Before getting into the relationship, we were two selfless individuals that wanted nothing but the best for the other person. So how did we become so selfish when we began dating? In search of answers, I took a trip back home and went to my father for advice on how he was able to find the perfect woman in my mother. His answer was shocking. For the first time, he admitted to both my mother and I that he had a very difficult time dealing with my mother’s mood swings and foul temper. There were several occasions where he didn’t think the marriage was going to last. However, he stuck it out because he put his family first and he took his selfish needs out of the equation. He saw the bigger picture of providing a secure home for my mom and me. He loved my mother and I the way Jesus loved.
After hearing those words, I realized that I’ve never made that sort of commitment to anyone in my life. In every relationship, my selfishness always took over and shifted the focus away from being a servant to what I can get out of the other person. No healthy relationship can exist that way. Then, I began digging through my memory bank to see if I’ve ever personally experienced a healthy relationship. A person that saw my darkest secrets, yet still loved me the same. A person who was proud of me, even at my most disappointing moment. A person that offered me grace when I deserved nothing but punishment… and I found one: the relationship I have with Jesus. He is the ultimate lover, forgiver, and nurturer. I know I can go to Him at any time and he never looks at me with disdain even though I am covered with sin.
So what does this have to do with marriage? I realized that I am married. I got married when I was baptized. My baptism represents my union between myself and God. Jesus is my ultimate lover and He is better to me than I am to myself. In our relationship, He is the unrelenting giver. He sees how I cheat, disrespect, and live unfaithfully. Yet, He is always waiting by the door, waiting to embrace me when I return. And it’s through His promise that I can be filled spiritually so one day I can love my wife like Jesus.
Marriage is a promise. Marriage is a promise that will stand for the rest of my life. It is the promise to act lovingly even when you don’t feel loving. It is the promise to sacrifice your own desires for the sake of keeping a family united. It is the promise to do what is right for the other person versus what feels right to me. It is the promise to love with action vs. feelings or words. It is the promise of granting unlimited grace and mercy. It is the promise that will define me at heaven’s gate. It is the promise I will make to God to cherish and love the greatest gift He will every deliver. And I only know this because it is the same promise Jesus had made to me.
The difference is after Jesus made those promises, He lives it everyday. I can’t because I am human. I will always fall short. However, I had a paradigm shift and realized that one of my major purposes in life is to make the ultimate sacrifice of giving up everything that belongs to my selfish heart and dedicating my life to serving my best friend, my wife. It is my commitment to try every moment to live as a reflection of Jesus. Marriage is not a place where I go to derive love. That can only be filled through my marriage with Jesus because I can only fill my love tank through the One that loved me first. It is written in Ephesians 22-23: 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. The reason why wives should submit to their husband is because the husband first promised to love his wife like the way Jesus loved us first. This means the husband agreed to sacrifice himself to be the ultimate servant to his wife, the same way Jesus did with us. In return, the women should submit to the husband’s love and allow him to lead the relationship closer to Christ.
As a single person, it is so easy for me to write all this because I have yet to make the promise of marriage. However, I do believe that preparation for marriage doesn’t start with when we are standing in front of an alter announcing my marriage vows. It doesn’t start when I meet the perfect girl. It starts today, when I stand alone. Marriage is the opportunity for me to live as a reflection of Jesus, to love another person the way He did. And that is more fulfilling then anything I can gain in this world.
Jesus, I pray You make me into the man my future wife needs me to be.