People talk about marriage being hard all the time. They don’t necessarily expound on the claim, they just throw it out into the universe as a generic cliche. It’s an unfair thing to say without explanation, really. Do they mean that life is hard? Being single is hard. Being in a complicated relationship is hard. But how can marriage in general be flippantly classified as “hard” when each one is unique, just as we are unique individuals? Whether it’s the truth or not, I wish it wasn’t ingrained into the minds of young people who haven’t had a chance to experience it for themselves, it kind of puts a damper on such an amazing gift.
I wasn’t nervous, not one bit. Waking up that day was 1,000 times more exciting than Christmas morning. June 21, 2015 marked the one year anniversary of when I walked down the aisle to say yes to my man for-ev-er. My sheer euphoria protected my makeup from becoming tarnished by streams of tears. It was a fun day. I intentionally kept it as low maintenance as possible. Sisters for bridesmaids, no caravans of girls or video crews following all day to watch me transform into a smokin’ bride, no embroidered anything to give to my biggest fans. I had plenty of showers, and tea parties, and everything else short of a quinceanera leading up to my wedding, so my focus that day was all about family, old and new. It was exactly how I wanted it, and it was beautiful indeed.
After one year, my hope is that I’ve grown and matured, especially as I have ventured into this new role of becoming a wife. My desire is that I would not reinforce the euphemism that marriage is “hard” because it is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Like any life transition though, marriage presents opportunities for pruning and growth. I haven’t come up with an extensive list of what I’ve learned or surprises I have encountered, but I have gotten a better idea of how God might use marriage to bless community, and God has been faithful to strengthen me through a Godly man.
Twenty-somethings are encouraged to savor their years of singlehood because it’s the most selfish time of life. Marriage is the proposed rude awakening of this said selfishness, and learning to be a selfless servant to one’s spouse is supposed to be real tough. But what I have observed is that married couples are perhaps more susceptible to struggle with selfishness together as one. The awesome thing about getting married is that, yes, two become one, but one marriage with double the capacity to serve others. When you are head over heels for someone, it should be natural to want to care for and serve them–it brings joy to make the people you love feel loved. But as a couple, we are called to become servants to others together. Marriage is a ministry. This doesn’t look the same for all families, but for Lee and me, we want to have an open home to others. We learned early on, in our tiny one bedroom apartment that we really enjoyed having people over for dinner above anything else on the weekend. It is easy when life gets demanding to retreat to the home as a safe and private space to escape the world, but when I dream about how God might use us as a couple, I think about having an open door to host and feed people who are hungry. My flesh fails when I seek the comfort of my husband and I stop sharing our home and closing off from others.
Another profound experience I’ve had within marriage is the daily walk with someone who sincerely lives out their faith. Being married to Lee has given me a healthy perspective of spiritual leadership within marriage that many of us have heard about growing up. Marrying a “spiritual leader” was also one of those ambiguous concepts that got tossed around but was not as clearly defined as a Proverbs 31 wife. It comes naturally for Lee because of his love for God and his desire to always grow deeper. We don’t have Bible study every morning before work, and he doesn’t check in on me or quiz me about my spiritual disciplines. He simply draws me closer to Jesus through his love and example. This can create an obstacle as well. Sometimes I have to re-center myself and see that I love Jesus in Lee, I can go to Lee with every concern because He is following God and listens to the spirit, but I have to remember to bring my cares first to Jesus. His example makes me want to strengthen my faith. I receive love in a brand new way from Christ because when Lee forgives me and extends grace, I know it’s because of Christ in him. It’s awesome. There’s no formula for spiritual leadership, it’s all about being drawn closer to one another as we draw closer to Christ.
Just like every other year of life, the road we have traveled since last June has been a winding one, but it’s been one of the most rewarding, transforming years of my life. I look forward to growing our family and our ministry, and listening for direction on how God would continue to use the King’s to love one another and our community for as long as we both shall live.
Jill King is the Glocal Impact local pastor at Northwood Church in Keller, Texas. She mobilizes the church to engage in the city through building relationships in the context of local ministry. Jill graduated in 2010 with a degree in social work from Baylor University, which is where she developed her passion and interest in engaging inner city populations. Follow Jill on Twitter via @ChristinaJill.
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