Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Happy Anniversary, 33 Years of Life’s Lessons
Today I celebrate with my wife, 33 years of marriage. I realize that in today’s world that is quite an accomplishment, especially when considering that we have actually been together for around 35 years if you count the time together that we weren’t married. In a world where more than half of all marriages, including the marriages of people of faith end in divorce, I am often asked how we have made our marriage work. There are also assumptions that everything about our marriage has been wonderful and that we have always gotten along.
The truth is, there have been rough spots in our marriage, including parts where I was far from a perfect husband, as if I was ever close. We even separated for a period of time some 10-12 years ago, even contemplated divorce up to the point where we spoke to our children of the likely divorce. No, things have been far from perfect in our relationship.
In the difficulty in our marriage I take full blame for my actions but some will ask what is it that kept us together. The answer is quite simple and almost a cliché, the answer is God.
I will never forget an Easter Sunday when we were separated when I went to visit Mary Jane and the kids at our house in Owasso. I was spending more time away from them and decided a visit on Easter Sunday. I loved my kids despite the difficulty of the relationship with my wife. As was the norm I left my family mid morning to go back to where I was staying. Along the way I was listening to the radio and heard the testimony of I believe Yolanda Adams. On the journey back I heard Yolanda Adams say of how much she had ruined her life and of how she was reminded of her grandmothers’ prayers. While listening to this I was reminded of my own grandmothers’ prayers. I recalled waking up to see my grandmother sitting at the kitchen table, reading her bible, praying, often times praying for me. I couldn’t help but reflect of how I was throwing away my grandmothers prayers in breaking my relationship with my wife. I arrived at the place I was staying, sat down and within an hour from arrival I had written a song called Grandmas’ Prayers. That evening I decided to make my marriage work with my wife.
Many will ask what does this have to do with an Anniversary Celebration. The answer is quite simple; we were willing to work at making our marriage work. We realized that God brought us together and it was worth working at something God had blessed, a relationship of marriage between the two of us. Long story made short, we worked at it and our relationship is stronger now than ever. Is it perfect? No, but last night as we sat on our love seat together, fighting illness and physical pain that comes sometimes with getting older, I told Mary Jane, “we will be married until either one of us dies or we both die together.” She affirmed that to be the case, we realize our relationship with each other is for life. Now how all of that plays into the eternal, I honestly can’t say, I can say that I hope the two of us becoming one in marriage is something that lasts for all of eternity. We love each other and on that there is no doubt. In that love though, we have learned lessons others can I think, if willing learn from.
One of the things I have become convinced of is that many don’t take seriously the relationships they are involved in. There is a difference between a dating relationship and a life committal relationship, I for one value the commitment we made to each other. We took our vows seriously and thankfully we have seriously worked at keeping them. I will also say, that for me, there has been nothing better than a monogamous relationship of which I can experience the joy of sharing life together with a mate, along side our walk with God. What I will say here will shock many, but the greatest shared joy in life we have is our faith. Our faith in God is without a doubt the secret to our long term relationship, joy, and hope for tomorrow. I can not imagine two people sharing life together where their shared belief in their faith did not exist.
We encourage couples to stay strong through the difficulties. When a shared faith and shared love of that faith exists, then it is possible to fight through and win the battles against the other things that would pull you apart.
Of course in all of this there is the assumption that I am saying people should either get married, or stay married, that isn’t the truth either. There are relationships where God doesn’t exist, there are ongoing abuses and more that may exist. I can’t imagine those types of relationships without God. I can say that with God individuals can overcome any types of relationship but God has to be at the forefront of all of those battles. Otherwise, I don’t know of how likely it is those marriages will succeed. I am also reminded though of the beautiful concepts of singleness which should also be celebrated. I am reminded here of the words from the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:1-16.
1) Now I will answer the questions that you asked in your letter. You asked, “Is it best for people not to marry?” 2) Well, having your own husband or wife should keep you from doing something immoral. 3) Husbands and wives should be fair with each other about having sex. 4) A wife belongs to her husband instead of to herself, and a husband belongs to his wife instead of to himself. 5) So don’t refuse sex to each other, unless you agree not to have sex for a little while, in order to spend time in prayer. Then Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6) In my opinion that is what should be done, though I don’t know of anything the Lord said about this matter. 7) I wish that all of you were like me, but God has given different gifts to each of us.
8) Here is my advice for people who have never been married and for widows. You should stay single, just as I am. 9) But if you don’t have enough self-control, then go ahead and get married. After all, it is better to marry than to burn with desire.
10) I instruct married couples to stay together, and this is exactly what the Lord himself taught. A wife who leaves her husband 11) should either stay single or go back to her husband. And a husband should not leave his wife.
12) I don’t know of anything else the Lord said about marriage. All I can do is to give you my own advice. If your wife isn’t a follower of the Lord, but is willing to stay with you, don’t divorce her. 13) If your husband isn’t a follower, but is willing to stay with you, don’t divorce him. 14 Your husband or wife who isn’t a follower is made holy by having you as a mate. This also makes your children holy and keeps them from being unclean in God’s sight.
15) If your husband or wife isn’t a follower of the Lord and decides to divorce you, then you should agree to it. You are no longer bound to that person. After all, God chose you and wants you to live at peace. 16) And besides, how do you know if you will be able to save your husband or wife who isn’t a follower?
Is it worth it to fight for this love concept called marriage? You bet it is, I know, as one who almost failed, I have learned the joy of success. I have experienced if for 33 years as of today, and I hope and pray that we will experience it together for all of eternity. That is love, and marriage is a bonding experience of love I celebrate today. Hopefully in my celebration, I have encouraged you to either celebrate your own relationships and to battle if necessary to make your relationships work, or to let you know, that it is perfectly okay to also celebrate your singleness if you are single. God is good all the time, I know because he has blessed me and among the greatest blessings I could experience is to be in a life long union with the most wonderful woman God could have ever blessed me with. For a dumb ol street kid who had nothing in life to look forward to, God has used my wife to bless my life and the ministry we are engaged in but I also have an eternity to look forward to. For that I am grateful to my God, but I am also so grateful for my wonderful soul mate, my wife Mary Jane.
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