This is the final post in a series taken from my book, Letters to My Daughters. The book is based on questions about marriage I gathered from my four daughters, my two “grafted in” daughters who married my sons, and many of their friends, and it’s dedicated to all of them by name. It was a very satisfying book to work on, both in the content and in the creative graphics.
This book is now available in paperback, and this week’s post is an excerpt. I hope and pray this letter will help your marriage, and if you want more be sure to get the book! It makes a great gift for anyone engaged to be married. Over 60,000 copies of the hardback sold, so I’m immensely grateful to Andy McGuire at Bethany Publishing for giving it more life in the new paperback version.
Dear Mom: I thought we were really well matched when we got married—in our faith, that is—but I’m realizing we are really different here, too. It seems like we are doing well, and then out of the blue it feels like we are out of sync, or totally missing each other. It always catches me off guard. Advice?
To my girls,
I do get how easy it is to miss one another. Still happens to us, too, from time to time. The key is to make sure you both stay securely anchored to the solid Bedrock of your lives … not unlike the enormous foundation stones underneath the ancient temple in Jerusalem or the rock supporting historic cathedrals. You need to keep your focus on your own heart and who you are becoming, and not on your husband.
Churches and cathedrals have witnessed countless weddings. I was 23 when I walked down the aisle and repeated “I do.” To myself I thought, “I can do this, and I will be the best wife ever!” Did you feel that way, too, in your gown of white?
My confidence was high. Dennis and I were committed Christ followers and not just Sunday-morning pew warmers … so matrimonial success was virtually guaranteed, right? I was sure we would build a great marriage together and that it would be relatively easy.
Okay, I know you felt that way, too! We all start out optimistic to the max. Until reality crashes in.
I guess I should have told you that building a God-honoring marriage can be precarious, even scary at times. Sorry. Maybe then I should have tried to warn you, but you wouldn’t have believed me any more than I would have believed it on my wedding day. Most work in marriage is on-the-job training. But I’ve learned it’s not impossible even when it feels that way, so be encouraged.
I know you know the right foundation for your marriage is the Rock of Christ. But it’s so much more than just believing that He exists, or knowing the creeds. It’s belonging to Him as His daughter and being all His. It’s taking Him at His word when He says He will supply all your needs or when He says to forgive, just a God in Christ has forgiven you. It’s throwing yourself on Him because you have learned you simply cannot make this marriage thing that He created actually work.
And then you do it all over again every time you feel out of sync. Sometimes it’s needed daily.
Do you remember hearing us tell the story of our first Christmas, four months after our wedding? That December your dad and I signed over everything in our lives to God. We both wrote letters to God giving Him our lives before we gave each other our first Christmas gifts. It was a way of saying, “You are first in our lives, God, and we want You to always be first.” No one witnessed this little ceremony, but we hoped He would be pleased.
It seemed simple at the time—almost unnecessary, since we’d both given our lives to Christ years before, but in hindsight it was anything but insignificant. Given the trials and tests to come, it was pivotal. Jesus was already the foundation of our faith, but on that first Christmas in 1972 He become the foundation of our marriage.
It would be easy to disregard our little Christmas ceremony as redundant and unnecessary. Old-fashioned. Quaint. After all, God knows you believe all that already, right?
But surrender is the essence of the gospel, and sometimes an outward expression of that inward commitment makes a stronger foundation. Surrender is necessary for forgiveness as 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteous.” Surrender to God as the only One who can give you what you need for your marriage is like the thin, almost invisible lead webbing which holds all those sparkling pieces of glass in place in the windows of every cathedral.
So if you’re struggling now, do a foundation inspection. Have you surrendered to Christ—is He the foundation of your life and your marriage? Is He the one holding your life and marriage together? You might have asked Jesus into your heart when you were little, but now as a woman there are more distractions, more to lure you away from your first love. An old hymn says, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”
- Surrender to Jesus is not a one-time decision, but a daily one. Sometimes it’s needed many times in one day.
- A beautiful marriage is not possible without a solid foundation built on the Rock of Christ.
- And the windows of beauty God wants to add to your marriage structure can only remain strong with the glue of surrender securely in place between each pane of colored glass.
It’s always a good time to make sure your heart is all His,
This post was adapted with permission from my book, Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife, ©2016, Bethany House Publishers. If you enjoyed reading this, you’ll find many more letters in the book about different issues that come up in marriage.