It was our fifteenth wedding anniversary. I stood in the card aisle, searching for the perfect message to describe in words the past fifteen years of my life. As I thumbed through the one's marked "husband," the years rolled back in my mind. I saw our first introduction; I a shy co-ed barely turned eighteen. I recalled early years of marriage when I struggled to adjust to being a firefighter's wife. I remembered all our fun trips, just the two of us, experiencing new sites together.
The years passed by in my mind and I remembered the joy of him holding our first child, born after the second hurricane tore through our town. Memories came back of the stress on our marriage during those first couple years of parenthood. I remembered too, those rocky years when my depression had a stranglehold on my heart. And I couldn't forget the time I brought tears to his eyes when I voiced my deepest pains and disappointments about our marriage.
All those years of marriage, each moment woven together like a tapestry. The threads interlaced creating a pattern of joys and pains, successes and losses, laughter and tears. How could I find a card that expressed the miracle of two wounded hearts trying to make a marriage work?
The Miracle of Grace
A friend recently said something similar to me. She asked how many years we'd been married. When I told her, she remarked on the miracle of marriage. And it is a miracle. With half of all marriages ending in divorce, it is only by the miraculous hand of God's grace at work in our lives that we remain married -- "until death do us part."
In our commitment shy culture, it doesn't take much for a relationship to dissolve. But what it takes for a marriage to make it is grace. The same grace that took on flesh and lived in this sin stained world. The same grace that dined with sinners. The same grace that washed the feet of a traitor. The same grace that drank the cup of wrath, bearing for us the rejection of the Father.
The miracle of marriage is an act of grace from the Bridegroom Himself, Jesus Christ.
In looking back on my own marriage, I've found that it's only in relying upon the grace of Christ at work in and through our marriage that we have weathered the storms of discontentment, failed expectations, hurtful words, losses, and temptations. Christ has to be the center and focus of our marriage. His grace must be the thread that binds us together. Because when we rely on ourselves and try to do it on our own, our marriage will unravel.
A Card that Symbolizes the Miracle
As I stood there flipping through anniversary cards and reflecting on the ups and downs we've experienced over the years of marriage, I counted it as grace that I had so many cards from which to choose. I finally selected my card that day with a grateful heart to the One who gives grace and makes the miracle of marriage possible.
The morning came when my husband and I exchanged our cards. I opened the one he chose and laughter bubbled up from down deep within. Then I handed him the one I had chosen.
He opened it up and found -- we had chosen the very same one.
Christina Fox (@toshowthemjesus) is a homeschooling mom, licensed mental health counselor, writer, and coffee drinker, not necessarily in that order. She lives in sunny South Florida with her husband of sixteen years and their two boys. You can find her sharing her faith journey at To Show Them Jesus and on Facebook.