I never dreamed of wedding veils, true love, or Prince Charming. I dreamed of travel, adventure, and a life of purpose away from the bickering anger of adults. Marriage looked so awful, something that would eventually end in divorce, hatred or both. So why bother?
This was a picture many of us grew up with. Far from a commitment that grows and changes a person, that softens sharp edges, that teaches self-sacrifice, marriage was portrayed before our eyes as something people do when their head feels light and their heart flutters. We saw marriage as a decision its participants horribly regretted later.
Few things teach like experience. The childhood experiences that shaped my understanding of marriage weren’t healthy. What I was taught and shown about marriage was wrong.
No matter how we twist it, marriage was meant for our good. Marriage was meant to grow us and to provide a firm foundation for raising a family.
It took me years to understand what a gift it is to experience the deep growth that happens when a husband and wife give for each other, with no exits, in difficult circumstances. If we don’t shrink from them, I’ve learned that the hardest things we encounter in life can be the most valuable because they grow our character. The tension of a man and a woman doing life together can mold something in them that is priceless. This very process, this giving of self, is counter cultural.
Our culture tells us to live for ourselves, to do what makes us happy, to love only if we get in return. What poor character that builds! What a poor society. In doing what is counter cultural, in giving of ourselves--even laying down our lives--our character is built, and our reward is rich: not the cheap, quick, temporary gain of self-love, but the beauty of strong, enduring love that is real and reliable. This is the self-giving, self-sacrificing love that makes us a picture of Jesus. I want to be more like that.
Marriage should be treasured for the value it brings to husbands and wives, to their children, and for the character it develops in them. I am not married, and I believe in and praise those people who live incredibly passionate lives of following God on a singular mission. I know God brings us other opportunities to lay ourselves down and to offer this self-giving love. But, for all those little kids who will grow up like I did, with a mistaken idea of what marriage is, and without an understanding of the self-giving that builds character and love, I cheer on the rebuilding of a marriage culture.Media: