The pendulum of our marriage oscillates and sometimes wobbles, but it is suspended from above and firmly attached. By God’s grace, it will not crash to the ground.
These are Noel Piper’s thoughts from the forward to her husband John Piper’s book, This Momentary Marriage. John Piper looks at marriage in view of eternity, as an earthly parable of the relationship between Christ and the church. In this sense, even though marriage is a lifetime commitment, it is momentary.
As a newlywed, the pendulum analogy is so encouraging and helpful to me. I’m often afraid whenever there are disagreements, when I think I’m not living up to some kind of ideal, or when I know that I’ve sinned. But our marriage is anchored in Christ. There will be highs and lows, the lows made lower because of sin. But thankfully, it’s not simply the strength of our affection holding us together. The Lord brought us together, and He holds us safe in the palm of His hand.
Marriage is for God’s glory and our sanctification. It’s not just for romance, pooled economic resources, 24-7 IT support, home-cooked meals, help changing breaklights, or children, although these are blessings to enjoy. Even for “spiritual superstars” like John and Noel Piper, marriage is tough; there is a lot of joy but also a lot of self-sacrifice. Even if my husband and I had followed the “perfect” Christian method to dating/courtship, marriage would still be both beautiful and ugly, exhilarating and maddening, inspiring and tedious. I liked how the Pipers were open about their struggles, but they kept the focus of the book off themselves. Thinking about the bigger picture–eternity–is relevant to every married and single person and so inspiring and hopeful!
“I can’t have five weddings!” my new friend exclaimed. “I am just going to have to pick a dress.” We were two brides in the throes of wedding planning, learning that we couldn’t incorporate every gorgeous, creative idea from Pinterest. I loved her joyful spirit and the contentment she had with what she and her fiancé were choosing. Because every time we make a choice to do something in life, we also choose not to do something else. And I often focus too much on all those options left behind.
My groom and I chose our modern invitations, blue and orange colors, and dark chocolate-covered orange peel favors to reflect our personality and style. Most importantly we chose to love each other for the rest of our lives. Then a short time later we watched our friend float down the green grass in her gorgeous gown and commit her love to her groom.
It’s very easy for me to second-guess decisions that I’ve made. I only spent 2 hours picking my wedding gown, and it was great; I really loved it. But after the wedding I saw others and wondered if they would have been better. And I saw other wedding centerpieces, bridesmaids’ dresses, favors…you get the idea. Really what I wanted was five more weddings.
But I only get one wedding and one groom…and for that I am incredibly grateful! Our wedding was amazing, so full of love from our family and friends and our Heavenly Father. And that was just one day. My husband is full of love and I get to experience him every day!
When I think of many choices in life, it helps me now to think, “Well, I can’t have five weddings!” Because I can’t have it all, but I can choose something and enjoy it.
But when I think of marriage, I love to think that God chose my husband for me. I love being on the other side of the wedding, where the debate “Does God have a specific person for you?” is now a silly question. There’s no second-guessing this choice… I love you, Noah, for the rest of my life.
Going to the Jersey Shore on Memorial Day has become something of annual tradition…okay, it’s happened twice, but now that I’m married to the man I went to the shore with those times, we’re hoping it will become tradition!
Sometimes joy is a fight…that’s one of the reasons I started writing this blog. I was fighting for joy and learning to find it in God. (And I continue to need God desperately.) But sometimes, joy effortlessly spills out of our hearts as we delight in the Lord and in His gifts to us. And that is how I felt these past two Memorial Days with the man who would become my husband…overflowing with joy!
The first time we went, I was convinced that going to the shore on Memorial Day would be a bad idea…traffic, cold water, crowded beaches, etc. None of this was a problem. We had a great time and enjoyed playing mini-golf on the boardwalk with friends. But for me, the highlight was walking along the beach and hearing him reveal his thoughts about the possibility of a future together. Even though he hadn’t said, “I love you” yet, I was totally “in love,” and I hoped he would be the one I loved for the rest of our lives. But really neither of us knew what God had planned for us. We were waiting.
One year later, so much had happened (including a break up and reconciliation). We found ourselves at the same beach, but in a totally different place. We were not engaged, but we were decidedly headed toward marriage. We’d made the decision to love each other, and were experiencing so much freedom and joy from making that commitment. We would often try to describe our love, using nerdy analogies to outdo each other. I claimed that I loved him so much, all of the memory on his phone wouldn’t be enough to hold my texts declaring my love. Being a software engineer, he told me he calculated how long it would take me to type out “I love you” enough times to fill his phone, and he told me maxing the memory would be highly improbable. After all, his phone held 10 x 2^34 GB of data.
On the beach, he talked about his dreams, and I asked, “Do you know what I dream of?” I used a shell fragment to write our names in the sand, picturing a lifetime of happiness with the one I loved so much. The waves washed our names away, and we walked a little further. He asked me to turn around and close my eyes, and when I looked back at him, I saw this:
I was thrilled! I was so happy to be loved so much and to be so full of love for someone else! It was a beautiful day, and when the sun set, we left the beach and stopped at the same diner as the previous year. We drove home through the dark pine barrens, and he opened the moon roof so I could look at the stars.
A few months later, on August 18, at a different New Jersey beach, he again asked me to turn around and close my eyes. I fully expected to see another math equation about our love. But to my surprise…
We were married six months later on February 16, 2013. When I think of the great things the Lord has done for us, I am filled with joy! (See Psalm 126.)
So, readers, there you have it…the reason for my long absence from blogging. And honestly, I can’t say whether I’ll be back on a regular basis. I have a new hobby now : )