On our last blog post, Ruth discussed how singleness has helped her spiritual life.
Today, we have Kelsie returning as a guest blogger, as she gives us the view of how marriage has helped her in her spiritual walk:
1. Marriage has encouraged me to submit to the Holy Spirit.
This submission is important because marriage is an opportunity to develop and practice every single Fruit of the Spirit. Trust me when I say that in a good marriage, all of them will be on display regularly. Have you ever tried to have a marriage without peace or kindness? It’s pretty rocky. Self-control in a marriage is absolutely essential. There are times when I have absolutely lost my mind over something relatively trivial that my husband has done or perhaps neglected to do. I’ve also lost my mind over some pretty big things too. On these little or big occasions, self-control, patience and kindness have gone out the window and I have said exactly what was on my mind. Peace is often next to take a hike on such occasions.
Should my husband have the courtesy to pick up his dirty socks and put them down the laundry chute? Should he take out the trash on the day it gets full and not two days later when the kitchen smells like old carrots or rotten eggshells? Should he remember to tell me his sister is pregnant so I don’t find out when the twins are born? Without a doubt, the answer to all three is yes! When he forgets, though, it doesn’t give me a license to lose my temper or be unloving. Marriage has given me many opportunities to allow God – and the fruits that come from knowing Him – to be on display in my life.
2. Marriage has made the command to forgive one another real to me.
Colossians 3:13 says,“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
It seemed easy in my single life to forgive, because at the end of the day, I usually wasn’t sharing a house, bed or life with whomever had wronged me. I was extending a shallow forgiveness – out of sight, out of mind, totally dependent upon how little time I could spend with the person whom I had “forgiven”. This isn’t true forgiveness and it certainly wasn’t how the Lord has forgiven me.
My marriage relationship has given me more opportunity to extend and understand forgiveness than any other relationship I will ever have. In our marriage, there have been many times when my husband and I have had cause to have a grievance against one another. In the moments when my husband has done something to offend or hurt me, I have the opportunity to forgive as the Lord has forgiven me. That means truly letting go of the hurt and not holding it against him anymore. My husband and I can’t be truly reconciled to each other if one of us is withholding forgiveness.
The lessons my marriage has taught me about forgiveness have allowed me to address it in other areas of my life. It has forced me to examine the times where my forgiveness was shallow or insincere. I strive to sincerely forgive – as the Lord has forgiven me—in all of my relationships now.
3. Marriage has taught me to really trust God.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says,“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
There have been some very uncertain moments in my marriage, moments when it wasn’t clear to me if the vows we made to each other, before God, were going to be enough to get us through. It’s a scary place to be, wondering if the one you’ve chosen to spend your life with is going to still be there. The biggest mistake I have made was trying to figure these troubles out on my own. When your life is in such a tumultuous place, you have to trust God, really trust Him. I had to realize that no matter what happened – God was still God. I just needed to seek Him. Whether my marriage fell completely apart or was strengthened and held together, God had my trust. In the face of uncertainty and the unknown, my faith was strengthened. Trusting in God and His wisdom instead of our own is what got us through the uncertain moments. This revelation has spilled over into other areas of my life that are sometimes uncertain – and has taught me to rely on God more and more.
4. Marriage has taught me about true intimacy.
I’m not speaking of just physical intimacy – marriage has taught me about closeness, about truly understanding the heart of another person. I crave time alone with my husband. I love spending time with him, just the two of us. There is nothing that makes me happier than an entire day spent with Javier, just the two of us, hiking in the woods or maybe fishing, talking about life or our hopes and dreams for the future. There are days when he’ll tell me to get in the car and we’ll take a little road trip and use the time in the car to discuss scripture or share our hearts with one another. We discuss books and politics and opinions and ideas. My husband knows me better than any other person on this planet and I know him in the same way.
This helped me to understand that God craves that same kind of intimacy with us, that same kind of close, deep relationship. I know this because He gave up his own Son so that we could be reconciled to him. God didn’t do that so we could just chat occasionally. Before I was married, my relationship with God was more along the lines of a friend I spoke to fairly often. He was a good friend, but not necessarily someone who I desperately wanted to see all the time. Through my marriage, I have come to understand the kind of desire that God has for us, the closeness he wants. God loves me more than I could possibly love my husband, and his desire to know me and be known to me cannot be matched.
In 11 years of marriage, my spiritual life has been stretched and grown more than I could have possibly imagined. I know the coming years will hold many more lessons as well.
To read more of Kelsi’s excellent writings, you can visit her blog at: http://kelsmoreno.wordpress.com/