For as long as I can remember, I have loved to sing. I haven’t always been great at it, but whether it was in the car, in church, or just about anywhere, I have always loved to sing. At the age of twelve, I was thrown into my first church solo (which is good; otherwise, I may never have worked up the nerve to volunteer) – and from then until college, I sang at church regularly. While I wish I could say that each singing experience was a breath-taking display of God’s anointing on my life, I have to admit that I spent much more time worrying about my performance before the congregation than I did about worshipping and honoring Christ. Had you asked me then, I would have adamantly claimed that pleasing God through my singing was my heart’s desire. There is no doubt that I wanted to please God, but whenever I’d practice, I would envision a room full of people, all looking at me and expecting perfection (most didn’t, of course – and those that did… really needed a life).
Little by little, my focus would fall away from worshipping Christ, and would inch closer and closer to pleasing man’s ears with the solo. Now that almost a decade has passed since I was singing regularly in my home town church, most people probably don’t remember my “performances;” but I do… and God does. What I remember is that I made a lot of mistakes. There are only a handful of times I can recall singing a song “perfectly.” What I also remember are those few times when I got fed up with caring about how others viewed me, and instead I sang wholly for the glory of God. I don’t remember how I sounded, but I do remember that it didn’t matter, because I had touched God’s heart with my worship.
Like singing on stage, marriage – at several points along its path – is daunting. It is a gift from God, but it is one of the hardest, most time-consuming blessings in life. As day-to-day living occurs, it is easy to forget that we are to focus on glorifying God in our marriages. Singing to God is an active and obvious display of worship, but living with your spouse daily in a way that is pleasing to Christ is a less obvious, more difficult, form of worship.
Before I was married, I was sure my marriage was going to be amazing. Ever since I was a kid, I loved to think about relationships, analyze relationships, and read about relationships. For my thirteenth birthday, I received the book Finding the Love of Your Life by Neil Clark Warren and I loved it! Not only that, Eric and I both received our degrees in Psychology and were pursuing our Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy when we were married. As far as I was concerned, the typical marital issues that befall most couples were not going to befall us. Sometimes I wonder if God was chuckling from Heaven the day we got married, because we are almost complete polar opposites on several personality scales and we have certainly had our share of marital strife because of it. Our study of relationships did not keep us from experiencing problems in our marriage; rather, it simply gave us no excuse to ignore them. If anything, the extra knowledge gave us extra responsibility, NOT an easier marriage.
In the beginning, I so wanted to have a perfect marriage because I didn’t think I could help others have successful relationships if my own marriage was flawed. I may not have been able to articulate the following thought early in our marriage, but I was far more concerned with what others thought of my relationship with Eric than what God thought of my relationship with Eric.
What I have learned over the last few years is that God is not concerned with my having a perfect marriage. He is concerned with my faithfulness in my marriage. The day I said “I do” to Eric was the day that my life’s work changed. It was no longer about me, it was about us serving the Lord… and it was about me serving my husband.
There is no possible way I can live perfectly with another human being, especially one so different than myself; but, what I can and must do, is live faithfully with him. God is pleased when we remain faithful in our work. There are days I don’t think I can clean another bathroom, pack another lunch, or make another Wal-Mart run. It seems completely meaningless at times, but in God’s sight, I am being faithful to my call as a wife when I do these things, and He is pleased with my faithfulness, not with my overall production. Surely others would be more impressed with us if we toured the country doing book signings and had an international ministry that aired in 67 countries (and we may do that someday if God so chooses that path for our marriage); yet, for now, I am called to be a helpmate to my husband, no matter how mundane certain tasks may seem. It is a noble calling to help him… and it frees him to follow God’s calling on his life as I am called to my husband’s life.
As you prepare for your future marriage, or consider your current marriage, I urge you to daily ask the Lord to help you focus on pleasing Him in your relationship instead of attempting to please others by your relationship. Others will always make demands of your marriage and pull you in many directions. Others will also have expectations or advice that is not Biblical (even if it is accepted by American culture); however, following God’s path of righteousness brings peace, even in the hardest of days. He is the Creator of marriage and has created it to be a reflection of His image and relationship with us. Spend time daily asking Him to give you the strength to be faithful to your marriage – whether future or current.
Whom are you trying to please more in living out your relationship – others, or the Lord?