“Who’s that couple?”
He snickered with his wide smile of pearly whites looking my hubby dead in the face. …
All four of us laughed because it’s funny… and true. Josh and I aged and changed (ugh) since the day Darryl stood at the altar in our wedding party.
Darryl and Liz… four kids later… they don’t have too much room to talk about change. Our wedding helped bring them together (and I knew they would be a couple), so they owe it to us to be friends for life. Ha. Seriously, we love them so they can get away with witticism in our presence… at our expense.
We all stood staring at the gorgeous framed photo that captured our day. Almost every visitor in our home compliments the beautiful white dress, scenery, flowers, and then comments on the fact that my hubby had hair 8+ years ago.
I remember vivid details from that glorious wedding day. I can almost smell the the scent of my bouquet in colors of bright orange, peach, and white – with a hint of red (pictured below).
I wanted the day of joy to last forever.
Could I preserve it, somehow?
I carefully placed my bouquet into the box to be shipped for pressing and preservation- pressed flowers – framed to keep for a lifetime.
I waited weeks for the arrival. I imagined the vibrant orange lilies and peach roses matching the hues of green in our new bathroom.
I opened the package with great anticipation.
The pressed flowers looked nothing like my bouquet! I cried as my eyes glanced at the once red-colored carnations now pressed into purple; the white roses looked peach – and the vibrant orange lilies …couldn’t be preserved.
I thought about shipping it back and requesting a refund. I was foretold that the colors might not look the same, and I agreed to the process anyway.
I never expected this drastic disillusionment!
The gentle voice inside of me quieted my soul and seemed to say, “there’s a reason for this, you’ll see the significance later.”
I reluctantly moved on through the day…and the weeks passed by.
Josh and I enjoyed a great first year of marriage. We faced some circumstantial challenges, but overall – life was good. We enjoyed dates every weekend. We explored. We talked about the future – a bigger house to decorate with the sound of kids delighting our ears (Ha! … how little did we know…)
A few years into marriage…AND… an economic/ company crisis cut my husband’s salary in half; we chose to live with my parent’s for awhile; my new teaching job maximized challenges; and our son was born with health issues and colic. We carefully considered how to best manage expectations and relationships with FOUR sides of the family (yes, we typically have FOUR Christmases) but all of these challenges, coupled with my ugly battle against chronic illness (Crohns-Colitis), left our heads spinning.
This is NOT what we imagined our perfect little future would look like. Greatly disillusioned.
As our circumstances changed, so did our relationship. Some circumstances would get better while others became more challenging – as did our relationship.
Josh and I developed a survival mode. We stepped into seemingly crisis situations with patterns that helped us each survive. I can’t say we developed good patterns. The “ugly” came out.
One of us might demand or control. One might yell. One might shut down and storm out of the door to take a long drive. One would confront – the other resent. One would blame family, while the other ran to family. We were changing. We were ugly.
It came in waves. We would make it through one storm and find comfort in each other for awhile. The next storm would come and we felt the wind and waves rage around…and in us.
We felt like frenemies.
Our sleep-deprived, overly-worked, overly-stressed, overly-comitted “to serve and help others” selves became full of SELF, PRIDE, and SIN.
The romantic roses – crushed.
That’s how I looked at it.
Then, I stood and stared at that frame of pressed flowers – it caught my attention one day (I remembered knowing that the pressed flowers would hold significance).
The day arrived.
Jesus did not give up on us, nor our marriage. He was allowing us to be pressed.
Pressed. Not crushed.
He wanted to create something new and beautiful inside each of us – and in our marriage. We just needed to keep trusting Him (and call out for His grace) in the process.
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 3:18
One day, we both broke down and repented for how we treated each other in stressful seasons. We realized bad patterns developed during those “survival times” – and we wanted to rid them for good.
We considered the scripture:
“…visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation].
” Numbers 14:18
Although circumstances change, our love for and toward one another should not.
We sought counsel and love how God is now renewing our marriage into something precious. My once resentful heart thanks God daily for my wonderful husband (and his good qualities). Our imperfections do not compare to our efforts to love selflessly and appreciate each other.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!’
2 Corinthians 5:17
Our marriage does not look the same as it did on day one.
My beautiful wedding bouquet … pressed, changed, but preserved.
Traditional wedding vows…
For better or worse
Is your marriage enhancing the quality of your life … for the better? There is no perfect marriage, no perfect person. BUT… two are meant to make the burden lighter. If marriage is bringing out the worst in both of you – and the worst of your lives – consider a team pact to focus on your individual strengths to maximize life/ and relationship success. Make the commitment to allow marriage to enhance the quality of your life. Are you letting God mold you for the better through your marriage?
In the worst circumstances, God can still work for your good… to make things better in your heart and in your relationship…even when your spouse is unwilling to do so.
How can you walk in beauty? Choose “the better” and keep giving marriage your best. Don’t give up!
For richer or poorer
Is your marriage richly soaking in the blessings of companionship, friendship, and intimacy? Talk to your spouse about making marriage richer through kindness, appreciation, and focusing on each other’s best attributes. It is a simple start, but wealth begins with one saved penny.
Save the stress for other life circumstances, but determine to not take stress out on one another. Companionship, friendship, and intimacy are too costly to disregard and replace with stress.
Marriages are enriched in Christ. Seek God together daily. If your spouse is unwilling, pray that God will enrich your marriage and help bring out the best in His design for the two of you as a couple – and as individuals.
How can you walk in beauty? Choose “the richer” and seek to embrace the companionship, friendship, and intimacy. Choose kindness. Choose to appreciate. Choose to keep God in the center of your relationship.
In sickness and in health
Is your marriage in a sickly state? Pray for healing and restoration.
Rely on God’s word and His promises within. God’s wisdom is Mighty and He knows how to convict hearts and lead to truth, understanding, healing, and restoration.
How can you walk in beauty? Do whatever it takes to have a strong and healthy relationship.
My husband gave me a bouquet of flowers yesterday. It reminded me of my gorgeous wedding flowers. The colors were the same, but I noticed…
the lilies were white and paired with vibrant ORANGE roses…different from my wedding bouquet.
Josh and I are the same God-ordained team… just like the pairing of colors and flowers in the bouquet. The flowers on my wedding day look similar to the bouquet Josh gave me yesterday (pictured below). BUT, things changed… the lilies and roses each took on new colors. Just like the two of us in marriage…
Our marriage is different. We are different. God is changing our “particulars” from glory to glory.
He wants to press out of each of us that which is not of Him.
Indeed, God is doing a wonderful new thing…
If you feel that marriage is crushing your roses, remember that crushing weight of change produces beautiful newly pressed creations.
How can we walk in beauty after marriage crushes roses?
Let God change your marriage. Let God change YOU!
Let Him press in… as you press on.
When it feels like roses are crushing beneath your feet… let the pressing on continue… and walk in new beauty.
Enjoy your marriage! Enjoy each other!
Planting God’s seeds of Hope
*Brook Joy writes articles on Faith, Life, Culture, and her personal journey with Health (IBD). Brook is a chocolate-loving wife & homeschooling mama (and a Christian for 20+ years)… planting and growing God’s seeds of hope at missionzera.com