It’s sad but true.
I noticed this ever since I began telling our story. Here I am embarking year 13, and most times I have shared how our first 7 years was filled with infidelity, brokenness, hatred and any sort of abuse you can think of and how God saved us and our marriage, no matter how much I pointed to the Gospel, people chose to make much of us more than anything.
My marriage testimony became much like a Biblical narrative
Many Christians and non-Christians have the habit of reading themselves into Scripture and killing any ability to see the bigger picture. We often are prone to identifying with the people in the stories; empathizing with the hardships, sin, rebellion, triumphs, discoveries and creating parallels of our own struggles and even going as far as mimicking them and believing the outcomes to be the same. Forgetting that the stories aren’t centered around individuals or a chosen people, but centered on Jesus (Luke 24:27, John 5:39). Don’t hear me saying that we should never ever see ourselves, but know that these stories foreshadowed Jesus.
Last year I wrote this on my Facebook post attached with a picture of me and my husband Raun:
So this picture was taken about a year into our first year of marriage. I was 21, pregnant with our second daughter, and had already moved out and back to my parents’ home. No one warned us how hard it was going to be. However, everyone had an opinion. And even though I can remember the pain I felt of a dream deferred, I couldn’t imagine how much worse it was going to get. And that it would take several more years for hope to pay a visit.
Today is our 12th Anniversary. I can still recall the moments of despair and the countless tears that were shed. At the same time, I am in awe of how much redemption is displayed in our life today. I can’t even recognize these people. It’s like a weird paradox. I often wish I was the Flash (total epic fangirl). I could travel through time and change life events. But hmm, reality sits in and the sovereignty of God is known. But a girl could dream. What would say? What wisdom would I impart if I had a few moments with myself? There’s so much. But let me take a crack at it, for pretend…
“Hey Ruth, things seem very dark now but I won’t lie to you. It gets worse. Your marriage will get more toxic. You both will be arch enemies sinning against one another. Doing things you both would never think you were capable of. In your efforts of finding happiness and you both are going to cash after things that only give momentary fulfillment but create more damage. You both will hurt one another deeply and some wounds will be cut again before it even has a chance to close up. But baby girl, don’t lose heart…..
Why? Because something amazing happens. Someone comes to your rescue. You see, you may think you know Jesus, But I trust me you never truly heard about Him. You never truly experienced God. About 6 years from now, you will finally hear the Gospel message and it will pierce your heart and open your eyes and you will see. And a little while after, God would chose to save Raun. You will begin to see how lost you’ve been. How Jesus will sympathize with you and at the same time how sinful and broken you are. But love will set you free. You will begin to see Raun, how God sees Raun. Hard to believe right? A man who was once your enemy will be your best friend. He will lovingly lead and challenge you. He will have patience with you when you are haunted by the past and he will walk you through it. You will grow up and when some may think that you are too hard on yourself, let them know that facing your ugliness is empowering and god-honoring. It’s not going to be a perfect marriage. But it will fight to be a healthy one. And though your desire is to be loved by this man, It’s the love of God that will make you whole. It gets better baby girl…”
God’s redemptive story of my marriage, I will forever be in awe of. People rejoiced in how transparent and raw and quickly related. However I couldn’t help but grieve at the fact that people near and far, believer and nonbelievers alike who reached out for help or encouragement missed out on Jesus and wanted to hear more about everything we did and dismissed the message of the Gospel and even threw in religious means still. One of the most jaw dropping questions was “How long and how often did you have to pray for your husband? I need to see if I am able to do all that”.
Unbeknownst to me, my marriage quickly became “a marriage ministry” and a prosperity tool
My marriage journey quickly became a source of encouragement but more like a work-based “How to” manual. No matter how I stressed that wonderful work of God’s mercy over my soul and the soul of my husband shortly after, and how our story wasn’t the norm, people missed it. Countless cries over the phone and inboxes of Christian women married to unsaved men and my letting them know, to always be prayerful but that an unevenly yoked marriage maybe something they will always have to deal with. Not to mention that some who currently submit themselves to abuse may have filtered that I was calling them to remain but to seek immediate help. Nominal Christians and unbelievers saw the beauty of redemption and thought to themselves, if we somehow will try this thing called “Jesus” our marriage will work for the better. Those of us who are struggling through marriages, often have the habit of going to God, appealing to Him to make things new. For years I had the habit of that. Crying out to Him to fix it. My biggest mistake was asking Him to fix my marriage, rather than fixing me. Having a Christ-centered marriage is making sure that you as an individual have a right standing with the Lord. Then you will see that your eyes will be open and your whole world view changes. Because before Christ, marriage was about my husband fulfilling my needs, dreams, and affirming my worth. He is but a man who will never have the capability to be something only Christ can. Love is about the other person. How you can lovingly serve them for the betterment of them. Its selfless, not selfish. This kind of love takes a lifetime life submitted to Jesus. My story though glorious, shouldn’t be taken as a prosperity measure. Though redeemed, the 6 years of marriage on this side of conversion isn’t immune to suffering.
A Christian’s life is a community project and so is a marriage. We can deeply be encouraged by blogs, group pages, sermons and online videos, however they all should never be the substitute but a supplement. The support we need is best with actual face time and investment. Wise believers who can have front row seat to your life is far better than me. Quite frankly with the countless number of online para- ministries that give poor advice rooted in poor theology and legalism, many will find themselves worse off.
I am but a footnote, stardust, and a minion to a Savior
The day that I ever respond with something else other than Jesus, is a day to grieve. The day that I make much of myself or my marriage journey, will be a day I give into to the sin of a man-centered faith. With years of people coming to me and finding something that they weren’t looking for, much of the time extremely disappointed, I will and always continue to make sure that my redemptive life and marriage isn’t bigger than the One the BIGGEST.