The last couple of weeks, news of Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert's divorce has swarmed the media. FOX News and CNN are running stories on it, as well as the usual pieces in People Magazine and Us Magazine. In 2010, Shelton told Us Weekly this would be his last marriage, and in his "God Gave Me You" music video we can see Lambert saying, "We made it through the unthinkable, we have made it through everything we can possibly make it through. I know we have a lot more trials and tribulations to go, but I'm ready to join in with you on that journey … this is in fact a fairy tale and I'm so glad to share it with you. I love you." Sadly, four years later, the most beloved country couple (and two of my own personal country favorites) have finalized their divorce.
But, while their divorce is final, my husband KJ and I have just celebrated our six month wedding anniversary. Seeing the sadness of this now heartbroken couple has me reflecting upon what I have learned during these six months and what I hope to continue growing in.
At our Texas hill country January wedding, several of us contracted the flu (including KJ, his best man, our photographer and me), my dad had just come out of emergency gallbladder surgery and it began to ice. Looking back though, I laugh. I laugh because those details make the day memorable, and no matter what, we were surrounded by our closest family and friends to celebrate the amazing occasion it was, and still is.
Oftentimes, when something ridiculous happens, KJ and I tease each other by saying, "I bet 'The Notebook' didn't talk about this, huh?" This saying grounds us back in reality.
Hollywood has skewed our expectations of marriage. We imagine this never-ending romantic fairy tale, and while marriage is wonderful and at times a romantic fairy tale, it is also commitment, effort and continually working towards reflecting Christ. Because that is what marriage is: a picture of Christ and His Bride.
In college, I had the best roommates. Every day, we laughed and then cried from laughing too hard. Pushed our beds together to make one big bed. We had inside jokes, silly jingles we sang and stayed up WAY too late every night. We knew each other so amazingly well, because we spent every minute together.
My marriage has been like that! It is amazingly fun to start a new extension of your family. KJ and I have our individual families, but now we have our own. While it is just him and me right now, we laugh and we have inside jokes and we often stay up too late talking, but we know each other better than anyone else. KJ is my best friend, and sometimes it's scary how well he knows me, but I have someone to rely on, who I know will always be there for me and who will love me unconditionally.
I used to scoff at Ephesians 5 where Paul lays out what wives and husbands are to look like (and again, it is to look like Christ and His Bride), but the older I became, I began to understand the wonderful significance of this passage. God has given KJ and me different roles, but ultimately, we strive to serve each other, and in serving each other we hope to glorify Christ.
Now believe me, we aren't perfect in this (see point 4), but that is our goal. When I get home from work, I love to make KJ dinner. Not because it's the picture of a perfect wife, but because I know the task will bless him. But every day after I get home from work, KJ has cleaned the kitchen I DESTROYED in my eagerness to cook for him the night before. That's just a small example, but it's a simple real life example of service.
The first thing our pastor who married us/conducted our pre-marital counseling told us to do was memorize Philippians 2:3-4, which says, "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" (ESV). I'm beyond thankful he gave this to us, because I constantly have to bring this to mind. Before I was married, I thought I was great. I had moments of selfishness, but overall I thought, "I'm pretty good." How wrong was I? I am redeemed in Christ, but I still have to daily fight my sinful nature, my selfish nature.
Yes, KJ and I have started a new family, but in that family are two people who have learned to do things two separate ways. Neither way is always wrong, but maybe learning to do something in a different way is better … we make our own way. It's no longer about "his way" or "my way," but "our way."
P.S. Regarding the depths of our selfishness, it's been very helpful for me to rest in James 3 a lot, because let's face it, our tongue truly is a fire that must be tamed.
Recently, I made shelves. Yes, I made them. I researched the kind of shelves we wanted, went to Home Depot bought all the parts, stained and painted them, everything. My thought was if I can build shelves, I can totally hang the shelves. Yeah, I can't. I can't hang shelves. KJ and I tried, and we failed. We waited to hang the shelves until someone more knowledgeable than us could come help us so we didn't do more damage to the beautiful, newly painted gray walls. Making and hanging those shelves was hard work, but now that they are hung and decorated nicely the hard work was totally worth it. The same goes for marriage.
Marriage is amazing, and a beautiful gift from God to just give us a glimpse of what our eternal marriage to Christ will be like, but we have to work to make sure Christ is always at the forefront of our minds. John Piper and his wife Noël said:
Marriage is not mainly about being or staying in love. It's mainly about telling the truth with our lives. It's about portraying something true about Jesus Christ and the way he relates to his people. It is about showing in real life the glory of the gospel.
Yes, KJ and I love each other deeply, and we pray this love grows daily, but we both recognize our marriage must reflect Christ. Our marriage is not about us, but it's about Him. And He is worth it.