I thought hard about what I should write for this first post on Say I Do Forever.com. There are lots of important topics on marriage, but I wanted this one to be the most important. What is it that is most important to the survival of a marriage? I thought back to what I feel is the most important piece of marriage advice I have ever received.
“Marriage is like a roller coaster, there are many ups and downs. Too many people mistake the ‘downs’ as the end of the ride.”
Many times in our marriage it felt like the end of the ride, but many times we thought about that silly little saying and decided to stick it out. Boy are we glad we did! Some of the best times, or “highs” were right around the corner.
In his book ‘If You Want to Walk On Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of The Boat’, John Ortberg parallels Peter’s experience of walking on water to a Christian’s experience of faith. Chapter 5 ‘ Seeing the Wind’ is I believe the most powerful chapter. He outlines Joseph’s story of betrayal, disappointments and failures.
“……one day Joseph was attacked by his brothers, sold to a traveling caravan, carried off to a distant land, and purchased as a slave by a family he did not know……Penniless, powerless, friendless, homeless-he was about to learn what each of us sooner or later comes to know: Your heart is revealed and your character is forged when life does not turn out the way you planned. It is hard enough to get out of the boat (referring to Peter’s story) when the wind is calm and the water ‘s smooth. But in life that is rarely the case. Sooner or later the storms strike–in your marriage, work, ministry, finances, or health. It is in the act of facing the storm that you discover what lies inside you and decide what lies before you.”
The storms of life will hit. I can promise you that. There will be days when you don’t even like the person sitting across the dinner table. There will be days when you disagree on how to raise the kids or how to do the finances. Even harder there will be the days when disaster or tragedy strikes around you. What you choose to do during those times is critical.
“Because Joseph did not quit, he set in motion the development of his potential–the deepening of his faith and endurance–that would one day enable him to become the most effective leader in Egypt and fulfill the part God intended him to play in the rescue of his family and the redemption of the world. What if Joseph had lived in a spirit of passive resignation? He would have missed his destiny. Quitting is always easier than enduring. It is always easier to stop and have a donut than to run another lap, or to stomp out of a room in anger than to stay and seek to resolve the conflict.”
“When life does not turn out the way you had planned, the option of quitting will always begin to look like sweet relief:
- “This marriage is difficult, I just want out. Or, even if I don’t seek an outright divorce, I’ll just settle for mediocrity. I’ll quit trying.”
- “Seeking to live on a budget and honor God with a tithe is just too hard. I’m going to spend!”
- “This job or this ministry is not what I’d dreamed of. I had planned on doing great things, playing on a bigger field–not having to be faithful in this situation. I think I’ll bail out.”
If you are in a place where you feel like quitting I encourge you to read Joseph’s story in Genesis 37 through 47. Joseph had a dream. His life did not turn out the way he planned. He suffered one tragity after another. But God was with him and Joseph did not give up. He made the best of bad situations. He trusted God and in the end it turned out better than he could have ever imagined.
I also encourage you to read John Ortberg’s book. If you are down, in the pit, feeling like it is the end of the ride, read chapter 5 first then read the rest of the book. This isn’t the end of the story, it isn’t the end of the ride. Keep your seatbelts on the best of the ride is still ahead!