Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together
If you can bring your shattered dreams and I’ll bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us
The only way we’ll last forever is broken together
If you have entered into the covenant of marriage, you can certainly relate to these words. And, no matter how well you can wear the happy mask, not all days are happy. Gary Thomas wrote in “Sacred Marriage” that marriage is not meant to make us happy, but holy. God has quite a bit to say on the subject of marriage, as well, and it is important to remember the full picture when you are having some of the more trying days: “Those who get married at this time will have troubles” (1 Corinthians 7:28).
There is such sweetness in living authentically. In all the brokenness of this fallen world lies a beautiful opportunity to not only share our weaknesses with others, but encourage others in theirs. Christians often act as though they have it all together and that their homes and marriages are without flaws. I do not understand why we tend to do this when it is such a detriment to ourselves, our children, and those to whom we are a witness. While our struggles are different, none of us have a flawless marriage, and that is because we are sinners living on this side of glory.
Last year I was in a couple different Bible studies focused on reaching moms. One was very in depth and authentic, powerfully moving us to be more like Christ. The other was a time with no focused study of Scripture where we discussed the daily grind of parenting. While both serve a purpose for meeting different needs, one was a scene of women passionately sharing and praying boldly together. The other never took the time to come together in prayer (though they did take prayer requests), and women rarely shared anything of substance. When a prayer request for marriage was mentioned, it was met with an air of legalism and a sense that the prayer would become fodder for gossip. I left confused more times than not, but I realized these two different ministries provided unique reflections of what is taking place within varying bodies of believers. We can either get real with one another, or we can create an environment where no one ever really knows us and we never really know them. God made us relational beings, and as Christians we should be able to safely share our real, broken, and beautiful lives. We are not perfect, but we love and trust in the God who is—this is our testimony. Why are we choosing to hide His redemptive work from each other?
My husband and I have two weeks left in our MarriageCore closed group, and we are sad the time is coming to an end because of the relationships we have developed. Over the course of 24 weeks, we have met with a few other couples and a facilitator couple to proactively focus on our marriages together. There is always a speaker who shares insights on various topics, followed by attending an open or closed group (and yummy desserts!). The open group is for everyone, and people can come and go as they wish with no commitment to attend weekly. The closed groups are deeply personal, purposeful, and not something I can adequately describe. You know what is amazing? We have grown to know the couples in our closed group and their real struggles more than most of the couples we have known for years. I think this is the case for most Christians. While we let our friends, family, and the world in to a certain extent, we also want them to think we have it all together. But none of us have it all together, and we should celebrate that we are not alone in the reality of what marriage (or any relationship involving broken people) looks like.
It does not matter if you are in a wonderful season where your marriage is blissful or if you are on the brink of divorce. Every couple (and many individuals) come on Tuesday nights to stand alongside others and grow together. And guess what? There is free childcare provided by some of the sweetest people you could hope to meet. I share this because most people think when a couple is choosing to invest in their marriage through a ministry that they must have some horrendous secret. There is a strange, sad, and damaging stigma attached to marriage ministries, and this needs to change if we are going to do Christian community well. If a couple is taking the time to invest in their marriage, that should be applauded rather than looked at with speculation. There are many couples who are not working on their marriage, and many marriages where only one spouse is striving to make things work. What if every couple took the time to invest in their marriage and not hide behind the mask of perfectionism and ceaseless happiness? I think the Church would look and feel like a very different place—a very beautiful place where the bride of Christ is an even more radiant reflection of her groom. “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15).
What does this have to do with parenting? For one, our children would not exist if it were not for the uniting of two people. We have accomplished the “be fruitful and multiply” part of God’s equation, but we need to also accomplish the “let marriage be held in honor among all” part of the equation. Our children should see us for who we are and not grow up thinking their parents had it all together. When we come to Christ, we are indeed a new creation but we are not perfect people. When our children become adults we want them to know that—should God call them to marriage—they will face many troubles. This is a guarantee. Why not show them as they grow what marriage looks like in its fullness so they will not have false expectations when they enter into their own covenant? Let us teach them to love well, forgive well, and surrender well. The home should be a safe place where authenticity and honesty is encouraged, and that begins with how the parents live in relation to one another and the body of Christ. We are all pressing on and desiring strong, healthy, marriages. When I read the lyrics posted at the top, I no longer think of them as written about only myself and my spouse, but I think of them as written for all Christians and that we might be broken together.
Click here to visit the MarriageCore website.
For His Glory,