After a few short months of being married, I understand more and more that learning from others is the best kind of learning. My last few years have been a whirlwind. I went from a year and a half of singleness to two years of dating, eight months of engagement, and am now sitting in my fifth month of marriage.
To say I know nothing would be an understatement. To say I have learned enormously would also be an understatement.
I am currently doing Beth Moore’s, Entrusted. This morning’s audio message communicated something to me that I hope we can all take part in. She explained that we cannot be servants in ministry without the church there to guide us along the way. Friends, if I didn’t have women in the Church speaking wisdom into my life, I would fail in my marriage and every relationship I hold over and over again because I would make it all about me when everything is about Jesus.
My last twenty-four hours have been filled with the hasty gathering of wisdom from men and women I look up to in their individual stages of life. Today, ladies, you will hear from the women who have taught me how to seek The Lord as I seek relationship here on earth. Tomorrow, men (if any of you are reading this), you will hear from men who are following Jesus that they may lead a family one day. Learn from these as I have. Soak up what The Lord has given them.
Whether you are single, dating, engaged, a newly-wed, or even years into marriage, let us learn from the hearts of others. As Beth Moore said, “Let us ask one another about our mistakes. Let us learn what delights one another most” that we might know our Savior all the more in the way we yearn relationship with His creation.
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To my single girls…
Abby Watkins, Single Senior at WKU
Singleness is a fun, interesting stage of life that I’m dead set on taking advantage of. You could do as many Proverbs 31 studies and maybe learn to sew, but I think preparing for marriage looks like working for God’s kingdom.
The desire for a husband is not bad–Eve was made to be a helper to Adam–but, things get screwy when that desire is crippling to gospel ministry. Single women have an incredible opportunity to leverage their singleness and pour into younger women for the sake of the gospel.
A beautiful, wiser woman told me once that a mark of discipleship and ministry is that people know where your silverware drawer is. Ok so maybe you don’t own silverware or even a drawer, but I hope you understand that singleness gives you so many opportunities to invite people into your life and share Jesus with them. Your current stage of life is about developing life skills that glorify God, and then those can carry into marriage if the Lord wills.
Think of Paul, a hard-core single apostle. He writes to the Corinthians, “So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better (1 Corinthians 7:38).”
I was genuinely annoyed when I first read this verse.
Yet if you read the few verses before, Paul explains that an “unmarried woman is [only] anxious about the things of the Lord.” So that’s my prayer in this crazy, funny time of singleness. Can I learn to cook so my future husband (Lord willing) doesn’t starve? Sure. Can I pray for a future spouse? Absolutely. Can I pray for lost souls to know the grace of Jesus? All the more.
When you Start Dating…
Brianna Hamlin, Dating for Marriage
As far as I can remember, becoming a bride was in the forefront of my mind whenever I was planning my future. I dreamed of the absolute perfect wedding with a flowy lace gown and a smiling groom to await me at the end of the isle.
When I began to date, my dreams started to shift into reality as my fairytale became practical.
I began to focus more on how our future together would unfold, rather than how our marriage would be grounded in God’s will. Soon to realize that the covenant of marriage is not wholly significant here on earth, but it represents the holy bond we hold with our heavenly groom.
My responsibility has now become to guard my heart in the Lord so that I may show my husband the same unconditional love that He has lavished upon me. To mold myself into the wife I know God expects me to be as His daughter, I have to put my relationship with Him first, above all else, so that He is priority. This goes for my dating now and my marriage to ensue.
He is the solid rock upon which I want to build my marriage, and by preparing my heart in advance, I hope to one day treat my husband as Christ’s bride treats Him.
From the Eyes of a Newly-Wed…
Olivia Haga, Married 1 month
There is no handbook on how to become the perfect newly-wed wife. Every woman is different. Every husband will be different. If you’re like me–always concerned with being perfect–this was a hard realization.
I often became stressed at the thought of not meeting expectations: not being everything my soon-to-be husband wanted in a wife. This is when I had to start hitting my knees and seeking counsel from other women. I began praying that God would show me my worth in the way He saw me.
Because I was marrying a God-loving man, Seth would view me in that same light. I also prayed that God would be working in Seth’s heart to see me as Christ sees the church, with abundant love and unending grace. So even when I fail to meet all these expectations, his love might remain unconditional.
Talk about bringing peace to my anxiety.
In addition, I had many long conversations with other new wives. Not that I expected them to give me the answers on how to be the “perfect wife,” but because being vulnerable and relying on community makes a world of difference. I expressed my worries and allowed them to tell me about their hardships. I was then able to clear my head and process through my concerns. Leaning on these friends showed me that I was not the only one who has these nerves.
The wedding day came and passed, and we’re almost a month into marriage. I have never experienced anything greater. Just as I prayed, Seth is showing me unconditional love and grace, and I see a picture of God more clearly through my husband.
If marriage is something you believe is in your near future, do not be afraid of it. Allow God to reveal his plans for you and rely on Him to prepare you. He has created this wonderful gift, and a gift it truly is.
A Few Years Down the Road…
Gwen Sledge, Married 25 Years
Marriage is a beautiful gift from God. After 25 years of marriage, I can honestly say that fulfilling the role of wife is hands down one of my favorite things in life. I am thankful that I have a man who is easy to be married to, but marriage is not always easy.
No matter who you are, there will be challenges along the way. Looking back, I realize how God has used the years to teach me a thing or two. I am still learning.
If I could have a conversation with my 20 year old newlywed self, this is what I would tell her….
- Allow him to lead. God has designed our men to be the leaders of our families. As your husband seeks the Lord, his desire will be to protect and serve those who have been entrusted to him. He will seek and value your opinion, and you will always have a vote. But when you absolutely cannot come to an agreement, he ultimately gets the final say and takes the responsibility for that say. There will be times he falls, but you will be amazed at the wisdom and perspective that God will grant a man who is striving to be a godly husband.
- Do not seek to change him. God has placed a man in your life that you have chosen to marry. It is not your job to change the things you don’t adore. Work on you. Let your man work on himself. Pray for him. God will handle the rest.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Does it really matter which way the toilet paper goes? Work together to compromise on the things that really bother you, but don’t allow small annoyances to create arguments. SO not worth it.
- Remember the who is more important than the what. Almost always, the person will be more important than the win. Protect your man’s heart first. Never belittle or talk down to him. Never put him down to his face or behind his back. Be his biggest cheerleader.
- Communicate often and clearly. Do not hold unspoken expectations. If you need something, ask. He is not a mind reader. Chances are that he would love to know how he can best love and serve you. Do the same for him. Get to know him well enough to know how you can best love him. Learn his love language and speak it. You will both be blessed.
Laugh, girl. Love hard. Be real, and be transparent. Life is short, and God is good…
Reflecting on a Marriage…
Celeste Sledge, Married 57 years. Widowed two Months.
When I was 20 years old, we met and he swept me off my feet. He was a sailor stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. So I hopped on a plane and traveled across the ocean to marry this man I knew only an ounce of as I reflect. As I look back on our years together, it was a miracle that our marriage lasted. I can see Gods hand working through all those years. We had many ups and downs but weathered them all. Here are some things I learned along the way:
- One thing I would like to say is that you can forgive anything, though it takes prayer and trust. As in anything, we need to make up our mind and our heart what we’re going to do and trust God to help us through it. So develop a forgiving heart.
- We can’t always have our way; marriage is a two-way street. It’s give/take both ways. 100% BOTH WAYS. Not 50/50 but 100% give and 100% take.
- It’s really hard to say “I’m sorry.” and mean it. We must realize that we can’t always be right and be willing to admit it.
- Tell him you love him daily. Show him too.
The last is the most important, and it took me a long time to learn it. I was raised in a home where “I love you” was not expressed openly so it was difficult for me to say or show the words. Let your mind and heart be creative. Leave him notes. One of my favorites is to leave a message on the bathroom mirror. I used my lipstick to draw a heart and leave a “sweet nothings” message. Use your imagination, but don’t let a day go by without expressing your love in one way or another. Even a gentle hug means so much.
My husband told me that one of the most important things I did was put my arm around him. He said it meant the world. It showed him I cared even on the hard days.
One piece of advice that came from my mother: “There will be some days when you can’t stand him, but if you will wait a while, the spark will come.” Don’t give up though you may be tempted. Don’t give in. Keep on working to make your mate feel loved and appreciated and loved and loved and loved.
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Marriage is one of the most tangible views we have of Christ’s love for us here on this earth. But that doesn’t mean it is easy.
My friend, if you are in it for a fairytale, I’ll tell you straight up that you must reevaluate. It is messy and hard and costly. It has nothing to do with us. It is all about creating a unit that will glorify God more than one might do by him or herself. We are not all called down this road. Whatever way he leads you–may it be singleness or marriage–make it about Jesus. When it is reflecting Him, you cannot lose.