I’ve been married for three and a half months now. It has been such a sweet time of getting to know the man I love as “husband” and learning together how to shift our relationship from dating to married. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been blissfully overwhelmed by being a wife, how often I’ve been humbled by own shortcomings, or how surprised I still am by my new last name. Marriage has so far been a continuous and wonderful adventure, and I am so grateful for it.
Over the past few months, my new marriage is naturally what everyone wants to talk to me about. They like to shower me with wisdom and advice, for which I am grateful. But mostly, they want to ask me endless questions. They shamelessly ask me things like, “Are you glad to finally be having sex?” (Nah. A sexless relationship was SO easy to maintain for 3 years… idiots.) “Are you pregnant yet?” (Not yet…) “Oh, when are you planning to get pregnant?” (…What is wrong with you?!) But sometimes I get questions that actually warrant a response. Out of these, the most common one I’ve received is, “What has been the hardest thing about marriage so far?”
Despite the astonishing number of times I’ve received this question, it has repeatedly left me speechless. I think people are usually expecting answers about how Brandon leaves his underwear on the floor, about how he can’t stand that I leave the cap off the toothpaste (sometimes I even throw that pointless thing away!), or about how difficult it has been to combine our possessions and finances. While all of these are legitimate struggles, they were challenges we were fully anticipating and ready to accept. Moreover, they are minor and temporary. Eventually, Brandon will learn what a laundry hamper is, and eventually he’ll understand that toothpaste doesn’t need a cap. (Yes, I will win both of these!) We will also continue to make adjustments until we have a system in place that works for us financially. These are all normal steps of growth, and every marriage goes through them. They may be hard, but none of them are hardest.
It wasn’t until this weekend, after a particularly trying week, that I discovered my answer to this question: The hardest part of being a newlywed is the same as the hardest part of being a Christian in any life circumstance. Trusting God. Just because the battlefield changed does not mean that the war is fundamentally different.
I am broken and prone to the lust of Satan’s promises. My husband is broken and prone to the lust of Satan’s promises. Together, we are broken still. Marriage is not a cure for the destruction caused by sin. It did not create this magic shield around us that keeps the enemy out by the power of our uninhibited love. On the contrary, it gave the enemy an abundance of clever new tactics to try and divert our attention from the Father. And we have not been immune. You see, marriage is NOT a Disney movie.
And thank God it isn’t! If all of our problems could be solved by True Love’s kiss, life would be pretty short lived for the person of faith. In their book “Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts,” Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott quote the Archbishop officiating Prince Charles’s wedding to Diana. “Here is the stuff of which fairy tales are made, the prince and princess on their wedding day. But fairy tales usually end at this point with the simple phrase, ‘They lived happily ever after.’ This may be because fairy tales regard marriage as an anticlimax after the romance of courtship. This is not the Christian view. Our faith sees the wedding day not as a place of arrival but the place where the adventure begins.” The wedding day is not God’s way of rewarding us for a lifetime of faith with this perfectly wrapped gift of happiness forever more. On the contrary, God uses our wedding day to unite our lives and then invite us into an adventure with HIM. It is not easy. It is not neatly wrapped. And it is NOT for our happiness. It is, instead, a call to deeper faith, deeper trust, and deeper submission than ever before. God does not let us off the hook with marriage; he requires even more of us.
In the past three months, I have not found it easier to trust God with my life. I have had moments of restfulness and faith, but they have not been more frequent than they were when I was single. Trusting God is still hard; dare I say harder than it’s ever been. Whereas before, I had to trust that God would give me a partner to share my life with, now I have to trust him to sustain a relationship that I am deeply invested in. Before, I had to trust that God would place me in a position of ministry that would make much of Him and His Kingdom. Now, I have to trust that He will do that for me and my Husband in some sort of beautiful blend that uses us both. I once trusted that if it were right for me, God would bless me with children someday. Now, I have to trust that if He gives me children today (or 9 months from), that He has a plan in place so that we can afford to provide for them. On the morning of March 1, I was Lacy Kirby: Child of God, Recipient of the Holy Spirit, and Bride of Jesus. Dependent on this incredible, Holy Trinity for my own life. On the morning of March 2, I woke up as Lacy Jarvis. Joined as ONE with this wonderful and broken man. And suddenly the world seemed so much scarier and the implications of every possible disaster so much bigger.
Marriage is HARD. But not because we fight, not because we have a pile of dishes in our sink that would make my mother cringe, and not because we sometimes can’t afford ramen noodles. It’s hard because it’s scary to trust God with it, and it’s scary to trust God with it because my identity changed. Because overnight life went from “mine” to “ours” and all of my schemas shifted accordingly. Satan has tried to convince me that because my identity is now found in and with my husband, that so is my trust. And he’s not wrong. It is absolutely necessary that I find my identity in being one with Brandon and that I trust him implicitly. But he is not the root of who I am, and he is certainly not the climax to my fairy tale. My ultimate identity, before my birth and after my death and even in this moment, is rooted in Christ. I am still a daughter of Creator God, still completely dependent on the Holy Spirit, and most assuredly still the bride of a perfect King. He will return for me, as He will return for my Husband. And so the hardest part of marriage (at least so far) is wholly trusting the truth that marriage to Brandon is not eternal. That he is the most important human, but not the most important relationship. That I have a heavenly groom who has loaned me a sweet, patient, strong, and kind man to love me for today, but he is not my end. He is beautiful and fleeting, and he WILL betray my trust. But the joy of it all is the part that I fight to believe: I have a God who will not. I can trust Him to bring Brandon home safely when he’s away, and I can trust Him if he doesn’t. I can trust Him to bring peace and resolution to our conflicts as they arise, and I can trust Him if resolution never comes. I can trust Him with my happiness, and I can trust Him with my pain. My God is for His glory, and His glory is for my good. And this alone is the purpose of my marriage and every other adventure my life on earth allows. That He be glorified is the only fairy tale ending I could ever hope for.