I love Disney- the theme park, music, and movies. I’d be lying to say that obsessively watching the movies didn’t give me skewed expectations of relationships and marriage. As a kid, I recognized the ‘happily ever after’ came through marrying into it. All I was waiting on was the perfect guy to stumble on by. It’s not like I didn’t read the directions: For a fulfilling life, just add life-sized helping of marriage to the perfect man. And voila, fulfillment a la’ carte.
Needless to say, I expected a great deal from the institution itself without any realistic estimation of what it would require of me. I honestly viewed a wedding as the doorway to my dreams- finally music would accompany my day like in the movies!
I love that Pastor Jimmy Evans aptly busted my bubble, “Great marriages don’t just happen; they are built.” I think because we spend so much time on Pinterest and in wedding magazines and TLC shows that we tend to put the emphasis on the wrong end. As my favorite female emcee, Butta P, said, “Anyone can throw a great party…” The wedding is one day. But a wedding is literally the portal into the next phase of the rest of your life. Can we say that we have invested even half the energy to be prepared for what’s on the other side of that door as we have planning for a dream day?
Building anything is work. But I love that Pastor Evans told me that it doesn’t just happen like Disney magic. I have to be prepared- as much as I can be. What does that look like? A serious rooted RELATIONSHIP with Jesus. Like a working, you-are-real-to-me relationship. When I have hurt, we talk. When there’s an issue, we talk. When I admire the sun, we talk. We just talk. It means I’m serious about developing the fruit of the spirit in my life. Ultimately that’s the product you’re putting up on the altar- here ya go, be it colorful and ripe or dull and rank, my fruit and I do. That’s what you’ll be working with once the flowers have died and the ‘magic’ becomes a memory.
Heather Lindsey has said numerous times, “If you want a fairytale take your butt to Disney World. Marriage is for those willing to die to self.” I used to roll my eyes when my mom would do something literally EXTRA for my dad or siblings. Didn’t get it. They can get their own food. Sure, he doesn’t like mustard but he can scrape it off. But that extra-ness is and has got to be her bending the will of her flesh to love us. But when I look at the scriptures it makes sense. This is why Ephesians draws the similarity between husbands and wives to Christ and the Church (Eph. 6). Lots of going beyond what should have been good enough there.
Further, as Believers and people of God we must move past immature love in our relationships. Are you really interested in loving, according to the definition laid out in scripture? Are you willing to overlook their faults, better yet not keep a tally of all the ways they have wronged and disappointed you? Are you ready to NOT treat them as their sins deserve? After all, that is the mercy your Father gave to you. Will you push to believe the best, bear up under anything, and hope in the face of any circumstance (1 Cor. 13)? That is the vow you take with your “I do,” with every confession of love. Love is a constant picture of stripping away pride, ego, and self-elevation to cleanse each other, to help sanctify and set apart to good works (John 13, Eph. 2:10).
Marriage is no Disney movie. I don’t say that to discredit marriage or make it seem like it’s more work than it’s worth. I only want us to see it for what it is: a rollercoaster ride that you commit to stick with- highs, lows, and the stalls with inclement weather in between. I want us to pledge ourselves to a biblical picture of the covenant. I just want us prepared and aware of what will be required of us: good fruit and hard work. And if you don’t want the money, cake, and dress to go to waste, you better start building your marriage muscles now. Weddings are sprints, but marriage is a marathon that you must build up spiritual endurance for.