A Cool Story

I am in the 6th grade and I’m stepping out of our family station wagon. My mom always made sure I had everything I needed for school. I am carrying a brown paper sack with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a Little Debbie cake. In my pocket is a little bit of change to buy a carton of milk. My school had the cardboard kind that if you did not get it open on the first try, it was impossible to open! 

I am wearing a freshly pressed pair of blue jeans and a button-up shirt. My hair is neatly combed to the side. My mom even made me wear a white t-shirt under my shirt because gentlemen wear t-shirts! She even dropped me off early to make a good impression.

When you are early to my school in the winter you have to wait in the large lunchroom for the first bell to ring. So I find an empty table and sit down. I put my lunch sack and my bookbag on the table beside me. 

It’s my first year of middle school and I am finding out about all the different social groups that kids get into. There are the jocks (athletic kids), the cool kids, the troublemakers, the outcasts, and the nerds (who rule the world now)! The thing is, I just don’t fit in with any of them, but I want to be one of the cool kids. Sometimes we call it “bad”, which doesn’t really mean bad but more like extremely good!? The cool kids are the popular kids, the ones that have everything in middle school. They had friends. They didn’t sit at tables by themselves.

That’s when it happened, a moment that would change my life. I notice one of the cool kids from the other side of the lunchroom walking towards me. He comes up to my table and sits down across from me. I am thinking that this could finally be my chance to become cool. So now I am nervous.

He looks at me and leans over the table. I can’t believe this is actually happening. He asks me a question, “do you want to know how to be cool”?  I said “sure”, but inside I am screaming, “Yes, please, please tell me how”! So he grabs his shirt, then points to mine and says with a cruel smirk on his face, “never let people see your white t-shirt.”  Then he just stands up and walks off. For a 6th grader who wants so desperately to be cool, this hit me like a ton of bricks! So I look down and sure enough, my white t-shirt is showing at the top. This doesn’t seem like a big deal but apparently it is.

Now I am completely embarrassed and humiliated. I feel like everyone in the lunchroom has noticed my white t-shirt. The only way to cover it up would be to button my shirt all the way up, which would make me look like what we call a “dork” and I definitely don’t want to be one of those! So I am going to have to somehow make it through this day.

At that moment I knew I would never be with the cool people. It hurt, but I learned something that day. It’s something that I wouldn’t fully realize until years later. I don’t have to be like anyone else. I don’t have to fit in. I learned that I am only really good at one thing, that’s being me. And being me is OK because the “me” is the person that the infinite God in Heaven created. 

I think that many people miss this in marriage and in life. Being you is the most important thing because you are the person your spouse fell in love with. And you are the person who can love your spouse as no one else can.

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”

  • A. A. Milner (Winnie the Pooh)

Love is about you loving and being loved. It’s about accepting and being accepted for who you are as a person. 

When you were little, you heard your first love story, and from that moment, your mind started racing to have your own. You want to find just the right person to love. Just the right person to love you. And when you find them, your life becomes completely unhinged. You leave behind everything because love is the one thing in life that feels right.

But every love story has doubts. Maybe it’s in the big question that most people think but never speak out loud. Did I marry the wrong person?

 So did you marry the wrong person? Let’s answer that question right now together…

You Are Married to the Wrong Person Because Your Expectations Have Made them Wrong

It’s not that the person you choose to marry is wrong for you, it’s that you made expectations for that person and your love that are unattainable. Love takes you to another dimension of life. It transports you to a place where nothing matters. If you could live off love, you might be set for life, but you still have to do life and life is what can become the enemy of love. 

There Are No Hollywood Endings

Every girl wants to find her knight in shining armor and every guy wants to find his princess. And then you realize the knight and shining armor doesn’t always have a shining armor. Or the princess doesn’t always look like a princess.

Life Happens

The truth is that love is awesome, but it is not always pretty. Life and love get messy sometimes, that is when love is tested and strengthened. We talked about this a few weeks ago in the lesson entitled Why Is Love So Messy? Marriage is not an endless stream of romantic moments and doesn’t always have a happy ending.

Things happen that get in the way of happiness. It’s just like the wedding vows that people make without thinking twice about them: In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or for worse. New love makes us only see health, riches, and better. But sickness, poorer, and worse are all coming soon because life is made to bring them. Your expectations don’t include these things, so you think that your love is a disappointment. And you ask, “Am I married to the right person?”

Family Happens

I like to think about the love story of Adam and Eve. They were completely alone together. It was like an endless honeymoon. Until one day Eve gets morning sickness and a baby bump! Then everything changes for them. When you start a family, it’s like life starts fast-forwarding. At the end of the day, you are just too exhausted for a romantic evening together. So your love has to adjust. 

You wake one morning and you realize that all the expectations are completely demolished. When I said “I do”, I was saying “I do” to being hopelessly lost and totally in love for the rest of my life. Not caught up in a whirlwind of endless chores and hardships! Then you think about all the things that are missing in your love life and you ask, “Am I married to the right person?”

Disappointment Happens

Love is this crazy balance of amazingness and disappointment. When life doesn’t go like you envisioned it throws everything off. It makes you wonder what is wrong but there is nothing wrong. Disappointments are designed to grow your love and to change you. Loving my wife makes me a better person. Learning to stay in love with her makes me a better Christian.

You may not have a fairy tale love story, but you have each other. Your expectation should be in the commitment that you made to your spouse and to God. So if I am not happy right now, I have to learn how to love in that disappointment.

God should be disappointed in me. I know He has good plans for me but I mess them up all the time. Yet, He still loves me. That’s because he loves the person I am, not what I do for Him, or how I make Him feel. 

We have these expectations for each other that are not realistic. Your only expectation in marriage should be to love your spouse. 

You Will Have Disagreements

Everything that moves creates friction. Two lives connected together in marriage are bound to produce some kind of friction. Sometimes an argument can bring something to light in your marriage that you would not have seen otherwise. Maybe the reason I fight with my spouse is that I have selfish expectations for them.  You can get caught up in what I call the princess syndrome, where you are angry if your husband doesn’t pamper you all the time. Or you get the knight in shining armor syndrome where you expect your wife to just fall into your arms all the time.

Different Types of Arguers

  1. The Pouters– Some people don’t argue, they just sulk. It’s this thing you do when you don’t get what you want. You go around acting all sad and refusing to speak because your spouse didn’t do what you wanted them to do. That counts as arguing by the way, and you are wrong to do it.
  2. The Pretenders– Some people are just totally oblivious to the problems in their marriage. I have met some guys who think that they have a great marriage, then I look at their wife and I want to say, maybe you should ask her what she really thinks about your relationship. Sometimes one person just kinda goes along with everything, which I think is worse than arguing. I think you should talk about how you feel about your love. Love is like a car engine. You have to change the oil to keep that friction from destroying your motor. You have to do maintenance.
  3. The Preachers– Some people use correction to attack and manipulate their spouse. They even use Bible verses to make subtle jabs at their spouse. Or even worse use the Bible to correct them. So yes, it takes love to correct someone. But wait, God did not give you a spouse so that you could correct them! It is not your job to change them and make them a better person, that is God’s job. You are responsible for correcting yourself. There are people who ruin their love life doing this. If you are doing this to your husband, he is resenting you for it right now. And if you are doing this to your wife, she is asking, “Did I marry the right person?”

Fighting is Intimate

Disagreements are going to happen in marriage, it’s a part of being in love. In the Song of Solomon 2:8-13 an intense love story is interrupted for a call to reconciliation, “For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;” Something happened, they became separated but now the lover is calling his loved to come away with him again. So the key to those arguments is how you respond to them. 

There is this principle in the Bible about not letting the sun go down on your wrath.

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

Ephesians 4:26

Sometimes I say, “don’t go to bed angry,” but I may be taking this a little too literally. What happens if you get into an argument after the sun goes down? Do you get to wait until the next night? The point is to reconcile in your relationship as soon as you can instead of letting things fester and resentment sets in.

As a Christian God has given us a ministry that is summed up in one word, reconciliation. God uses marriage to teach us this ministry, that is why disagreements are a part of love.

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

II Corinthians 5:18-19

Your Spouse Cannot Complete You

This is a mistake that couples in love make a lot. You expect your spouse to complete you and they just are not designed to do that. Your spouse cannot bring fulfillment into your life. Only God can do that. So if you have this expectation that your spouse is going to complete you, you ARE going to be disappointed. 

You are married to the wrong person if you expect your spouse to do only what God can do for you. 

And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

Colossians 2:10

Everybody is looking for something and that something, whether they realize is or not, is God. If you try to find that “something” somewhere else you will never find it. You will not find it in your spouse.

In this way, it is impossible for your spouse to be the right one for you.

You Are Married to the Wrong Person Because They Are Wrong by Nature

Every Person Is Unique

It makes me think of a fingerprint. It’s one of the things that show how unique you are. In fact, there’s a one in 64 billion chance that your fingerprint will match up exactly with someone else’s. God made you different than anyone else in the world. He put it in your DNA. He used the influences of life events to shape you. He used your relationships to make you the person you are. So your spouse is completely different from you as well.

And marriage has a way of bringing out those differences. When you are dating those differences are appealing, but once you are married those same differences can become points of contention. 

I am a very calm person. I like things calm and most importantly, quiet! The calmness of my personality can actually be impressive at times. But at other times it can seem ridiculous. If you were to go on a long trip in a car with me, I could go hours without saying a word and think nothing of it. My wife, on the other hand, needs conversion. To her 30 seconds together without talking is just awkward!  So our differences can sometimes be a challenge in our relationship.

You have to learn to celebrate your differences.

I have a confession to make. To me carrying a conversation is kinda stressful so when I met my wife, the fact that she COULD carry a conversation was awesome to me! And I think the fact that I am so calm is a blessing to her at times. So by embracing and even celebrating your differences can make your relationship more meaningful to you.

There is a temptation when you see those differences to try to correct your spouse to make them like you. Because of course, YOUR way of doing things is always the best way of doing them! But this is a mistake. Your differences are like spices that God has put into your relationship to make it something incredible.  

Let’s face it, if everyone were like me, the world would be a really bland place. We would all be reduced to grunts, nods, and blunt sentences. Thankfully God made people like my wife, who to me, is like a ray of sunshine! So learning to celebrate and embrace the differences in the two of you gives you a better understanding of your relationship.

Become Deliberate in Enjoying Your Spouse’s Differences

For us, a good date involves a calm walk in the park and a long talk with each other. This way I get the calm that I enjoy and she gets the conversation that she desires. Although I do struggle with my part of the conversation sometimes! 🙂 The truth is that me taking the time to talk to my wife is important to her, so it helps our relationship for me to deliberately take the time to do it. 

Whatever your personalities and likes, you can improve your relationship by taking the time to enjoy your differences. So the differences don’t make your spouse wrong for you, they actually make them right for you! You just have to learn how to enjoy them

God Made You Different on Purpose

Marriage is a collision of two lives. It’s a collision that God has designed to fundamentally change you. God made you and your spouse different because He wants to use marriage to make you a different person. So the “better” and “worse” of marriage are all designed to make you the Christian that God wants you to become!

God has sent the problems in your marriage to transform you. Most couples miss this, they think that they are wrong for each other. A lot of times one spouse points their finger at the other’s problems. While God wants you to point your finger at your problems in YOUR heart. That is the problem that He is interested in fixing. Your heart is what God is wanting to transform in you. 

You cannot control your spouse. You cannot make them different. But you can allow God to change you into the Christian that He wants you to be. Marriage is an instrument of change that God has put into your life. So let God fix you because that is what He is trying to do.

When I first met the Lord, He changed me. In my heart, I knew that I was a different person because of Him. I love this Bible reference that illustrates this change:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

II Corithians 5:17

I was a church kid so there wasn’t a drastic change on the outside, but man what a change God made in my heart!  Ever since that moment in my life, God has been changing me a little bit at a time, He is making me like Jesus (See Romans 8:28-29). My marriage is a relationship that God is trying to use to change me even more. So the challenges in that relationship are not a mistake, but another way for God to transform into the image of Son. This applies even more f my relationship brings me suffering. Check out this Bible verse that illustrates this principle:

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

2 Corinthians 4:17

In my journey with Christ, my wife is another encouragement from God to change me. And the great thing about this is that I get to enjoy loving her at the same time.

Everyone Is Broken in Some Way

There is this little thing about being human. It means you are imperfect. Imperfect is just a nice way of saying that you are broken. And you are married to a broken person. There is an underlying principle of the Gospel, that we are broken and need saving. The Bible is really one long story, that story is the Gospel. It’s the story of people who are broken by sin and need a redeemer who loves them to forgive and heal them in their brokenness.

It’s the first step in coming to faith in Christ; realizing you are a sinner. If you have ever read a Gospel tract, that is where they all start out because if you don’t understand that you are broken, you cannot understand that you need redemption.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:23

But I think we lose sight of this sometimes in our relationships with other people, especially marriage. There is no one perfect this side of eternity.  And marriage has a way of exposing those imperfections. You just can’t hide brokenness in a relationship as close as husband and wife. 

Brokenness Doesn’t Mean Incompatibility

The problems that you see in your spouse don’t make you incompatible, they make them broken. You are broken too. You have to learn to love each other in that brokenness just like Jesus loves you in your brokenness. If the Gospel were based on what we deserve, then we would all be in big trouble. Thankfully, the Gospel is based on His love and His act of redemption in dying for you.

This is what makes marriage so beautiful. When you love each other in your brokenness. This is never an excuse for doing wrong. But understanding that your spouse is broken just like you can help you to live with them and to love them more deeply. 

What good is love if it only works when things are perfect for you? Love is amazing when you use it even when things are not perfect in your relationship. Learn to love your spouse in their brokenness and problems.

You Are Married to the Wrong Person Because You Are Missing the Right Person

I am stricken by the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 3:10:

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

The person you are missing in your life is not a different spouse. Christ is the person who you are really missing. 

That I may know Him

I think that sometimes I lose sight of my real goal in life. That I may know Him. There is the old hymn that I absolutely love. It’s one of those hymns that are usually sung in church as a congregational. That means everyone sings at the same time. This is one of my favorite times in church because I can sing as loud as I want and no one knows when I mess up the song! It’s called “I Serve a Risen Savour” and it goes like this.

I serve a risen Savior

  He’s in the world today.

I know that He is living,

  Whatever men may say.

I see His hand of mercy;

  I hear His voice of cheer;

And just the time I need Him

  He’s always near.

  He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!

He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.

He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!

You ask me how I know He lives?

    He lives within my heart.

But if He lives in my heart, why does He seem so far away sometimes? This is the one relationship that matters more than any other and I am suffering at it. Knowing Him is more important than your marriage. It’s more important than any other relationship in your life. He should be the one that you love first, everyone else should follow that love.

You can get so caught up with problems in your life or in your marriage that you lose sight of the most important relationship in your life. That is your relationship with the Lord. If you are not Christian, you just can’t understand this but if you have been a Christian for any length of time you know what fellowshipping with Jesus is like. For more information about this, you can read I John 1.

Practical Ways to Build on Your Relationship With Christ

These are some things I have learned from being a Christian for many years. (I have included Bible references in the show notes)

  1. Practice self-reflection– Give yourself a spiritual check-up everyday. Constantly evaluating your relationship with him gives you an awareness of your spiritual condition. This also allows you to notice problems in your life that need correcting before they become a bigger problem. (I Corinthians 11:31)
  2. Set a consistent devotional time– Have a set time everyday that you can spend reading your Bible and talking to God. If you don’t plan for it, you will not do it. (Psalm 5:3)
  3. Be thankful– Thank Him for the things that He does in your life. If nothing else (there is plenty “else” by the way) you can thank Him for redeeming you. Showing appreciation to Him makes your heart sensitive to His communication. (Hebrews 13:15)
  4. Be honest with Him– He knows you anyway, so just come clean with how you are feeling. It’s OK to open up to Him. You don’t have to worry about Him telling anyone. There is nothing that you can’t tell him. (Psalm 51:10)

Your Relationship with Your Spouse is Tied to Your Relationship with God

You would think that the two would be completely unrelated but there is this knot that God ties with the two relationships. Notice the words of the Bible:

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7

Does that mean that if you mistreat your spouse, your prayer life will suffer? That is exactly what this verse means. Someone has said that you can’t be wrong horizontally and be right vertically. I have found this to be true. If you are going to be right with God, you are going to have to be right with your spouse. And if you are going to repair your marriage relationship, you are going to have to repair your relationship with God.

I said earlier that God is trying to use the problems in your marriage relationship to change you. This is where it all comes together. Your marriage relationship is really about another relationship, God and you.

Music by Wes Hutchinson