By Amanda Flinn
Marriage is a long haul relationship. So is faith. They can work together beautifully, if you are intentional with your approach.
Marriage and Faith for the Long Haul
Over the years, your friendships may come and go. Co-workers will switch jobs. And even your kids will leave the house eventually. While you may very well be in these relationships for a long time, none of them compare to the day-in, day-out trials and triumphs of marriage.
It’s the only relationship where you are together for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. In fact, there’s nothing else like it…except our relationship with Christ. Which, if I’m being honest, I think was part of God’s design.
There are things I’ve learned in marriage that have helped me in my faith walk. And there are definitely things about my faith that have helped me in my marriage. No other relationships require this much commitment. Nothing else has produced as much personal growth as my marriage and faith. The parallels are uncanny, but here’s just three of the things I’ve learned.
Marriage and faith require showing up, even when you don’t feel like it.
There are days when I don’t want to serve my husband or open my Bible. There are plenty of times when my attitude and my heart are not aligned with my husband, or with God. And while there is abundant grace to cover all of that, there are also times when I need to put on my big girl panties and show up for the things that matter.
Sometimes showing up is choosing to have the tough conversation, when you’d rather just ignore it. Or planning a date night that requires real clothes. Showing up could even look like staying when you want to go.
In faith, we can show up in prayer, worship and giving; trusting that when we show up, God will meet us there. He always does.
Marriage and faith are about change, adaptation and letting go.
My marriage has been through career changes, weight fluctuations and all kinds of personality adaptations. Thankfully, I’m not who I was twenty years ago and neither is my husband. Praise the Lord. As people, we are expected and even encouraged to grow and change; it’s how we mature. But as a married couple, it’s learning to adapt to the changes of the other person that gets tricky.
My faith has also had some major upheavals. As I’ve grown in my relationship with Christ, I’ve had to let go of some of my childhood teachings and evaluate my own personal beliefs as an adult. The good news is that, even through my faith challenges and changes, God has remained faithfully the same.
Marriage and faith are about looking back and moving forward.
When we look back through old photo albums of our early relationship days, it’s hard to remember the young kids we once were. But looking back reminds us how far we’ve come and what we have endured. While marriage has been difficult at times, it’s also become better with each passing year.
Looking back through my journals allows me to see how far I’ve come on my spiritual journey. When I face a new challenge and think, “No way will I ever get through this,” I’m able to look back and remember how God kept his promises before and then believe he will keep them again. Looking back helps me to stay strong in the present and not fear for the future.
The long haul relationships of both marriage and faith can be intense, but they are also greatly rewarding. They are journeys that require steadfast commitment through life’s ups and downs. But the best news is that we never go at it alone.
“ The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)
Wife Step: Ask yourself, “What do I need to show up for this week?” or “What do I need to let go of?” in order to be in your marriage and your faith for the long haul.
Amanda Flinn is an award-winning author, blogger and booknerd. As a freelance writer, and the director of Kingdom Edge Magazine, Amanda is passionate about using words to positively impact others. A wife of 16 years, she admits that marriage is the most challenging relationship she has ever had, yet the one that keeps her closest to God. Boymom, dogmom, and friend to anyone who needs one–Amanda wants you to remember that no matter what you’re going through, you’re never alone. To learn more about her debut board book, Yoga Baby, and upcoming writing projects, visit www.amandaflinn.com.