While Matt and I were on a date a couple weeks back [yay Starbucks cards], I noticed a middle-aged couple sitting on the patio hunched over their phones. I could see that they were both reading a lengthy text and discussing it with hushed voices and furtive glances. Their demeanor made me wonder whether they were looking at legal paperwork, toying with the idea of divorce. I felt a tiny pang of sadness for them as we walked past.
Thirty minutes later, I realized how wrong I was when they got super intimate, right there on the patio at Starbucks for anyone to see. So intimate, in fact, I felt guilty watching them with a smile, but couldn’t look away. Matt and I exchanged glances, as if to say “Are you seeing this?”
This couple was holding hands, heads bowed, earnestly praying together.
The husband’s lips moved without hesitation or self-consciousness. I couldn’t hear their prayers, but it was a clearly a very beautiful, private moment. Instead of seeing a crumbling marriage, I saw one being fortified by Jesus’s power.
Mindy Kaling said in her book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, “C’mon married people. I don’t want to hear about the endless struggles to keep sex exciting, or the work it takes to plan a date night. I want to hear that you guys watch every episode of The Bachlorette together in secret shame…I want to see you guys high-five each other like teammates…I want to hear about it because I know it’s possible, and because I want it for myself…Please be psyched, and convey that psychedness to us.”
I love to joke about marriage, saying things like “I got married so that I could avoid having sex with only one person for the rest of my life,” but I love being married. My husband’s name means “Gift of God” in Hebrew and it fits him; he is God’s gift to me. I’m psyched about my husband and the prospect of spending the rest of our lives together. I’m psyched that he texts me and asks “How can I bless you today?” and that he sneaks a single miniature candy onto my planner every day. I‘m psyched about holding hands on walks together, weekly dates, and laughing so hard I can’t breathe, let alone speak, over random internet stuff with him.
There’s lots of fun stuff about being married, but there’s so much more to it than that. Being married to Matt is making me a better person. Matt is my +1, and also my “one another”. “One another” commands pepper the New Testament, teaching Christians how they ought to live in community with one another: love one another as Jesus loved us (John 13:34); show honor to one another (Romans 12:10), build up one another (Romans 14:19); serve one another (Galatians 5:13); bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2); be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32); submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21); bear with and forgive one another (Colossians 3:13); pray for one another (James 5:16).
These are not easy. In fact, some of them are miserable at times [hello, submission and forgiveness should be 4 letter words, especially when I’m positive I’m right], but that doesn’t change the fact that they pave the way for a stronger marriage. It also doesn’t change the fact that this is exactly how the Lord intended for life together to look.
Each of the “one another” commands give me a glimpse of the incredible plan God has for community whether it’s a marriage, a church, or his kingdom. Even when I don’t understand it [or, let’s be honest, agree], it’s an act of faith to trust that God knows what he’s talking about and follow. Learning to live this way gives me a clearer picture of Jesus and moves me closer to behaving like him in any circumstance. The two-becoming-one process of marriage is a great mystery, but [most importantly] it is an illustration of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32).
I read a blog post recently that was a scathing indictment of Biblical marriage, implying its ideas are completely archaic. I have to disagree. Perhaps from the outside it doesn’t look like much, like a hobbit’s humble home [totally a simile for my husband]. It’s only when you step inside that you realize that the humble exteriors mask the depth and beauty within.
I needed to see that couple at Starbucks. I needed to be reminded of the power of putting Jesus at the center of your marriage and doing things that way God commands. I know that, but it’s nice to know that other people know it, too, and to see it incarnated in a random café patio. I also needed to say something about it because maybe you need to be reminded of it, too. God’s way is ultimately the best way for us to live our lives.
My prayer is that Matt and I would be like that couple: unselfconscious in our love for Jesus and one another. I pray that our joy in marriage would multiply so that we might point others to the joy of following the Lord in every area.