I don’t know about you, but I tend to be able to combat overwhelm if I have a plan. So here is my plan to celebrate small.
P: Praise God for the sanctifying work He does in marriage. L: Love each other through failures and disappointments. A: Ask God to reveal His hand at work in my marriage. N: Nurture harmony by dreaming big and celebrating small as one.
When our big dreams become nothing but a blur in the distance, we go back to the blueprint. We trust the Lord will work out the details as we follow Him. The beauty of following this plan is that it benefits us today by allowing us to increase in boldness and strength for the journey and — whether we realize it or not — it gets us closer to those big dreams of ours.
I’m not a doomsday prepper by any stretch of the imagination. I am more of a “we’ll cross that bridge when we get there” type of person. It’s something I wish I could be better about, and I was reminded of this just last week. The biggest Hindu festival hit here in Nepal, and even though I knew all the shops would close, I started the weekend with an empty fridge. Facepalm.
It cost me a lot of unnecessary stress wandering around trying to find ingredients I needed for a pot-luck fellowship. I even had to send my husband on a wild-goose-chase in search of anything I could take to preserve my reputation as someone who never showed up empty-handed. Well, guess who showed up empty-handed.
I’m not a doomsday prepper when it comes to fruits and veggies, apparently, but some might say I am a doomsday prepper in my marriage. I want 50 years and a lifetime of memories and ministry behind us one day — I’ve shared this with you already. However, when I celebrate small, I realize today is a gift from God which must be properly stewarded. I see that He is working on this otherwise insignificant day in my marriage, and I am resolved to honor His work by putting in some of my own.
The best way I can honor the gift of marriage the Lord has entrusted to me is to safeguard it in every way I can. Each and every day. I don’t prepare for the doomsday; I pray it never comes. But I am wise to consider how I may protect the most precious relationship in my life (next to that with my heavenly Father).
The Bible teaches that Satan is like a lion looking for a prey to pounce on. When I lose my focus on celebrating small and honoring God in each day of my marriage, I expose a vulnerable underbelly just impossible to pass up for a ravenous beast. If I forget about these big dreams of ours — the biggest being for my marriage to reflect the love of Christ for His church — I am tantalizing to the Tempter. My marriage is where Satan can hit me hard, and he knows it.
8 Ways I Can Safeguard My Marriage
I safeguard my marriage when I…
Nurture my own walk with the Lord
Refrain from keeping secrets from my husband
Choose not to pursue friendships with the opposite sex
Speak positively of him privately and publicly
Share my heart with my husband even when –especially when — it is hard
Keep my heart from things that spark a negative attitude towards my husband
Make intimacy a priority in my marriage
Pray for my husband
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Ephesians 6:11-13).
I don’t want to find myself empty-handed one day in my marriage. I want to thrive within a life-giving, God-honoring marriage for all the days He gives us to live together. I choose to celebrate small each day, praising God for the work He is doing in all the little ways he does it. I honor it all by making daily decisions to safeguard my marriage.
My husband and I had a hard time getting used to sleeping in the same bed. The first night we slept as husband and wife, I woke up on the opposite side than the one I fell asleep on without memory of how I got there. We would recount stories of what the other spoke out loud while they were in a REM cycle each morning. Of course, it didn’t take too long to get used to, and we were certain that it was worth it. I had that star-struck-love thing where I really did wake up grateful that he was there and so supremely blessed to be his wife after all this time of waiting.
We said the traditional vows which included the words “to have and to hold from this day forward.” It was a pledge in the true sense of the word to respect our vows and cherish each other. The have is the keeping, the showing up every day in our marriage. The hold is something else entirely. It is not careless as it knows the value of what is in its clutch. And it is careful not too cling too tightly lest the great prize be broken.
I can have the have without having the hold — this is how starry-eyed lovers become considerate roommates. When I celebrate small, I praise God for the precious gift of a partner to navigate life with. I see God’s loving kindness in a man who truly tries to understand me and comforts me on the days where the enemy delivers some serious blows. I don’t ask from him what I can only receive from the One who knows me best. I trust him, assuming the best of him and supporting the dreams and desires of his heart.
The hold doesn’t look around at all the other things it could have instead of what is in its possession because it can’t break its gaze with the precious gem in its grip. It admires, seeing all of the fabulous features and none of the flaws. When I celebrate small, I don’t ponder what I could have or what I may be able to get. Envy doesn’t come easy when I gratefully gaze at what I’ve got.
When I see my husband for the gift he is from a good Father, I wake up grateful again. He’s not just a person who steals the sheets and sets his alarm more early than I’d like. He’s a man who has chosen to live his life with me in it, who trusts me to care for his children, and allows me to share in his big dreams coming true. It is an honor. I will cherish it –and him — forever.
Our story started small. He would save me three minutes of walking by driving me from the high-school to the elementary school where I would get my ride home. We talked and laughed and tried not to be awkward, but there was always something special between us which grew slowly but steadily. Struggles and temptations threatened the friendship forged through a time of great personal change and growth. Though it all seemed small and even a little silly — I was 15! — it’s actually a testimony of God’s grace in our lives.
In our 8 years of marriage, we’ve had three babies — one who left us much too soon — traveled all over the US and moved across the world together. We’ve had struggles and temptations of different sorts, but God has been faithful. A dear friend reminded me, recently that no one is immune to sin and struggle. Each day of peace and each victory in our marriage comes by God’s grace alone. I praise God that he has re-written a painful story for this particular friend by mending her broken marriage. It is such a powerful reminder to me that God writes our story. When we celebrate small, we praise God for his steady hand in our marriage when trials and temptations rock the boat. We accept our fault when our story takes a turn in the wrong direction, but we beg for and bask in His saving power that doesn’t stop at sinful souls.
When I can’t even grasp at what He must be up to, I trust that the author of salvation is doing what He does best — acting redemptively on my behalf, saving me from myself as I try to follow and honor Him in my marriage. I reflect on the small beginnings, and I have cause to celebrate — he brought two silly, confused teens through the turmoils of high-school and a long-distance relationship, matured them together in Christ, and set them out in service to Him. Truly, a beautiful story that is just beginning.
I don’t know the story of your marriage. You may be wading through a dull chapter or one you just wish would end already. But I do know that God is at work, and there is good to be read between the lines if only in the character of Christ alone. I pray that He will give you strength to continue walking in the story He has for you, and I ask that He will give you the happily ever after you’ve always dreamed of. It is with a grateful heart I share my story and that of my friend with you now — proof that small beginnings and broken parts can be used for our good and God’s glory. May we praise Him for the whole story.
Paul and I will have been married for 8 years in April. If you read my last post which revealed my age and you are skilled at kindergarten math, you can figure that we were married young. Real young. I was one month past my 20th birthday when we were wed, and my groom was 21. We knew so little back then, and everyone but us knew it already. For the most part, everyone was kind and shared our joy. As it was on that day, it is my sincerest hope — as I shared with you on day two of this series — that we will share a life-long union and magnify Christ in our marriage. 50 years or bust! I really pray the Lord grants me that wish or whisks us to glory instead. Mainly because I don’t know how to “adult” without him.
As I’ve learned to celebrate small, however, I see that today matters. The big dream of lasting decades and decidedly living for the Lord together through our old age is important, but it isn’t everything. Choosing to love my spouse and to see the good in our marriage every day — especially the hard ones! — is the path we tread to the swarms of grandkids and a jam-packed anniversary party. Today isn’t so glamorous. Rather, it’s nap-time’s-up, baby-boy-wet-the-bed, throw-dinner-together, quick-kiss as he walks in and we walk out to church-kind of day.
It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and totally miss each other. Resentments can pile up quickly as I’ve unfortunately learned. But all the things that keep us spinning in ministry, family, relationships, and all types of service to the Lord are directly impacted by the health of our marriage. So, yeah, it matters. This is where that thing I’ve been preaching to myself for the last month or so comes into play in a huge way.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Colossians 3:15-17).
No, we don’t float around this house singing hymns to each other — to me that sounds strangely fun but maybe not so much to my dear husband — but we absolutely would benefit from taking the time, thought and effort to encourage ourselves and each other in the Lord. My husband is 100% better at this than me, so I am completely taking responsibility for improving in this area in my own marriage. Big-dreaming-discouragement keeps me from breathing life into our marriage, but celebrating small breathes life back into me.
I can rejuvenate my marriage by celebrating small — by choosing to praise God for blessings he pours out on our marriage even in the daily grind and what feels more menial than missional. I remember that I am completely loved and accepted by God, created to do good work in my marriage. When I operate from this place of peace, I give support to the hope of that long, happy marriage and joy to the journey of getting there. Who we are and how our marriage stands will be important 50 years down the road, we know; we want to leave a legacy. But more than that, we acknowledge that our marriage matters today. It matters to two spunky monkeys that roam the halls of this house, and it matters to all who are touched by our ministry efforts. Above all, it matters because it is a covenant made with King of the Universe.
It seems I could write about this all day. I’m fired up, but my time is up! I’ll be talking about celebrating small in marriage for the next several days, so I do hope you’ll return and join in the conversation while you’re here.
How can you purposefully praise for the health of your marriage?