For Better or Worse
Do you remember your wedding day? Can you remember knowing you were marrying your Prince Charming? Your entire being was secure in knowing your life would be perfect—you had found your soul mate. You were a match made in heaven; together you were a recipe for a blessed life.
What happens when your expectations are shattered by reality? What happens when the marriage made in heaven comes face to face with hell's fire?
We expect our marriages, our spouses, and our children to be wonderful, the epitome of The Brady Bunch. Was it not awesome to see all family problems resolved in 30 minutes, inclusive of recording a hit song? Honestly, many of our expectations for marriage differ greatly from reality. They differ especially when it comes to God's expectations. God's ways and thoughts are always different from ours. When our expectations collide with God's expectations, our own kingdoms are utterly destroyed.
We expect our spouses to always listen, remember important dates, love us unconditionally, remain faithful, never forsake us, and live forever. As Christians, we expect to somehow avoid the visitation of trial, tribulation, calamity, or worse tragedy. We also expect that when troubles do hit, we will rejoice, forgive, and carry on with praise. We expect to never question God because we are good Christians and we endure hardness as good soldiers. Truthfully, these harsh challenges are designed to inspect the foundation on which our marriages stand. Contrary to popular opinion, they are often allowed by an omniscient God. It is perplexing to comprehend that God would permit trouble to invade, upstage, and hold us captive to dire circumstances.
As a minister's wife, I expected that if I obeyed all the rules, my marriage would be magnificent. I prayed for a godly man who prayed, fasted, loved his mother, and lived a holy life. I even had a special list of what I wanted in a husband, so I wrote down the vision and made it plain. My expectations were so high, even Jesus would have scratched his head.
Since I had done all the right things, I expected a free pass to happily ever after. In hindsight, I had never realized that God gives you a mate who will usher you into his purpose. Astoundingly, years of marriage, children, trials, and tribulation can teach you what you never thought you needed to know.
Unbeknownst to me, my specific vision gave God an open invitation to partner with me in marriage. Because I married a godly man, I assumed my feelings would never be hurt. They were. I expected to never cry; I did. I expected listening ears and understanding—did not always happen. I expected him to do everything to make me happy. He did not. We were both educated, with great careers, so I thought we would never struggle financially. We did. In fact, we lost everything more than once. I never expected we would question God about each other. And we did. Since we were in pastoral ministry, I thought we had graduated from knock-down, drag-out, outright shouting matches; we have not. What a remarkable gift, to realize that you expect more of other people than you can deliver.