Fairy Tale Weddings in Reverse

Over the weekend, Dana and I attended a marriage conference at Calvary Delta; I wish I could justify it with words how great of an experience it was. So many times, as I hear things, I can take a journey back in time within my mind, and sometimes those trips can be joyful, and unfortunately, sometimes those trips can be often painful. As I was listening to the first Pastor speak, I couldn’t help but think about the progression of my daughters growing up, Angelina now 19, Francesca 14, and even anticipating Mila, who is now eight weeks. As the older two would dress up in their Disney Princess outfits and talk about the prince they will one day marry, I would think to myself if it were only that easy. If I am candid, there would never be any guy in my eyes good enough for my princesses, but the Lord has been doing great work in my heart with that area of my life. The truth is marriage is a beautiful covenant to enter into with God and your spouse but at times those trials can deceive you to think otherwise. Matt Chandler would say it like this “you don’t really need to make a vow to stick with someone in the best of times. The inclination to run doesn’t exist then. It’s the low times the covenant is made for.” When breaking that statement down it reminded me of what I heard over the weekend, what happens when the prince the woman thinks she married really turns back into the frog he originally started as and when the husband finds out that the glass slipper that once fit his princess Cinderella no longer does. The reality is we find ourselves realizing the way the movies end isn’t necessarily the case in real life.  

I can now see how my relationship and now marriage without Christ at the head of it was on a course for a natural disaster. In our strength, we could make it a reasonable distance at times, but it would only be a matter of time before I would stuff my, as I heard it said best, “imaginary backpack” with things that I was frustrated with to avoid conflict. Little did I know my “princess” oh did she have a bag of her own that was a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. I can remember a few years ago; it only took something as small as me not able to find my socks in the drawers in which so nicely put our folded clothes in or Dana trying to talk to me as I was doing something on my phone, slightly listening to her, and KABOOOOOOM, stuff from years ago, was flying out of the arsenal. My goodness, she was not shy to answer back with her grenade of stored feelings. It was a complete disaster; when the rubber met the road, we handled it the best way we knew how; in our strength.

I had no idea what love even really looked like; how could I show her love, although I understood what it was like to feel hurt and knew how to do that pretty well. It was pretty much the history of my life, destruction, and I brought it into my marriage at first because I couldn’t understand what it meant to be a husband, let alone be the husband God designed me to be. Praise God, for He stirred my heart to teach me how to be a husband, and the first part was recognizing that I was failing as one. Are there times where Dana and I do not agree on everything, disagree absolutely? Still, God reminds me in Ephesians 2:4-5 “ But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved”), how much more should I respond to my wife rich in mercy whether I think she deserves it or not in those moments. It is easy in my flesh to want to withhold it, but the truth is that it is easy to go with what the flesh wants but to follow through with what God has laid out for us is where reconciliation can begin to happen. 

Now, it would be unfair, not to mention the trials I have put my wife through. To be honest, I know the only reason we can be where we are is through the provision and sovereign grace of the Lord; I always say her faith was shaken many times but never broken. When people told her to leave, and it was easier for her to go than to stay, she grabbed on tighter to the Lord as her walk got deeper. 

She not only trusted in Ephesians 5:22 “22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” and 1 Peter 3, but she lived it out “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives.” Dana did not submit to me because I deserved it, and were there times I took advantage of it? It isn’t enjoyable to say but yes. The truth is she could see past me and look to Christ, and I will never forget watching her read her Bible and worship the Lord. She would continue to pursue the one person that (Christ) that would continue to help her be able to submit to me and love me when she couldn’t do it in her own strength, and the worse things got, the more she sought Him. This verse and Ephesians seem to get a lot of attention because of the concept of being submissive. Men have an essential role in understanding what submissive means and women understanding the submissiveness is always as to the Lord, just as men should love their wives as Christ loves the church. Now not every dispute is a rubber meets the road one but each one we handle is the same way, being rich in mercy and submitting as to the Lord. 

Pastor Steven Wilburn said, “people today seem to think marriage is ideal, then it becomes an ordeal, and now they want a new deal.” The truth is that without Christ and understanding the context of the scripture and its application in my life, I would still be trying to muscle through it and coming up short like every other time, most likely thinking I got a bad deal. The Lord has put such a fire on my hearts for marriage, and in actuality, it mirrors our relationship with Christ as we are the bridegroom. The beautiful thing about marriage is that although the road is not always easy, it never has to be traveled alone. We have the Gospel, which is our compass to navigate us through life and our marriages. On our own, it at times may seem impossible, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can deny ourselves and love our spouses the way God loves us and we have been created to love them. 

So I ask, is marriage still ideal or are you seeking a new deal?

Frank D