I was flat out frustrated. I was supposed to be meeting with human resources at 4 p.m. and it was now close to 5:15 p.m. Feeling like my time had been disrespected, I was on the verge of grabbing my work bag and walking reluctantly through the double doors I had entered an hour and fifteen minutes before -on time, early in fact. As I let out a sigh and uttered a prayer for patience, they finally called me to the back.
Eager to get in and out in time for my next meeting, I hurried back to the cubicle where the lady would put my information in the system. The complaints on the tip of my tongue took a backseat as I looked around the woman’s cubicle. Scriptures were posted on each little wall- some printed from the computer, others in a simple, sincere kind of penmanship. “I love all of the scriptures adorning your wall,” I said. “Thank you!” she said excitedly. Then we got to talking about life. As she filled out my information on the computer, I explained that my last name would be changing in a few months. “Not Diggs for long I guess. I will be getting married in the Fall. It’ll be Griffin then!”
In the midst of her congratulations, she proudly told me about her marriage of 29 years. Told me about her and her husband turning their love for riding motorcycles into an opportunity for discipleship. They spread the Gospel to unreached communities of bike riders. And not just that- she spoke of the hard times. The times that their marriage was difficult, but hope from Christ and a strong community of Christians helped them to endure and persevere. “The best advice I can give you is to never stop having fun together or loving Jesus together, and never, EVER give up on one other,” she said.
As I left the office and drove to my destination, her words stuck to me like command strips, holding a beautiful display steady in my heart. “Never, EVER give up.” You see, we live in a society that fawns over the idea of “happily ever afters” but dismisses the “hard work ever after” part that comes with it. We love songs and movies with mushy gushy feelings and cute couple pictures on social media. We idolize godly relationships and marriages, but we aren’t always willing to put in the grace, selflessness, and forgiveness that builds that kind of marriage.
Preparing for marriage through courtship and engagement has been a beautiful experience, thus far. My fiancee’ makes me feel like the most awesome person in the world, through his consistent love and affirmation. But during hard times and disagreements, it has often felt like looking into a mirror and realizing that there are a lot of ugly, undesirable traits about myself that my future husband has loved me through and is willing to love me through for life. A love that mimics the love that Christ has for us.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
WOAH. That’s a weighty task for husbands. Especially on the days when our faces are pretty but our attitudes are less than. We all have those days. But just like our heavenly Father shows us grace and continuously redeems us back to Him, the people who want to “do life” with us do the same. Maybe you can’t relate to a significant other demonstrating this, I’m sure you can have experienced this love through your parents or children. Each time I think of the Lord’s relentless pursuit of His people, I love my future husband more, because he walks in a way that shows me what the love of Christ looks like on this earth. I begin to see how the two loves align:
I am a sinner on a daily basis, but God continues to respond with forgiveness.
In the same way, I sometimes say or do hurtful things, but my future husband takes the high road, and responds with a gentle “I still love you.”
I get frustrated with God when I don’t understand why He does certain things, but He patiently sits back then reveals His plan in time.
In the same way, I get frustrated with my future husband when He doesn’t do things exactly my way, but he patiently reminds me that we don’t think exactly the same- and that’s okay.
I get busy with life and some of my quiet time gets pushed to the back burner, but God is still waiting there when I am ready to get quiet before Him.
In the same way, I have days when I’m exhausted with prioritizing the needs of others (including his), but my future husband reminds me to persevere instead of running away.
Each day, I am noticing more that life and love are relentless pursuits. Jesus chases after our hearts and lives, regardless of whether it is reciprocated or not. And He blesses us with significant others or friends and family who do the same. The thought of a God who pursues us relentlessly should change us from the inside out. And the thought of a person who pursues us relentlessly should have the same effect. Thinking on all of the times that grace has been extended to me from the folks who know me best, helps me to desire to reciprocate it when it is my turn. True love forces us to change for the better, even when the process requires us looking our character flaws straight in the eyes, and telling them that Jesus is bigger.
As my fiancee’ and I continue to prepare our hearts and minds for a lifetime union, I am going to thank God in advance for tests, trials, and disagreements. It is in those moments that couples grow more in the image of a God who loves unconditionally. Partnership prunes us and allows us to look outside of ourselves and love sacrificially. This love creates loving spouses, who turn into loving parents, who turn into people who learn to love better, overall. I’m listening Lord. And I’m learning.
“Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t sing its own praises. It isn’t arrogant. It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. It isn’t irritable. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs. It isn’t happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth. Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up….
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I no longer used childish ways. Now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete. Then I will have complete knowledge as God has complete knowledge of me. So these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the best one of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, 11-13).
Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.