It's Labor Day.
And I want to talk about marriage.
This isn't the first time I've talked about marriage and labor.
Because marriage takes work.
It's a labor of love.
Falling love is easy.
It's the staying in love that is hard.
One year ago, my marriage was hurting.
I didn't feel in love.
In fact, love was pretty much on the bottom of the list of things I felt about my husband.
There were even some moments when I thought, "what if I give up?"
I didn't really mean it, but it felt good to ask that question.
It made me feel like I was in control.
It seemed like it would be a whole lot easier than staying.
I never imagined I would be in that place.
There is that pride again.
Why did I think that our marriage was somehow immune to struggle?
Why did I consider every problem his, never mine, or ours?
Because it is easier to blame someone else.
Because it is easier to say everything is fine.
And it was.
On the surface.
But underneath there were all sorts of things that we were just too busy to talk about.
We had 3 small kids, and if that doesn't suck the life right out of you, I don't know what else will.
We were just in the middle of that time when it's all about the kids.
You know what I mean, right?
Or maybe it was just a cop out.
There were things we were too scared to talk about.
Because then we might have to change.
And change requires work.
And there was some hurt and some resentment and some bitterness and left unresolved, they festered.
Things weren't fine.
I never imagined I, we, would be in that place.
We said for better or for worse.
We said till death do us part.
We said in sickness and in health.
We said we'd stick it out through the hard stuff.
It's easy to say it.
It's so much harder to do it.
Because sometimes you are just tired of all the work.
Wives, you are tired of making your husband lunch every day and taking care of the kids, and carrying and birthing babies, and cleaning the house, and working all day, at home or somewhere else, and making dinner, and after being pawed all day long by the children, he still wants you to sit next to him on the couch and cuddle!
Husbands, you are tired of eating a mushy sandwich every day, of siting at your desk for hours doing a job that isn't all that exciting, of watching all the money go toward the kids' new shoes and the minivan payment instead of a sailboat, and when you come home the kids attack you before you even get in the door, and it's non-stop until bed time when all you want to do is sit on the couch and hold your wife and she says she doesn't feel like it!
And, oh so slowly, you let all those little things add up, you keep track of the wrongs done to you and the resentment grows, until, before you know it, you've allowed selfishness to have a foothold in your heart.
There is no room for selfishness in marriage.
Love is not selfish.
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
It does not envy.
It does not boast.
It is not proud.
It does not dishonor others.
It is not self-seeking.
It is not easily angered.
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13)
Never before have those words meant so much to me as they have this year.
I have read them over and over again.
I have asked God to help me love Aaron that way.
And for Aaron to love me that way.
We have labored.
I will not tell you that it has been easy.
There have been many tears shed.
But God has given us strength when we were weary.
And I can say, most assuredly, that our labor has not been in vain.
We have this baby boy as a constant reminder, in so many different ways, of new life.
If we allow Him to, God can turn the ugly into something beautiful.
He can "make a way in your desert and streams in your wasteland."*
It won't be easy.
But it will be good.
Because I have never loved my husband more than I do right now.
As I wrote this post, there were two things on my mind.
One was to encourage:
"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness." (Hebrews 3:13)
The other is to exhort:
" So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (1 Corinthians 10:12)
You may be in a different place right now.
It may be blissful.
It may be good.
Or you may be hurting.
And you may need to know that others have been there too.
You are not alone.
It's a scary thing to admit: first to yourself and then to others.
But find someone and say, "please pray for me."
"Please pray for my marriage."
How can we help one another if we are not honest?
We live in a world where a lot of marriages crumble.
At some point you are going to have to fight for your marriage.
It's worth it.
*Isaiah 43: 18-19
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
Now it springs up, Do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland."