What I've learned throughout (almost) 10 years of marriage

On July 29th, my husband and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage...10 YEARS, PEOPLE!
We were so young....
This is cause for celebration because marriage is so. damn. hard. Can I get an Amen up in 'her?!? I got married as a newly-minted 20 year old--straight outta my teen years--and while I've always been a bit of an old soul, I learned to be an adult during my earliest years of marriage. Here are just a few things I've learned as a married gal:

  • How to pay bills (E-pay is my best friend)
  • Don't set a plastic container of coffee on a hot stove burner
  • There are at least 7 ways to use beans (when we were young and poor, we ate a lot of beans)
  • My husband picked me to be his wife forever and he's not on the prowl for another gal who dresses in sweaters from Banana Republic
  • Life will not always go as planned
  • To earn more money, be creative (get 'yer minds outta the gutter!): We sold books, DVDs, and plasma (as in...blood, not televisions) in our early years to make a little extra cash
  • Cable TV is not a necessity

I know some of these lessons are silly, but they've all been meaningful to me in some way. Lately I've been learning different kinds of lessons, though--the kind of lessons that bare more weight:

We (men and women) weren't made to do life on our own. Genesis 2 tells the story about how God created man (Adam). God assigns jobs to Adam and tells him name all the animals and birds, and then verse 20 reads, "[Adam] gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him." God's reaction then is to create woman--from Adam's own rib. And when God showed Adam the woman who would be his new wife, Adam proclaimed, "At last!" as if he was waiting all along for a helper, a partner, a companion (Genesis 2:23). As humans, we are better together. As husbands and wives, we are better together--it's how the first original relationship was laid out in the Bible.

I can learn a lot from other Christian women. Titus 2 calls older women to train younger women. This freaks me out because I'm a younger woman....and this means I'd have to engage with...gulp....WOMEN. I have always been TERRIFIED of women mostly because I feel like I don't fit in with them. I usually burp too loudly or swear too much in their presence, and I have a hard time talking about "woman" things like makeup, shoes, clothes, and giving birth. I am more like a feral cat (without all the diseases)--independent, skittish around others, and prefers to be outside than confined indoors, and yet I understand that I can learn a lot about how to be a godly wife and mother from a tribe of Christian women. While I do think churches have room for growth in including all types of women into their ministry opportunities, I also have a responsibility to set aside a few of my own quirks in order to learn from older women.

When I follow God's design for me as a woman, I bring more glory and honor to God. It pleases God when we live in a way that brings him more glory (2 Cor. 5:9), but living in a way that honors God also requires us to live antithetically from the world. Titus 2 gives some clear direction for the way women should conduct themselves: "...teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God" (Titus 2: 3-5). I'm guilty of violating a few of these roles God laid out for women in Titus. It's hard to live in a way that pushes back on our culture's values, but I think living in a way that is not of this world causes people to be attracted to us. Seriously...I mean, aren't you tired of the way a majority of people act in this world? I am attracted to people who are different than what our culture values. I am drawn to folks who are kind, serve others, put themselves last, and who seek to make this world a better place. When we can make ourselves attractive to others, then we can engage in relationships with them, which allows us opportunities to effectively share the gospel.

Being a submissive wife will only benefit my marriage. If you've ever spent any time in a church, then you've probably heard about the submissive wife outlined in Ephesians 5: 22-24--something I bristled against in the early years of my marriage. As I've matured in my faith, thankfully, I've learned to study the context around a set of verses. Ephesians 5: 24 states, "As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything." But we can't forget about the very next few verses: "For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God's word..." (Ephesians 5: 25-26). I'm no theologian or Biblical scholar, but here's the thing: The Biblical concept of submission relies on unconditional love from both partners. Biblical submission means that wives are willing to sacrifice for their husbands; it means putting our husband before our own agendas. True submission can only happen when husbands love their wives with a deep, selfless love that Christ exhibited in His love for the church, the body of believers. Biblical submission is a two-way street. It requires that both partners be on the same page in regards to their spiritual beliefs and values. A wife cannot be submissive to a husband who fails to show her the kind of love that Jesus showed the church. Likewise, a husband can't be the kind of leader God calls him to be when His wife refuses to be more selfless like Jesus and allow herself to be led. We will fail to be submissive, but when we try and make Biblical submission a priority in our marriage, our marriage can only be strengthened because this kind of submission relies on a deep, selfless, unconditional love. To read more on the concept of Biblical submission and how our culture has completely screwed this one up, click here. 

To my friends who are wives or are wives to-be: If there's one thing I'd advise you to practice in your marriage (because, clearly, I am a near expert on marriage #sarcasm), it's humility. We can't engage in relationships, learn, and love well if we aren't humble. Humility isn't just about setting aside who we are; rather, I think it requires a level of confidence in who we are (who God made us to be) so we can make room in our lives for others. If we're constantly doubting ourselves, we'll never be able to be outside of ourselves.*

*End Note: If you're like me, you're probably sighing heavily right now because this stuff (confidence, humility, submission, following God's design for women, etc.) is all so. hard.  But it's not impossible because we have the Holy Spirit to help us. For more about this Holy Spirit business, read Galatians 5: 16-26. I'm no expert, but if you have questions about the Holy Spirit--look me up on Facebook and send me a personal message so we can chat.