I’ve been to 3 significant weddings in the last 6 weeks. THE Word of God tells me God designed marriage to be a beautiful 3 dimensional picture of how He loves us – He covenants Himself to us, never betrays us, understands us, longs to be WITH us, discloses Himself to us, close-as-possible-to-us/no-daylight-between-us intimacy, companionship (never alone, lonely), fellowship … security … safety … delight … playful.
I imagine how that is … but that type of marriage intimacy is not in my personal experience. Actually, none of us have ALL that. Elizabeth Elliot hit the nail on the head, saying, “We marry sinners. There is no one else to marry!” (THINK about that.)
But it is also painfully true – some have intimacy with their mate and some don’t. I am grateful for the glimpses of all these riches I see in other marriages … loving glances, gentle touches, their loyalty, their delight in each other … watching them shows me a bit of what is to come for me someday, in heaven. (Maybe sooner, we keep praying.) I have a longing for all that….
Then I think, having a painful lack in life doesn’t apply to just marriage.
Some are orphans – never knew what it was like to have parents around. Some could tell me what it’s like to be an only child – never having brothers and sisters. Some are barren, never felt a baby move inside … and for reasons I don’t understand, God gave me all those gifts. For reasons I don’t understand, I don’t have the gift of marital intimacy – in the way I imagine God designed. I am married to someone who (I discover) struggles to connect. Somewhere along the way, perhaps in his struggle to adjust to having bipolar, he will tell you he struggles to trust in the very ways that define marriage.
“You desire truth in the innermost being ….” Ps 51:6 Well, here’s the truth: I want a soul mate. Intimacy. Security. Reliability. Strength. Safety. I’m closer to the end of my life than my beginning, and I still long for those things. So does my husband.
Is God being cruel to us? Did we sin in some way so badly that we deserve to never stay connected in body and soul? Was the only way to improve our character to withhold this? (Have you ever asked these kind of questions about a particular lack?)
I know (most of the time) God isn’t being cruel. Dying on a cross was a cruel death suffered by a loving Savior.
I’ve sinned bad enough to deserve hell, so losing marital bliss is a drop in THAT bucket. Jesus paid for my complete pardon. But I still reap painful consequences to sin (that train me to NOT sin the next time). But honestly, most of the time, I can’t tell which painful thing in my life is from my past sin(s), someone else’s sin, or just living in a fallen world.
SO, in case you’re wondering, I am (currently) thinking of my unfulfilled longings as homesickness for heaven. (C.S. Lewis has a great quote on this, wish I could remember it.) I am not going to get it all down here. Period. But that doesn’t mean we are going to quit trying to improve our marriage.
There’s a mountain saying, “make the most of all that comes, and the least of all that goes.” Ruth Graham quoted that, and I’ve found it highly helpful. The past years are gone. We want to make the most of what comes. SO, we are still going to counseling, to doctors, to pastors, to the Word. (not in that order….) I tell my kids some battles are worth the fight. We believe THIS battle (to grow closer) is worth the fight.
But, honestly, heaven can’t come soon enough …. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth … new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband …“Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men …God Himself will be among them, and HE will wipe away every tear from their eyes; …. there will no longer be any mourning, or crying or pain … behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Rev 21:1-5