“I’m supposed to get engaged this year. My boyfriend said this was the year. I don’t think he has a ring…it would be so nice if I was engaged by my younger sister’s wedding…in April.”
The sales clerk lamented.
The other Nordstrom clerk, who I presumed to be in her early thirties, chimed in: “Yeah, I really hope my boyfriend has something special planned…I mean definitely not a ring or anything, but just some flowers or something sweet.” Then added, “We’re both kind of afraid of marriage.”
On Sunday, I overheard a woman tell the nail technician, “I’m not stupid enough to get married.” Some married co-workers said Valentine’s Day is just like any other day—and they wouldn’t want their spouse to give them roses just because some holiday told them to. Some women at the gym were discussing a 'night on the town'. And my favorite was a woman in her early seventies (who I see every morning at the gym!) told the ladies in the locker room she was making her husband's favorite dinner for Valentine's.
Whatever today has in store for you, whether you find yourself swept up in the arms of someone you can’t live without or you are only reminded that you have not yet been chosen--I want to talk about marriage. After getting married last June, I am now acutely aware at how misguided so many are in regards to what marriage does and does not mean. I want to share a definition of marriage I heard this weekend that may help you see what God designed it for.
“Marriage: a flawed person married to a flawed person in a fallen world. With a faithful God.”–Paul Tripp
The only thing that makes marriage good is simply God. If your “right person” consists of someone who will never disappoint you and who is always in the mood for romance, you will continue searching. If you do get married, then this mindset will cause you to look elsewhere when he/she doesn’t meet your expectations. In regards to marriage, you can choose between sinners and greater sinners.
I truly believe marriage is designed to bring us into a deeper understanding of the enormous love Christ displayed for us in His death. As Tim Keller notes, “the reason marriage is so painful, and yet so wonderful, is because it is a reflection of the Gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once.”
A few years ago, I should have had an amazing Valentine’s Day because I was already engaged and in the midst of wedding planning. But even with my relationship status and the wonderful man I loved dearly, I cried most of the day. It was one of those days where you cry so much that your face becomes almost unrecognizable. I was dealing with some very intense rejection & pain (unrelated to Michael). I’m sure the last way Michael expected this day to go included me sobbing in pajamas just minutes before we were supposed to leave for our dinner reservation.
I remember him saying, “You just do whatever you need to do. We can go to dinner or not—it’s totally up to you.” After several complaints of “I look terrible” and Michael affirming me, I pulled myself together and we showed up an hour late for our reservation. It wasn't perfect, but it was real. We ate salmon at our favorite restaurant overlooking the Nashville skyline. That’s real marriage—two sinners who can bear one another’s burdens & commit for the long haul no matter what happens. Michael's love towards me despite how I acted demonstrated the Gospel—because when we were totally undeserving, Christ died for us.
Believe the Gospel today. God has not forgotten you. He knows every intricate detail about you and how you long to be loved. Proverbs says He will give you the desires of your heart. I don't know if that means a Valentine this year or not—but I do know you can trust Him with your heart. He is a good Dad.
What are your plans for Valentines? Did this post resonate with you or give you a renewed perspective on love and marriage?
Ruthie Dean is a book marketer at Harper Collins Christian by day and a writer by night. She and her husband Michael call Nashville home. Their first book, Real Men Don't Text, will be in bookstores in 2013. Ruthie writes a relationship blog for women at www.ruthiedean.com.