When he proposed to me, we’d only “known” each other a short month-and-a-half. We met on America Online, in the Focus on the Family chatroom — he was handsome enough, he was kind and gentle, he said all the right things, including that he was a follower of Christ Jesus — he seemed quite perfect — except…HE.WAS.DIVORCED.
The divorce was not his choice…he knew it was not God’s will for he, nor his ex-wife…there were children…four boys. She “met someone else,” she no longer loved David, she wanted to “move on!” He fought, he tried, he sought counseling…it failed. No…not God’s will or God’s best for either of them.
“Tameasa, will you marry me?” God’s best…was it God’s will and best for me to marry this divorced man with four boys?” What about what I thought was God’s will for me…after all, I was certain I had it all figured out…I was certain God put me on a certain path…law school…mission field…hostage negotiations for a mission board…none included a divorced man, that I had not even met in person yet, with four young boys? God answered quickly — “Yes, David, I will marry you!”
Twenty-one years later, as I am going through boxes that have been packed away since 2007, when we bought our new house, I find “artifacts” from 2000…just four months after our son was born…ok…maybe not “artifacts,” but rather treasures. An envelope containing beautiful, sun-kissed, blonde hair from our son’s first haircut, the menu from our first, face-to-face date that Dave’s mother got for us when the restaurant shuttered its doors, and a calendar…and that’s the “tenderizer” I found in our marriage.
In the calendar, I was reminded of the love “notes” we would leave to one another each month. Tender words to remind us that regardless of how hurried life gets…no matter the struggle with blending a family…the health issues that were arising in me after the birth of our son…in the “daily-ness” of life we were reminding each other of our love!
Some of the notes are sappy-sweet, some are flirty, and some beckon attention…all are promises…promises of continued love…continued understanding…continued commitment.
Promises — not the world’s standard of promises…the world’s promises say, “If we aren’t happy, we can find someone else!” Oh, but a COVENANT! A Covenant assures that both of us will honor, obey, and serve God first. A Covenant assures that outside of Christ Jesus our marriage can only fail, as it depends on us…not Christ. A Covenant loves sacrificially…always putting the other before ourselves.
We recognized immediately that we had not entered into a marriage contract, but a Blood Covenant with Christ as the head. Our marriage was a mirror image of all that we were in Christ. We knew that if we always put Christ at the head…He would also be our safety net. If we were upset with another, we could go to Christ…if we had a problem we didn’t know how to solve, we could go to Christ…if we needed wisdom in raising our son, we could go to Christ…if we needed more love and understanding, we could go to Christ…if finances proved to be challenging, we could go to Christ…and we did!
Being in a Covenant with my dear husband has honestly taken off the pressure we see in other marriages. As we rest in Christ, we rest in the assurance of each other.
So, what Scriptures do we apply to our marriage that keeps our focus on Christ and not on the troubles of being completely human? First, and most important, Ephesians 5:22-27:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Second, Ephesians 4:32:
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Third, Ephesians 4:26-27:
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
And, fourth, Proverbs 151:
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
After twenty-one years together, we’ve learned many ways to apply the above-referenced Scriptures. Marriage is work — however, it is the most intimate relationship that God gives us. We laugh, we cry, we work, we hurt, and we LIVE…together in Covenant…and that is what makes a Tenderly Seasoned marriage and I wouldn’t have it any other way!!