Ten Years Of Marriage & Where God Met Me In The Middle Of The Desert
Chad and I celebrated 10 years of marriage last week with a trip to NYC, a place that holds a special place in our hearts. We have tried to take a trip somewhere, near or far, each year around our anniversary, mostly because our marriage is our top priority. And in a world where marriage is often mocked, we believe it should be celebrated. These trips have held some of our most special memories, and this one was no different. We had more fun than we have had in a long time, which was warmly welcomed in this particular season of our life.
Chad and I got married fairly young, and it wasn’t long before we started making major life changes that most people would advise against. We moved to a different city, changed jobs and bought a house. We were somewhere between realistic and just naive enough to believe that chasing our dreams all the way to southern California would actually work.
I suppose now I have the benefit of seeing our story thus far unfolded. We are still standing, and by the grace of God I can honestly say our marriage is stronger than it has ever been. It hasn’t been void of a full spectrum of challenges and victories, but rather than rehashing those or handing out any unqualified advice, I will share with you one truth that has transformed me and our marriage in ways that I never knew possible.
The key to a great marriage (or flourishing in any area of life for that matter) is a transformative understanding of your identity in Christ.
Ever since I can remember, I have struggled to find a secure identity. Before I was a Christian, I understood identity to be a compilation of performance, personality, profession and purpose. It was tied to your marital status, income bracket, your successes and failures. It was often shaped by people’s opinions or worldviews.
Christ intends for that reality to be shattered when we call Him Lord of our lives. We gain knowledge that our identity is found in Christ alone. Maybe it’s just me, but the gap between knowledge and transformation has often been wide.
I was never so boldly faced with my own identity crisis than when I got married. I wasn’t prepared for the depth of how marriage uncovers and exposes every piece of you. Our knowledge tells us man and woman were created in God’s image, and that marriage is a covenant ordained by God, intended to be a gift as two join together to become one. God said it is better for man to not be alone, and for our marriages to ultimately be a form of worship that would bring Him glory. That is God’s plan and purpose.
Over the years, I have staked my identity in all sorts of unguaranteed, shaky and fleeting places. When Chad and I got married, I began to tie my identity to my marriage. I’ve grasped for recognition from people or groups to determine my worth. I have striven to become a great photographer, hoping for likes and shares. I have put too much weight on not yet being a mother, and therefore finding little purpose in my womanhood–or in my life, for that matter. I’ve cared way too much about people’s opinions of how we choose to live our lives. All of those have been grave distractions from my true identity. What has become clear to me is that you can only be as useful to others as you are free from yourself and fully surrendered to God.
The past 6 months have been a transformative time for me. Leading up to it, I was tired. Tired of looking in every other direction to determine my identity except for the only place where my identity should be found. I had been wandering in a self-imposed desert for far too long, and it was affecting everything, including my marriage.
God meets us in those desperate, desolate, barren places. It is there I was reminded of who I am. I’m a child of God, a daughter of the King. That is my identity. I’ve long had the knowledge, but never a truly transformative understanding of what that actually means.
The truth about our identity is sprinkled as a reminder (for those of us forgetful ones) throughout the Bible. I especially love these next two verses:
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 1 John 3:1
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
From one degree of glory to another. That is God’s intended purpose for our life, regardless of any current status or title that we identify with. When we give our life to Christ, the veil is removed. We are called his sons and daughters, and we are meant to walk in freedom before God and before others. Saint Augustine said it so well: “You have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they find rest in You.”
True rest in God doesn’t look like a week-long vacation or intentional downtime. It doesn’t look like a temporary recharge of the batteries between seasons of hustle. It looks like peace beyond understanding in the midst of any season, and it spills out into every area of your life. For me, the most surprising benefactor has been the effect that this kind of rest has had on my marriage. It’s true what people tell you: two broken people will never make one whole marriage. Jesus doesn’t ask that we are perfect, He simply asks that we come as we are. There, we find rest. There, we are reminded of our identity. There, we find freedom to be who we were created to be. Only from that place will anything great and lasting flow.
I share this because I pass a lot of people wandering in the same desert I was in. We aren’t meant to live tired, parched and with no end in sight. We aren’t meant to remind ourselves that we are wretched sinners, and stay trapped in unbelief and chained by strongholds. We aren’t meant to settle for less than in our relationships. From one degree of glory to another is what we are meant for. Not because of, but oftentimes in spite of our circumstances. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17
He’s a good father indeed. And you are his child. That is your only identity. There is your rest.