I wrote the post below three years ago. Later this year my husband and I will celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary. Sometimes when I think back on our life together, this poem, Uphill, by Christina Rossetti (1830–1894) seems a fitting description of the road we’ve travelled:
Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.
Together we’ve faced the loss of life – four of our own children at various stages of gestation and the sudden death of my brother, so dear to both of us; one of our parents and our grandparents. We’ve had our disappointments, our joys and our heartaches. We’ve seen each other at our best and at our worst. Life can look unromantic and very ordinary at times but as C.S. Lewis says in The Weight of Glory, there are no ordinary people.
It is a serious thing… to remember that the…person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.
Lewis talks about our neighbour’s load, or weight, or burden of glory that is laid on our backs and that only humility that can carry it. What a fitting metaphor for marriage:
All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.
I read this excerpt from Ann Voscamp’s book, The Broken Way, this morning: The Real Truth about Romance & ‘Boring’ Men – and the Women who Love Them: Redefining “Boring Romance.“
The real romantics are the boring ones — they let another heart bore a hole deep into theirs.
Real love will always make you suffer. Simply commit: Who am I willing to suffer for?
Here is my original post:
The act of making holy.
The act of God’s grace by which the affections of men are purified or alienated from sin and the world, exalted to a supreme love to God.
Marriage has been called a long path to sanctification.
I used to be concerned about working this sanctification out in front of our children, day in and day out. My husband and I are very different in personality, which makes life interesting; and we come from disparate backgrounds, which has caused us to misunderstand each other at times.
We’ve been married for nearly 27 years and for 25 years of that time our children have had occasion to witness our long path to sanctification. We’ve had a few momentous events throughout those years where it was obvious God was doing something significant in our lives and our children benefited from what we were experiencing. However, we were largely unaware of the myriads of times sanctification was going on because it was wrapped up in the very ordinary and commonplace and sometimes didn’t look very pretty, and it certainly didn’t look holy.
What is hard about marriage is what is hard also about facing the Christian God: it is the strain of living continually in the light of a conscience other than our own, being under the intimate scrutiny of another pair of eyes.
For marriage inevitably becomes the flagship of all other relationships. One\’s own home is the place where love must first be practiced before it can truly be practiced anywhere else. No one likes to be out of joint with a good friend or with in-laws or with an employer, but such problems at least can be tolerated. Yet any little thing that comes between a man and his wife is capable of wrenching them apart inside, and if that is not the case, then it can only be due to the growth of a callousness in them which cannot help carrying over into all their other relationships.
The Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason
Last weekend our eldest son got married and during his wedding speech he shared an incident he’d witnessed on our long path to sanctification. It went something like this:
“When I was about 8 or 9, mum and dad had an argument when we were all having dinner. Dad said something silly and Mum got upset and left the room. Later that evening they were sitting up in their bed and called us all into the room and they both apologized to us kids for not showing love to each other earlier in the evening.”
He went on to say that this episode cemented something solid into his life. Mum & Dad were committed to each other, with God as the ultimate authority, and the fact that we were submitted to Him helped embed a deep security into his life. This was a foundation we’d given him that he knew would be a bedrock for his own marriage.
It was very humbling to know that the Lord is so gracious and can use even our stuff-ups, weaknesses and failures – the ordinary, common things of life – to sanctify us, and our children; to make something beautiful and lasting, an inheritance of grace to be passed on to the next generation.