There’s a longing deep within to be known. It’s our design, and even if we choose solitude, we eventually feel the quiet nudge to engage with others after a while. To come back to community. To join the conversation again.
Scripture weaves patterns of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit esteeming each other throughout time. They respect. They delight. Oh, to be others-centered…
This need to be loved, and to have someone to care for, was etched on our hearts before we entered the world. We’re image-bearers of God, and we crave that rhythm of relationship — like Father and Son and Spirit have done before the dawn of time.
Sometimes we’re brought to tears, overwhelmed by God’s provision in our lives. Sometimes we ache in silence, for an unmet longing is so deep we can’t find words.
We bring this part of us, the need for companionship, into marriage. We sigh in relief that we won’t have to spend the rest of our lives alone. We feast on security, anticipating waking up and saying goodnight to the same person at our side — morning after morning, night after night. We feel wanted, pursued, chosen above all others. We have a security blanket when we walk among crowds.
Like any other good thing, the sin of our unraveling world taints relationships, too, for I’m tempted daily to make marriage all about me. Did you catch that last paragraph? I don’t have to be alone. I’m secure with a constant companion. I’m wanted, pursued, chosen. I have someone at my side when I’m uncomfortable.
And without realizing it, my marriage becomes an exercise in self-absorption instead of a covenant of sacrifice. And my control of this companionship — to keep it just the way I “need” it to be — well, it consumes every part of me. My identity is found in this union, in this person, in my dreams for our future. And this desperate obsession makes me say and do things I wouldn’t normally do.
One of the greatest gifts I’ve given myself is the challenge to view my husband as my brother in Christ rather than my identity-giver. When you find your identity in your husband, and in his public face, and in the ways others like him — your world eventually crashes because your husband is real. And broken. He’s just this authentic guy who desperately needs a Savior, too.
I wish I would have tasted this freedom when we were walking our marriage path those first few steps. But it took me 15 years to wake up to this, and I’ve spent the last three wrestling with what this freedom looks like on a daily basis.
When I view him this way — a sinner thirsty for grace, too — my expectations start to embarrass me. My need to control now feels like bullying. My self-absorption begins to look very, very ugly.
How do we navigate the tension of discovering truth and not cowering in shame? How do we respond when light uncovers the ugly secrets, and yet not bow to self-hatred that leads us to hide? Sin and isolation — they’re a dangerous, dangerous combination.
As the Gospel unfolds in my life, day after day, I do see my sin more easily. But my wretchedness is swallowed up in the shadow of the Cross, and that Cross points me toward my Rescuer rather than toward self-loathing. My Redeemer becomes all the more beautiful as I recognize how much I need Him.
And my husband, well, he’s right there beside me taking in Christ’s beauty instead of saving me.
I find myself, quite often, starting to look again at this man for worth and identity and wholeness, but Christ whispers. And He woos my focus back to Him and His grace. The job of Savior is already taken. It’s unfair and destructive to ask my husband to play that role.
And when I’m focused on my Redeemer, my world isn’t rocked when my husband messes up. I’m not surprised by sin because, again, he’s my brother in Christ. He’s part of this Body of Christ whose life needs redemption as much as mine does.
Grace poured into a relationship — day after day, month after month, year after year — can be quite healing, quite freeing. And the Master Artist — He’s still going at it, adding to our canvas that’s anything but blank.
These thoughts, in their original form, appeared as part of the Girls’ Night Out series over at Stooping for Manna. There’s lots and lots of wisdom being shared as different women reveal their lessons learned every day this month. Grab some coffee and see life through someone else’s perspective.