By KARISA MOORE
“Awe, Mom and Dad are kissing again!” my daughter announced to her brother as she caught us in the kitchen. “Aren’t they cute?” She sounded truly delighted. When they were little, their big brother taught them to say, “Ooh, gross,” anytime they saw us kissing. My husband and I began requiring at least three positive remarks from them before their comments turned to disgust, and very quickly the delight in their parents’ affection became a habit. We don’t hear disgust any longer, and we’re trying to teach some important lessons to them, besides.
We weren’t always so cute. Brian and I experienced the transforming power of looking at each other differently through Christ. Amid a constant onslaught of deep trauma, our marriage strained to the point of breaking within the first year. Too often observers caught us using unkind words in our marriage, tearing each other down rather than building one another up towards love and good deeds. Though God had his hand all over our dating, my husband and I questioned God’s plan for our relationship after the first year of marriage. Lord, I don’t know this person. How can I love him?
God heard my cry. Jesus reminded me that He Himself had established our relationship from the start, and therefore we were a chord of not just two strands, but three. Just the two of us frayed, but with Jesus we held fast. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” ( Ecclesiastes 4:12 ). God knew the fullness of who Brian was and loved him. He knew the fullness of who I am and loved me. He didn’t leave us to rely upon our thoughts, experiences, and strength to keep our marriage together.
I learned to love my husband because Christ loved me first, not because Brian loved me first. Jesus held us together when we could not hold onto each other. He was compassionate towards my husband when I could not be. Though our stories overlapped, they weren’t the same, and Brian and I learned and still learn to let God teach us as individuals to love one another.
Our kids still catch Brian and I arguing, but we are very intentional to display resolution. We love one another, not always based upon our worthiness of love, but because God loves us first. I am becoming a better wife, and Brian a better husband because as the third strand, Jesus compels us to grow, stay committed, and forgive. Our love for each other is tenacious because Jesus was tenacious in His resolve to love us and forgive us from the cross. And our marriage reaps that benefit.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT Read Ephesians 4. Take an in-depth look at your friendships, relationships, and/or marriage. How long have you been in relationship? Are there unhealed wounds between you? Be honest with God first with your hurts. Allow Him to strengthen and grow you. Human relationships aren’t about being perfect but being tenacious. Ask God to help see your friendships as He sees them, both the strengths and weaknesses, and apply His love to your relationships. If you are unsure of what healthy relationships look like, seek the counsel of others you observe loving well. Most will tell you why they stick together and how they work through hard things. God designed marriage as a spectacular blessing, but so many of us have such dented relationships before we marry that we take those dents into new relationships. God is faithful to grow and heal us, but we can endure the in-between hard moments by establishing Jesus as our third strand.
PRAYER Lord, I am imperfect. Help me to relate to others by keeping my eyes fixed upon you. Grow me, so that I can continually grow in my ability see others and love the way You love me. When I feel like quitting, help me to lean more firmly into You, my third strand. I love You, Lord. Amen
KARISA MOORE speaks on the unspeakable as a result of her oldest son’s suicide. She embraces life alongside her husband and two living children. She loves long hikes, photography and great stories. Karisa is the author of Broken Butterflies: Emerging Through Grief, A Suicide Survivor’s Poetic Journal, and blogger at http://turningthepageonsuicid.org. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story of hope.