Now that July 15th, 2019 has come, I can officially say that I have been married for one whole year. I can't believe we made a whole trip around the sun together since we said our vows, signed our certificate, and sealed it with a kiss. I'll never take for granted the fact that I got to marry such a supportive, God-fearing, and caring man.
Many secular friends told us that when they got married, nothing was really that different. They were able to call each other husband and wife, but that was it... that was their greatest shift in life after their wedding. Most of them said the same thing because they dated for a few years, lived together before marriage, and had premarital sex.
It wasn't the same for Ron and I.
We tried to honor God to the best of our abilities and stay as pure as possible through our dating and engagement season. That just meant that when we eventually did get married, every single thing would be a new and fresh... and scary.
Though we sought council and read lots of books, nothing could have prepared us for this kind of commitment. I wanted to come into marriage knowing what to expect with all of my checklists in order, but little did I know... experience would be my greatest teacher. It's kind of like when you're teaching a kid to ride a bike, yano? You take off the training wheels and just let them ride and try it out, and that's how they actually learn. It doesn't matter how many "How To's" they read or how many times one can describe it to them. It's a game changer when they actually get to participate in the act of it.
Marriage has pushed me out from the shores of my faith, into the deepest of waves, and each time I think I'm going to drown, God keeps my head above water. Only when I continue to look to Him. Only when I acknowledge that He is the only one keeping me alive. It hasn't been an easy year, but it's been a year of growth and freedom.
So here are things that I've learned while in the midst of my marriage...
We Have Major Differences, But That Doesn't Mean We Are Wrong For Each Other
The first few weeks of marriage was when I realized how different we actually were. He got fueled up by being around people, I got fueled up by sitting on the couch alone. He went to bed at 3 AM, I went to bed at 9 PM. He fills his down time with video games and I fill my down time with reading books.
I would get annoyed at these differences pretty often, and really wanted him to just do everything I did because I felt as if he was missing out on living his life better. I felt like the way I was living my life was the right way, and the way that he was living his life was the wrong way. I don't know what I was thinking! I had to just start going with the flow and we had to learn how to give and take. I now have to swallow my fear and go and interact with a crowd sometimes so he can be happy. He has to turn off the video games and read poetry with me. Sometimes I try to stay up with him and fall asleep on the couch. Sometimes he loves me enough to crawl into bed with me when I'm sleepy.
These compromises only started when I was able to let go and let him be his own individual self, instead of constantly trying to fit him into my little box. Naturally, because we are always stepping out of our comfort zones, we have learned to appreciate different aspects of life so much more.
I Am Selfish
It's not Jonni and Ronnie anymore. It’s US or WE. I often forget that we are a team and still sometimes act like we are against each other. When we have a disagreement, instead of working together to resolve it, I can get quiet, distant, and mean. I hate those qualities about myself, but God has brought them to the light, and He never brings anything to light that He isn't willing to heal.
Marriage has truly brought my sin to the forefront and I've had to confess my wrongs in front of Ronnie more than I'd ever want to admit. Yet, he always encourages me and tells me I'll do better next time. I asked him the other day how my progress has been with my selfishness and other sins after a whole year, and he said he couldn't believe how far I've come. I can say the same thing to the sins he has struggled with in the past too. So how have we been able to see this kind of progress? Here it is...Constant repentance, turning from our old ways, and looking to Christ more and more, which makes our sin become less and less.
The more I love Jesus, the more I love His creation, Ronnie. The more I love Ronnie with this pure love, the more I want to respect him and celebrate him and keep him from harm. I have fallen more in love with him over this last year than I knew was possible, and when I allow my sin to be greater than that love, the guilt swallows me whole. Sin does get more rare as time passes as you keep your affections on Christ. I am selfish, but I don't have to stay that way forever. I'm working on it.
Leading Your Feelings Is Possible
Can you believe that when you have PMS, that doesn't give you the right to be a total jerk?! I couldn't. For the longest time, I wouldn't. The feelings would overpower me, cripple me, and hold me hostage. I would either be extremely sad or extremely agitated all of the time, and it was taking a toll on me and our marriage. He was always so gentle and loving towards me, yet I couldn't find a way to cope. It all just felt so real and strong. I had to realize that even hormones bowed at the name of Jesus. Over time, I had to just take every emotion that I had, captive, and tell Ron constantly that I was sorry, and ask God to change my ways. After doing that for a few months now, it comes much easier to me. I don't only struggle with strong emotions during my time of the month either- I am a 4 on the enneagram, so "emotion" is kinda my middle name- and I don't believe I should ever have less emotions- but I do believe that I should have balance and not be constantly influenced by them. Trust me when I say, it is possible. If I can lead my feelings, you can too.
Prayer Keeps Our Marriage Thriving
We haven't missed a morning in a long time. We hit our knees on our bed side together and take turns praying. We try not to pray for anything specifically, we just try to start our day off by staring at Jesus. We thank Him for a list of many things and let Him know that we just want more of His spirit. Sometimes the prayers are rushed, sometimes our prayers are tired prayers, sometimes they are so powerful that we are both in absolute tears... whatever the case is, it keeps God in the center and that's all that matters. I can't recommend this enough. Don't try to "make time" to pray. Make it a non-negotiable part of your every day with your spouse. Fight to keep an eternal mindset.
Community Is Essential
If you desire to grow on your walk with God and to grow as a married couple, you need to get a community of believers around you. We church hopped for a while, and we had no idea where God wanted us to be. We didn't feel like we fit in at any church in our area and it was so discouraging for a while. We wanted a family of Christians around us, but it was so hard to find that. We felt like we were getting nowhere and we let work and other things of life get in the way of being diligent in our search, and our marriage really felt that. I am so happy to say that now we are members of an amazing church nearby, because it's changed everything for us. We have friends, we know who to text when we need advice, we have good godly fun each weekend with them, and we are able to serve the body. I couldn't be more thankful. Our community convicts us, encourages us, and most of all, loves on us.
Your Partner Will Fail You
I hate this one. I hate having to admit this. Because in my perfect little world, my husband doesn't fail me. In my perfect world, where I control every single thing, Ronnie doesn't have any burdens for me to bare. That's not the case in real life. Ronnie and I had such a strain in the beginning of our marriage that we both had no idea how to start repairing it. I was wrong. He was wrong. And we couldn't come to a common understanding. My hurt was so real, and his hurt was so real too. We were broken at the start of our marriage because both of us totally fell short of each other's expectations. We were looking to each other to give us only what God could give us, and when we were both hit with such disappointment, we knew we had to adjust our way of thinking. For a while, I blamed God for allowing heartbreak to be a part of our story so early on, but now I am grateful for it. He pruned us in the very beginning and taught us such a valuable lesson, so we don't ever have to go back there. I'm happy that God didn't let our sins linger and then have them come out in a few years down the line. He loved us too much for that. He wanted us to be better and to see each other the way we should we each other- Broken, fragile, sinners, in need of God's grace.
Marriage has been nothing that I thought it would be, but everything I could have ever needed. It is difficult, but it is also so much fun. We have wrestling matches, we chase each other around the house, we binge watch TV shows together, we dance in public. I've never had such a safe place, someone to encourage me this way, or support me and all of my crazy, wild goals. It is a profound mystery to love someone with your whole being like this, since I never knew I was capable of caring for someone else so deeply and so much. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Thanks, God. Thanks for choosing me to be Ron's helper. Being called his wife is the biggest act of your grace on my life that I've seen. I'll never get used to it.
Here's to many more years.