My husband and I have been Mr. and Mrs. Saxe for nearly three months now. Transitioning to married life honestly hasn’t been too difficult, not that we were expecting difficult. We haven’t experienced any major conflicts or loud arguments. We have, however, had those conversations where you end it thinking, “This is what they mean when they say marriage is hard work!”
Some might say we’re still in the honeymoon stage. And I’m perfectly OK with that assessment. It’s interesting, though, how many people tell us what we’re experiencing now won’t last. During engagement and still now, we hear jokes and comments from Christians and non-Christians alike. Jokes and comments like, “You’re still surviving, huh?” and “Well, pretty soon you won’t want to spend all that time together.”
At first we chuckled at the jokes, not really thinking anything of it. And then I noticed a pattern. When we talked about how excited we were during our engagement, or now when we talk about how much we’re enjoying married life, it’s never out of the ordinary to hear a response about how our love and enjoyment won’t last. Almost like an adult patting a little one on the head, saying, “You’ll understand when you’re older.”
Recently, I listened to a Francis Chan sermon where he told his congregation about a man who had approached him after one of his sermons. The man came up to him with tears in his eyes, explaining how much he loved Christ. He said he was overwhelmed by his love for his Savior. But when he would tell other Christians about his newfound love for Jesus, their response was that his love would fade overtime. This man was worried to the point of tears that what fellow believers told him would become true. And he desperately didn’t want to lose this feeling of love.
When I heard this anecdote, I thought how sad it is that we can have overwhelming feelings of love for Jesus when we first understand and accept that He died for us and He forgives us, only to slowly over time lose that excitement, that joy for our Savior.
I remember the days and weeks that followed my watching of “The Passion of the Christ.” God created me as a visual learner, and watching the recreation of my Savior’s execution was exactly what I needed to remind my soul of the reason I have new life. After watching, I cried harder than I have ever cried before or since in my life. And I felt as if I had fallen in love with Jesus all over again. For weeks, I thought about Him constantly, I praised Him for what He did for me, I told Him how much I loved Him hundreds of times.
And I hate to say this, but those feelings have faded. I still love Jesus and live for Him daily, but I no longer feel swept away every day by His love for me. I no longer think about Him constantly. The truth is, I probably think more about what I’m making for dinner than I do about Jesus throughout my day.
How sad is that?
We have these moments, these days or weeks when we feel overwhelmed with our love for Jesus. But then we allow the things of this life and our desire for sin to overtake our love for Him. And it fades.
Even worse, we easily can discourage new believers with our own struggles. Like the people who discouraged the man in the sermon story, we assume our relationship with God fading means all relationships fade. And we push that concept onto others, regardless of what their faith looks like.
And as I thought of how frustrated I feel when people tell me I won’t always think marriage is exciting and passionate, I realized how similar the two struggles are.
There may be some who aren’t as satisfied in their marriages as they want to be. Or maybe they simply don’t realize how discouraging words can feel. But that doesn’t mean my marriage is doomed to become less joyful or passionate. Relationships are hard work, but my husband and I vowed to cherish each other, for better or worse.
Like marriage, giving our lives to Christ doesn’t just mean we make the commitment and then allow the relationship to fade. We must spend time with our Savior, continuing to learn about Him and continuing to express our love for Him. If we allow discouragement from others to settle in our hearts, we will surely fall into the trap of thinking we don’t need to try anymore. Followed by a fading of our love for Jesus.
Let us not be Christians who forsake our first love. Let us not be friends who use our own struggles or negative ideas to discourage others. Instead, we must spur one another on in encouragement and block out words that, while maybe spoken in innocence, sow seeds of destruction.
I try to not allow flippant statements or jokes about marriage to bother me anymore. True, my husband and I might still be living in the “honeymoon stage,” but it’s a pretty darn wonderful stage, so I’m going to enjoy every second of it. And even when “newlyweds” is no longer our title, I have full confidence that our excitement and joy for living life together will never fade.
It’s my prayer that I will view my relationship with Christ the same way. Each day desiring to spend as much time with Him as possible. Each day wanting to learn something new about Him. And each day falling more and more in love with Him, even when that love is a choice, not a feeling. Because I surrendered my life to Him, and that’s not something I ever want to take for granted.
Let’s Talk About It: How can you keep Christ as your first love and not allow discouragement to settle?