I can remember shortly after getting married, John Luke and I were talking and we both said, “Marriage is interesting because it’s like nothing changes, yet everything changes.” We are still the same two people, but at the same time we are not. We are still the John Luke and Mary Kate who had just started dating this time two years ago and the same John Luke and Mary Kate who were engaged this time last year. But we are the newer and better versions of John Luke and Mary Kate. Marriage changes things, and I think you have to go into it having accepted that fact. It can either change you for the better or change you for the worse. You have to make that decision from the start. So, how can you be sure that you will change for the better?
Build your marriage upon a strong foundation: God.
While John Luke and I were dating, I loved to use the triangle analogy, and I am still such a strong proponent of the analogy now that we are married! The triangle analogy is an easy concept: John Luke is on one bottom corner of the triangle, I am on the other, and God is at the top. As long as we are both individually growing closer to God, we cannot help but grow closer together. The opposite is also true. The further we each move from God, the further we move from each other. All of this is so much easier said than done!
My pastor also told us in premarital counseling that if one of you is moving further away from the Lord or struggling, the best thing the other one can do is run wholeheartedly, full-force at God. This is one thing we have found to be true already.
We were married last June and a short two months later we packed up and moved to Lynchburg, Virginia to attend Liberty University. As much as I loved my school I was really struggling with homesickness. John Luke and I were also moving from place to place until our house was ready, and on top of school we were traveling for work two weekends out of the month. It was a stressful and overwhelming time for me, and I was in a dark place spiritually and emotionally.
Looking back on that time, I will always be thankful for how John Luke acted. He was so patient and understanding with me. He was so full of life and joy that he helped pull me through. He made me want to push on and trust that God would give us enough grace to make it through! Now our relationship is stronger than it has ever been before! If John Luke had responded with anger, bitterness, or avoidance, I think we would still be in that same dark place. I am so thankful for John Luke’s faith in the Lord during those months, and that he trusted that everything would be ok and work for God’s glory.
You hear people say that marriage is the closest relationship to our relationship with God, but it is such an amazing thing to experience for yourself. It is so, so true. I get to see the unconditional love that God has towards me through John Luke. John Luke and I vowed to love each other unconditionally, and though there may be moments when we do not necessarily “like” each other, we will always love each other. We know that love is a choice. When one of us messes up and things get tough, we have to choose how we want to respond, and we have to decide whether to love our spouse through it or not. You’ve got to love your spouse where they are.
One of the most important things that we had to realize before we got married, and even before we started dating, was this: We cannot complete each other. We both had to understand that only God could complete us. If we had gone into our marriage expecting the other person to complete us, we would have been terribly disappointed. We are both sinners living in a fallen world, and because of that we are going to mess up. But it is the time after the mess-up that matters! We have to decide how to move forward. We have to forgive each other just like God forgives us every day. Then we start clean and move on.
Marriage has been so much better than I ever could have expected. Our life now does not look like I imagined it would, and being married, in college with two jobs, 16 hours away from home is not easy. But God has been so good to us and has been teaching us so much.
So here we are…the same John Luke and Mary Kate. But as I look back on almost a year of marriage, I see us both walking, individually and together, closer to the Lord than ever before.
Original blog for FaithGatewway by Mary Kate Robertson.
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To hear John Luke’s take on young married life, and to learn more about how John Luke and Mary Kate are pursuing God’s plan for their lives, check out John Luke’s new book Young and Beardless, available now for preorder. On shelves everywhere May 17.
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What lessons have you learned about keeping God first in your marriage? Or if you’re still looking forward to a season of being married, how are you building a strong foundation in your relationship with God? Join the conversation on our blog! We’d love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily