God has a plan — He always has a plan that He is working in creation. Sometimes it registers on our radars. Other times, He works on things and does not tell us what He is doing until He is finished and ready to share it with us. This is very much how God prepared my heart for the adventure we call life in Christ. Many times I have read things in Scripture that really irritated me. Not because I thought it inconsistent with God’s nature, but because the selfish parts of me did not enjoy being exposed as selfish and He to be shown as in the right.
A year ago, a long-time friend, Joshua, invited me to enter a romantic relationship with him for the second time. In college, several years before, we dated for three and a half years before he professed love for his male best friend and we broke off our relationship. God worked in the following four years and brought both of us to the point of healing so we could enter into a healthy romantic relationship. It is nothing short of miraculous! Such work only the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob could do (praise be to God through Christ Jesus)!!
This past April, we became engaged. June 12 we married. During this time, God and I clashed in many areas (sometimes through my very patient husband). Something Ricky says stands very true for this woman: marriage will expose a person’s selfishness. Apparently I have more selfishness in me than I thought I had room to house. Sometimes Joshua and I disagree on something (like when does toast actually burn) and I feel justifying indignation rising in me (of course the scientific definition is). Ever so gently, though at times very firmly (like the pressure of a marshmallow when pressed by a spatula) God points to the words I have so carefully chosen and how they might injure the relationship rather than build it up. After all, which is more important: being right with the definition to back it up, or continuing in an intimate relationship — the yada [deep and intimate knowing] — God designed Joshua and me to share? Perspective shifts when God reveals the truth.
We live in a society where being right is more important than deep relationships. It is hard to release the right I feel I have to be right publicly, or at least in the quiet recesses of my heart. But I am learning the more I hold on to incidents where I felt offended for Joshua thinking I wasn’t right, the more room I leave for bitterness, the harder it is to focus on God rather than being right the next time. Each thing I hold on to, builds on the other until I say or do something that really is not right and it injures not only our relationship, but also my relationship with God. One impacts the other drastically, which is how God designed marriage to be.
For all the reasons mentioned above, Satan hates marriage with a passion. He will use any opportunity to wedge something between a husband and wife. Because of this reality, Joshua and I work to pursue Christ while pursuing each other. We pursue His guidance, even after a fight, because we desperately need Him to show us the real issues behind the arguments. This shift in perspective presents this question in a different light: “Is ‘being right’ more important than a deep relationship with my husband and, essentially, my Lord?”
As a college professor once said: It is a miracle, an act of God, for two sinful people to pledge faithfulness to one another for the remainder of their lives. Indeed, it is a hard battle not to fight God as He keeps my defenses down to reveal those weaknesses and chinks, my vulnerabilities and anxieties. I cannot maintain a healthy relationship with Joshua in our marriage unless I am fully surrendered to God and focus on getting to know Him while getting to know my husband more deeply. It amazes me how little this focus is taught and really stressed. Marital intimacy involves allowing God to expose my heart and being to my husband. Yes, it sometimes involves physical intimacy. But it is important not to focus so much on that. I think those of us who struggle with same sex attraction can, sometimes, become too focused on physical intimacy, whether for fear of or in expectation of how it might be. But marital intimacy involves the mental, spiritual, and emotional aspects even more deeply than the physical. The physical intimacy is simply an expression of the love a man and woman share — an amazing part of it, but not the most important — and this is part of the mystery of being one flesh.