Today is an unusual day.
My beloved niece of 22 years will become a wife this afternoon.
My 3 daughters are all bridesmaids. We have been to rehearsals and rehearsal dinners. Tonight there will be a beautiful, rustic, leather-and-teal-themed Western wedding. A reception afterward. And this morning, in keeping with our family’s tradition, I hosted a bridesmaids’ breakfast for the bride and her friends. We have been running around town looking for cosmetics, vases, craft items, and that just-right-shade-of-blue ribbon.
In the middle of all this, we had to plan an unexpected funeral for the brides’ grandfather. My father-in-law.
So my life right now feels like a Hugh Grant movie. 3 wedding events and a funeral. Or something like that. In 2 days.
But in the middle of all this, such peace.
And, as I prayed over what to say to this young lady on the day she enters into her marriage covenant, a special word from God. “Be fruitful.”
Not just children. My niece would love that. Will love that. And she will be an amazing mother.
But “Be Fruitful.” In every part of life. Especially this marriage relationship.
This is the message I gave her, in front of female friends and family, this morning.
B–Braid God In.
Eccl 4:12 says that a 3-fold cord is not easily broken. You. Him. And God, all braided together. I love this. So I gave them each a cord. They picked out 10 beads, their color, their style. And we began to string bracelets. Each one unique, but held together by the same principles.
E–Exclude Everyone Else.
Gen 2:24. “therefore shall a man leave his mother and father, and cleave to his wife. And the two shall be one flesh.” At some point, marriage is just about the two of you. Others can love. Can support. Can give great advice. (Like, hopefully, is happening right now). But in the end, like Amy Grant sang in “Oh, How the Years Go By,” “When the storms blew through, they found me and you; back to back together.” You have to have each others’ back. And you absolutely, positively, have to learn the smile-and-nod. When people give you well-meaning but stupid advice. Just smile. Nod. And thank them. Then go home and seek God together about what to actually do.
F–Forget the past.
Psalm 45:10-11. “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him. ” This guy isn’t your father. He isn’t your old boyfriend. It would be incredibly unfair to blame him for anything that they did wrong. Starting today, you get a do-over. So does he. And you get to forget your own people and father, figuratively. That’s how important this man should be to you. (And…forgive. Yourself included).
R–Recognize who you are.
I firmly believe that if any one of us knew the vastness of the unique calling God has placed inside of us, we would be amazed. We would never be jealous of anyone else, ever again. And we would never, ever expect our man to fulfill us.
Let me say that again. No man can fulfill you. If you don’t know who you are in Christ, your marriage is headed for trouble. Because it’s not fair to ask a man to give you an identity. He doesn’t know who you are supposed to be; only God does. He can’t emotionally support both of you. Spiritually, you have to stand on your own two feet. And bring something to the union. Like a grownup. Oh, yeah.
Genesis 1:24 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. “
Notice that dominion was given to BOTH the man and the woman. They were BOTH made in the image of God. And they are both to be fruitful. Ephesians 2:10 teaches us that God has prepared individual, pre-designed paths for you to walk in. Know who you are. In Christ. Then you can love your man. Without suffocating him.
U–Understand your man.
I heard a famous pastor say recently that man have 3 basic needs. Sex. Honor. And fun. So I gave my niece a negligee. That part I leave up to them, but it’s important. What’s harder? Honor.
I like to joke that someday I’m going to write a book on marriage and call it, “Your husband could be a freaking idiot, and God would still use him.” But it’s true. In the marriage relationship, the husband is the leader. Submission isn’t a dirty word. It IS an act of faith. Because you’re not submitting to this man because he’s perfect and all-knowing. You’re submitting to this man because you trust God. When you do this, by faith, God will do amazing things. Through your husband. Try it and see.
I–Interecede for him.
Philippians 4:6. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. ” Praying for this man, for his leadership, wisdom and know-how will help you submit to his decisions without fear. And also help you nag less. More about that later. But, to be brief, when your husband doesn’t want to hear it all, you can always talk to Jesus. And it helps.
T–Take time for yourself.
In Luke chapter 4, we see 2 different instances of Jesus pulling away to be alone. The Gospels are full of these. If Jesus, the son of God, and the living example of LOVE, had to get alone at times, so should you. And a word to the wise. Your husband needs this, too. If he pulls away, it’s not a sign of rejection. Give him some space. He’ll be back. John Gray says that men are like…rubberbands. If you stay put when they pull away, it will eventually draw them back to you. If you follow, they keep moving away. To get some space. Think about it.
F–Fight fair. And Forgive.
Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” Dr. James Dobson says that there are two kinds of very unhealthy marriages. Those that fight all the time. And those that….never fight. Think about it.
Verse 32 says, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Forgiveness may just be the secret of marriage. That and humor.
U–Undo all anxiety.
1 Peter 3:6. “It was thus that Sarah obeyed Abraham following his guidance and acknowledging his headship over her by calling him lord master, leader, authority. And you are now her true daughters if you do right and let nothing terrify you not giving way to hysterical fears or letting anxieties unnerve you.” Some of us do better at the submission thing than the anxiety thing. Truth is, you can’t have one without the other. Let nothing terrify you. Not even whether he still loves you. Not whether you are heard. Not whether your needs are met. Again….think about it.
L–Leave. Him. Alone.
To be blunt, you aren’t the Holy Ghost. You just aren’t. Neither are you his Savior. Who has, incidentally, accepted him. As. He. Is. You married him like he is; keep loving him as he becomes. And pray. There is a fine balance between honesty/communication and leaving him alone. Find it. And appreciate him now.
That’s it, folks. At the end of this beautiful breakfast, every women had created something different. Hand-made. Unique. Like each marriage. But out of the same raw materials.
For my niece, I bless her in the name of The Lord. Along with her husband. And their future family.
May the grace of God keep them, as they build this. WIth their own hands. And His materials.
For better or for worse; may it always be for better.