Marriage is worth waiting for. I understand it so much more clearly now than I did before, and each day I see how much I must learn, how unskilled I am in some areas, and how grateful I am for the chances I had to cultivate others. I treasure the advice of those who have “gone before” and still watch, looking for better ways, for examples of happiness, for the beauty of seeing others who have the happiness that Scott and I have and desire to keep alive 3, 5, 10 and 80 years or more from now.
The thing is, none of us have all the answers, all the experience. None of us are perfect, or ever were perfect in every way. We can’t form our own “perfect” marriage off of the experience, advice and example of others alone. It takes our own experience to make the principles we can glean a reality. Marriage is beautiful, but it takes effort, work, to make sure that the foundation we’ve built on stays as solid and firm with every block we build. It isn’t always easy when life changes to keep the sparks alive, and it is then that we find it is our own commitment to True Love, and most of all to the Author of Love, that keeps our marriage beautiful.
I’m thankful for others who are living godly principles of marriage and parenting in their lives, and I learn much from them, and admire these good things in their lives, but I cannot stop with their example and go no farther. I can’t be content to walk in the steps of even the girls whose lives I’ve admired for years, whose marriages still inspire me with how truly beautiful it can be, and whose experience as mommy I store away for “someday” when perhaps, I too, will be so blessed, because even though I treasure the advice and example of these amazing women that I’ve been blessed to know and observe, I know that they aren’t my perfect example- and I am not living their life, but my own.
It’s too easy for us as humans- and perhaps especially as girls- to look around for a person who in our minds models the life that we think that want to have. The problem with this is that our minds are all too easily convinced that our rosy, limited view of their life is all there is to it. They just seem to naturally have all things good and perfect in their lives, relationships, and goals. They seem to be accomplished, and meet their challenges with grace and courage. Their homes don’t ever get messy, and they always look neat and put together. They don’t loose their patience, and never struggle with contentment. Their life seems so perfect. If only we could be just like them.
Our lives contrast with discouraging differences with the lives of the girls we admire: because of our own mistakes and short-comings, the times we met less than ideal situations with impatience rather than a smile, the times we felt afraid, and the times we were less than perfect about making our house a home and managing our time wisely are all too fresh and obvious. Looking at these women who lead such perfect lives makes us wonder if we’ll ever get there.
What we may not know is that in each of these perfect lives there are equal amounts of struggles, some of which we might be surprised to find are identical to our own. We might not see the behind-the-scene efforts, the pain, care and choices that go into their every day life. We might not know about the tears, prayers, questions and confusion that they deal with, too. We may not notice their mistakes, but they are there. These perfect women, in reality, are like us- seeking to be like Him, and striving to make that a reality. Behind the rosy tint we’ve cast, they are just as real as we are, if we only knew it.
Contrary to how it at times appears, no one has a perfect courtship, a flawless marriage, a perfect, dream life. We all make mistakes, we all have struggles, we all must rely on Him, because He alone is perfect in every single way.
For over 30 years, He lived a perfect life on this earth, and it is this life alone that you and I may follow with perfect safety. My courtship, my marriage, to some may seem a picture-perfect example, a fairy tale kind of life. Yet my life, my marriage can reflect Christ only so far as I follow Him.
The truth is, we’re all on this journey heavenward together, and we can learn from each other. We can grow, and help each other to reach that perfect goal that we’re striving for- a daughterhood, a courtship, a marriage, a family, a life that is honoring to God in every way and that is filled with that real happiness that nothing in this world can take away from us. We learn and we grow- together, and with God.
We aren’t perfect here at YLCF, in our homes or anywhere else, but we’re striving. We’ve all tasted of the beauty and happiness and pure joy of seeking to follow God’s way, and we won’t settle for anything less than that perfect best that He’s promised for every single person in this world who truly wants it. We all can let God do what He wants to do and give us the gift of True Love, Contentment and Perfect Happiness.
Marriage takes work just like any other thing in life. It takes investment. Most importantly, it takes putting and keeping God first, in the center of our home, and each one of our hearts. These are the things that Scott and I must choose to build on every single day, and this is the spring of our happiness, which only gets sweeter with time.
It doesn’t mean that we have it all down. Far from it! I know that I, for one, am not the person I long to be. By His grace, I’m not the person I use to be, either, but I still have rough spots, I still have fears, I still don’t keep a perfectly ordered home, and sometimes I cry over silly things. But every day, I realize again how blessed I am to be living the life that He is giving me, not someone else’s life, not even the life I always dreamed I’d be living, but a life that is perfect for me. I think that each one of the YLCF team would tell you a similar story.
God has given us great happiness in many different ways. You don’t have to be courting to be happy. You don’t have to be married to really experience true joy. It doesn’t take having children to find fulfillment in life. It just takes honestly and humbly seeking His will in what we do each day. Happiness isn’t a destination, it’s a choice we make every day.
We’re all in different seasons, each one of us- but in each season, it is up to each one of us to make the most of the opportunities at hand, and to do our best in whatever He has given us to do right now. Perhaps in our not-so-perfect season of life, we’ll find that God has been preparing us for something more perfectly wonderful than we could have ever imagined.
You may not be where I am right now, and your life will most certainly look a lot different than mine does or any one else’s on the YLCF team, but it is our hope that somehow the record we choose to leave behind will encourage you to keep striving, not to be like us, but like Him, who alone is perfect.