Most young girls have fairy tale dreams for their future marriage – they envision riding off into the sunset with their prince charming and living happily ever after. I was no exception. During my single years, I built up many expectations as to what my future marriage would be like. Every expectation was based upon what I had read in novels or the fairy tales I’d grown up with.
Before Eric came into my life, God challenged me not to put happiness and fulfillment “on hold” until I finally met my future husband, but rather to find perfect contentment in Jesus Christ, even during my singles years. This lesson proved to be invaluable, because it taught me not to look to anything outside of Him to meet the deepest needs and longings of my heart.
But the first few months of my marriage to Eric, God took this lesson to a whole new level.
I’d always imagined a beautiful wedding, a romantic honeymoon, and a picturesque beginning to married life. Well, the wedding was beautiful and the honeymoon was romantic, but the first few months of marriage were anything but picturesque.
For starters, Eric and I got married in December. We went from a warm climate to sub-zero temperatures in a small Michigan town that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. We rented a bed and breakfast that had closed down for the winter. In the summer it was a gorgeous place, with a shimmering lake and beautiful trees. But in the dead of winter, the lake was frozen, the trees where barren, and the skies were gloomy. The house seemed big and creepy (like the setting for a horror movie) especially when Eric left for work each morning in our one car, and I was stuck there all day by myself. And things only seemed to get worse as the weeks went by.
I woke up one morning to find my legs covered in bug bites. The house turned out to be infested with fleas. It was disgusting – we could actually see them jumping out of the carpet. A few days later, I heard strange noises coming from the fireplace. A family of raccoons had moved in for the winter, haunting me with their scratching and clawing all day long, filling my mind with images of rabid animals breaking down the fireplace door and chasing me around the house. We couldn’t seem to get rid of the raccoons or the fleas, no matter what we tried. We set off “flea bombs” in our house which only seemed to make the fleas multiply. I, on the other hand, developed an allergic reaction to the chemicals and ended up with a severe bronchial infection that kept me in bed for a month. And then our pipes burst and flooded our kitchen, destroying our washing machine in the process. So two months into our “happily ever after marriage”, I was sick in bed with a horrible cough, covered with flea bites, listening to raccoons fight in the fireplace, and surrounded by piles of dirty clothes. This was a far cry from the cute little home with the white picket fence that I’d always imagined.
God challenged me to give Him the pen of my life afresh; to lay down my agenda, my expectations, and my plans for what our married life was supposed to be; to allow Him to take us through whatever trials and challenges He saw fit; to let Him continue to script our love story in His own perfect way.
I realized that I’d subconsciously been thinking of marriage as the time when “everything would finally be perfect” in my life, that I would be completely satisfied and fulfilled simply because I was finally married. But I was looking for satisfaction in human things; in having a comfortable home, a white picket fence, and a husband that knew how to meet all of my needs.
After spending time doing some serious soul-searching, I was reminded that my number one source of fulfillment and satisfaction must be Christ alone. My external circumstances might never be perfect. My marriage to Eric, though wonderful, could never fulfill the deepest needs of my heart. But my relationship with the God of the universe could satisfy and fulfill me completely, if I would simply surrender my entire life to Him.
So once again, I went through the process of making Jesus Christ – not my life circumstances – my truest source of fulfillment and happiness. Once again, He had to become my all in all.
Think about your own expectations for married life – or for anything in your future. Are you hoping for the cute home with the white picket fence, financial security, sterling health, three perfect children, and a great retirement plan? Are you expecting your spouse to be the person of your dreams twenty-four hours a day? Or maybe you are expecting a successful career or a prominent ministry position? Maybe your dreams and hopes are resting upon your ability to “make it to the top” in a certain area of life.
If you are looking to anything outside of Christ as your ultimate source of contentment, you will be left empty in the long run. Sure, God might allow you to have seasons of success, comfortable circumstances, achievement, and financial security. And yes, there may be times when your spouse completely fulfills the romantic dreams of your heart. But if you are looking to your circumstances to bring you satisfaction, and if you are turning to your spouse to meet all of your deepest needs – you will be disappointed somewhere along the line. Let Christ have His way, even if it means giving up everything you ever hoped for in life. Let Christ be your source of true fulfillment, even when your spouse lets you down. Your life may not ever look the way you pictured it, but you will find satisfaction and security that can’t be shaken by the circumstances or disappointments of life.
Allow yourself to be brought under God’s surgical knife. He must remove anything that stands in the way of complete surrender to Him. Allow Him to take your human dreams, hopes, and expectations and replace them with His agenda for your life – whatever that may be. Only when you allow God to surgically altar you, own you, and operate you can you truly be prepared to experience “happily ever after” even in the midst of fleas, raccoons, and whatever challenges life throws your way.