Tonight, Marianne and I will have a romantic dinner at the country inn where I asked her to marry me.
Our friends often kid us, because we take time to celebrate key events in our life together. Our first date, our engagement, our wedding, and other anniversaries are important to us.
We don’t go on anniversary dates to create intimacy and passion between us, but to express the amazing, ever-deepening intimacy and passion that continues to grow between us – from the first time my heart unexpectedly fluttered at the sight of her, to the profound thrill I still feel when I see her.
There is a love between us that I seldom see in others. It, and our marriage, are testaments to the power of God to redeem lives.
Good marriages need ongoing redemption, because we all have past hurts and regrets that eventually will become raw and cause problems if not healed.
Ongoing redemption, however, requires an ongoing willingness to transparently expose our hurts and regrets to God – along with the beliefs, offenses and shortcomings that feed them.
Here’s the problem, however: We can’t turn them over to Him and receive His emotional health and spiritual wholeness in return, unless we first fully expose them to Him.
Although that is a simple truth, it is hard to do. We spend most of our lives figuring out ways to cope with, deny, react to, or suppress our hurts and regrets – because those are places of pain – rather than confronting them, exposing them to the Lord, and finding health.
In our lives, Marianne and I both chose health – before we even knew each other – over the emotional bondage of past hurts and regrets.
It wasn’t easy, but before even considered dating anyone, we had independently decided to proactively deal with issues from our past as they popped up – and step by step let God restore His joy and wholeness.
As we continued to find health, God opened the door – when we were ready – to the possibility of also finding love.
And we did.
As we dated, we both privately pledged to the Lord and each other that we would continue to take the time – and give Him the time He needed – to deal with past emotional issues that inevitably get triggered in any developing relationship.
Thus, we resisted the urge to rush things, and found great peace and confidence in trusting the Lord enough to let Him do what He wanted, when He wanted, and how He wanted – on His terms! That also gave us the space to really get to know each other and work through things without undue pressure, thus creating a smooth transition into marriage when the time was right to cross that threshold.
In our marriage, we have maintained that same commitment: As things surface from past wounds and disappointments (and we all have them!), we proactively deal with them and don’t let defensive barriers arise between us.
Choosing redemption and health, by proactively dealing with hurts and regrets as they arise, has created an uncluttered trust and fidelity between us that is rare – leading to a level of intimacy, transparency and refreshing vulnerability that is uncommon in many marriages today.
Our marriage is not perfect, but we have learned to deal with our imperfections as they pop up!
Because of our own journey, Marianne and I now help others also get to redemption and health – often from deep hurts and regrets caused by abandonment, abuse, despair, past mistakes, or any number of other life-crippling events and circumstances.
Daily, we see how God delights in bringing beauty from the ashes of our past – but only as we first give those ashes to Him.
Tonight, Marianne and I will celebrate our engagement at the same inn, as we hold hands and stare into each others eyes at the same table where I asked her to marry me with a very romantic, storybook proposal. (We both love romantic moments – and memories.)
We celebrate, not to rekindle past intimacy or passion, but because our intimacy and passion grows more profound with each passing year – as we care enough for each other to give Him the ashes of our pasts.
Tonight, as with each passing day, I will feel like the most blessed person in the whole world because I am in love with most wonderful person in the world – and I know Marianne feels the same towards me.
God truly can bring beauty from ashes. Our love is proof.
~ Jim Wright
Other Chapters in Our Love Story