Brett likes to say that marriage is a parable. (I don’t know if he made that up or read it somewhere, so my apologies to whoever deserves credit.)
Anyway, all of Jesus’ parables, along with teaching us things we can apply to our lives today, pointed to some aspect of the Kingdom of Heaven. Marriage, like a parable, is an allegory for what it is like to be known by Christ, to serve Him, to know that our purpose is for him, to experience His love… That’s why the Bible refers to the Church as the Bride of Christ so many times.
So what I thought of when I felt like I wanted to be married was what it would be like to experience Christ’s love in a more intimate way than I could ever otherwise experience it. That was how I knew that God was letting me know I should marry Brett. Because every time I had doubts in our relationship, I still knew that I had experienced Jesus’ love through Brett more than I had through anyone else.
(*Pause for awwws*)
I felt like God was leading me to be married. To let myself be more dependent on another person than I was comfortable being (probably a post about that coming later). Saying, “Come experience my unconditional love.”
And then I got engaged and God is teaching me something else entirely. Yes, I’m still slowly learning to be more vulnerable and open, but now there is something even more important on my mind.
I think God is teaching me what is most important about love.
… But when the Bible speaks of love, it measures it primarily not by how much you want to receive but by how much you are willing to give of yourself to someone. -The Meaning of Marriage, Keller.
It suddenly hit me that marriage is going to require my whole soul. If marriage is a parable, then there’s an aspect of being consumed. Once we’re married, next to Jesus Brett must be the single most obvious priority in my life.
That’s what I’m really being called to.
Engagement is hard, and I’d argue that long-distance engagement is much harder. We have most weekends and the phone during the week, and on top of making harder to connect on the level we did when we lived in the same town, it tries my patience to the extreme. If, combined, Brett and I had a patience pie chart, it would look like this:
What I “give of myself” to someone is not just how vulnerable I am or how much time I spend with them. It’s how much am I willing to die to myself for this person? How hard am I going to work on being patient? How much am I going to serve him even when I feel unloving?
If being part of the Church means He must become greater and I must become less, being part of a marriage that is a parable means I must become less for someone who doesn’t even deserve my everything. And that can be harder sometimes than dying to self for the sake of a Savior.
But that means I get to be like Jesus and experience Jesus at the same time. And I think that’s what He wanted marriage to be like.