Sunday, July 17, 2016

Married Life

As you may or may not know, Max and I were married on February 13, 2016! If you were not invited, I apologize. We stuck to only immediate family and first cousins for the U.S. side invitations (just in case everyone said yes). It is Austrian tradition to have a sit-down meal afterwards, so we had to prepare carefully for that.

Benny, me, Max, and Lydia

A question we get from most people is 'How is married life?' And I do not know people's motives in asking that question. Are they hoping it's going bad so they can feel better about themselves? Would they genuinely pray for us if we said it's going bad? Will they be jealous if we say it's going great? Would they genuinely praise God for that and rejoice with us? I guess the honest answer is most people are in-between.

The true answer is that we are doing great. In hearing from other couples, it sounds like it is common for people to have a difficult start to marriage, and from pre-marriage counseling and reading books I admit I was a bit nervous to get married. But after the honeymoon when things normalized and we spent more time together, it was fine.

All I can say is, praise God. I complained (to others and to God) and hated to go through the difficult roommate and teaching experiences I've had in the past, but now, looking at our marriage, I would say it was all worth it. Being a teacher and learning to deal with thankless pupils who complain at the drop of a hat has helped me be less demanding of Max to recognize what I do for him. And having roommates who controlled the temperature, talked bad about me, and slammed the door in the middle of the night has helped me value Max for his thoughtfulness. And when he asks me what I want, sometimes I'm still shocked that he values my opinion. It is nice to be trusted and given the freedom to make decisions for two people and know that he will tell me the truth if he is displeased.

We still have our spats and flare-ups, but the foundation is strong and we know our feelings are not always to be trusted. Love is truth and action, not an emotional roller-coaster. 

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. -1 John 3:18

This should be encouraging to those of you who have gone through difficult circumstances and cannot see the point. Why did God allow those experiences to happen? If you had good motives, why were people allowed to attack you and misunderstand you like they did? Well, the short answer is, God loves you SO MUCH that he wants you to rely on him and grow your character. God disciplines those he loves, and he allows us to be tested strongly. Those who are truly His will remain in Him and not be pushed away through the trial. They will draw closer to their source of strength, Jesus Christ. 

Think about it. Jesus and Peter were friends, and Jesus told Simon (Peter) that he would be attacked intensely by Satan. It is not stated whether Satan demanded this from God the Father or Jesus himself, but either way, God said yes and granted Satan permission to wreak havoc in Peter's life, with the goal of making Peter lose his faith in Christ.

31 “Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan has demanded permission to sift[all of] you like grain; 32 but I have prayed [especially] for you [Peter],that your faith [and confidence in Me] may not fail; and you, once you have turned back again [to Me], strengthen and support your brothers[in the faith].” -Luke 22:31-32 (Amplified)

If you look at Scripture, you can see that Peter became much closer to the Lord after this ordeal. He walked in the strength of the Holy Spirit, and he did not complain about his trials. Paul didn't either. This is one mark of maturity in Christ: seeing the value of the trials and forgetting the 'It's not fair!' argument.

A Psalm of Asaph.

73 Truly God is good to Israel,
To those who are pure in heart.

But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,
My steps had almost slipped.

For I was envious of the arrogant
As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

For there are no pains in their death,
Their body is fat and pampered.

They are not in trouble as other men,
Nor are they plagued like mankind.

Therefore pride is their necklace;
Violence covers them like a garment [like a long, luxurious robe].

Their eye bulges from fatness [they have more than the heart desires];
The imaginations of their mind run riot [with foolishness].

They mock and wickedly speak of oppression;
They speak loftily [with malice].

They set their mouth against the heavens,
And their tongue swaggers through the earth.
Therefore his people return to this place,
And waters of abundance [offered by the irreverent] are [blindly] drunk by them.
They say, “How does God know?
Is there knowledge [of us] with the Most High?”
Behold, these are the ungodly,
Who always prosper and are at ease [in the world]; they have increased in wealth.
Surely then in vain I have cleansed my heart
And washed my hands in innocence.
For all the day long have I been stricken,
And punished every morning.
If I had said, “I will say this,” [and expressed my feelings],
I would have betrayed the generation of Your children.
When I considered how to understand this,
It was too great an effort for me and too painful
Until I came into the sanctuary of God;
Then I understood [for I considered] their end.
Surely You set the wicked-minded and immoral on slippery places;
You cast them down to destruction.
How they are destroyed in a moment!
They are completely swept away by sudden terrors!
Like a dream [which seems real] until one awakens,
O Lord, when stirred, [You observe the wicked], You will despise their image.
When my heart was embittered
And I was pierced within [as with the fang of an adder],
Then I was senseless and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
You will guide me with Your counsel,
And afterward receive me to honor and glory.
Whom have I in heaven [but You]?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the rock and strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful and have abandoned You.
But as for me, it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge and placed my trust in Him,
That I may tell of all Your works.
Amplified Bible (AMP)
Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

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