IMG_8805We are so excited to share this guest post from our first overseas contributor, Louise. She lives in southwest England and stumbled onto our blog (such a blessing)! Her desire is to share Christ-centered truth with others and wishes everyone a fantastic day over the water!

Fun fact: After a trip to Canada, she is now in love with Starbucks, and we can’t blame her.

Recently I’ve heard a lot of people, negative and scare-mongering toward others who get married in their early twenties. Without understanding they sound warnings or give their two-cents based purely on their own perceptions.

It can be hard to ignore what sometimes feels like a barrage of voices, but today I want to share my perspective on being young and married and quell those voices, encouraging with truth.

I was married at 23, but it appears doing this I created somewhat of a social stigma for myself. Those who previously related to me now found they couldn’t or didn’t want to, and I was the frequent recipient of aghast comments and looks.

First, I would like to say I did not inherently change the moment I said ‘I will’. I did not become boring overnight. I am still the Louise who loves shopping, going for coffee with friends, dressing up and putting the world to rights over a glass or two of wine. Secondly, no, I do not want to spend every waking minute with my husband nor does ‘being married’ require me to. I still want to be invited out with people and I do not ‘pity’ my single friends or believe myself to be on a higher plane of existence than them.

I recently read the blog of a single, thirty-something lady who wrote regarding the large number of her Christian friends who ‘strolled down the aisle’, got married young and are now divorced. She suggested they didn’t know who they were when they got married and have since changed. But I would suggest, rather than the problem being they changed, the problem is quite possibly they didn’t understand the concept of Christian marriage.

Having only been married for three years I can’t possibly comment on whether or not I ‘know who I am yet’, as apparently that can only be assessed with hindsight. To me, that statement is irrelevant. The point of marriage isn’t about staying with someone when it’s easy, convenient and you like the same things, it’s about grappling through change, choosing to grow together rather than apart, living sacrificially and sticking it out for the long-haul. Through compromising we learn to weave a new life out of two completely different personalities.louise bio

And we may change much more. When I’m 30 I may be a completely different person,  but that does not give me a ‘get out’ clause. There’s absolutely nothing that says getting married later in your twenties and onward gives you a ticket to an easier marriage. The commitment is still the same. I didn’t get married for the fairy tale. I went into marriage with my eyes open. We had been together for three years, had passed the ‘loved up’ stage and looked at our relationship in the cold light of day, and still decided to make a commitment.

I don’t feel I’m ‘missing out’. This is because my happiness isn’t tied to things associated with ‘the single life’ that our culture seems to extol. Recently I read a book called Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. Its premise is ‘what if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?’ I want to go out on a limb here and say that it’s okay if your marriage isn’t always a walk in the clouds, punctuated with rainbows and copious gushing. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be married. I find it difficult when all I see and hear is people passing pretty sentiments about their spouse and presenting a glossy image of the perfect life. I wonder if it’s really like that in reality? The problem is I read and see these things and then begin to compare my marriage to theirs. I begin to wish my husband was different. I wish I was happier. I wish our marriage was filled with all the sunny days their marriages are. Above all, I begin to resent the gift God has given me.

My oh my, comparison truly is the thief of joy!

In reading this book I’ve had my perspective changed. I’m able to rejoice in the difficulties of marriage. The point of my marriage goes beyond the pursuit of personal happiness. It is actually a medium through which I can demonstrate and experience the love of God. If it was easy would I run to Him as much as I do? If it was easy would I be relying on Him or my own strength? In the difficulties I can choose to view it as a discipline to deepen my relationship with Him. In the hurt I can choose to reconcile. This is so important because reconciliation is at the heart of the gospel message. I want to live to show that message — that through Jesus we can be reconciled to God — but if my marriage, a key part of my life, contradicts that message, then it will carry no weight. I will not be living the ministry of reconciliation. Instead, I must set the right goal for my marriage and work to build it to show Him to the world.

My plea is this: Married ladies, let’s support each other, let’s take off our masks and be real about the difficulties rather than presenting the ‘perfect life’. And, while sharing the difficulties,  let’s not give the devil a foothold by giving way to moaning, instead let’s spur each other on in Christ. Single ladies, we love you. Forgive us for the times we’ve given married life too much prominence and forgotten your needs. Pray for us as we live out the realities of marriage. Please don’t let bitterness take root. Even out of your season, champion marriage! Amidst all the scare-mongering voices, we need voices of support. Let yours be one.

“He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:19

*photo courtesy: britney @baretribeblog.blogspot.com

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Married at 23, a challenging ministry with no regrets

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