what marriage is all about

You might have looked at my title, knowing that I’m not even married yet, and written me off as a person with a (very small) platform who’s presuming to lecture on things she knows nothing about. Before you tense up, let me put you at ease. All I’m offering today is a quote. I think it’s about all I have the creativity for today, after grocery shopping, emailing distraught students, and calling hotels to hold blocks of rooms for our wedding, a task that had me disproportionately stressed out for some reason. (And I didn’t even teach today, at least not in the formal classroom sense.) Plus, coming up with a blog topic every week is hard work, you guys. Normally, around this time of year, I have something to say about the Oscar nominations, but I haven’t even looked at those closely enough to say anything intelligent about them. Maybe next week.

So, for today, a quote. This is actually a secondary citation, which I typically discourage my college students from using. You’re supposed to go to the original source; it’s a (relatively minor) infraction of academic etiquette to cite the book where you found the quote instead of the book where it originally appears. But this isn’t a dissertation; it’s a blog, so there. Anyway, in my premarital counseling homework reading, I came across this lovely and fairly lengthy quote. I found it in Greg and Erin Smalley’s introductory chapter of Ready to Wed, but they’re quoting Tim and Kathy Keller’s book The Meaning of Marriage. (Note to put that one on our to-be-read list.)

When looking for a marriage partner, each much be able to look inside the other and see what God is doing, and be excited about being part of the process of liberating the emerging “new you.” … This is by no means a naive, romanticized approach–rather it is brutally realistic. In this view of marriage, each person says to the other, “I see all your flaws, imperfections, weaknesses, dependencies. But underneath them all I see growing the person God wants you to be.” … The goal is to see something absolutely ravishing that God is making of the beloved. You see even now flashes of glory. You want to help your spouse become the person God wants him or her to be. … What keeps the marriage going is your commitment to your spouse’s holiness.

This is true. I don’t know much about marriage yet. (I wish I could trade my nearly-useless knowledge of citation etiquette for something useful like marriage wisdom.) But I already know the Kellers’ description to be true. This is why, already, Jordan can point out (he always does it gently and rarely does it at all) an area for improvement in my life without me getting angry or hurt like I would if a stranger, or even perhaps a friend, said the same thing. And why I can do the same for him. This is why we can feel, and act, confident in one another’s presence–because we know that we have already accepted one another.

It is a faint glimpse of the acceptance we find in Christ. Over the past year, I’ve been thinking a lot about the story of the woman at the well in John 4. When she went back to her town to tell people she had met Jesus, she said, “Come, see a man who told me everything I had ever done.” She said this excitedly, like it was a selling point. Because for her, that may have been the best part of her conversation with Jesus: the fact that he knew everything about her–her sin, her social isolation, her confusion about spiritual matters–and still accepted her. He sat and talked with her, took her questions seriously, and after the initial mention, never brought up her sin again. Full knowledge, full acceptance.

Well, that is not the direction I thought this post might take when I started it. I’m actually sitting here crying right now. I hope this will encourage someone else, but if not, it did me. Thank you for reading this quote and my thoughts on it today.

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