Connie & I have been in Holland, MI for just over three months, married exactly four months today(!!!!) and I have been the Youth Director at Calvary Baptist Church for just over three months. Things are still pretty fresh and new for us, but there are a few lessons that I have learned, and have had to learn quickly.
1. God is so good.
This is not a new lesson, but it is one that has been repeatedly revealed to me over the past few months. Somehow a large number of people have gotten it into their heads and hearts that God is not good, that God makes bad things happen, that God is hateful and harsh, that God is legalistic and oppressive. I’ve never experienced that God; that God is not the God of the Bible. The God I know is a loving Father, who disciplines at times when it is necessary, but Who desires to see His children walk in His ways. He lovingly corrects and extends so much grace and mercy toward me that I can’t even begin to understand how it is possible.
2. Establishing good habits is a non-negotiable.
What I mean by this is if I don’t establish habits of loving my wife well and dating her, taking time to listen to her, making a habit of prayer and Bible study, habitually eating well, sleeping well, exercising well, then I will quickly exhaust myself. Poor habits are a quick road toward less effective days and may even lead to sin in our lives. Satan likes to use poor habits to make us unaware, distract us, and detract from the work God wants to do through us. So, good habits are a must. If you happen to be struggling right now with your energy during the day, motivation at work, being a light and showing others Christ in normal, everyday ways, then I would encourage you to look at your habits. I know for me, when I let my habits slip, that is when I become complacent and tired and just want to sit at home watching tv or playing video games all day (not that these are bad–but do they help me live out my calling well?).
3. I am selfish.
I don’t think it is possible to realize how selfish we really are until we get married… When I was living at home with my parents, even while I was seriously dating Connie, I was not as aware of my selfishness as I am now. But now, married to an amazing, beautiful, godly, wonderful friend and wife (Mrs. Connie Lynne Marshall :)), I am so utterly aware that I am selfish. And yet Connie is so good and forgiving, and helping me work through my selfishness :) We grow in our relationship every single day, and one of the main areas of growth is putting aside my own wants and my own apparent “needs” for the good of US and OUR. I now better understand why a relationship with God is described as a marital relationship. Selfishness has no place. A relationship struggles to grow and struggles to be a quality, encouraging, mutual relationship when selfishness is present. We each need bring our full selves, not 50/50 but 100/100, to this relationship. God is faithful and offers His fullness in exchange for all of me. I surrender myself in order to experience fulfilled and abundant life through faith in Jesus Christ. Selfishness is so utterly defeated that we can echo with Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). This is the marital relationship. We become one; so intimately and intentionally connected that there is no I or me, but it is US and WE.
There are many other things I have been learning, but this is the highlight reel. As time goes on, I’m sure I will list other things that I have been learning. I hope these will be an encouragement to you, and will challenge you to think about what God has been teaching you lately. What are some things you have learned over the past few months? I’d be excited to read them in the comments below :)