I had no idea what marriage really meant when I said yes.
I was happy, sure of his affection.
Over and over he would say, “You’re more than I ever hoped for…” and I would roll my eyes slightly at him. “You know I’m a mess,” I’d point out. He’d just smile.
I was just the tiniest bit afraid that he thought me more perfect than I really was. But we talked real and honest and so open it was laughable. He told me his lists of reasons why I probably wouldn’t want to marry him. They didn’t faze me much. I told him my list and he just pulled me tight against his chest and kissed my hair.
Love changes color over time. It starts as a light blush of pink, or a brilliant stripe of sunny yellow– and then, as you walk through the ebb and flow of life together, love deepens and grows. Rich brilliant shades appear that make the first blush of color hard to even identify.
But first there are days when you wonder if it ever existed at all.
In our story it was the lack of children and my struggle through depression that shook our foundations a bit.
In other stories it’s the arrival of children or the loss of a job or other physical ailments. Sometimes it’s an accident that carries unbelievable loss, or even at times, something good like a promotion or success.
After all, it’s really change that is the real shaker in life.
Yet, change is also the very thing that can make beauty from broken pieces.
In Fort Bragg, California there is a beach covered in sea glass. It was once a dump, where for decades trash was thrown over the cliffs. Eventually, what was left after the waves and salt water did their work, was sea glass. Beautiful, rounded, stone-like pieces of glass.
God uses change in our lives, just like He used the ocean waves on the shattered glass. Left on our own, we would become sharper, more calloused, more inclined to treat others (especially our spouses) roughly. But through the changes in life, we can be softened, the sharp points smoothed out. In Scripture, God calls this process refining, and it is something He promises to do in our lives.
For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. (Ps. 66:10)
Many people think that love is just one color. It’s just the first splash of feelings or emotions, and when that changes, they assume that love is gone. But that first color is only the very edge of the very beginning.
In my life, God has been faithful to take all the changes, the hard seasons, the losses, the victories, the good and the bad– and He has used them all to fill my life with the brilliant colors of love. All of them reflections of Him, for He is the very definition of love itself.
And sometimes the journey to experiencing all the shades of love, means walking through the valleys. It means piles of trash building up on your shorelines and years of waves crashing against you. It means serving others at your own expense, choosing grace and forgiveness instead of bitterness. It means allowing changes without fighting them. It means trusting in the middle of storms.
It means accepting when God doesn’t give you the very things you think you need. It means praising Him for His goodness, even when you’re not even sure you can see it.
You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water… (Ps. 66:11-12a)
But when the changes settle, and they always do, you will see that God has done great things through them. You will finally stop saying, “God, are you even there?” and will look at yourself and realize that the evidence of His presence is engraved into your being.
When I examine certain places in my life, like my battle with infertility, and I see how God has engraved His love into me and smoothed out the sharp jagged pieces– I know there is hope for the rest of my struggles.
My life still has piles of brokenness, some from my own choices, some from hardships I’ve faced, but God’s ever-loving, ever-refining presence is also still here. Working. Smoothing. Refining me. Painting my life with all the colors of love.
but you brought us to a place of abundance. (Ps. 66:12b)
When I said “yes” to marriage, I had no idea what I was doing. But God knew. He knew that I was going to walk through hard things. He knew I was going to struggle to hold onto my faith. He knew I was going to be changed.
And He was setting the stage to pour abundance into my life. To fill it with brilliant shades of love.
From the husband who would help carry my burdens, and make me laugh when everything was falling apart– to the daughter who would eventually arrive and would wrap her arms around me, and dance in the waves, and giggle in delight over every wild flower she spots…God was building up abundance for me.
Wherever you are on your journey, don’t give up. Allow the waves to keep crashing onto your shoreline. There is depth, and brilliant colors, and beauty in store for you– good and perfect gifts coming down from the Father of light.
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