Some time ago I was speaking with a young couple on the verge of getting married and the subject of my marriage came up. The more I talked about the marriage I have experienced – and the wife I enjoy – the more grateful I became. My final assessment was, I’m so blessed it’s crazy.
As I walked away from the conversation I began to think about how rose-colored my glasses seemed to be in that moment. Was I really being honest? Was I setting this couple up for disillusionment when they don’t feel the reality I described? God knows how many difficult season these 20 years of marriage have endured. Some of that has been basic life tribulation. Much of it has been my sin. During many seasons of difficulty I have not been so positive.
So why was I walking away from that conversation with such hope and joy?
Was it because life is much easier now compared to other seasons of life? Not a chance. Was I so positive because I happened to get lucky enough to land the perfect marriage? Absolutely not. It has been a rude awakening to discover that there is no such thing as a perfectly compatible couple. Marriage is not about compatibility; it’s about commitment. And communication. And ultimately communion. You either connect with Jesus and become whole in Him, or you will be a black hole that sucks your spouse dry with expectations that only God Himself can fulfill. Marriage does not work because two people are compatible; it works because two people do the gospel on each other.
So why was I so hot on my marriage – and my life – as I left that conversation?
Because of the story I chose to tell myself.
The reality of my life (and yours) is that I have had some very high highs and some very low lows. There has been sin and grace, hardship and redemption. But God is the Author, and He does not write bad stories. When I start to tell my story with God, with grace, with redemption in mind – the whole thing sounds different. I get to choose the story I tell myself. And so do you.
Get the genre right. It’s not a horror flick; it’s not a tragedy. It’s a love story. With action and adventure. And drama. But this thing is absolutely not chaotic and pointless. He’s writing a masterpiece, so don’t give up on the plot. Don’t lose hope in the Director. You may be in the middle of a really difficult chapter, but it’s an amazing story. Read it all the way to the end.
Don’t underestimate the Author.
This is beyond positive thinking. You have to tell the right story, because your heart will follow the story you tell yourself. Your life moves with your meditation. Paul got it right: “Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Go tell the right story.