Love does not consist in gazing at each other,
but in looking outward together in the same direction.
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
During the four years that Nathan and I dated, a poster with this quote hung in my bedroom, reminding me that my deepest happiness - and the ultimate future of our relationship - depended not on how we made each other feel but on how we enabled each other to better fulfill God's purpose for our lives.
I probably should've tattooed this quote on myself when the marriage began. Transplanted from my hometown and a jobless newlywed, I found myself in a sort of identity crisis as I wrestled with idolizing my husband and finding my calling as a married Christian ex-journalist. It was a never-ending temptation to view Nathan as the fulfiller of all my dreams, goals, wishes and unspoken needs. When I finally found a job and we both jumped into heavy ministry at church, I would give and give all day long, then come home ready to chillax while he waited on me hand and foot.
Needless to say, such misguided expectations do not lead to "happily ever after." In marriage, even more than in any other relationship, true happiness consists not in receiving but in giving oneself away. I firmly believe that the devastating divorce rates in our country today are directly due to self-centered and misplaced expectations - hopping from partner to partner in search of the "soulmate" who will somehow "complete" us and fill the void that was created to be filled by God alone.
Married couples everywhere would do well to learn from the example of Ian and Larissa Murphy. I have followed their story ever since Ian's tragic accident several years ago, and this video brings tears to my eyes at the joy they have found in God and in one another despite unspeakable hardship. Please take a few minutes and watch their story of unconditional love.
Larissa is one of my heroes. From the world's perspective, she has thrown her youth and comfort away on a man who cannot care for her the way she deserves. Thank God that Larissa's hope is not in Ian, but in Jesus. The love that He has lavished on her enables her to pour herself continually into loving Ian; not because he can reciprocate, but because in doing so she is making much of Jesus Christ.
If we set our face to make of marriage mainly what God designed it to be,
no sorrows and no calamities can stand in our way.
Every one of them will be, not an obstacle to success, but a way to succeed.
The beauty of the covenant-keeping love between Christ and His church
shines brightest when nothing but Christ can sustain it.
- John Piper