Monday, December 3, 2012

Don't Let Your Marriage Become a Statistic

I am a great admirer of Billy Graham. When I was a child, tv was much, much different than tv today. We had 4 or 5 channels that we received into our home through a large antennae at the corner of our house. Along with regular programming, those stations would broadcast the Billy Graham Crusades, and they would advertise for days or weeks in advance that the "Billy Graham Crusade would be broadcast on their channel." My Mom and Dad and grandparents were Billy Graham admirers, too, and with much anticipation we would look forward to watching those crusades on our television. We could never have gone to those far away, often exotic places, but we could hear the Word and watch as hundreds, often thousands of people responded to his clear presentation of the gospel.

Several years ago, Billy Graham came to the Papa John Stadium in Louisville, Ky. My sister, Sherry, called me and said she wanted us to take my Mom to hear him "live and in person." We did, and what a thrill it was for my Mom to get to experience what she had only been able to watch from a tv screen. I am so thankful for that experience and so thankful Sherry included me in sharing it with our Mom. I enjoyed it so much that 2 nights later David and I attended the last night of the crusade.

I am also an admirer of Mrs. Graham and their daughter GiGi, and the entire family. I have several of their books and would one day love to go the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC. And then this past week I read something that shocked me; in my Home Life magazine I read an article by Tullian Tchividijian on "becoming an adult child of divorce." Surely not...surely I had read that wrong, but no, there it was in black and white. You see, Tullian is the son of GiGi and Stefan Tchividjian. GiGi and Stephan were married 41 years...they have 7 children and lots of grandchildren. Surely not them, she is Ruth and Billy Graham's daughter; it can't happen to them.

Then I heard of a couple who were married about the same time David and I were married and just a few months ago, after 41 years of marriage, they divorced. Surely not them, it can't happen to them, but it did.

In his article Tullian writes, "There had been no infidelity or abuse---in fact, my siblings and I are still scratching our heads, wondering exactly what happened." He and his siblings are not alone; statistics say that divorce among believers is the same as divorce among unbelievers and in most cases, their adult children have no idea what happened.

David and I are far from experts on marriage, but we do have a long track record. We have been married over 42 years, and while he would be the first to tell you, they haven't been perfect years, we are so thankful that we "stuck it out" and "stuck together" when it would have been so easy to become one the statistics.
We are blest to have parents and grandparents who stuck it out, too. My parents celebrated their 70th anniversary just 2 weeks before my Dad passed away. David's parents were married almost 58 years and we both had grandparents who were married 60+ years.

So in this day when marriage is being re-defined (there is no such thing, by the way, marriage is marriage the way God says it is marriage; 1 man 1 woman, final.), and when Satan is determined to destroy every home that he can possibly destroy, how do we stay married?

I have such a tender heart for young couples and, 2nd only to teaching my SS class, I love speaking to wives and Moms in the throws of those early years of marriage and raising their children. One thing the young women enjoy is a time of q & a at the end of the event. As a teacher and speaker, there is no way to prepare for this time, and sometimes I have to say, "I don't know", but I love their questions and love the transparency of those moments. Young married couples need older married couples to mentor them through those first years of marriage; they don't want to see "perfect", they want to see "real".

I teach a multi-generational SS class and have women of all ages and stages of life who read the blog. If you have been married for 25 years or more, will you respond with a word of encouragement for our younger married couples that just might be the very thing they are needing to hear today?

My word of encouragement for them is this; REMEMBER!
Remember the vows you made on your wedding day. Weren't they something like "for better or worse" (that takes in everything), "richer or poorer" (can't get too rich, can't get to poor to call it quits),
"in sickness and in health" (can't get too sick and sure can't get too healthy to chuck it all) "till death do us part" (that's a lifetime).

When he/she is driving you nuts, when you feel like you can't take it another minute, when you want to quit and move on, just remember anger and hurt feelings will pass in time, and remembering our commitment helps tender our hearts toward our mate.

Marriage is a covenant agreement between a man, a woman, and God. In preparing to write this blog, I asked David what one word of encouragement he had for you and your marriage and it cannot be love! That's a given, because without love, it can't be marriage. Plus, where would love and marriage be without 1 Peter 4:8; "Have fervent love for each other because love covers a multitude of sins!!"

He said it is important that at least one person in the marriage be an OPTIMIST. (and he is saying it with a smile.)
Yes, he is definitely an optimist. I prefer to say he has "deep faith." When things go wrong, I tend to panic, worry, fret. I say things like, "What are we going to do now?" He says, "Things will get better. God is in control." David looks for the good in people and the good in every situation.

A few years ago, we were praying about a certain situation and it seemed as if God didn't hear us. (ever felt that way?) I said to David, "Do you think God is even listening?" And he said, "If I didn't think He was listening, I wouldn't pray." That's faith. Faith in God and in His power to bring good out of everything and blessing out of ashes (Isaiah 61:3). For marriage to endure, we gotta have faith; faith in God and His sovereignty over our lives, and faith in each other.

So please...don't be a statistic. Give marriage a fighting chance by remembering your promises to each other. And look for the good in each other and in every situation. One day, you'll look back and be so glad you did.

Let us hear from you!!

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