When was the last time you were profoundly touched in less than eleven minutes? It was yesterday for me. While the kids napped, Clint and I watched some of the Oscar-nominated short films. The first one we watched was Paperman—sweet, funny, and classic Walt Disney.
Then we watched Head Over Heels…and in ten minutes I was crying. Together the two films portray the breadth and depth of love, from the first moment of attraction to its fight for survival beneath years of tedium.
I used to think that few marriages grow cold. Like the odds of contracting a rare disease, I assumed my marriage was statistically “safe.” After all, I didn’t know any couples with distant room-mate relationships—all I knew were giddy college girls madly in love, just like me, who couldn’t wait to seal our engagement with a second ring. And surely giddy college girls madly in love don’t grow bored in marriage, do they? Slowly the season of engagements gave way to a season of weddings and an endless collection of bridesmaid dresses. Then came the season of babies and an endless collection of birth announcements. And then…came the season of quiet discontentment. Did you know that so-and-so got a divorce? Did you know that so-and-so is addicted to pornography? Did you know that so-and-so had an affair?
Perhaps what scared me the most is that I wasn’t as shocked as I would’ve thought. Why? Because it’s only taken seven short years to strip me of my naiveté and arrogance regarding marriage. Gone is the belief that our love or virtue can sustain us, and in its place is the vulnerable, humbling truth that God alone can sustain our marriage. A cold marriage is not a rare disease only the really “unlucky” contract. It’s a certain reality for every marriage, apart from the grace and power of Christ. Just like the playroom, when left completely alone, it is the natural course of every marriage to grow messy—cluttered with hurt, sin, and disappointment. As Tim Keller says, “[marriage is] a burning joy and strength, and yet it is also blood, sweat, and tears, humbling defeats and exhausting victories.”
Certainly marriage is not for the faint of heart. But certainly we are not left alone in the journey. What will it take for you to nail your shoes to the ceiling, and walk back toward the companion you vowed to cherish? Will it take courage? Humility? Hope? Jesus can bestow courage. Jesus can grant humility. Jesus is hope. And the greatest blessing of my sin-filled life is that Jesus still walks with me. He will walk with you, too.