Three years ago today, my husband and I said ‘Yes’ to forever in covenant marriage underneath this very pavilion in the Smokey Mountains of Maryville, TN. It feels like yesterday and a lifetime all at once. In our three short years of marriage, we have paid off $130,000 of debt, we have moved homes 3 times, we have moved once across state lines, we have started a business to help me pursue my dreams, we have had 6 different career jobs, Josh has had multiple side hustles, we have had a failed Thai adoption process, and we have faced health issues that scared me and brought back hard memories for Joshua. BUT GOD. But when God is the foundation, life can throw you and shake you, and life can also bring you the greatest joys and the highest of mountaintops, and His foundation will always stand. The Rock of Ages doesn’t know emotions; it is secure and firm through every season. We are so grateful for the ‘BUT GOD…’ in our marriage, and that we get to share Jesus on this adventure.
As I look back on all we have experienced, I am overwhelmed with how much I have grown, changed, and been made more like Christ through this covenant of marriage. As this day approached over the past few weeks, I felt a tug to share with you three truths that I have learned about marriage in three years in hopes that you are inspired to pursue your spouse deeper today, and ultimately, press deeper into Jesus, no matter if you are married, single, engaged, widowed, divorced, or somewhere in between.
THREE LESSONS IN THREE YEARS
I- BE PRESENT
One of Ramsey Solutions’ core values is ‘The Momentum Theorum’. This was something created by Dave Ramsey as a core value for his team and company to live and work by. It says That ‘Focused Intensity’ over ‘Time‘ (Long periods of time consistently) multiplied by ‘God’ equals ‘Momentum’:
FI / T (G) = M
I was listening to Dave Ramsey speak on this in staff meeting earlier this week, and the parallel to marriage hit me like a ton of bricks. What you focus on, for long periods of time, with deep intensity, you WIN at. And then, when you invite the Lord into that equation, He does incredible things. One of the greatest things we have learned in our marriage thus far is that to have a successful, thriving, faithful, growing marriage, you have to pour focus into it, everyday, over and over and over, and invite God in. We have seen this ring true in our debt free journey; as we poured all of our focus together into paying off debt, we have WON, and we have gained wild momentum…unexplainable momentum actually. Focus. Time. God. And now, we are ALMOST done with our debt.
We have also seen this ring true in date nights. We have made it a point, even on our debt free journey, to intentionally date each other. Date nights these first three years for us have looked like dream dates where we dream about the future, or just having dinner on the back porch to know each other better, or going on long drives to explore new neighborhoods and look at home architecture as we dream about our one day home and one day kids. It has not mattered what it was, but being PRESENT together, and pouring that focused presence into our marriage, has given us a sweet first three years of not just being married, but knowing each other deeper. Above all, be PRESENT, and pursue your spouse with focused intensity, everyday, for long periods of time and ask God daily to step into your marriage.
II- FIGHT FOR UNITY AND CLARITY
Joshua and I like to call our arguments ‘strong conversations’. Ha! We are both Enneagram 8’s, and we are both stubborn, opinionated and very passionate. I understand that this is not everyone’s personalities, but it has been an adventure navigating our strong personalities through these first three years. However, no matter your Enneagram number, your personality type, or whether you like conflict or not, you WILL have to work through challenges in marriage. One of the things we have chosen to do in our marriage is FIGHT passionately for unity and clarity with each other. When we are mad, we don’t just say sorry and move on; we fight for clarity on WHY we were angered, and we fight for unity to come together before moving on. When one of us hurts the other, we will work to stop, and talk about gaining clarity around WHY one of us hurt the other, and we will talk about how we can have greater unity moving forward by understanding each other deeper. Fighting for unity and clarity doesn’t mean actual fighting or yelling, but it does means that you are so passionate about stewarding well this covenant of marriage, that you will work with everything you have to give the enemy NO foothold whatsoever. And what I have found is that footholds in marriage can look an awful lot like bitterness, or pride, or fear, or anger, or unresolved conversations, or hurts not talked about, or hidden sin, or insecurities. I don’t know WHAT it is for you right now, but what I do recommend is that you would take time this week to find ONE area of your marriage to fight for unity and clarity in. Digging up the dirt in a field BEFORE you plant seeds will yield good fruit in the season to come. Digging up the WHY’s in your marriage will give you good soil to plant seeds of fighting for unity and clarity so that you can yield good fruit in your marriage, even if it is hard, for the seasons to come.
III- INVITE MENTORS INTO YOUR LIFE
While we were dating, we knew inviting mentors into our marriage would be important, and it was something we would want to do. However, actually doing it takes time, energy, and intentionally. But what it has been to us is one of the greatest gifts to our marriage. We have been honored to walk life with marriages and couples 10, 20 30, 40, and even 50 years ahead of us. And while none of them have shared life shattering advice with us, they have invited us in, shared meals with us, and just done life with us in the everyday mundane things. They have wisdom that couples married 5 years don’t have. They have perspective that newlyweds don’t yet know. They have insight on changing seasons, and being ‘DINKs’, and raising kids, and becoming empty nesters, and giving a daughter away to marriage, and growing your career, and loving Jesus when it is hard, and loving your spouse when it is even harder. We see such good fruit from good, faithful, wise, truth-speaking mentors that we have invited into our marriage, and we are eager to see the mentors the Lord brings to us in Franklin, TN. There is NOTHING wrong with doing life with people your age and in your same season, but we were MADE to do life with those ahead of us so that we may be wise as well.
BONUS: HAVE SO MUCH FUN!
Life is short. Marriage is hard. Life is full of joy. God is good. Trials will come. Storms will cloud your life. Unexpected seasons will charge in. Marriage was designed to make us holy, not happy. But GOSH, it is also SO MUCH FUN. So whether you are in day 3 of marriage, year 3 or marriage, or decade 3 of marriage, I encourage you to have a BLAST with your spouse and make every day an opportunity to be known more, and know your spouse more.
So, here is to YOU; my dearest friend, my best pal, and my husband. Year three was full of SO many unexpected adventures, and I cannot WAIT to see what the Lord does in year four. I love you, Joshua Steven Craft.