My wife Dalia and I met with a young, engaged couple last week to listen to their story and offer some words of encouragement about their wedding (which will happen in a few short months) and more importantly their marriage. As I listened to them, I was really glad that we took the time to invest in their relationship. Though they are relatively young, they are old enough that they have each accumulated possessions independently—unlike Dalia and I who had very little when we married at the tender age of 23 and 22 years of age respectively.
Early in the conversation we asked this young couple, what did they anticipate to be the most difficult part of their upcoming married life. They both agreed that it would be merging their two separate homes and household possessions into one shared home that they both feel belongs to them a a couple rather than “his” and “hers”. I’m thankful that they are thinking through some of these nuances now. But, there is a lesson here for all of us.
As earnestly as I could muster, I shared with them a story of my son who at about five years of age was having vision problems. Dalia and I took our son to a renowned pediatric ophthalmologist. After examining him, she applauded us for seeking corrective lenses him even at such a young age. She went on to explain that by intervening early our son’s eyes will develop to their full potential over the course of his life. With corrective lenses, his eyes will perform to their full biological potential. Of course, as parents we were glad to hear this.
But, I was confused.
Both Dalia and I have worn eyeglasses for most of our lives. But, we didn’t begin to wear them until later in childhood/teenage years. I had never considered the idea that our vision may not be what it could have been had we donned eyeglasses sooner. I never understood the physiological process that is happening at a young age as your eyes are learning to see. This probably at least partially explains why Dalia’s eyes are so much worse than mine. I started wearing them at a younger age.
There is a compelling message here that I shared with this young couple about marriage. They need to apply ‘corrective lenses’ to their marriage in the early formative days.
Unfortunately, Dalia and I did not get such wise counsel in our early years of marriage. As a result, we made a lot of mistakes. We said a lot of hurtful things to one another. Though we are a very different couple today with a reservoir of strengths, some of those early mistakes continue to surface even today.
Here is what I know. The damage that we did in the early years of our marriage impacted the trajectory of our marriage. Though God’s grace abounds, Dalia and I may never reach what could have been in our marriage. That doesn’t mean that we don’t do a lot of great things because we do. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have an amazing story of love and intimacy because we do. It doesn’t mean that we haven’t experienced amazing redemption as a couple through Christ because we have. But, we are also human.
During a run this morning, the Lord dropped a message in my spirit as I listened to the recording artist Tasha Cobb Leonard’s song ‘Break Every Chain’. We often think of these chains as burdens that we carry (e.g., relational challenges, health issues, addictions). But, the Lord says that these chains often take the form of self-limiting beliefs about what is possible in our lives.
Chained beliefs keep us from taking risks to push beyond our comfort zone.
Chained beliefs restrict us from reaching out to progressive couples that will hold us accountable for growth.
Chained beliefs limit our self-talk to that which seems right in our own eyes rather than what God makes available to those who believe in his abundance.
Through the power of Christ, we have the ability to break every chain—bondages and boundaries. God has new territory for you to possess as a couple But, you must break the chain in order to take possession of your promised land. Scripture (Hebrews 12:1) reminds us to put such encumbrances aside,Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
The message that I have for this young couple is both simple and deep. Everything you do now to demonstrate Christ in your engagement and marriage sets you on a trajectory to optimize what you are capable of achieving as a couple. The sky is the limit for them.
But, the message is just a valid for those of us who have been married for decades. Like the elephants who are caged, tied, and punished to domesticate them, most Christian marriages have lost sufficient willpower to assert their full potential. Christ wants to be the chain breaker in your marriage. For many of us, He has already removed your chains. He just needs you to act like it. This is a message of graceful redemption in that Christ’s death liberates us to also rise to unimagined heights.
Listen to this powerful recording by Tasha Cobb Leonard and then consider what will you do as a couple when you are truly free?