the best things in life aren’t free

“You are mine; forever mine.” – Joshua Radin, In Your Hands

I endured a long road of singleness before God brought my husband into my life. Our wedding day, April 23, 2016, was a day for which I waited… for three decades.

I often cursed the road of singleness and dating. It was full of so much loneliness, struggle, and heartache. And then once I met and began to date Clay, I found myself walking another difficult road of both self-control and relinquishing control of the timeline of our love story into God’s hands {and Clay’s!}

Once married I got to experience the fullness of the freedom of marriage. {This above photo was the moment Clay and I had after we had just walked down the aisle, one during which I quite literally exhaled… It was a physical exhale that signified the emotional exhale that is saying “I do.” Of knowing you will never again have to navigate the crazy world of waiting and dating. Oh, what a freeing moment that was.} And on our honeymoon I reflected on the journey it took to get there.

While I may have only been three days into marriage, I believe the words I wrote are worth sharing today.

. . . . . . .

April 26, 2016.

They say the best things in life are free. And well, I truly feel that way about life with Clay. Granted, right now we are sitting on the balcony of our private bungalow over the most clear blue water I’ve ever seen. And let’s be honest–it’s far from free. But being–just being with Clay–and now being his wife! (so fun to say that!) is truly the best, most freeing thing in the world.

Husband. Clay is my husband. Finally my husband. Oh, how I’ve longed for the day to call him that. Oh, how truly relieved I feel to call him that. In dating we had so many walls up, and even in engagement we still had up walls–we had to. We had to protect our purity as we strived to live out the relationship we believed God had designed for us.

But now? Well now, it’s the most glorious, wonderful, free adventure with this man that I love. We no longer have walls–only a vast expanse of openness between us, an infinite amount of love and complete freedom to express it, and a never-ending number of days together that lie ahead–so long as we both shall live.

If I could tell the world just one thing it wouldn’t be that the best things in life are free. It would be that the best things in life have quite the cost.

It was so costly to enter into a dating relationship with Clay with the self-control to honor God in our living out of a relationship designed by Him. It was so costly to wait for years while all my other friends walked down the aisle in white and had beautiful babies. It was so costly to hold out in expressing the fullness of our love for each other as we grew closer to marriage.

So costly, but worth every bit of the price.

For now, in marriage, I have seen and experienced the fullness and richness of marriage centered in Christ, founded on His principles, and in constant pursuit of bringing Him glory. I have experienced the complete peace of knowing I have chosen to marry a man that will honor, cherish, and protect me and continue to guard my heart. I have known the goodness of the Lord and the generosity of His faithfulness in our faithfulness as He’s chosen to bless and reward our marriage–this third day of marriage, but marriage no less. And I have nothing but complete and eager expectation for the days and weeks and months to come with this man.

I am honored to have been given the grace to sacrifice and pay the cost of a godly relationship with this man. And I am overjoyed to be so blessed to be a living testament to His great goodness and abounding love as Clay and I share our love story with others.

. . . . . . .

Clay and I by no means did dating perfectly. We made mistakes. We struggled. We failed at times. And we believe that God’s grace covers all. And yet, we constantly struggled and endeavored to honor God with our dating relationship in an effort to not simply receive “cheap grace.”

In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer talks about the different between “cheap grace” and “costly grace.” Of these he says:

“Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner…
Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin…

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field;
for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has…

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow,
and it is 
grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.
It is costly because it costs a man his life,
and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life…
and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.” 

It is cheap grace to “slip up” in your effort for physical purity in a dating relationship, and simply return to such slipping time and time again without taking intentional action to change your patterns. While engaged, Clay and I actually created a “purity contract” which laid out specific physical boundaries and signed it. Again, we didn’t uphold it perfectly, but we strived with all our hearts, minds, and bodies to do so.

In his book The Sacred Search, Gary Thomas talks of how the “cost” in dating relationships actually demonstrates true godly love–a love that pays the cost of holding back in expressing one’s desire for the other until it is wise–a sadly foreign concept in this world in which we live.

“We give too generously what is useless to our friend – i.e., easy displays of affection–and then we are too stingy in giving the ‘more costly gifts,’ i.e., sacrificially reining in our feelings until we know we can back them up.”

While none of us will be able to do life or dating or marriage perfectly, without stain or blemish, would we be a people who seek costly grace in our dating relationships, costly grace in our marriages, and costly grace in our lives. Would we be a people who live wisely, live patiently, and live faithfully. And would we leave behind that which the world settles for that is “cheap” in regards to romantic relationships in exchange for the “cost” of running toward and striving to attain God’s absolute best and purest design.

. . . . . . . .

Tomorrow is July 4, a day we celebrate our freedom. Would we remember that just as the freedom of our country came with quite a cost, so does the freedom found in the gift of marriage.

To all my single ladies and friends who are navigating the dating world, take heart on the journey. Remember what lies ahead. And allow the hope of what’s to come to fill you with all peace, joy, and persistence along the way.

From a friend who traversed quite a journey to get to marriage, let me humbly remind you that the road of singleness, waiting and dating {and even engagement} is worth every grueling step, every tear cried, and every act of faith required to get to the destination for which you long–a wedding to your long-awaited bridegroom and a marriage to a man after God’s own heart, someone with whom you have strived to live a godly life with and someone you will continue to strive to life a godly life with… until death do you part.

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