A Dim Reflection: Why Marriage isn’t the Happy Ending

// Week 7 of “Waiting + Dating: a 7 Week Guide to Godly Relationships //


{Links to Week 1, Week 2 + Week 3Week 4Week 5 + Week 6}

Watching this final clip from our engagement video, it might look like I got my happy ending.

In some ways I did. Clay was everything on my list and more. He is everything I prayed for and more. He really is the godly leader, the pursuer of my heart and the pursuer of God’s heart that I always hoped for. The three and a half years we have been together have been the most joy-filled years of my life.

But in many ways I haven’t gotten my happy ending. In no way has our marriage been marked by “rainbows and butterflies” or newlywed bliss. We have trudged through health issues, chronic pain and depression. We have walked the tightrope of finding the balance between blending two lives, personalities, limitations, needs and desires. We have faced unexpected job transitions, seasons of waiting, and loss.

This life is difficult. It’s not guaranteed to be easy. No matter how wonderful and godly our spouse is, we will never find our true happy ending here–in this fallen world with all sorts of trail and heartache and pain and tragedy. The only true “happily ever after” ending is that which awaits us in Heaven when the Revelation prophecy is fulfilled–when we will be united with our Bridegroom in Christ and enter into perfectly restored relationship with our God.

Earthly marriage is a gift. It’s a beautiful reflection of the very way God describes how he loves us–as a groom loves his bride. And yet it’s just that–a reflection of The Marriage we will have with our Savior in Heaven. And a dim one at that as our imperfect spouse will never love us with the perfect love of our Father.

Singleness is an “in between”–a season of waiting–and a difficult one, but it’s important to remember that all of our lives are a great “in between” of this greater promise we have been given and it’s fulfillment to come. As we pursue an earthly relationship, it’s by strengthening our eternal relationship that prepares the way for our future marriage to shine all the more brightly as a reflection of God’s love to all others around.

So take heart and find hope in the perfect love you’ve already been given. Pursue righteousness as you pursue relationship, all the while awaiting the happy ending of the greatest Love Story of which you are a part.


Ponder in Prayer

Have you painted a picture in your mind that marriage is the happy ending? Have you set an expectation that it will be the end of your waiting?

Ask God to remind you daily that the true marriage for which you long for is with Him and that all of this life is marked by waiting for our wedding day with Him.

In the meantime, ask Him to guide you in wisdom as you seek out an earthly marriage that reflects His great love for us and that honors Him every step of the way on the journey of waiting + dating.


Knowledge of Truth

In this world we will have trouble. But take heart, He has overcome the world. In John 16:33 Jesus shares this truth with us. This life in not guaranteed to be easy; in fact, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be difficult. And yet we have a promise that Jesus Christ, through His life and death, has overcome the world, has conquered the grave, has defeated death and declared the ultimate victory. Can I get an amen?!

As you walk through the trials and the heartache of singleness, as you traverse the uncertainties and obstacles along the way, would you cling tightly to this promise.

He has “already but not yet” overcome it. God has already written the ending to His Love Story. It’s spelled out in the pages of the final chapter of His Book. Revelation 21:4 tells us that “He will wipe every tear from [our] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

This is the promise to come. And yet we await it’s fulfillment. Our lives are lived in this state of  “in between”–in this “already but not yet.” As we wait for our true happy ending, would the eternal hope we have always outshine the darkness of our earthly trials.

His love never fails. It’s repeated over and over again in Psalm 136–his love endures forever, his love endures forever. Another version reads, for his steadfast love endures forever, for his steadfast love endures forever.

We will never find a love on this earth from a human being that never fails us. No matter how perfect for us they may be, no spouse will ever love us perfectly because no human is perfect {Romans 3:10, Romans 3:23}. And yet we have access to relationship with a God who love us perfectly, whose love never fails, and whose steadfast love endures forever. How great is that?

Remember this truth when the journey of singleness gets long. When the road gets tough and your feet and soul grow weary, remember that the God of the Universe who knows your every heart’s desire loves you perfectly. He will never give up on you; so don’t give up on Him. Cling tightly to His promises, walk steadfast on His path of righteousness, honor His design for romantic relationships, and He will not let you down.

The road is not guaranteed to be easy, but the path is guaranteed to bring life {Isaiah 26:7, Isaiah 42:16, Proverbs 4:26, Hebrews 12:13, Jeremiah 31:9}.


Walking in Wisdom

Practice viewing your life from where God sits on His throne. When I’m going through a difficult time, I like to close my eyes and picture myself sitting on a “mini throne” to the left of God’s great throne. I imagine sitting next to Him, seeing the world from His point of view, and it always fills me with peace and perspective.

High above it all, God is sovereign. He sees the bigger picture. He views our lives in the span of eternity and not simply our lifetime here. So often we get caught up in our circumstances and forget to remember they are simply a tiny piece in the grander scheme of life and all that God is at work doing. Keeping God’s perspective at the forefront of our minds can really help the waiting–whether in singleness or otherwise–seem less treacherous. It can help fill us with hope in the midst of the unknown, and guide us in strength when we would otherwise feel weary.

Lay the foundation for a brighter reflection of God’s love in your future marriage. As you walk through waiting and dating, so many of the lessons you are learning and ways in which you are growing closer to and relying more heavily on God are actually preparing you for marriage. Write them down. Thank God for the growth and for all he is doing to prepare you–and your future spouse–for the journey you will one day embark on together.

Don’t waste the wilderness. Memorize Scripture. Pray for more fruits of the Spirit to be grown in your life. Arm yourself for future battles with the armor of God {Ephesians 6}. One day your marriage will shine all the brighter because of this very {sometimes dark} season or waiting + dating.

I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. – Isaiah 45:3

My favorite thing about this screenshot above is how you can see our reflection in the puddle of water below.  What a perfect picture of our earthly marriages with God’s love as the full and real version above. Colossians 13:12 tells us–

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

Our human minds cannot fathom the fullness of God’s love for us. It’s as if we see His love for us as a dim reflection in a mirror. But one day we will come face to face with our Savior in Heaven and we will see the fullness of His love. Similarly, our earthly marriages are a dim reflection of His perfect love for us–but a beautiful reflection at that. We have an opportunity through our relationships to shine as an example of God’s love to so many others.

To those who wait in singleness, to those who long to date in wisdom, may you fix your eyes on the One who loves you perfectly as you strive to love like Jesus through the journey of waiting + dating. As you focus on your relationship with your true Bridegroom, may you be equipped to better love your future bride or groom. And as you receive God’s great love for you, may your future marriage shine all the more brightly as a reflection of His love to all who are blessed to witness it.

And through it all, through it all, would it all be used to bring glory and honor to the One who pursues us, loves us and gave everything for us to be able to be in relationship with Him.

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