Humanity is broken. It’s a basic fact. The world struggles, besieged by natural disasters, cancer, heartache, malnutrition, prejudice, and on and on. There is good in the world, but even when we see good, we are prepared for the “other shoe” and the next news report of disaster. But what does all of this have to do with my marriage?
Marriage in a fallen world looks different than marriage would in paradise. But we often act as if married life should be paradise itself. We are angered when our spouse sins against us. We are shocked and appalled when the trash isn’t taken out or socks are strewn on the floor. We get prickly when our spouse doesn’t put our needs before his or her own or when harsh words are spoken.
It’s good to have expectations in a marriage, but we also need to be realistic. We live in a fallen world, and our Christian marriages will always exist in a fallen world with fallen people, this side of heaven. We have to expect our spouses to be their wonderful selves, but we also have to expect them to be sinful human beings who mess up time and again. We also shouldn’t expect any less of ourselves—God’s created wonderfulness coupled with fallen and sinful words, responses, and mistakes.
Fallen and sinful isn’t marriage failure; it’s marriage opportunity . . .
When the reality of brokenness meets God working in our lives – this is grace. And Christ does not simply just give us grace. John 1:16 tells us we have received “grace upon grace.” Or as the NIV translation tells us, we have “received grace in place of grace already given.” Grace flowing in and through and around our marriages and our homes. What a beautiful picture! I can mentally see it as baptismal waters poured over my head and the head of my spouse and continuing to run in our daily lives to and from each other. Our home and hearts, filled to the brim with God’s grace.
But first I need to see my husband as broken. Not broken to fix him, not broken like the world would see him, but broken and fallen just like me. We will say hurtful things. We will be selfish. We will be thoughtless. The difference is in how we respond when this happens. I notice it makes a difference when I look my husband in the eye when I’m starting to get upset with him. Instead of stomping off and slamming some cabinets, this signal reminds me that he is human. We are both fallen and in need of grace from each other. This is my opportunity to shine Christ’s grace to bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.
He is fallen and I am fallen, but remembering that means forgiveness is possible.
Deaconess Heidi Goehmann, MSW, LSW, deaconess to ministry wives for Grace Place Wellness Ministries