There has been a lot of talk about tattoos in my house lately. No one got a tattoo, nor is anyone getting one in the near future. They have just been the topic of conversation.
On a recent date night, my husband and I somehow launched into an extended conversation about the benefits and drawbacks of having something permanently etched into your skin. The discussion ranged from the silly, envisioning various relatives with tattoos of the highly unlikely variety, to the more serious, what would we say to the kids if they wanted to get a tattoo.
Now, this is not an article about tattoos, and I hold no excessively strong opinions on the topic, but in the midst of this extended conversation with my husband I had a startling revelation . . .
After fifteen years of marriage, I had just found something that we have very different opinions on.
So startling was this revelation to me that two days later, I looked across the table at my darling husband and a voice deep in my head said, “What was I thinking?! We’re so different!”
This phenomenon is happening in marriages all across the nation, every day, at many and various times. It’s part of the life cycle of love, if you will. When these revelations happen, we have two choices: to hold fast and embrace the differences, or to let disdain for something different wash over us and eventually check out or walk away.
You see, at some point, we fell in love. Our eyes caught our spouse’s across the room and a spark lit. Or maybe the conversation started, and two years later a spark finally fired. However it happened, love entered into our hearts and we took the plunge. We stood at an altar. We said, “I do. I will. Yes!” All the while thinking, “Oh my goodness, we have so much in common! We love the same things! We could talk for hours about mutually interesting topics! I have to spend my life with this person!”
Your story may be slightly different, but most of us, at one point, married because of commonalities, not differences, and so the love cycle began. We won’t get into all of it, but somewhere on the path of love, each marriage will have a tattoo discussion. Not a literal discussion about tattoos, but rather a conversation that reminds us, “Oh wait, I did not marry myself. I married a different person.”
The more drastic versions of this process look more like the person who wakes up one day, rolls over, and says, “I don't even know you anymore.” This is a strong seduction of the enemy, friends. The good news is that in Christ, we can respond differently.
Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
We are each a masterpiece of the Lord, created and knit by Him. Every hair is numbered, every day of our life recorded, in His book (Matthew 10:30; Psalm 139:16). Look at your spouse today; write a note or tell your spouse, “You are a masterpiece of His creating.” God is so creative! Praise Him for that work.
Genesis 2:24–25 tells us, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
Hold fast. Isn’t that the truth? In a world with a thousand different messages on marriage, God’s message is ever true: Hold fast. Cling to your spouse. He or she does not look like us. We may have a lot in common, but we were not meant to be exact replicas. When we discover the differences, we can certainly hash them out and even come to resolution and compromise when necessary, but we can also embrace each other and hold fast to each other as unique gifts to each other, by a creative God. In my mind, verse 25 is essential to understanding verse 24: “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
Naked. Unashamed. If we cannot be naked, be ourselves, stripped of all the societal small-talk niceties, able to share our inmost thoughts and beliefs, able to be right and wrong and everything in between, then we have opened the door to shame. And that is something God did not intend for our marriages.
Marriage is, we are told in this verse, a place of grace.
Embrace the differences. Let them be naked and unashamed.
Here is my love note to my spouse:
“You are a masterpiece, darling. A work of the Lord, whose love for you far surpasses even my own. I pray that our relationship is a safe place for you, a place of grace in your life. Please know that I always value you, even when we disagree or see things differently. I’m holding tightly to what God has given us in this life together. I love you.”
Feel free to steal it! But more important, take a moment to thank God for making and molding your marriage. And embrace the differences.