by Vanessa Stimmel

This righteousness of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ for all those [Jew or Gentile] who believe [and trust in Him and acknowledge Him as God’s Son]. There is no distinction, since all have sinned and continually fall short of the glory of God, and are being justified [declared free of the guilt of sin, made acceptable to God, and granted eternal life] as a gift by His [precious, undeserved] grace, through the redemption [the payment for our sin] which is [provided] in Christ Jesus,

Romans 3:22-24 (AMP)

So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy [set apart, sanctified for His purpose] and well-beloved [by God Himself], put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience [which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper]; bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive. Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others].

Colossians 3:12-14 (AMP)

We stepped off the ferry and took a deep breath of fresh salt air.

“Where do you want to go for lunch?” I asked my husband.

We both smiled. It was our mini-babymoon before our second child arrived, and we were so relieved to be away, alone together. No nap schedule to follow, no scattered conversations, no distractions or other commitments. We unplugged and disconnected from everything and everyone but one another.

We felt like us again.

It had been a challenging year – perhaps our most challenging yet. A year filled with high high’s and low low’s. Three hundred and sixty five days packed with major career accomplishments and hard decisions, a new home and an irregular amount of things going wrong with said home, financial struggles, a toddler and a second pregnancy, with an extra sprinkling of relational stress.

Amidst all this, it was difficult to find the space to truly connect. Time and energy were both in short supply. And we were drawing into ourselves due to the sheer overwhelm. We sought Christ, yet in all honesty we allowed the distractions of life to make our walks with Jesus feel like swimming upstream. It was a dry season.

To make matters worse, our own deeply rooted issues had become increasingly evident amidst the recent turbulence of life. For example, my struggle with anxiety had melted into unfair expectations, which morphed into pride, blame, and anger towards my husband – all over the course of one year. How fickle we are.

As we held hands and walked to our hotel, I couldn’t help but soak in the relief I felt. It was a relief that stemmed from the reassurance that we were still us. As I felt the weight lift, I thanked God gently under my breath and deep in my heart for this timely moment, before we allowed the stresses of life seep any deeper into our relationship.

While we sat and ate lunch that day the Holy Spirit enabled me to look at my husband with fresh eyes – with His eyes. It was like a vale had been lifted. Who am I to judge him? Who am I to have placed myself and my needs above his? I caught a birds-eye-view of all the undeserved patience, gentleness, love, grace, and power Jesus has poured out on my life, and it was like a piercing arrow of conviction through my spirit. I felt my heart fill with admiration and compassion, as I saw him for the man God made him to be.

Yes, he’s broken, I thought. But so am I.

What freedom lies in that simple truth. We’re two broken and imperfect people, on the same journey, sharing life together. Such rest comes from recognizing that my husband cannot possibly complete me or provide for all my deepest needs. Nor can I do this for him. I tend to subtly forget this truth so often: only God can live up to the deepest needs and expectations of our hearts.

Grace flooded my body. Grace from the Lord. Grace for him. Grace for me. And peace knowing that the same vicious cycle we had been on could finally end. It was getting us nowhere, and we could let it go.

Knowing we will both fall short but that we will be there to lift each other up with love and truth, this is what marriage is about. Because of Jesus, regardless of any season that may come, we can often find the most fullness within our brokenness. Accepting that both we and our spouse are fractured will actually lead to the strongest mending.

What’s more: this is just a picture of what Christ wants to do in our walks with Him. In our flesh, we naturally gravitate away from Jesus. He longs to break through the fog in our hearts and circumstances of our lives – however many times it takes. So patient is He. He reaches out to take our hand and gently lead us back to intimacy with Him again and again. His beautiful grace acknowledges our profound brokenness, but because of Jesus His love sees us as perfectly righteous.

How often we wander. How easily we forget that the people and things of this world will never truly satisfy. So grab His hand. Go to Him. He is the only One who will always be perfect and never let us down. The only One who will ever, truly fill us and love us so beautifully.

Prone to wander,
Lord I feel it.
Prone to leave the God I love,
Here’s my heart, Lord,
take a seal it.
Seal it for thy courts above.

– Robert Robinson