June is a very special month for my husband and I, it was 5 years ago this month that he called me to tell me I was his wife (June 12, 2012), this is the month we got married 3 years ago (June 28, 2014) and it’s also my birthday month (June 20th). So, to celebrate and in honor of our 3rd year anniversary, I decided to do a blog post on relationships this month.

These 3 years have been full of joys, challenges, growth, lessons, death to our will and so much more. What God has done in our marriage in these years cannot be replaced and we know it is only to build and solidify the foundation for where He is taking us. Marriage is not meant for glamor, for show, or to fill a void or desire. God puts marriages together for PURPOSE. I’m no expert on relationships or on marriage, but my prayer is that as I share with you some of what I’ve learned that it will encourage you whether you are married or desire to one day be married. Also, a lot of these things I knew before getting married but now I know them even more because I’ve experienced it. And this is not the end all, be all of what’s most important in marriage, these are just some things that I’ve learned so far. (These points are in no particular order).

  1. It rains on the just as well as the unjust.

This is something I knew prior to getting married, but boy, there is nothing like actually going through it…. Everything is not going to be perfect. I need to repeat that, everything is NOT going to be perfect! You will face tough times just like everybody else. Yes, God may have ordained you to be together and you may have done it in a godly way but you will still face test, trails, and tribulations together just like all married couples. Doing it God’s way does not make you immune to trials. In fact, things may get so tough that the enemy (and your flesh) will sometimes make you wonder if God put you together to begin with, lol. Your faith will be tested and your marriage will be attacked but standing on God’s word and remembering that God put you together will help you to press past it. This brings me to the next point…

  1. Remember and hold on to the testimony of how God brought you two together.

When you do face trials, one the biggest things that will help you is to remember how God brought you together and that it was God who brought you together. When your husband/wife gets on your nerves (which they will at times) or when you discover things about your spouse or marriage that you didn’t know previously (which you will), or when the enemy tries to magnify a certain issue in your mind (financial, health, family issues, etc.), remembering your testimony that GOD ordained your union and brought you together and not you, will help a lot. When I’ve faced difficult times in my marriage, big or small, God always reminds me that He put us together and since He put us together, the things we face and the things that come as a surprise to us are not a surprise to Him. He saw everything that we would ever go through before we even said, “I do” and He already sees the end of those matters before they are even fully resolved. Being assured that God put you together helps you to confidently walk through life with your spouse.

  1. Everything you learned in Christ in your singleness, you will need in your marriage.

This is another one of those things I knew before getting married but now being on the other side, I realize just how important it really is. Don’t be in such a rush to get married that you miss or skip lessons that you will need later. It’s true that everything God has you walking in now and the things He teaches you along the way are needed for future seasons. I’m sure we’ve all heard it said so many times but we let it go over our head at times because we’re so anxious to get out of our present circumstances and/or the next thing looks so much better. I can think back to seasons in my singleness where had I not gotten the lessons or submitted to God back then, I would be a burden and nuisance to my husband now. There are things that God deposited in my spirit back then through various situations, and through time in the word and in prayer, that allow me to be able to stand with my husband today. Don’t be so anxious for marriage that you miss what God wants to do in you today which will prepare you for marriage and other important things tomorrow.

  1. Your present friendships will prepare you for marriage.

If it’s easy for you to quit on your friends it’ll be easy for you to quit on a husband. Many people want God to add a spouse to them but they’re not long-suffering with their friends and they can’t love or endure with someone through their issues and flaws.

One of the ways God prepared me for marriage was through my friendships with sisters in Christ. He showed me a lot about me. He showed me that I would easily want to cut someone off if I didn’t like something about them instead of loving them through it and praying for them. I had to die to me and realize that God was trying to mature me through the issues we went through together. I learned a lot and gained wisdom on how to deal with people, what to share, what not to share, how to be sensitive to God and led by Him even in regular casual conversations, how to resolve conflicts in a godly way, how close to allow someone to get to me, how to let God lead my friendships and so much more. It was hard, my friends and I had arguments, we had fights (none physical of course lol), and we shed tears, but these were things that I HAD to go through and master. By the time I got engaged and eventually married, I knew how to properly handle conflicts/disagreements with my husband and how to let God handle each situation. (And I’m still learning this today). What God taught me through my friendships didn’t only prepare me for marriage, it also prepared me for dealing with people and their different personalities in ministry.

If you’re the kind of person that intentionally likes to stay to yourself or if you have a habit of cutting people off for the slightest thing, you’re going to want to do the same thing when it comes to your spouse.  You can’t skip through these hard lessons and think you can jump straight to marriage. Why would God trust you with the soul of a spouse if He can’t even trust you to be a good friend? Everyone has their issues, but are you willing to endure with someone through theirs as Christ is enduring with you? (The key is knowing if God is sending that person in your life to prune you or if the enemy sent them as a distraction/stumbling block. Either way you love them and pray for them…and yes, God does send friends/people in your life to prune you and visa versa, God doesn’t send friends just so you can have a shopping and hang out buddy; friendships have PURPOSE).

  1. The tests, process, purging, etc. do not stop after saying “I do.”

With all the marriage and relationship craze going on in the body of Christ today, I really think that some people believe that when they get married they’ll finally be able to rest their head, relax and never have to worry about much again. Some people view marriage as their final resting place, their “promise land” where all their wishes and desires come true, where they find all they’ve ever wanted, needed, and lacked in a spouse and marriage. And some even think that getting married means they’ve reached this place of perfection and super maturity in God.

But let me burst your bubble really quick! NONE OF THAT IS TRUE. That is a false view of marriage that has been painted by the enemy to get people to idolize marriage more than God and to get people to seek God and follow after Him for the sole intention of marriage. You’re going to be in for a very rude awakening after you say, “I do.” It’s better to walk into something realistically than to walk into it with your head in the clouds. Don’t get me wrong, marriage is honestly beautiful and has many benefits. I love being married to my husband and I love having someone to do life with on such an intimate level. But in no way, does that mean marriage will cancel out the process. What process? The process of sanctification and preparation for the work God wants you to do for His Kingdom and most importantly for eternity.

Don’t let the enemy trick you, after “I do,” God still has tests, trials, purging, cleansing, renewing of the mind, etc., for you and your spouse. You are not perfect when you get married, and just because God let you get married that does not mean that you are super mature Christian (there are people who God hasn’t allowed to get married yet that are more mature than those He has allowed to get married, their time for marriage simply has no come yet). None of us will be perfect until we get to heaven, so He will continue to process us so that we can make it in. Your marriage and the things He allows you to go through, will be used as part of His process for you, for HIS glory. Don’t become spiritually lazy thinking that you chased after God in your singleness just to get this “reward” and now that you’ve gotten it, you can relax in God. God has a process with your name on it before and after “I do” because He loves you too much to let you die off spiritually. Your process may not look like mine, but it refines us just the same so we look more like our Daddy. This takes me to point number 6.

  1. Marriage in Christ is not about getting a big beautiful house with a white picket fence, two kids, a dog, and cars —- aka the “American Dream.”

Although I knew this prior to marriage, it’s been ingrained in me even more since marriage and I think it’s important to reiterate it in this post. My husband and I have gone through quite a process in these 3 years of marriage and it has been very humbling, it’s exposed things in my heart that I didn’t even know were there, it has shown me my limits, exposed how little I love, challenged my surrender, and caused me to see me for ME. I expected God to do certain things by a certain time and answer certain prayers right away simply because we were married and when you’re married you’re “supposed to” have certain things (according to the world’s standards). Boy was I wrong! God tore up my plans and my expectations of how I thought things should be. Some things He did do later on, but other things He has said “not yet.”

Don’t expect to have or live the American Dream when you get married. God may start you from the very bottom on up. Or you may start off ok but then He may take you through a process and have you start back from scratch simply to get the glory in your marriage. When we first got married we didn’t have a car, we were looking around and was actually about to purchase one we had found. A few days after we found the car we were going to purchase, I got laid off from my job (this was a month into our marriage). Six months later my husband lost his jobs. God immediately threw us into a trial and we had no choice but to trust Him and walk through it. When my husband lost his jobs, he started looking for work right away. He went on interviews and had job offers but nothing came through for 9 whole months. There was a point during the 9 months when God told him to be still, stop looking and to simply wait on Him to provide the job. He obeyed and didn’t apply anywhere. After 9 months, he got a job offer from a great organization and he’s been working there ever since…AND we were finally able to get a car. Those 9 months were very hard and challenging but God provided every single month; when our savings ran out, He began to have people give to us out of nowhere when they didn’t even know we were in need. Our phones were never turned off and we always had food to eat.  God really used that time to test and build our faith like never before.

If your idea of marriage is having everything together all the time, then you won’t wait on God when He says to wait or let go of whatever He may tell you to let go of. We had certain goals we wanted to reach at the beginning of our marriage, we made plans and set timelines but God had other things in mind. He shook those things apart and taught us first hand that marriage in God is not about those things. We know that eventually we will achieve all of our goals but His will for our marriage and our lives will always come first. The things that God may take you through in your marriage for the sole purpose of bringing Him glory may take you completely off the course that you wanted to be on. It may have you looking crazy and may push your “goals” back because He has other goals for you to reach. Let your number one goal be to bring Him glory through whatever plans He has for you, not to have the American Dream.

  1. Your love for one another grows over time.

Just like when you first come to Christ and overtime you grow closer to Him, know His ways more, know what pleases Him, and grow in greater love for Him, it is the same way in marriage. The longer you are married the stronger your love for one another should be because you know your husband/wife more as time passes than you did before. You discover more about who they are and your union as one unit grows, matures, and develops with time. Just as your bond with Christ grows, your bond with your spouse grows. The longer I’ve been married to my husband, the more I love him, the more I appreciate him, and the more I become accustomed to his ways and know him deeper. The more we experience together, the more our bond grows. I loved my husband when we first got married, but I love him more now and even deeper than I did back then.

Don’t compare your marriage to couples that have been married for longer. Their love has had more time to mature. Don’t expect your love and intimacy to be like couples who have been together for 10, 20, or 30 years. Don’t compare your husband/wife to someone who has been married much longer and has had more experience in the role of a husband/wife. Instead, look to them as something you want to aspire to be. When you first get married there will be a lot you won’t know about each other just yet and there will be areas of your spouse you won’t exactly love or understand, and you’ll be completely new to what it means to be a husband/wife. Don’t let those things discourage you, you have years to grow and mature. When you say, “I do” at the altar, your love won’t be perfectly packaged with a bow on top, it will be more like an empty box that you will have years to fill and decorate as you choose. The more you go through together, the better that box should look and it should be filled with more love than before. Enjoy the journey of growing in love together.

  1. Everything you face together should birth greater intimacy between the two of you.

There’s nothing like going through life’s ups and down with someone and sticking it out TOGETHER. It builds a bond that is difficult to break. Every situation my husband and I face and overcome together, ultimately brings us closer. While we are going through it, it may be difficult but the end result is often beautiful. The part of your vows that says, “for better or worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health…,” when those low moments come, they should make your marriage stronger. God uses those times not only to do a work in you spiritually but to strengthen and solidify your union as one. No one knows the ins and out of your marriage or all that you’ve faced together like the two of you. You can share stories of things you’ve experienced in your marriage wit others but still, no other human on earth really knows the fullness of it all like your spouse.

Intimacy doesn’t just come from what’s done in the bedroom, what also builds intimacy is what happens when you leave the bedroom and have to face life TOGETHER. Don’t allow the things you face to tear you apart. Like I said in point # 1, every couple will go through highs and lows, but when your marriage is built on Christ, all of it should cause your intimacy to grow. I know firsthand that certain situations can be scary and overwhelming but if you know that God is with you then you know that it will turn out for your good. Seeing my husband continue to walk with me after 3 years of highs and lows lets me know that he loves me and will be at my side no matter what. It makes me feel more secure and confident in his love for me and I see daily that he is the man of God that he claims to be. He could respond any kind of way but he chooses to trust God and keep loving me. There were times when we both didn’t respond well to certain trials and situations we faced but we trusted God and God dealt with each of us. Now, at this 3-year mark, I can look back and honestly say that ALL of what we’ve gone through has brought us so much closer. And of course, there is always room for growth and improvement but I thank God for what He has done in us thus far.

  1. Seeking wise counsel is very important, do not forsake it.

Getting married does not make you grown, it doesn’t mean you know all that there is to know about living together as one and it does not mean you are above seeking counsel. Yes, marriage is sacred, it is between the two of you and you should protect it at all costs, but don’t become so protective and so secretive that you never get advice from people you trust or seek out counsel when you’re having a difficult time. At one point or another you’re going to need to seek wise counsel together. There will be situations that you simply need an older, wiser, more seasoned person to give insight and help with. It may be another couple that you trust, your pastor or a marriage counselor. You won’t be a perfect husband/wife, you learn as you go and wise counsel will be needed as you face various situations. Don’t think you have all the tools you need, be humble enough to ask for help. Wise counsel can see things that neither of you can see and give insight that may end certain conflicts. Don’t get too grown when you get married, be like a child and allow God to interject through wise counselors.

  1. Continue to be led by God.

If you started off led by God, continue being led by God. While we were engaged, someone told me something that will always stick with me, they said: “don’t continue in the flesh what was started in the Spirit.” I KNOW that the Holy Spirit led my husband and I from the time God revealed He was my husband, to when he approached me, to when he proposed, and till today. I know God’s hand is in this union through and through. We can’t take it out of God’s hands and do with it what we want or begin to be led by the flesh. We know that our marriage has purpose greater than us and we know that God’s desire is for us is to stay connected to Him (and not in form or fashion but for real). God forbid if we forget about our foundation and begin to do things our way, begin to create our own vision and purpose for your marriage and just be good church goers. One thing I told my husband before we got engaged was that I didn’t want to just be a bench warmer in the Kingdom, I didn’t want to be a mediocre Christian and I didn’t want our marriage to be devoid of the presence of God. While I was single and living for God, I aimed to be led by His Spirit in everything and to please Him in everything I did, I wanted to continue to do the same in marriage. That was my husband’s desire as well – we were on one accord.

Many people start off good, but then the cares of life begin to consume them and they are no longer Spirit led or really on fire for God or the things of God. They just still go to church and believe in God but if you look beneath the surface they have begun to die spiritually. Don’t let marriage consume you and dry out your desire for God. Unfortunately, all some people chase God for is a marriage and when they finally get it they stop pursuing God and begin to pursue and idolize their spouse and family. I didn’t just want God to get the glory at my wedding, I want Him to get the glory out of my entire marriage. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. You may have started out well and Spirit led, but you ended flesh led. But if you’re still alive it’s never too late to get it right. Remember the original vision that GOD gave you for your marriage and family, I’m sure it includes being a light for Him in this generation. But you can’t be a light for God if you’re no longer led by His Holy Spirit. Don’t let your greatest focus for your marriage be getting a house, cars, starting businesses, building your finances, etc. – those things are good, there’s nothing wrong with doing them or desiring them because you should want to take care of your family. But let your greatest focus be to please God and be led by HIS Spirit, even as you do those other things. God can only get the maximum glory out of your marriage if you’re led by Him as husband and wife.

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I hope this post is an encouragement to you. My husband and I are far from perfect and our marriage is far from perfect, but we strive to let God perfect us daily. It’s only by God’s grace that we’ve seen 3 years of marriage and it’s His grace that will continue to keep us. When God speaks a word, He watches over it to perform it (Isaiah 55:11). We know He has spoken a word over our marriage and that He ordained it, He continues to watch over that word with each passing season. If you’re single, I pray that you wait on God to bring the person He has for you – your life will be much better because of it. If you’re married I pray that God’s will be done in your marriage and the He would get the glory out of it for the times we are living in.

 

3 years collage

The Johnsons

Thank you all so much for your prayers, kind words, and encouragement through the years, we appreciate it. ❤

 

 

 

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