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Marriage and Grace

September 4, 2009

This week Katy and I celebrated twenty years of marriage. We flew into Miami and drove down to the Florida Keys, spending four nights at Hawk’s Cay Resort on Duck Key. We went to Key West for a day of LobsterFest and enjoyed good food, good music and each other’s company. Twenty years ago when we got married we were young, naïve, broke and couldn’t afford a proper honeymoon so for our twentieth we decided to get away and enjoy the honeymoon we never had.

I needed this vacation and so did she. It felt great. No alarm clocks, no bedtimes, no sermon preparation, no patient phone calls (for Katy), no schedule. The restaurants on the grounds of the resort are at least as good as any other for several miles. The resort even had two separate swimming pools – one family friendly pool and one in the adults-only tranquility area. And if you’ve never been to the Keys, you need to know that the people carry a very laid-back attitude. Hakuna Matata, baby. You never feel pressed for time, harassed by speeding drivers or bound by the tyranny of unrealistic expectations.

And as I celebrated twenty years of marriage with a truly amazing woman, I couldn’t help but reflect on what it takes to be married for that length of time. If you are married for twenty years there will be moments of absolute bliss, pleasure bordering on paradise. There are also moments that feel like pure hell. There is profound grief. There are purgatorial seasons of repentance and shame. There are times you realize you’ve done something so stupid you can hardly imagine yourself doing it, and would never admit to anyone you know. There are arguments you lose. There are arguments you win. There are arguments you win and feel crappy about the way you won them. Mostly there are arguments that nobody wins. Your flaws, your foibles, your quirks and habits, your successes and failures are no longer your own but shared with your spouse.

And yet, in order to be married for twenty years there is a grace that transcends all of that. Grace you give, grace you receive, grace you share. And that grace is not easy. Transcendence is tremendously difficult business. I bear Katy’s secret shame within me, and she bears mine within her. We share those burdens together. She forgives behavior on my part that is thoughtless, stupid, habitual, and occasionally mean; and I do the same for her. In spite of all of our human brokenness I look at her knowing she is a person I’ve chosen, and she knows she has chosen me. Transcendent grace requires work – lots and lots and lots of work.

Because great relationships are not formed but forged – forged with tremendous heat, sweat, pressure, hard work and time.

And that causes me to reflect upon my relationship with Christ. His grace is a grace that transcends my brokenness. Not in an easy way but in a profoundly more real way. My brokenness is known and received – received with love and difficulty and worry and desire. I know he desires that I do better, that I be better, that I grow and become more. But that difficult, gritty, reality-based grace; the grace that transcends my shame, my flaws, my goofy me-ness; that’s what it’s all about. Christ’s love, like Katy’s, drives me to become a better man, a better human being, a better me.

Thank you, Katy, for twenty great years. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for loving who I am while hoping I will grow. Your love embraces, heals, and transcends my brokenness. I love you.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 4, 2009 8:13 pm

    congrats on 23 years and great perspective. glad you had a great vacation

  2. Mary Alice Cunningham permalink
    September 24, 2009 12:26 pm

    Will and Katy – Even though I have not known you for very long, I have been privileged to see a little glimpse of the love you have for each other. What an awesome example for those looking from the outside – friends, family and your kids. God has truly blessed you both.

  3. Mary Wunderlich permalink
    October 29, 2009 10:31 pm

    Will, I don’t know your wife but Roy & I just celebrated our 20th Anniversary on 9/23/09. Your thoughts and reflections are so truly accurate. I admire you as a pastor, now I admire you as a husband, too! I know the Lord is honored in your relationship with Katy and I praise Him for that!

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