Being in a relationship is about finding someone you can struggle well with. If you can’t struggle well, it’s easy to walk away. That’s what I’ve learned watching my Ma and Pa work out 36 years of problems presenting themselves. I witnessed when pain and pride interrupted love with it’s tension, there was always a choice to press in or pull back.
As iron sharpens iron, the collision of two distinctly different mindsets can spark some major fireworks. If done right, the refining process can be a beautiful thing. When both are committed to communicate and learn, the clashes can make a marriage stronger, build character, and deepen faith. It’s a necessary part of life.
To desire a comfortable, stress-free living leaves relationships at the surface. And our faith too. How we live with others is a mirror of our marriage with the Bridegroom above. To avoid the difficult parts only holds back what can be developed on the inside; spiritual maturity. There’s no promise for protection from problems. Only the potential to grow or run away.
Life will never stop handing us struggles. It is a daily reality of our faith. Holding back won’t heal the the pain. My folks taught me that communicating the struggles is what seasons life; marriage can flavor with a mouthful of salt and sweet at the same time.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17
In the tension, trials and soul-felt tears, there must be an accompaniment of understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable. Otherwise, struggling can turn into an emotional response and in this moment of weakness, personal attacks and criticism come crawling out of the grave.
A thief comes in the darkest of hours to steal our joy. Just because two people stay married doesn’t mean they act married. They might be wed and wear rings for the world to notice but apathy can’t change the heart. In these moments, difficult marriages either grow or surrender.
A good marriage is not something you find; it’s something you work for. And coasting through can’t do this. Only struggles that crucify selfishness, confront pain and confess truths can create relationships of beauty and trust by instilling faithfulness and perseverance to grow.
“The more the flesh is wasted by affliction, so much the more is the spirit strengthened by inward grace.” Thomas a Kempis
When you find someone you can struggle well with, there’s an aroma of grace penetrating these dark places. There’s protruding joy, even in the deep pain. There’s understanding, a ‘leaning in’, a hug waiting when hurt and frustration find their way to the surface. These struggles draw us nearer to God.
When you struggle well, you can live with the questions.
Relationships that don’t struggle well are the ones that end.
Thank you for allowing us to witness what 36 years of struggling well looks like, Mom and Dad. Thank you for pressing in when the pain begged you to pull back. The beauty in your love and growth in your character has shaped my future forever. Happy Anniversary, Ma and Pa.