Identity {Still} Shifting

As an addendum to that last post, I must say that the yearning and wrestling for balance in my life as a wife and yet first a follower of Jesus {not to mention mom, daughter, sister, friend, business owner, mentor, disciple}  has never waned. Truly, I have never been more aware of my own sin and selfishness than in being married {and having kids!}; I have never been more desperate for a rescuer and a counselor and a fresh start; and yet I have never known deeper the grace of God that is revealed when someone knows all of your mess and chooses you anyway, when forgiveness is palpable and beauty and intimacy emerges from chaos and conflict.

I thank God for my marriage. For the ways He has taught me of Himself through this union to a man who is altogether different from me and yet chooses me. I thank God that His purpose in marriage is not to make me happy but to make me holy… to refine me and grow me and teach me more about His character… and in so doing, to bring me deep satisfaction and joy.

It has taken me years to really get this, though…

There was a time early on, I think when Marsh and I were engaged, when I was in one of those needy phases where I craved to hear “you are beautiful” and “I love you” a million times over and was trying to “coach” Marshall on what I needed from him to feel secure and loved, etc etc. And I remember him listening thoughtfully and  looking at me as we sat on the couch {me begging for affirmation} and then him responding in the most gentle, but firm voice, in a tone like velvet steel, “I love you, but I cannot be Jesus for you.”

I love you, but I cannot be Jesus for you.

I was silent. It was not the response I anticipated, to say the least. I let the words sink in, and as I debated inwardly whether or not I would be offended, something deeper in me resonated with the words spoken and I decided to agree. To agree that this man could not bear the weight of securing my heart, of granting me value… Sure, he could do much to remind me of the truths God says about me, to affirm my worth, but he could not be the One who defines my identity or satisfies my soul.

And I have learned in being a wife and a mom {as children complicate even further time alone with Jesus} how to draw away, to go to women’s retreats and bible studies, and hire a sitter just so I can be with Him in a quiet place in the midst of my day to listen  {no doubt the best money I spend every week}; I have learned to obey His voice when He interrupts my day and tells me to drop everything when one of my sons is napping and the other two are occupied because He knows it is the only 10 minutes of silence I will get. And when I obey, He fills that 10 minutes with His presence in a way that feels like hours and sustains me for days.

I know deeply what Paul means, when he says that being single allows you to be undivided in service for the Lord. It is no doubt true that in singleness there is simultaneously a deep fulfillment in that your One constant companion will never fail you, as well as a loneliness for another person, flesh and blood, to share in life with you.

But there is a loneliness in marriage too.

Even when married to the best of men and the most righteous of women. It is only only only the Lord who can know our innermost thoughts, who can supply our every need, who can satisfy our every desire. And the moment we transfer that to another, even in marriage, especially in marriage  is the moment we are dissatisfied, we find loneliness and resentment and unrest and bitterness and grief. But I submit that whether single or married, if we find our hearts content in Jesus alone, then we will find peace and hope and joy everlasting.

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