“The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us. Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us.” –Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

I’ve wanted to be a wife and a mom since before I can remember. I was (and often still am) your typical girly girl. My childhood was marked by babie dolls, barbies, play kitchens, and in general a nonstop daydreaming about my fictitious husband and kids. When a husband didn’t show up when I thought he should I became distraught. When I found myself in my mid to late twenties as the only single one among my female friends I reached the depths of despair (at least that’s what it felt like). I thought that investing my time and efforts into a career would help (it didn’t) and found myself working at an adoption agency where I was the only single woman. I believed with every fiber of my being that becoming a wife and mom was what God had for me and I could not, for the life of me, understand why He wouldn’t just give it to me. It was a hard season, one in which I felt as though I was repeatedly being shattered and then pieced back together.

Obviously, my life has been a charmed one since my hardest struggle in life up until this point has been grappling with my singleness. But, guys, laying down your dreams, releasing that white knuckled grip you have on your deepest desires, whatever they may be, is (to put it mildly) really hard and painful. Every step of the way I saw His faithfulness. Through every tear that fell, every loved one that spoke truth, every mountaintop and every valley–God was causing me to look to Him, the author and perfecter of my faith. Through that season I learned of the depth of joy that can be experienced when you’re in the midst of the depths of despair. In the words of Charles Spurgeon, I learned to kiss the waves that slammed me into the Rock of ages. He is good. Abundantly good. Even and especially when we can’t see or understand what He is doing.

And then I met James. Truth be told, we’ve had our share of bumps in the road. I can, in all sincerity, say that those bumps have only made us more thankful for each other and for God’s sovereign hand in our lives. Ours is truly a story marked by restoration and forgiveness.

So, now my dream is coming true. In three months, God willing, I’ll be marrying the man who has become my best friend and the love of my life. I can tell you that, while we’re not yet married, I’ve already tasted of the painful yet wonderful reflection of the gospel that marriage is supposed to be. James loves me the way God calls him to and when someone loves you in such a way it places a magnifying glass on your sinfulness. James accepts me, forgives me, and continuously points me towards our Savior. There are moments when I sincerely do not understand why James loves me because, to be totally honest, I can be the worst. And yet, Jesus loves me more. James’ love for me is a mere reflection of our Savior’s and I pray that as James continues, by God’s grace, to love and pursue me in all of my messiness that I will only see more clearly the awesomeness of Christ’s love as He pursues His church in all of our sinfulness and messiness.

When I was single God showed His love and faithfulness to me through my loneliness and unfulfilled desire. Now that I’m about to enter into marriage with James, God continues to show His love and faithfulness to me through being in relationship with James.

I didn’t understand how beautiful and hard and messy and joy-filled being in relationship could be until God brought me James–and  we’re just beginning to scratch the surface. I pray that we have many years together to grow together in Him, to be a picture of the gospel through His grace and strength.