Daily Blog Email
Two years ago today, I married Susie Roth, the love of my life, and she became Susie Martin. I am so thankful for two wonderful years of marriage.
Marriage is unpopular among 24-year-old males in the United States right now, though. On Friday, I wrote a post about three reasons I still don’t feel like I’m “ready” to be married, and I shared this chart from Pew Research Center:
The day before our wedding, the pastor that was supposed to marry us went in for an emergency appendectomy. We were sad to not have our long-time youth pastor and friend marry us, but if only we knew that was simply the beginning.
Later that night, there was a terrible rainstorm. Susie’s house was prone to flooding, but mine had only flooded before when a power outage caused the sump pump to malfunction—I was nervous for hers, but not for mine.
As I was getting ready for bed, I feared the worst, and went to check our basement for water. Just in case, you know.
The worst that I feared was quickly becoming a reality. Around 1am the morning of our wedding, my street looked apocalyptic.
Cars were floating. Neighbors were wading in the road-turned-river to unblock the sewers.
My dad and I tried bailing water from the basement, but it was no use. It was coming in too fast to fight.
At this point of the night, I knew Susie’s house was going to be underwater if ours was this bad, and I was starting to worry that we may not be able to make it to the wedding. Susie’s house did flood.
I believe both of our houses ended up with approximately 18 inches of water (ours in our basement). Susie didn’t sleep as everyone in her house had to evacuate the house halfway through the night, and I got maybe two or three hours after trying to move friends’ cars out from the newfound canal.
Despite all of that, we were married, and I got to commit to spending the rest of my life with that girl I met on winter retreat in the eighth grade.
Here’s a picture of our yard as I left the house to go to the church the next morning. This water/mulch line was about 10 feet away from our front door.
Fewer and fewer young people are getting married these days, but I am so thankful I did. Here is the number one reason I am glad I got married:
The number one reason I’m glad I got married is this:
I get to experience the supernatural, unconditional love of marriage that is only matched in the relationship of Christ and the Church.
This love can be found no where else, and I didn’t realize how truly special it is until I experienced it firsthand.
Marriage is awesome because both giving and receiving such unconditional love feels great. Receiving unconditional love is nice and all, but being able to give someone the security found in unconditional love is just as good.
Undoubtedly, the most popular passage on marriage in the Bible is found in Ephesians 5. Many couples have it read at their wedding like we did. Here is the key part:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Eph 5:22-33)
Before I got married, I never really understood how this passage practically worked out. I would often think, “How exactly is Jesus’ relationship with the Church actually like my relationship with my spouse?”
Obviously, I knew it meant that Susie was to submit to me like the Church does to Jesus, and I am to sacrifice myself for her like Christ sacrifices for the Church. But what does that even mean, short of dying in place of her?
What does a marriage built on the love of Jesus even look like?
It looks like being able to share about your awful day at work and being encouraged, not judged.
It looks like feeling the fullness of exhaustion and being cared for, not ignored.
It looks like being pulled out of your deep sadness with unabashed compassion, not shallow pity.
It looks like being loved after a big fight, instead of reviled.
In a conversation Susie and I had with a Tennesseean reporter last August, I remember talking about how awful I would feel if the person I came home to every day had every freedom to bail when she was fed up with me.
The unconditional love in Christian marriage means that when I get home from work, I don’t have to perform any more. That doesn’t mean I get to be a bad husband or a slob, but it means that I don’t have to fear failing.
Success at work is based on effort.
Success in school is based on effort.
Success is marriage is based on the grace of the other, just like our relationship with Jesus.
Marriage built on the grace of God frees us from performing to succeed in marriage so that we can perform out of our love for our spouse.
When Christian marriage is built upon the idea that the only thing about us that makes us lovable is Jesus, it cannot fail because no poverty, sickness, or fight can remove the grace found in him.
It’s like this:
Imagine your house burns down. That would be awful.
Imagine if you didn’t have a bank account and every dollar you stashed under your mattress went up in flames with that house. That would be worse. Complete devastation.
Imagine, though, if the foundation of your net worth, your ability to rebuild, was stored off-site in a bank account somewhere. You’re safe because the foundation of your net worth was elsewhere, despite the destruction of your house.
In the same way, when deepest depths, the core, of the love you have for your spouse is stored off-site in the grace God has shown you in Jesus, no fiery fight or nasty glares can destroy it.
If the foundation of your love for your spouse is ultimately stored on-site, in the performance of your spouse, it can dry up when you’re fed up.
True Christian marriage is unique because the unconditional love a brother and sister in Christ have for each other is grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Obviously Christian couples experience all of the same types of love non-Christian couples feel—the butterflies in the stomach, the companionship, the comfort of a loving touch.
But when either or both spouses have made themselves seemingly “unlovable” and the butterflies are gone, the companionship is annoying, and the touch is hollow, the Christian couple is able to love because the motivation of their love stands: the grace they find in Jesus.
I am so thankful for the love I’ve found in Susie, and the ways she’s taught me how to love better over these last two years.
Can’t wait for the dozens more to come.
(All of the beautiful pictures in the slideshow below—and the one at the very top—are from Traci & Troy. They are incredible. If you’re getting married in the Midwest, book them.)