As I knelt in front of the couch, I re-surrendered my marriage to God. Somewhere along the journey I managed to snatch it from his grasp, and it was way too much for me to hold. I could feel the burden of relational conflicts, misunderstandings, lack of active listening and selfishness ease from my shoulders. In that moment, I experienced God’s peace.
The one Paul wrote about in (Philippians chapter 4, verse 7) “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Peter (1 Peter chapter 5, verse 7) says this peace came as a result of casting your cares on the Lord, and in that moment, I gave up and gave in.
Grace for change
Many of us at some point, reached that place in the various relationships we have. We reach the point of surrender only after we have overwhelmed ourselves with affairs of the heart that were never meant to be our portion in the first place.
We question whether we should have been here, or how we got to this place to begin with. We talk about all the things that used to happen in these relationships, that no longer happen, and somehow, we forgot a key ingredient in the circle of life and change…. Grace to Grow.
Which now leads me to this question “do you have enough grace to accommodate your partner changing? Do you have enough grace to accept your friends changing? Do you really?
Unlike some platonic relationships that we feel we may outgrow; marriage is not so simple. Every chance we get to reflect on our vows, is an opportunity to be reminded of why we started and how we got here. Our vows bind us together as hearts are interlocked with Christ to make the three become one. We are only stronger that way.
Bounded by words
As I reflected on my vows, I could not actually remember verbatim, all that I must have shared with my husband as we nervously exchanged our vows in front of God and men. What I do remember sharing, is (Ecclesiastes chapter 4 verse 12) “though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him, a cord of three strands is not easily broken.” These words, as a constant reminder, anchor us together.
Having the understanding that I am stronger with him than I could ever be alone, is an indissoluble ingredient. I have the power to overcome much more than I would if I were fighting alone and that gives me peace.
Bounded by grace
I have mentioned many times in my interactions with my partner and with our friends, “I am only able to extend grace to you, to the extent that I have experienced God’s grace.” The truth is grace makes us look foolish sometimes. But we know according to (1 Corinthians chapter 1 verse 25a) “... the foolishness of God is wiser than men…”
Grace is making his dinner after an argument instead of shutting away. Grace is keeping your promise to that friend who has never kept her promise to you. Grace is allowing yourself to be available to someone who reaches out to you just so they can vent, who you never hear from again after they are okay.
Grace, like faith, seems foolish, but grace is godly. Why? Because it mirrors the dynamics of the relationship we share with God- except in these cases, everyone else may be doing to us what we have been doing to God all along.
Grace allows us to see past the wrong that people do and see them for who they are: fragile, scared, ignorant, fearful; and seeing the need to be their source of light. Grace binds us together when all the turmoil of life fights to tear us apart.
Grace and Peace
I once heard a story where a wife walked into her pastor’s office and told him that she wanted a divorce after about 45 years of marriage. She was not happy. Her husband, quite puzzled by the extremity of her actions, asked “why would you want a divorce? What have I done that’s so wrong?” She responded, “you never tell me that you love me.”
Taken aback by her accusation, the husband retorted “didn't I tell you that I love you on our wedding day? She responded, “yes but,’ he interjected quickly “If I had changed my mind, I would have told you.”
I have not finished thinking about how I may have responded in that situation. However, I would like to believe that this moment was a dexterity teaching one, and how if we understand the concept well enough it brings us peace.
Peace then, has never been the absence of conflicts and misunderstandings. It is the presence of God in the chaos. It is holding on to what we know as truth, instead of what we see or hear.
I know that oftentimes we feel like we want to walk away, and perhaps it seems like the most logical thing to do. I have no idea what you are going through. However, let me challenge you to stay.
Stay the course when the tides are high, and you feel like you are drowning because you never actually learned to swim. Because He who promised is faithful (Hebrews chapter 10 verse 23b.)
Stay, when the coins have flipped, and your friends need you more than you need them. Because the one who has friends must show himself friendly (Proverbs chapter 18 verse 24)
When culture tells us to walk away, I want to challenge you to stay. The shalom we seek is not hidden out there waiting to be discovered. It is right here and found in Christ and His Spirit that continues to do transformational work in us daily.
As the spirit continues to dwell in us, it teaches us to bring our needs and concerns to the Father and leave it there while we live in peace.
Tamieka Pennant Dussard is a poet and writer, who has served in youth ministries mentoring young people both in Canada (current home) and Jamaica. She is the Director of “Young Wives Uncensored” a social organization which seeks to provide support and accountability to young, married women. She hopes to continue to use her gifts and experiences to motivate young people and share God with the world. She also enjoys cooking and sharing flexi-vegan recipes (IG: ltdkitchen)