Today I celebrate my Silver Wedding Anniversary with my husband, Mario. In the years that have passed, I have learned what really makes a marriage work is when both partners are committed to faith in Jesus Christ. It is His love that flows in us and through us to glue us together. It is His love that becomes your love for your spouse. And you need His love to do it! Without the love of God within you, it’s easy to begin seeing the things you don’t like about each other, and begin focusing on the bad, instead of focusing on the good.
When I think of how God loves us, even in our sin, I think He must look at the good parts within us, and not focus on the sinful parts. He sees our sin, but He works within us to make us better to where we sin less and less through time, and by His sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. This is how we are to love one another. It’s like what Jesus says when He tells us not to point out the speck in someone else’s eye, but notice the log in our own (Matt. 7:4).
As a newlywed, it was all romantic and fun at first: setting up house, cooking meals together and learning how to intertwine our lives. Then reality hits. Bills need to be paid, desires are sometimes put on hold (buying a house/having a child), and life doesn’t always travel down a smoothly-paved highway. There are bumps in the road, cracks in the pavement, and de-tours along the way. As cliche’ as this is, with ‘Jesus at the wheel,’ He certainly helps navigate down life’s road. Without Him steering us, I’m not sure where we’d be today? But I don’t have to question that—we’ve chosen to follow Christ the rest of our lives, and we’re grateful for it.
I remember trying to get pregnant with our first child. We were diagnosed as infertile, and my heart broke. I felt this was a kind of punishment for the years when I was not a Christian, and made bad choices. Nonetheless, through the faith of friends, and lots of prayer, five years into our marriage we gave birth to a beautiful daughter. Yet that day was a faith walk, too, for she was born premature, and had to stay in the NICU for a week before we could take her home. Today, she is 20 years old, working on a college degree, and loving the Lord, too! She was a bonafide miracle, and a daily reminder to us that God is still in the miracle-making business.
Then came the desire to stay home with her. I had a flourishing career in California, where I was born and raised. I loved my job and all the perks that came with it. But I loved my girl more. Once I had her, I wanted to be there for her, to wipe away the tears if she fell, to put the band-aid on that scraped knee, to take her on daily walks to marvel at God’s created world full of butterflies and flowers.
So, we prayed that God would open the doors to a career for Mario that would provide well enough for our family so I could become a stay-at-home mom. Little did we know that God would open the doors for a photography teaching job in Madison, Wisconsin! I had never lived where it snowed before, and the coldest temperatures I had ever experienced was probably no less than 30 degree Fahrenheit. Was I in for an experience! Feeling this was God, I quit my job, we packed up our belongings, and headed for the Midwest where I knew no one. At first, it was a blast! Misha and I did everything together. But then the loneliness kicked in, and I began to long for my old job, and my old friends. Yet, God was with me. His love sustains me. I made new friends and got involved with a new church.
Five years after Misha was born, God blessed us with a son. Joshua was born with no complications, even though I was pushing 40 years old. Being an older mother certainly was not what I had planned, but it’s what happened. We struggled again with infertility issues, and I told God I would try until I was 40. The joke was on me when I finally got pregnant at 39! Oh well, Josh was certainly worth the wait. He is a strapping 14-year-old teen now, who is excelling in school, and makes me laugh every day.
Through it all, Mario has been a wonderful father to our children, and a great provider. We’ve never had to wonder where our next meal was coming from, or if we would have a place to live. We haven’t a lot of money, but just enough to have our needs met. That is just the way we like it. Not too much so we are tempted to rely on ourselves (and not God’s provision), but not too little that we’re tempted to sin.
I have always tried to encourage Mario in his career and personal pursuits, but I must confess, there were times when I have tried to change him. He doesn’t think like I do, so I tried to “help him.” That didn’t work out so well! Instead, what I’ve learned is to accept him the way he is, and celebrate our differences. Where Mario is strong, I am weak. The areas I am strong, he’s not so great at. So, we complement each other well. Acceptance is what works best. There are no perfect people, and we all need God’s grace to love each other best.
Mario has also been super supportive of me going back to school to earn a Master’s degree in Apologetics. He is all about women doing what they are called to do in the Lord. I could not have foreseen that, but God knew. God knew I needed a husband who would allow me to pursue the things God has called me to, and without his support, I could not be serving God in the capacity I am serving Him today.
God’s wisdom brought Mario into my life. It was God who showed me that Mario was His choice for me. I said “Yes” to God first, and then I said, “I do” to Mario. I cannot express in this short blog how much saying ‘Yes’ to God makes everything better. So today, Mario and I celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary, but with God’s help, we’re going “for the Gold” next!