Last February 21, my husband, Jay, and I attended the Marriage Boosters seminar at Victory Fort. I’ve made a commitment to myself and my readers that I will share my learning on marriage here on the blog to help other couples grow in their relationships together.
Before I proceed, I want you to know that I have included my personal insights in this blog and I leave it up to you, dear readers, to discern what you feel is applicable to your circumstances.
This year’s Marriage Booster seminar was called “I still do.” The speakers were Pastor Joel and Jenny Magpantay whom we first met several years ago in Victory Alabang. I attended one of Pastor Joel’s classes when I was enrolled in the leadership classes.
Their time in Victory Alabang wasn’t long because they were called to pastor an Every Nation church in Michigan. They have three children who are now full grown men, one of whom married not too long ago and had a baby with his wife. So Pastor Joel and Jenny are officially grandparents.
They have been together for that long and have through the highs and lows in their marriage. There is so much to learn from them in terms of raising a family and having a successful marriage.
Two different people
The title for this year’s Marriage Booster is “I still do” which is basically about keeping your vows when the romance has faded and the real-ness of married life settles.
Pastor Joel and Jenny were quick to douse the idealist’s notion on romance and said that it doesn’t last. The honeymoon stage eventually ends and it’s when your marriage starts going through testings that you can truly know how strong your relationship is.
It’s a lot like faith. I always say that it’s easy to praise God when things are going well, but when they’re not is when you can really gauge how strong your faith is.
Reality is, you are two different people coming from different families, having grown up in different environments and having gone through different circumstances. Conflicts arising from these differences are inevitable.
If we are to depend on ourselves for our marriages, we will most likely fail.
As Pastor Joel and Jenny pointed out, marriage is, first and foremost, God’s idea. He authored it. He created it. He invented it. Therefore, he knows how to make it work! We cannot rely on ourselves, but we can rely on God for grace so we can say “I still do” to our spouses when we experience life, both the bliss and the bad, with them.
Your Marriage does not define you
One of the things said that evening that struck me was that our marriages do not define us. Being a wife and a mom do not define us, although it seems to make sense that way.
I used to hook my identity to being a performer, which is why I took it hard when I felt that I failed. And I thought I already had a healthy take on identity until I heard those words and realized that at times, I still search for my identity in the wrong places — on motherhood and in being Jay’s wife.
I was reminded that I don’t need any other identity other than daughter of the only living God. He created me, therefore, he defines me!
We can never find our ultimate fulfillment in marriage, nor can we expect our spouses to complete us no matter how famous the quote has become.
Only God can give purpose to our lives and our existence! And for us to start off on the right foot in marriage, we must build it on solid foundations.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” Matthew 7:24.
Without God, we will suck the life out of each other!
Before getting married, we need to have asked ourselves these questions —
“Am I content? Is God my all in all?”
“Am I in a place right now when I can say that God is more than enough?”
And our answers to all questions must be “Yes!”
We must be founded in Christ if we want successful marriages. We need to already have found our fulfillment in our relationship with Him, otherwise, we might demand our spouses to fill in the gaps they’re not designed to fill.
5 Attributes of God to anchor our marriages onto
Looking unto God means knowing who he is and what he brings into our lives and our marriages. Here are 5 of his attributes that gives us the power to say “I still do” in our marriages.
1.God of no limits!
Our tendency is always to measure our spouses’ limitations, count their faults and take it against them. But when we expect our spouses to meet our ridiculous standards, we will be met with frustrations.
Our spouses will never be perfect, at least not on our personal definitions, but God is. He is unlimited! His love for us knows no boundaries. He knows our desires and he can redeem what seems un-redeemable.
He always forgives and always loves. He never gets tired of us and our imperfections. He doesn’t count our sins against us! (2 Corinthians 5:19)
Instead of looking at our spouses’ limitations, we must look unto God’s limitless grace!
On a hindsight, I always tell my sons, young as they are, to marry women who will love God more than they will love them; and for them to always make Jesus their first love.
Because marriage is hard work. It is their relationship with Jesus that will help them see past each other’s faults and flaws and grow together as a couple.
2. God who “knows it all”
No matter how difficult it is to figure out how your marriage can work, especially in times of trials and testings, peace comes in knowing that God knows it all and he is in control.
We are not experts on our spouses! That’s another popular notion that I had in reverse. I thought that because I am Jay’s wife, I am an expert on him. I know how he will respond, I know what he’s like, I know his past and his present and can foresee the future with him.
Therefore, I can make my own conclusions.
But Pastor Joel and Jenny were quick to refute it!
I understand it as we think we know, but we don’t. Only God is the expert on our spouses and on our circumstances. Makes sense, too, since he’s a know-it-all God, of course he’s also the expert on us!
When we draw conclusions on our marriages and on our relationships, Pastor Joel and Jenny recommends that we ask God to expose our hearts so we may discern our thoughts clearly and respond in a way that is honoring to Him.
“Lord, what’s in my heart? Why do I feel this way towards him? What do you want me to learn from this?”
3. God of infinite creativity
Jenny says it so well. She says whatever it is, “Go to God!” He can make things new. He can bring something out of nothing.
“Hopelessness? Go to God. He knows!”
4. The Unchanging God
“Two things that will never change – God and forgiveness. Everything else will,” says Jenny. And the Bible says that, too. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” Isaiah 40:8.
If that’s the case, then you can change.
But we make so many excuses not to. We say, “This is me, deal with it!”and as a result, hurt the people we love, including our husbands.
But we can change. We can grow into better people. We can be better wives to our husbands, better mothers to our children. A better friend, a better employee, a better Christian!
All we need to do is stay close to God. Read his Word and meditate on it so that we can successfully transform ourselves to be blessings to our husbands and our families.
“For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God” Psalm 18:21.
Sometimes I get frustrated because of habits that are difficult to let go, but there is always hope in Christ! His mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
God forgives and gives us opportunities to start afresh.
I can be a better wife to my husband. I may have my faults today, but I will persist on God’s word.
Hope is not lost because God’s promises are unchanging. His Word is unchanging. It is the anchor we can establish ourselves on.
5. The Ever-present God
Only God is ever-present. In this age of gadgets and technology, seeing people fixated on their gadgets while being with their spouses is no longer new and shocking.
But only God is ever-present, we are not. So Jenny says, “Let us be fully present where he has placed us.”
I have a friend named Bianca from Victory Alabang Music Team. Years ago, I have observed that each time her husband, Ryan, speaks to her, she drops all other conversations and only focuses on him.
It’s like the time stopped ticking and there was only them.
Each time I remember that, I remind myself to honor my husband that way. It’s a small but significant gesture.
Being a blogger, I love taking pictures a lot, and Jay’s been gracious about it. But I try to be mindful enough to put the phone away so I can talk to my husband and really spend quality time with him when it’s just the two of us.
Instagram can wait!
Let God sit on the throne!
Pastor Joel and Jenny ended the first part of the Marriage Boosters seminar beautifully by saying, “when God sits on the throne of our marriages, he makes all things new.”
I will blog about the second part of the seminar, which is about Patterns and Purposes, in my next installment. At this point, I would like for you to join me in reflecting on which of God’s attributes above helps you in your current marriage situation.
Don’t be shy to share in the comments section!