This weekend Jackson and I got our engagement pictures taken, and we couldn’t be happier with them. They embody everything an engaged couple is supposed to be. You know, just a couple of high school sweet-hearts, blissfully staring into each other’s eyes and perfectly in love. Because that’s how engaged couples are supposed to be, ESPECIALLY if both people love Jesus. Couples who love Jesus never fight, right? RIGHT? Maybe you’re engaged, and you’re like “Blissful. Joyful. Eye Staring. Perfectly in love. Yeah that’s us all the time, you nailed it”. Maybe you never argue or say things you don’t mean or selfishly demand change out of the other person. If that’s you, then please, share your secrets with me, would ya? But until then, I’ll keep writing this blog about just how imperfect Jackson and I’s relationship is.
In fact, you should know that a mere three hours before this picture was taken, the joyful and blissfully in love high school sweet-hearts you see here were mid argument. We were right in the middle of a typical everything-you-do-is-wrong-because-it’s-not-how-I-want-you-to-do-it kind of argument. The kind where both of you really have no right to be as flustered as you are, but for some reason (mostly sin) you feel the need to hammer your point that you’re actually aware isn’t even really valid. Maybe I’m crazy and we’re the only engaged couple who spend more of our time disagreeing and working through those disagreements than we spend being blissful and carefree and googly eyed over each other. Maybe we’re crazy. Or maybe we’re not.
So why am I writing this blog airing out all of our dirty laundry? Well for two reasons I think. One, for all you singles out there who watch engagement videos and see wedding pictures and are waiting for your blissfully in love days, free of the frustration and anger and stubbornness. You should be aware of the reality ahead of you. If only you knew the amount of bad pictures it took to get the one that is actually posted on Instagram. Make a decision to see Instagram and Facebook and twitter posts for what they (sometimes) are…a beautiful moment between two sinners where Jesus meant more than their own agendas. You’re getting a glimpse into the life of two people who are trying to love each other well despite their own baggage and sin and pain. REJOICE in that with them. Pray for them. And recognize that their entire relationship most likely does not, in fact, resemble the picture you’re seeing of them….and that’s ok. To the couples: Maybe we’re crazy and more sinful than most people and no one else is with me and Jackson on this one. But, if I’m not crazy and you’re reading this because you understand, let’s chat for a minute. First of all, be encouraged, because you’re clearly not alone. I bet our average pictures taken to actually posted ratio is somewhere around 20:1. We (I) sometimes take 20 pictures because it’s funny, and we (I) sometimes take 20 pictures because we’re (I’m) trying to get the one that makes us look happy and in love and all of the things everyone expects us to be. I’m going to go ahead and say that the majority of us in relationships are just as guilty as singles at looking at other couple’s posts, and longing to be people we aren’t. WE HAVE TO STOP THE MADNESS PEOPLE. No one’s relationship as flawless as their Instagram makes it seem, and you know what? THAT’S OK. Because us being imperfect makes Jesus more important and necessary. Our failings and our weaknesses in our relationships point to Jesus. 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Here’s the thing, relationships are hard. Really really hard. There is no one who is as aware of my sin as Jackson. And not only is he aware of my sin, he is directly affected by it. When I am insecure or impatient or unsatisfied, it’s Jackson who bears the brunt of all of those things. And that sucks. So why do the whole relationship thing if it’s so hard? Because my relationship with Jackson has lead me to a drastically deeper appreciation of my Savior. Jackson knows more about my sin than anyone because he is most affected by it. I hurt him. He hurts me. When I’m angry he bears the brunt of my anger. When I’m insecure, it’s Jackson that sees it. And yet, he still chooses me. He still chooses to be with me. He chooses to love me through my insecurities and he chooses to forgive my unforgiving insults. Despite how unloving and unappreciative I can be, he still chooses me to be his wife (in 7 months and 15 days, praise God). And if it blows my mind that Jackson chooses me, how much more bizarre is it that GOD chooses me? Ephesians 1:4-6 says, “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us inthe Beloved.” PEOPLE DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS MEANS. The God of the Universe chooses us to be his children, despite all of our junk and sin and issues. Not only is Christ aware of my exposed sin, he knows my INTERNAL sin. He knows my thoughts and my feelings and my attitude, and yet for some reason he still desires me to be his. For some reason, he chose to save me from death and grant me adoption through Jesus., and that’s crazy. So let’s all just stop assuming things about each other and instead, rejoice. Rejoice in our short-coming. Rejoice in our victories. Rejoice in the picture that shows two sinners having a good date night. Rejoice in the likelihood of those same sinners working through an argument 20 minutes later. Rejoice in the struggle, because when we choose to rejoice, the struggle becomes pretty.