No couple likes a third wheel … but here’s an exception. 沒有人喜歡電燈泡……但總有例外。
If you know a Christian person, you may have heard him say that knowing Jesus Christ as your personal savior “changes your life”, “makes it better”, “sets you free”, and a number of other abstract and conceptual spiritual terms. At least that’s how I used to think when I was younger. What did it really mean that Jesus makes my life better? Would it really have been that different if I didn’t know Him?
Well, let me give you something more concrete. Knowing Jesus Christ as my personal savior has saved my marriage. Many times.
Now before you jump to conclusions, let me preface by saying that I love my husband, he is a wonderful man and the perfect one for me. He loves me dearly and has never purposely done anything to hurt me. But if you’ve ever been in a serious relationship, whether with a spouse, family member, close friend, or significant other, you know that even if you don’t mean to, you will hurt the other person. It’s because we live in a broken world made of broken people. One of my favorite quotes is “Hurt people hurt people.” It’s a sick cycle that has been set to destroy our relationships and the only way to break out of it is, believe it or not, through Jesus.
Now back to my marriage. My husband and I started dating four years ago with the purpose of having a God-centered relationship, and then when we tied the knot three years ago, we vowed to have a God-centered marriage. Getting married is an amazing thing, it was like starting on an exciting new adventure, except you get to be with someone that you’re crazy about, and experience it all together.
Our first year being married was so much fun, it was a total honeymoon phase. Of course we still had our little tiffs, but whenever we fought we would make up right away, ask for forgiveness, cry it out a bit, and then be back to peas and carrots within an hour. In that first year we were easily able to look at what the Bible says about marriage and follow suit. “Don’t go to bed while you’re still angry.” (Eph 4:26 paraphrased), “love is patient, love is kind…” (1 Cor 13:4), etc. We went into our second year with a smidgen of pride in our hearts, thinking, hey this marriage stuff is easy!
A few months into our second year, something happened that would affect and challenge our marriage for nearly 18 months. My husband’s body started to hurt. He had chronic pain issues that started in his arms, then moved to his neck, his face, his legs, his back and his abs. It wouldn’t all flare up at once, but when it wasn’t pain in one place, it was pain in another.
In the beginning I didn’t understand at all. I thought, well if it hurts, you deal with it and then you move on, no biggie (can you tell I was raised in a Chinese family?). But it wasn’t that easy. The continuous pain started to affect my husband not only physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I witnessed what was once a happy-go-lucky, cheerful, active person start to become withdrawn, moody, and negative.
You see, what many people don’t realize is a marriage is two people coming together as one. And people can change. People do change. Of course, in the long run we all hope to change for the better, but sometimes trials can cause us to temporarily drift the other way.
I found myself wondering where the guy I married was, and who this new grey, sullen man was that I was waking up next to. Meanwhile, my husband was trying so hard to keep his faith, keep his attitude positive, keep being romantic and showing me he loved me. But it was such a tough trial for him, and he felt like I wasn’t being understanding.
We would both feel hurt – me because I felt he wasn’t trying hard enough to stay positive and to make me feel loved. Him because he felt I was being too demanding in times when he just needed encouragement. Because of these things we would become resentful, angry, bitter. Then everything the other person did would start bothering us. And this wasn’t one of those honeymoon fights that ended in an hour. It would build up for days until our only conversations were for functional reasons like, “What do you want to eat for dinner?” See? It’s not like we wanted to be like this. But hurt people hurt people.
Yet, in those darkest of times, when we felt like our marriage had become a cycle of hurt and misunderstanding, when I would wonder, is our marriage ever going to be the same? Jesus would come through. No, God never appeared to either of us in a dream or vision, it wasn’t anything dramatic like that. But he did speak to us in that still, small voice deep, deep within ourselves.
I believe it was the voice of the Holy Spirit (the third person in the Trinity, the Helper that Jesus left for his believers when he ascended to heaven). It was like this gentle tug, maybe some people would call it their “conscience”, reminding us why we married each other in the first place, why we are meant for each other, and why even though we really, really, really don’t want to, we should talk it out and forgive each other.
Another thing that the Holy Spirit is great at doing is pointing out the deep-rooted issues that often are the reasons why we get triggered into pain, anger or resentment. Everyone has these, and it usually doesn’t have anything to do with your spouse or the situation at hand, but is a result of something that happened to you earlier in life that created a trigger point of pain deep inside.
All these things combined – the Holy Spirit’s gentle reminders, understanding root issues, knowing the Bible’s recommended ways to deal with marriage and relationships – would lead us away from the depths of marital despair (ok, I’m being a tad bit dramatic with that one). But seriously, at points when we both thought that our marriage may never again be like it was, when we thought we would never be able to love the other person again like we used to, God would revive our relationship, save it, renew it, and bring us back to that honeymoon stage. Actually, to be honest, God made it even better. Because we’ve become stronger after each conflict, we love each other more each time we overcome. But it is all because of Jesus. It’s because he has taught us the keys to a successful marriage in the Bible. It’s because we wanted to dedicate our marriage to him. Or else this story would not have a happy ending.
In one of my favorite lines from the American sitcom, 30 Rock, Tracy Morgan’s character says to Tina Fey’s character in typical Tracy hilarity, “Marriage is work, Liz Lemon. Marriage is work!” It was meant to be a funny punchline to a silly episode, but there is so much truth in that commonly-heard phrase, and my husband and I like to quote it all the time.
We’ve really learned to appreciate those around us who have been married for even longer than we have, we recognize we’re still newbs at this. But more than anything we are thankful for the Lord Jesus Christ in our marriage, we can’t even imagine how impossibly difficult it would be to sustain it without Him.
To me, the way God has worked in our marriage is the concrete example of how Jesus “makes life better”, “sets us free”, “saves us”.
其實很多人都沒有察覺，婚姻是兩個 “人” 的結合，而 “人” 是會變的。當然長遠來說，誰都希望能往好的方面改變，可是有些考驗卻使我們暫時轉往另一方面。
將所有總合起來— 聖靈溫柔的提醒，對深層的問題的理解，聖經對婚姻的指引— 帶我們的婚姻離開絕望的深淵（可能我這樣說是有點誇張吧！）。坦白說，當我倆都以為破鏡重圓是不可能的，以為不能夠像以前那樣地相愛，神卻挽救了我們的關係，使我們的婚姻復甦、更新，帶我們回到蜜月期。說實話，神讓我們的關係變得比以前更好。每一次爭執過後，我們就會變得更堅強，每一次克服了困難，就會更加愛對方。這全都是因為有耶穌︰祂藉聖經教了我們婚姻成功之道，而我倆亦想將婚姻交托給祂。若不是這樣，這段故事不會有美好的結局。
美國喜劇《娛樂揸FIT人》當中有一句我很喜歡的話，就是Tracy Morgan 用他獨特的幽默跟Tina Fey所扮演的角色說︰「Liz Lemon，婚姻是需要耕耘的。是需要努力啊！」這句雖然只是那一集當中的笑點，也是一句很常聽到的話，但卻頗有道理，我和丈夫也經常引用。