(The picture to the left has little to nothing to do with this blog post, but I think that old photos of couples who look really unhappy on their wedding day are entertaining)
There is a popular myth floating around young, Christian circles today, and it goes something like this–Once I get married, I’ll snap into shape. I’ll stop having low self-esteem, I’ll stop feeling lonely, I won’t struggle with physical temptation anymore, and I’ll grow up and be responsible now that I have a family to take care of.
I call it a myth because that’s exactly what it is–fantasy. And that is what I am slowly beginning to learn as Ike and I prepare for marriage. Our relationship isn’t getting rid of my former vices; it’s actually highlighting them.
For some reason, in all my years of dating I had no conception that my habits as a dating person would follow me into marriage. As the years went by and I indulged my lack of self-control and my selfishness, I cemented those behaviors in such a way that is now coming back to haunt me.
To give you a more general example of what this looks like, imagine a guy or girl that is your typical “play the field” kind of person. He or she dates around a lot, hooks up a lot, and all the while fosters a lifestyle of causal intimacy, infidelity (meaning, not faithful to one person), and a lack of commitment.
Then one day this person finds “the one” they want to spend the rest of their life with! Because they are properly motivated, they become faithful, loving, and attentive. They are the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend, and it would appear that they’ve left their lifestyle completely behind them.
At least, it would seem that way for a time.
In reality, their new behavior is only temporary. It’s more a symptom of the “honeymoon phase” of the relationship than it is a real transformation. Over time, as the honeymoon phase passes and the marriage faces hard times, those old patterns of behavior are still lurking, waiting to come out again. Why? Because his or her former lifestyle was indicative of a deeper, spiritual problem, and that problem isn’t fixed by marriage. If that problem is not addressed, it WILL come out later.
That takes us to the root of the issue–the behavior itself is not the problem. The problem is the heart. If your heart is rooted in a spirit of rebellion or self-centeredness, a change in behavior does not address it. A shift in behavior only masks the problem and allows it to continue further, undetected.
That is also why Romans 12:2 tells us to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind,” not your actions. If the mind and heart are left untouched, their true colors will come out over time.
The key is to remember that whoever you are becoming today is the person you will be tomorrow. If you’re not doing the hard work of examining your heart and pruning it of ungodliness now, then you will have to reckon with those issues later. This is a lesson that all single people must keep in mind before marriage, but it is also a lesson for the Christian life.
If you’ve ever met an older person who was bitter, set in their ways, and difficult to be around, it’s unlikely they were born that way. Most likely they nourished the seeds of bitterness, impatience, and anger in their hearts, and over time those seeds came to fruition.
Or maybe you know a married couple who seems to have “sold out” to the American dream. They used to speak so passionately about serving the Kingdom of God, but as financial success and material temptation presented itself, they slowly became more and more concerned about the superficial treasures of this world. That transformation did not happen over night, did it? It was the culmination of a lot of decisions and compromises over a long period of time. Their short-term choices had long-term implications.
Whoever you are becoming today is the person you will be tomorrow. If you are not making yourself into a faithful, godly, confident woman today, you will not be a faithful, godly, confident wife tomorrow. And if you are not making yourself into a passionate disciple of Christ today, then you won’t be one tomorrow either. Live today so that you have no regrets when tomorrow comes.