Use Permanent Ink

Bravely Pursuing God’s Vision for Marriage

My outlook on marriage has been a patchwork of feelings and opinions that have shifted over time. I thought maybe I would be married somewhere far, far in the future at 35 or something. Most of the time trying to conceptualize the thought of marriage at all seemed like a stretch.  I would have laughed bluntly if someone told me I’d be lumped into the “young and married” category.

“Why would I limit myself?” I used to think. 

“Why put my hope in another human being who will  break my heart into a million little pieces?” 

“I’m young, I have a life to live, things to accomplish, and a husband will just drag me down,” I told myself.

I used to view marriage as a prison cell that only locked you into a life of confinement, disappointment, and less opportunity.

It was pouring rain and my life was about to change. I didn’t know that, of course. You never know when something groundbreaking is about to happen. Usually you can’t foresee the big moments that wind up being a pivotal event- the kind of happenstance that ends up defining how you describe everything else in your life.

This day would later end up being a bold, italicized, LARGE font event written on the timeline of my life, even though at the time it all seemed very commonplace.

I was about to get into a very dangerous car accident. Everything I once knew would be completely turned upside-down.

Seventeen. Senior year.

This was one of the darkest seasons of my life, to be brutally honest. I hated God, I hated love, and quite honestly, I hated myself. I had turned to self-destruction and I was completely unstable, lacking any fragment of purpose or direction. My heart was hollow and closed off and I was out of breath and exhausted, always running away from God. I was petrified of Him and I wanted absolutely no part of that “love”. My heart was nailed shut to keep out God’s love or the love of anyone else. Love was the last thing on my mind in that season; love with God, love with a man.. I wanted no part of it.

I saw another car’s headlights in my lane. Through the splashes of rain, I realized there was no time to react.

Death was upon me.

I couldn’t run anymore.

I didn’t realize how much I truly did yearn for life and love until death was a few feet away.

I sharply turned the wheel, then cried out to the God whom I wasn’t even certain I believed in. 
“I’m not ready to die yet. I want to live for you. I still desire to meet my husband and have a family someday.”

My car spun uncontrollably, eventually ending up in the ditch on the other side of the road after hitting a telephone pole. The telephone pole fell on top of my car, causing the front end to catch on fire just as I stepped out of it.

This was when my heart first danced with Christ.

Adrenaline pumping, sparks in the background, I surrendered.

He saved me.

It was a gradual and sometimes painful process, but Jesus began reshaping and capturing my heart. All of the lies that I had built a foundation upon were being ripped apart and tossed out forever.

Over time, He began to reveal purpose to me, breathing life into everything that had been lifeless.

I began to understand my need for Him. I started to understand, not just my need for Him, but also His wild love for me; love that was boundless and unimaginable to the point of death. Something I was once uncomfortable confronting became a comfort: I was a sinner in desperate need of a Savior. He was there to love me mightily, restore my soul, and then die on my behalf to atone for my shortcomings.

Walls broken down.

He opened my heart to love.

Two days after the accident, I met and started talking to the man who is now my husband. 

Two weeks later is when I knew he was the man I was going to marry (this is laughable now, because we are talking about the same girl who was totally against the idea of getting married young).

Simon loved God and wanted to pursue a life of serving Him. He was patient with me as I started to understand what all of that even meant. I had no prior understanding and it was a process  to shed the gruesome layers of my flesh (this process never ends). In the beginning of our relationship, we learned what love was together. We learned how to love each other and love God together. We grew from teenagers to adults together.
I will never be able to wrap my head around the weight of what God did that year of my life. I was in a downward spiral and He called me by name and drew me to Himself.

My view of marriage started to shift, as did everything in my life.

Naturally, during our dating and engaged years, my outlook on marriage changed into a sea of prince charming and white horses. Looking toward marriage I envisioned endless happiness, no arguing, constant fun, holding hands in the sunset, candle-lit dinners, and romantic getaways.

After being married a few years, though, God is chiseling my understanding yet again. God did not create marriage so that we could be happy, get all of our needs met, or fill a void in our heart. He didn’t even create marriage so that we could have a lifelong partner to have deep conversations with or go on lavish dates with (though there’s nothing wrong with those things and they are actually a by-product of a healthy marriage).

There’s a war going on in today’s society. There are broken, empty, and confused people everywhere. God’s design for marriage is for a husband and wife to come together in unity to accomplish His mission and share the gospel as a team. Marriage is meant to be a union in which the same vision is shared for how to point other’s towards Jesus. 

Yes, marriage is supporting one another’s dreams.

Yes, it is carving out intentional date nights.

Yes, it is laughing so hard you cry.

Yes, it is cozy movie nights with way too much popcorn.

Yes, it is long drives in the car with even longer deep, heart talks.

Yes, it is dying to one-self and choosing to serve your spouse over your own desires and needs.

But at the core, it is chasing after the same vision together. 

There is only one vision to chase. The vision is the same for every couple that He brings together: to make disciples and love others, as Christ did, alongside one another. The way this takes form is different for every couple depending on gifts and timing. It is so easy for this to get diluted and over-complicated. 

There are influences from the world saying that marriage is all about pleasure, happiness, and perfection.

On the flip-side, there are toxic influences even in christ-centered communities slowly seeping into our hearts about marriage. These messages are more subtle and they are wrapped in appealing packages. Hearing these influences can make us forget about the vision of the gospel and instead focus only on bettering ourselves and strengthening our own home. Family time has so much value. Spreading the gospel has the most value, though. This is beautifully imaged when done as a family team. Entertainment, comfort, and ease try to pull our focus off of what has the most eternal value.

Faith in Jesus was meant to be shared beyond our walls. Marriage is more than an amalgamation of cooking meals together and cuddling on the couch. Those things are a blast, but they can’t be the only purpose in marriage. I think often in faith-based communities, messages about marriage mean well. We hear about respecting and honoring our spouse and spending enough time together. We see step-by-step processes of how to have a constructive argument and how to have beneficial communication. These things are all good.

In the midst of all of this advice, though, we also need to be asking one important question: what are my spouse and I doing together to further the kingdom of Jesus?

Everything needs to be built around that. God has provided a vessel in marriage for this to happen; a unique way for His message to be carried. God’s love for us is not based on performance or service, but a thriving marriage will be a deep well overflowing with love to pour out on others. It does not mean every couple will be missionaries in a foreign country, but it means that God calls us all to be missionaries right where we are. He placed you and your spouse in a specific location and time period for a reason and brought you together for a reason. He desires for you to love and enjoy one another, yes- but also to extend that love to others around you as a team.

Don’t misunderstand – marriage is meant to be pleasurable and delightful and beautiful, but these things come from flourishing together in your calling. There are some days filled with tickle fight, board games, adventures and movie nights. I believe God wants us to enjoy marriage, too.

Also understand this: there will always be challenging days. Stop and think about the austerity involved with combining two people and two lives together. There is going to be friction. There will be harsh words exchanged and bad choices made. You will hurt each other often. We are flesh and selfishness rules through our whole being. Trying to mix two broken people together is difficult, but worthwhile. The vision is bigger. The vision for God’s kingdom is bigger than socks left on the floor or your husband forgetting to ask how your day went. Some days it might be hard to forgive or extend grace, but remember the vision. When you remember the vision and you truly understand what you signed up for, dissatisfaction can’t reign.

When you get married:

Don’t sign up for perfection.

Don’t sign up for bouquets of flowers and loves notes (although those are a sweet surprise sometimes).

Don’t sign up for manicured lawns and children in matching t shirts.

Don’t sign up for Instagram photo shoots.

Don’t sign up for only pursuing your own dreams.

Don’t sign up for no conflict,

and don’t sign up for building your own kingdom.

Sign up for unity.

Sign up for embracing imperfections.

Sign up for constant forgiveness and grace.

Definitely sign up for striving after God’s vision to share the gospel together.

Sign up for forever.

Use permanent ink.

My love story with my husband evolves daily. We know each others’ hearts deeply and intentionally. It is breathtaking to pursue God’s calling together and the most attractive thing in the world is to see my husband desire God.  We laugh together and cry together and there is no one else on this planet I would rather have by my side. We are still learning how to pursue this common vision together, though. We are constantly being purified and refined by God. We still argue while driving sometimes, things get chaotic and we say hurtful words, and at times, we altogether forget the unity  God has called us to. But God always sweetly reminds us once more of His miraculous love and His purpose for our story together.

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.

This day would later be a bold, italicized, huge- font event written on the timeline of my life, even though it seemed so commonplace at the time. You see, I was about to get into a very dangerous car accident and everything I once knew would completely turned upside-down. This was one of the darkest seasons of my life; I hated God, I hated love, and quite honestly- I hated myself. I had turned to self-destruction and I was completely unstable, lacking any fragment of purpose or direction. My heart was hollow and closed off. I was out of breath and exhausted from running away from God. Honestly, I was petrified of Him and I wanted absolutely no part of the “love” that I had seen coming out of some “christians”. My view of love was seemingly flawed beyond repair. Love was the last thing on my mind in that season- love with God, love with a man- I wantedno part of it.
Through the splashes of rain, as I saw another car’s headlights in my lane, there was no time to react. In that moment, I realized how close death was. I couldn’t run anymore; it was coming straight for me. I didn’t realize how much I truly didyearn for life and love until pain and death were a few feet away. I sharply turned the wheel at the last possible second and I cried out to the God whom I wasn’t even certain I believed i
“I’m not ready to die yet. I want to live for you. I still desire to meet my husband and have a family someday