Sunday, January 15, 2012

Marriage - Two Lumps of Coal

A lump of coal is dirty, a product of decaying plants, a pollutant and produces soot.  Some studies indicate that, through intense heat, pressure and time, a lump of coal can become a priceless gem.

The Wedding Report, a market research publication indicates that the average American wedding cost $29,000.  Keep in mind, the median household income in America is around $46,000 a year. 
If I asked you to board a plane that had a fifty percent chance of crashing, would you still get on that flight?   The divorce rate in America hovers right around fifty percent.  One in two marriages is likely to end in divorce.  Why do so many people get married, spend exorbitant amounts of money on a one-day event and take lots of pictures to remember it with only a fifty percent chance of actually staying married?  Why are so many young people misguided to think they will be the other fifty percent; the ones who stay married?  Why are they boarding a plane with only half a chance of survival? 
Through a Prepare and Enrich program at our church, Rob and I counsel young couples who are engaged to be married.  Often, I think after they have left our home, we have scared them away from the altar!  The program is intended to help these young people assess their beliefs about marriage, discuss issues such as careers, children, faith, finances, house chores, etc…Many of these couples have been brought up in Truth and in loving, nurturing homes. They are bright; they have good morals, good intentions and great big hopes and dreams for their marriages. 

The most common problem we see is that these couples do not think they will ever have major problems.  Rob and I are a part of the program to give them a different perspective.  It is not our goal to scare them, but to encourage them to be prepared.  Isaiah 43:2 says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” Notice it says “when” and not “if” you pass through the waters.  We will all pass through the raging waters.  We will all endure the intense heat at some point in our lives. 
While we hope to give a real snapshot of marriage, we also try to remind them that God does not want to make our lives miserable with our spouses.  He intends for us to have joy in our marriages.  But, His ultimate goal is to see each of us at the foot of the cross with a transformed heart; a heart that can glorify Him fully.  Often He will use our spouses to bring about the transformation, and often it will come out of struggles, difficulties and the pressures of life.  Let’s face it; without our spouses, we like ourselves just the way we are.  Walking down that aisle to get married at the seemingly invincible age of 22, I liked myself and didn’t see the need to change.  God had other plans. 
The truth is that we don’t grasp the concept of how depraved we are.  We are all lumps of coal. 

We shouldn’t discourage young couples from boarding that plane, but we should prepare our young people for what lies ahead.  First, they need to recognize their natural, sinful state and understand that the heat and the pressure are necessary to transform their hearts.  They should be aware of the turbulence and possible disasters that loom.  They should have resources to help them deal with conflict and the names of great Christian counselors to help guide them should they not find resolution.

Through intense heat, pressure and time, a lump of coal can become a priceless gem. 

The next time you have to buy a wedding gift, give a pressure cooker; maybe a crock pot.  Wish the couple a happy marriage, but tell them to endure the heat, the pressure and by all means, put the setting on low and endure the time.  Don’t we all want to be a diamond, instead of a lump of coal? 
Twenty years later, Rob and I still experience the heat.  The difference is that we expect, in this fallen world, the trials will come.  We resolve conflict differently, and we know our resources if we can’t.  There are times we adore each other and times when our hearts are sinfully full of contempt.  Either way, we are on a journey to the cross, and the Lord has decided that we need each other to get there.
Approximately 100 tons of mud must be mined to produce one carat of diamond.
Diamonds are beautiful, light refracting gems that do more than shine and sparkle, they create optical magic.  A diamond is the hardest known natural material on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, where hardness is defined as resistance to scratching.  Have you ever wondered why we wear diamonds when we get married and vow to wear them the rest of our lives?  Maybe, just maybe, with endurance through the heat, the pressure and the time, it is a permanent reminder of what we can become. 

Blessings to all of you in your journey!

Edit (1/18/12): One reader pointed out that the divorce rate is not as high as 1 in 2 marriages.  Most of the articles I read stated it was as high as 50%.  This link gives a breakdown and additional information.  Thank you, Michele for sharing!
Buzzle; USAToday; Wikipedia

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At The Picket Fence said...

So beautiful and so true my friend! We endured some of that "heat" early on as we dealt with the grief of infertility and I wouldn't trade anything for the precious gem of a marriage it created as a result. I heard someone say once that if you want to know what it is to become Christ-like, then you should definitely get married. LOL! The sacrificial love involved, the laying down of one's own needs/wants/desires is a daily offering. Thank you so much for starting this incredible series! :-)

A Thrifted Market said...

I love this Christie and would love to give it to my daughter who will be getting married in May! Marriage is hard and none is perfect. Thanks for sharing..Blessings

Allyson McGuire said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I got engaged recently, and although I am loving just thinking about the sweet things, it is so refreshing to think about real life too! I'll definitely be you newest follower.


Carol Bennett said...

Christie, good post and advice for young couples!
Carol in GA

Holly said...

Fabulous,fabulous post! How I wish I would have had a class like that! I am so blessed to have been married almost 27 years now, but it's work and it's hard work at that! But oh, the rewards! Thank you for blessing others!

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of young couples want to jump at the first sign of trouble..Marriage is work..I told my girls when they got engaged to be sure this is the person they want to spend the rest of their life with..It's a commitment..One of the biggest one they will ever make in their life and you can't run from it because you didn't get your way or something didn't go your way..Great post..

Crystal @ Ordinary Days said...

So true! I think none of us enter marriage thinking we will have problems to amount to anything. I love your analogy of the coal and diamonds. And you are so right about boarding the plane. :)

Gail said...

Great post, Christie! I hope this is one among many posts in your marriage have a beautiful heart for the Lord and the ability to convey truth in such an honest way. Thank you! My husband and I have been married for 4 1/2 years and it wasn't until this year that I actually admitted to myself...marriage IS hard work! But I agree with Holly....oh the rewards!


Michele said...

I have read your blog for awhile (everything you touch is imbibed with beauty!)and I think the work you and your husband on behalf of young couples is truly wonderful. I just wanted to point out a small error in thought that you may want to pass along to your couples (to give a bit of hope). Although a very popular myth, it is not actually factual that 50% of marriages end in divorce- in total only about 1/3 of people will ever divorce in their lives and the number is even smaller among those who have college degrees. The following article explains is much better than I ever could:
Hope that helps! Thanks for everything you do!

Just a little something from Judy said...

Excellent post! I enjoy my visits to your beautiful and inspiring blog. Marriages are fragile, and you gave hope to the institution God so perfectly designed. Thanks for sharing.

Your new love banner is so creatively done!

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