The Pastor Who Told Me
the Wrong Person
The Pastor Who Told me I Married the Wrong Person
When my husband and I decided to renew our marital vows after 10 years of marriage, it wasn’t because we had just surpassed a catastrophe, but it also wasn’t because we wanted to display a blissful and perfect picture of marriage. Both were untrue. Our decision was based on the knowledge that our marriage had gifted us the most incredibly delightful and intimate times in our life, but was coupled with the blood, sweat, and tears we had poured out through some trying moments and seasons.
That is why, when we asked one of my best friend’s husband-a pastor- to lead us in our vow renewal, we simply asked him to speak the truth…that while our marriage was flawed, it was sustained, carried, and strengthened by God’s grace. We trusted him with the details, as we had known the pastor and person he was.
We stood that day in front of a beautiful sunset on a beach in front of our family and some close friends, elated with the day ahead. But my body froze and my smile grew thin when the pastor spoke his first words,
“Well, I guess by now you’ve realized that you married the wrong person”.
I felt my pulse quicken and my cheeks burn red.
Oh my goodness, where is he going with this? I thought. We wanted him to talk about how our imperfections in our marriage pointed to a God who carried us through it all, not make people think we didn’t want to be married!!
Fortunately, before I could take myself down a rabbit hole of assumptions, he continued on with one of the most grace-filled and truth-saturated messages I’d heard on marriage.
Our pastor shared that everyone at some point realizes the other person is not who they thought they were. Whether it is, You aren’t exactly like me. You don’t eat the same thing. You don’t like the same thing. Your hygiene is different than I thought. You don’t laugh at things I thought you would. You aren’t as funny as I thought you were, as kind, as helpful, as loving. If we are honest enough to admit, there are big surprises in marriage. And following these surprises and some disappointments, a thought can creep in like a dark demon in the night, leading to cold animosity between spouses, bitter arguments, discontent individuals, and sometimes, the devastation of divorce…
Did I marry the wrong person?
And woven through the tapestry of Scripture, is the surprisingly truth that yes, to some extent, we all choose the wrong people. And So. Did. God.
Most of us have heard or know that marriage is a picture of our relationship with God, beautifully described in Ephesians 5. But have we also acknowledged that God has gotten into a relationship with the wrong people? God chose people to know and love Him that were stubborn (Hosea 4:16), that forgot about Him (Jeremiah 18:15), that turned their back on him (Zephaniah 1:6), and even despised him at times (Isaiah 1:4). And even when God richly demonstrated His immeasurable and incomprehensible love by sending His son to die on a cross, He knew the people He chose would continue to rebel and turn against Him (Romans 3:23).
But He still chose and bound us through covenantal love. He chooses us, even when He knew we were the wrong people, unmatched for a perfect God. And He makes us right for a relationship with Him through His righteousness. And He does the same thing through the gift of marriage.
That day on the beach, my husband and I chuckled as we read some of our first marriage vows, 10 years prior:
I promise to be your helper.
I promise to be patient with you in your weakness.
I promise to respect you.
I promise to not keep record of your wrongs.
Broken. All of these. There have been times I haven’t helped him, and instead I’ve been against him. I’ve been impatient with his weaknesses in some arguments. I’ve said and done very disrespectful things. I’ve brought up old wrongs at times, simply to make my case greater for his current wrongs.
I promise to always cherish you.
I promise to hold you when you cry.
I promise to stand by your side always.
Broken. All of these. He’s at some points been angry and rude, not cherishing me. He hasn’t held me every time I’ve cried…in fact, sometimes he’s made me cry. And he hasn’t always stood by my side, sometimes it’s been as though he’s on an opposing team.
Despite the fact that I see my husband as my best friend, the person I want to be with the most, an incredible father and husband, and the one I love talking to the most…these views would not have been maintained without the sustaining grace of God. You see, we aren’t right for each other because we both are driven people, because I love to cook and he loves to eat it, because we laugh at many of the same things, because we both love to travel, because we have other similarities and complimentary differences that I could go on about.
And we aren’t wrong for each other because he doesn’t like the beach as much as I hoped he would, or because in moments, we’ve made each other more hurt and angry that we could have ever imagined, or because we grew up with very different backgrounds, or because sometimes I spend more money than he’d like or that he doesn’t keep our room as clean as I want at times.
But we are right for each other through the marvelous and loving example of God, who laid down His life for the wrong people and makes us right for Him and each other through His righteousness.
And as my husband and I, too, learn to lay our lives down for one another through the sanctifying process that God does through His people…we are becoming more like Him each day, and growing deeper in our love for one another. Though we’ve hurt and offended each other far more than we had at the point of our wedding day…our love for one another is far deeper than we ever could have imagined. Not because I chose the right person. And not because my husband chose the right person. But because God is in the business of displaying His relationship with us through the picture of marriage.
We are broken people sustained in relationship by a perfect God.
At the beginning of almost every anniversary since our 10-year-vow renewal my husband and I start our date by laughing as we say to one another, “I’m sorry you married the wrong person”. We then follow it up with a time of repentance, asking one another for forgiveness for the general ways we have wronged each other over the past year. This time of repentance doesn’t hinder our romance, it furthers it. It’s a beautiful beginning to a night celebrating the magnificent grace of God which binds two wrong people together through a covenant of marriage, and makes us right for each other through Him.