Just over five years ago I became a Christian. One of the most obvious changes that I have seen in my life is an insatiable desire to learn. Before becoming a Christian all of my intellectual pursuits were completed for the sole purpose of being able to appease my parents, for they were the only ones standing between me and my weekend endeavors. But after God saved me I began to love learning. Most specifically my thoughts centered around the Bible and trying to know God through His revelation.
And now look where I am…seminary. Joy! A large part of what we do in our studies is read. Just before every semester begins I get to have a personal Christmas experience: I get my book list for classes. If Meg were never annoyed by my reading habits, then I am sure she would laugh at me. But as it is she just sighs at my excitement.
Before leaving Birmingham and heading to Louisville for seminary I asked my two closest friends to share with me any wisdom or warnings they thought most suitable to me personally before starting seminary. Each friend’s main exhortation was centered around the idea that I needed to make sure that my time spent studying did not drown out my relationship with my bride, Meg.
I’m thinking, “Wow, both friends bring me the same warning. Humbling.”
As it turns out I was correct about these two men being such close friends. In many ways, they knew me better than I knew me. Seminary started and I had like ten whole books to read, a 10+ page paper to write, 5 book reports, Hebrew to learn, and 15-20 hours a week at Chick-fil-a that I was squeezing in. With all of that workload plus the fact that I really enjoyed what I was working on (besides Chick-fil-a) it was the perfect formula for me to start misfiring in regards to loving my wife as Jesus’ loved the church.
In God’s mercy the battle to love my wife has gone well. A few things that have helped me grow:
- Understanding the relationship between the gospel of Christ and marriage. Meditating on Ephesians 5:22-33 has helped crystallize in my mind just what marriage is all about and that in turn has helped me play my part as a husband all the better. In that passage the Apostle Paul teaches that marriage is to be a parable of the gospel. In the parable the husband plays the role of Jesus, who laid down His life to save His bride, the church. I love the gospel, and I want to put it on display that the God of the gospel may be glorified. My part: die to self and live for her. The implications of this for daily life are endless.
- Utilizing the body of Christ for accountability. As mentioned above these two brothers set the course for me having other friends in my life to constantly bounce my marital situation off of. Throughout this semester I took part in what the seminary calls “Shepherding Groups”. This is where three to four students would meet with a professor for an hour once a month. This was just the first place that I began to have people to talk to about how to love my wife well and be diligent a student, to put Eph. 5 into practice and become mature in my thinking through my studies (1 Cor 14:20). Accountability has been key. Speaking with older, godly men has been crucial.
- A particular bit of wisdom from C.J. Mahney’s book “Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God”. In Mahaney’s book he was expounding upon the passage mentioned earlier from Eph. 5. He made the point that one of the implications of this passage is that before husbands are students, before we are fathers, before we are employees, we are husbands. He declared that that title, “husband”, should be what our wives know us as more than any of the other titles we may own. Conversely, Mahaney instructed that wives should always feel more like a wife than a mom, more like a wife than an employee or any other title she may have. This piece of wisdom has helped me gauge how intentional I am being with loving and serving my wife.
- Having a gracious, forgiving, and patient wife. Meg is the godliest woman I know. The only other Person who puts up with me as much as she does is Jesus. The only other Person who loves me more and more in spite of my selfishness and pride is Jesus; therefore, Meg is the godliest woman I know. This makes loving her all the more easier and enticing.