My husband and I have become avid believers that the world’s way of “doing marriage” is just not working. The divorce rate is testimony to this fact. Having both been divorced before, we have seen first hand the consequences. While we are deeply in love and grateful for each other, we can both testify that divorce is not God’s first and best plan.

It was a Family Life Weekend To Remember marriage retreat that brought this home to me. For the first time in my life, I saw God’s design for marriage contrasted against the world’s way. I was asked the question, “What if God’s purpose for your marriage isn’t your personal happiness?” Wait a minute, I thought, but isn’t that what marriage is about—feeling loved and being in love? I was supposed to live happily ever after, right? That is what I had believed for as long as I could remember. But the really radical idea presented to me was that God is way more concerned about my character than my personal happiness and comfort. Marriage and the relationship I have with my husband is God’s heavenly sandpaper, designed to smooth off my rough edges and confront my selfishness. And, for many of us, God’s sandpaper isn’t a fine grade but the roughest, hardest grit available. It hurts!

Even more profound, however, was the truth that my marriage matters for generations. The legacy my husband and I leave in our marriage to our children will impact them and their children and their children. Will we teach them what it means to have commitment, to be a team, to love unconditionally through good and bad times? Will we model for them what it means to forgive? Will we give them the security of knowing home is a refuge not a war zone so they can grow up feeling safe? Will we teach them what it means to have a healthy relationship? We both failed in this task once, but we are determined to not fail a second time!

If as Bill Hybles writes, “The church is the hope of the world,” then surely a godly marriage is the hope of our society!

~ Kyleen Stevenson-Braxton