Although my husband and I were blessed to both be Christians when we met, neither of us had grown up in a home headed by married Christian parents.
My parents divorced when I was seven, and my husband’s dad died when he was seven. Raised by single moms, neither of us had the privilege of experiencing firsthand what it was like to see a healthy marriage in action.
We are not alone.
Statistics show that more and more children are being raised in single-parent homes. Fewer and fewer teens and youth are witnessing the model of marriage in their formative years.
Look for the light.
When my husband and I got engaged, I remember confessing aloud that I was a bit scared, since I didn’t really know how this whole “Christian marriage” thing was supposed to look. If this sounds familiar, don’t just sit there and have a pity party. Do something to change your situation. Take a glance around and find a couple you respect, admire and look up to. Be bold and ask them if you could pop in for a cup of coffee once in a while.
I am personally so grateful for all the hours I’ve spent in the homes of more mature, married Christians. Without even trying, they have had a huge impact on me as I have witnessed their example and daily interactions with one another.
In this broken world filled with shattered relationships, seek out a beacon of light, shining tall and true. Look for those couples that are standing on a firm foundation and have weathered storms with grace. Glean from their wisdom, soak up the light of Christ that emanates from within them. Take mental notes, and store them in your mind as kernels of grain for a future harvest.
Open your eyes, your heart, your home.
If you’ve been married for a while, or if you’re a more mature Christian, look around and ask the Lord how you can be a blessing. It doesn’t take much–I’m not talking about committing to weekly one-to-one discipleship sessions. I’m talking about opening your home, inviting people in to see the good, the bad and the ugly of everyday life.
Call the college student down the road and ask her to help you bake muffins for the church bake sale. Ask the newly engaged couple at work if they’d like to join you and your family for Saturday night game night at your house. Take your friend’s daughter with you when you visit an acquaintance at the hospital. Be creative and use everyday moments as avenues to spend time with, encourage, and influence someone who might not have a godly example to follow.
As Paul says to Titus,
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God” (Titus 2:3-5).
Whatever stage of life you may be in, take what you’ve been given and use it to “encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
There have been a few occasions when college students that we’ve known have come to say goodbye to us after graduation, as they are about to move back home. I’ve been stunned by the gratitude they have expressed to our family, claiming that we have influenced them just by sharing our lives with them. I say this not to sound prideful, but to emphasize that it doesn’t take grand, expensive outings or mass amounts of time to impact another. We’ve gone for walks, played with the kids at the park, had picnics and washed dishes together. The simple gesture of inviting someone to share a meal can speak volumes.
As we’ve enjoyed spending time with those who are further ahead than we are in the journey of faith and marriage, so we have tried to extend that same love and kindness to those newer to the path–and as we see those individuals mature and grow, we trust that they, too, will carry on the cycle and do the same for others one day.