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23. A Word from Mary

Please--make your marriage work.
You will be so glad you did.

Maybe after reading this book you are thinking it is too difficult to work at your marriage. You are not sure you want to work that hard. You don't have the time. You don't have the energy. It may be easier to divorce, or even die. Maybe you are thinking that it worked for us but it won't work for you. Your mate is not teachable, not willing to work at improving the relationship. He/she will never change--what's the use of trying?

Let me assure you that I have had some of those same thoughts. In fact, there are still moments when I would rather give up. They are usually the moments when I think of myself rather than Richard, when I want to do things my way rather than God's way. I know the Scripture tells me to think of others more than myself, but I would rather not. How can I do it?

I have come to realize that I cannot do it in my own strength, but only in the strength which the Lord provides. When I am in a difficult situation, I must make a choice. I can fuss, murmur and complain, or I can turn to the Lord for strength, telling Him about my anger, frustration, physical or emotional exhaustion, then ask Him to work through me to accomplish His will. Then, I must simply choose to do the right thing. When I choose to do what is right, God's strength is there, enabling me to be obedient. But I must make the choice.

I must live one day at a time--actually one minute at a time--and not expect instant results. Improvement takes time, and I need to allow myself that time. I also need to work on one thing at a time and not get discouraged by trying to improve in every area at once.

I must also remind myself that God is a forgiving and longsuffering God. He does not give up on me, so I should not give up on myself. "And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary" (Galatians 6:9). Life is short, and seventy to eighty years of unselfishness and sacrifice are nothing compared to the joys they will bring in eternity.

There are other benefits to perseverance in a marriage-- the precious times together when we give thanks for a lesson we have learned, when we laugh over a shared memory, when we weep over a beloved friend who dies. And there are those moments of incomparable joy when we are surrounded by our children and grandchildren. Please don't throw your marriage away. Make it work. It will be worth it.

I do wish I could say that because we have written this book our marital problems are no more. That would not be true. In fact, we have had some struggles even as we have been writing. But that's all right. We are committed to each other, so we have been able to work through them. But more important, we are committed to the Lord and to doing His will.

I have changed over the years, and I know that I will continue to change as I come to the Lord, seeking to be more like Him. My prayer is for you and me to be aware of God's presence in our lives, to use His power to change, and to give Him the glory for all He has done and will do.

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