Happily ever after.
These are the words I thought of during yesterday’s message at church on Ephesians 5.
“Happily ever after” evokes images of blushing brides and awestruck grooms pledging their love to one another before a cloud of witnesses. These are the words of fairy tales, the ones popularized by Disney, in which young love must be fought for and pursued to the point of death and self-sacrifice. The characters arrive at the altar certain of the power of their love to conquer every obstacle. They are pronounced man and wife, walk the aisle, and that’s that.
Everything is happily ever after.
It’s not that happiness in marriage is impossible. It’s not that marriage itself is impossible.
The problem with happiness in marriage is that we don’t live in a fairy-tale world. Marriage happens in real life with plenty of occurrences that aren’t so happy.
And marriage happens between two people who are not fairy-tale lovely. We are all broken, and when God fuses two people into one, their broken places line up just right to grate upon each other, to sharpen each other, to refine each other. In time, this produces a beautiful result—but it takes time, and that is something difficult to withstand.
In real life, we get tired and our feelings get hurt and our words come out sideways to inflict pain on our beloved. Fairy tales don’t grapple with betrayals and forgetfulness or loss of income and mental capacity.
The truth is, fairy tales are too wimpy to hold up under the reality of living life in this world-gone-awry. We need something stronger. And more lovely.
We need the same gumption after we say I do that we have before. We need to fight for our love and pursue it to the point of death and self-sacrifice. It calls for the death of self and that’s where true happiness—joy—is found.
Where do we find such gumption? Only in Jesus and from Jesus, the one who died for His beloved—for us. This is the sort of love that is redemptive, making something beautiful out of the broken.
This is the sort of beauty you have to fight for. So strap on your armor, people! This is way better than a fairy tale. It’s real life. And it’s beautiful.
“Life Scars.” India. Personal photograph by Erin Straza. February 2012.