Part 5: Victory! By Andrew and Nikki
(Kindergarten glory days for these two 6-year olds!)
What is “victory”, when it comes to marriage?
Does it mean that you never argue or disagree?
Does it mean you know what you are doing and where you are going?
Does it mean that you have a certain amount of financial success?
Does it mean that you hold hands in public and kiss each other with every greeting and goodbye?
Does it mean that you never need help?
How do you evaluate something so completely ongoing, moving, changing, unique and advancing into new stages all the time? How does anyone know if their marriage relationship is “successful”? On what scale or standard are things measured?
Throughout our married lives, we have found ourselves on the opposite end of victory many times — a place we might call defeat. The themes of our struggles are probably common to most marriages – finding life purpose and direction, romance and intimacy, financial distress, and finding a place to belong (community).
October 6, 1996 (Seriously, people…how HUGE is that bouquet!?)
Defeat is oppressive, confusing, and obstructs joy. It is awful! We both recall times where simply getting out of bed and starting the day took nearly all strength and will power.
Not that we have arrived, but today we find ourselves in a place of strength – dare we say VICTORY? Oneness, security, and confidence describe the way we feel about each other. We hope this doesn’t sound too lofty. What we are talking about is altogether blue-collar. But it is our marriage and our life and our friendship, and we are proud of what God has given us while we live on planet Earth.
How did this happen? How did we move from defeat to victory?
Basically, we had to learn a thing or two….
- We have learned to stand in a place of faith. The Lord seems to open doors in our darkest hours as we look to Him. He is the way-maker when our own energy, fight, and resources are finished. (Isaiah 30:18-21)
- We have learned to surrender. Often we have had to change our expectations, as they were not in line with God’s. Sure, we’ve wrestled to force things to go our way at times, but in the end, He was an immovable force. The way to victory was surrendering to God for a changed heart and acceptance of His way. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
- We have learned to persevere. Never give up. Stay in the game. Hang on for dear life! We have learned to throw off shame and condemnation even when we have continued to fail (what seems like) an infinite amount of times. If we hang on, God will pick us up and give us a chance to start anew.
- We have learned to ask for help. The enemy will often present the argument, “Shouldn’t you be past this by now. Are you still so unholy or immature? “ This is when our natural reaction is to hide. But God says, “Raise your hand, ask for help, be known.” What a relief! For us, the primary help source has been older mentor couples that have come alongside and walked through trials with us.
- We have learned to desire continual transformation. Keep growing! We love it when our favorite athletes say something like this, “I just want to get better every day. That is my goal, just to get better.” Early on, we simply wanted to “arrive”. Arrive where? At some place of finished maturity or something, perhaps. Yet true victory has come from understanding that we never arrive. We are never too old to learn. Never too old to grow.
(1998 – We simply couldn’t resist visiting this famous field while living in the midwest!)
We embarked on this writing project to share our marriage and family story, allowing others to get to know us a little better, and to reveal our deeper motivation to work with marriages and families in the African church in Niger. Our story is full of ups and downs, and through it all Jesus has been the answer and solution to our need. We want to share this hope with others!
We are moving to Niger where we will mentor and encourage Africans in their marriage and family lives. Little did we know that God has been preparing us for this journey for many years!
Back to Niger Progress Report:
One Time Financial Support : 33%
(Goal: $80,000) Current: $26,500
Monthly Financial Support: 28%
(Goal: $7,500/month) Current: $2,100