A familiar idea in the Christian dating and courtship world goes like this: find out the other person’s faults so you can either reckon with having to deal with them for the rest of your life or practice one of Paul Simon’s many ways to leave your lover while you still can. Something like that. The flip side is to be honest about your own sins, which is always a very good idea.
Without discrediting this, I would like to tell you something remarkable. In my experience of marriage so far, it is possible to start over. It is possible for all your failures and usual behaviors to not translate into every new and fresh morning. It is possible to be changed. It is especially possible, I think, when someone promises to love you forever.
The way I handle conflict now with my husband is completely different than how I lived in my family. It isn’t perfect. It needs a lot of work. But every time I sit there covering my face, unable to speak, afraid of being wrong or hurtful, I marvel at how much I have changed, and how suddenly it happened. For years I cast forth withering looks and spewed out things I shouldn’t have said, praying for grace to change, unable to make it happen.
It is a fact in gardening that not all growing days are the same. The moon, the rain, the lightening, the cloud coverage, the genetic code of the little embryo itself, all that threatens growth, these things play out in a drama mostly hidden from all our searching. We can plan and figure, but in the end, we are dabbling childlike in holy things. They say the best fertilizer is the gardener’s shadow, and so it is in marriage, too. We promise to be there. To see what happens. To come back again and again.
If you are dating and not happy, if you are unsure and unsettled, if you’d like to slip out the back jack, then I reckon you should. But if instead, you are in love with a person of character, but you are afraid of all the sins, yours and his, and afraid of all the threats and pests and diseases you know so well, remember, dear reader: You are a living thing, and so is he. You can be made well and you can bear fruit and you can find yourself uncertain of who you are anymore in the best kind of way. The old can pass away. A new thing can come. You can wake up one morning, startin’ over.
This is, after all, what mornings are for, and you were made for mornings.