“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3)
Once upon a time when I was young and shielded from the harsh realities of life, I had the naïve impression that all marriages last till death do us part. I had also assumed that marriage would happen eventually. Getting (and staying) married was just a matter of time and (lucky) person because why not? Almost every adult I knew were happily married with kids, or so I thought. Growing up, the one marriage I’m actively a part of has surely laid the foundation for my white picket fence dream. Sure, even as a kid I knew that marriage isn’t always a bed of roses – disagreements, clashing opinions and occasional cold shoulder treatments were part and parcel of the package.
I was almost convinced divorce or any serious marital issues were reserved for soap operas and Hollywood celebrities – I had watched so many serial dramas with amusement and detachment at the same time because they only happened in fiction. Oh, the blissful ignorance of a child. 17 going on 18, suddenly the rose-tinted glasses were involuntarily taken off of me. Seeing several marriages fall apart and coming out of a broken relationship rudely awakened me to the fact that the situations I was so familiar with in TV and in which I could expertly navigate the storyline could very well happen in real life, albeit with much more confusion and much less clarity.
While my perception of what constitutes an ideal relationship and marriage has inevitably changed over the years, I refuse to grow to be skeptical about the beauty of marriage. After all, Christ meant for earthly marriages to embody and display the covenant-keeping love between Christ and His people. Indeed, there are many strong, beautiful marriages I look up to and am blessed to be a part of. To say the least, I am very excited to be celebrating the upcoming union of a couple near and dear to me (Wedding bells!).
That being said, the presumption I once held about eventually being married has been discarded and tossed into the bin. Marriage is a gift and blessing, not something to be expected. As much as marriage is desirable, it may not happen for everyone, but that certainly does not mean singleness is in any way inferior to being in a relationship/marriage. Life as a single can be as fulfilling, in different ways and calling, yet we treat it as a handicap way too often.
To me, Ephesians 4:2-3 serves as an apt reminder of the characteristics all our relationships (not confined to marriage) should encapsulate – to build each other up in Christ with humility, gentleness, patience and love.