A Mistaken Mentor & A Wedding Ring

"You will not make it three years! Your so-called marriage is destined for failure."

The words leaped off the page at me. They hurt deeply. They angered me. This remark was just a small part of a long grace-less diatribe I received from one of former mentors.  I had reached out to him to seek his forgiveness after a year of silence.  Like many, he contacted me shortly after my sin was exposed and harshly informed me how wrong I was and how deeply disappointed he was in me.  And then I didn't hear from him again until I reached out to him a year later to seek his forgiveness and convey how God had been working in my life over the previous year.

His response? A harangue on how unrepentant and narcissistic I was and how my second marriage was destined for failure. I guess I wasn't surprised. We tend to talk about grace more than we display it.  He really didn't know what steps of repentance, restoration, and healing I had taken so he didn't really know the state of my heart nor did he care to learn what God had been doing.  Sometimes it is just easier to lash out than accept and practice what forgiveness looks like in real life. I get it.

Today Ashley and I celebrate our third anniversary.  Three years is not a huge deal for most married couples but for us it is monumental.  A lot of people believed our marriage would not survive. A lot of people informed us our marriage would not last.  And yet not only have we survived, we have thrived.

Today I can honestly say that our marriage is stronger and healthier than we imagined. Here are a few reasons why.

1. Strength often comes through refining.  Our marriage did not begin under ideal circumstances. Most marriages built on the foundation with which we started crumble under the duress.  And yet the tough times we have gone through have actually drawn us closer together and not pulled us apart. Difficulties will either weaken or strengthen a marriage.  By God's grace, ours made us stronger.

2. We are passionate about each other.  I have never been loved the way Ashley loves me.  I did not know someone could love me the way she does.  I love being loved by her.  I do not feel I deserve her.  I have been asked on numerous occasions how I got "so lucky" to be married to Ashley. And to be honest, I don't know.  She is way more than I deserve. I cherish her.  I love so much about her that a list can't do justice to the things I love about her.  I believe our passion for each other keeps our marriage fresh and growing. She gets me. I get her. I love her for who she is and she celebrates who I am. She really is my best friend.

3. Second Marriage Grace.  My most read blog post ever was one I wrote on second marriage grace. You can read it here. In that post, I talk about how God used a message by Andy Stanley to teach us the principle of second marriage grace. It is a truth to which we cling regularly. The statistics of how many second marriages end in divorce dwarfs the failure of first marriages.  We know that if we are going to have a healthy, successful, and enduring marriage that we must cling to second marriage grace. It is the heartbeat of our relationship.

4. God heals, redeems, and restores.  This truth is the one primary reason our marriage has not only survived but thrives. Simply put, God's grace defies statistics. We are living evidence of that reality.

To celebrate our three year anniversary, I gave Ashley a beautiful wedding ring.  When we got married three years ago, we gave each other simple wedding bands. It was symbolic of where we were in life and the difficulties that awaited us. Our relationship was built on the only real thing we had at that time: each other. Everything seemed to be stacked against us. And the simplicity of our wedding bands symbolized the simplicity of what we had: each other.

Three years later I wanted to give Ashley something that symbolizes the depth of where we are now in our relationship.We are defying the odds. Not because of how great we are but because healing and redemption are real.  Grace trumps stats.

My former mentor was wrong. Our marriage is not destined for failure.  Our marriage, by God's enabling grace, is stronger and healthier than ever.

Happy Anniversary Ashley Hudson. I love you more deeply today than I ever have. And the best is yet to come.

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