Last Sunday night, Louis and I had the privilege to gather with the other couples in our church for a time of “marriage maintenance,” a time to be reminded and encouraged in our commitments to Christ-centered marriages. I was humbled to be in a room filled with so many collective years of marriage and so much insight and experience. Couples of different ages, in different stages of life, with different stories, all coming together. Plus we had Chick-fil-A catered for dinner, so the night was already destined to be great!
At just over 9 months of marriage, and only 23 and 22 years old, Louis and I were the youngest and least experienced. I was both eager and thankful to soak up the wisdom the speakers had prepared to share with us and to find practical ways I can learn to be a better wife to Louis. Over the course of the night, their testimony was both admirable and encouraging. They shared about the ways they have learned to love and serve one another well and to dance in marriage without stepping on each other’s toes (metaphorically at least, I cannot vouch for that literally…). We learned about hallmarks of true confession and forgiveness as well as how God’s graciousness toward us should drive our graciousness towards our spouse. Too much good stuff to talk about all of it here!
As I been reflecting on and praying about all we learned on Sunday, I have been overwhelmed by the way the Lord has guarded my heart and mind with the truth reflected in this quote, a quote I heard almost 3 years ago when Louis and I started dating.
“Be careful not to turn others’ lives into the mold for your own. We have a God who is a creator, not a duplicator.”
– Francis Chan
As humans, our hearts are prone to set up idols and take what was intended for good and twist it. It is a good thing to be encouraged by and to admire the beauty, strength, faithfulness, and Gospel-centered example of someone else’s marriage. We should be able to take joy in other’s triumphs, gifting, passions, and spiritual growth. Unfortunately, we often times allow comparison to be the thief of our joy and the cast for our idol.
Louis and I are very different from any other couple in that room. We have different personalities, different upbringings, different sin struggles, different love languages…we are, simply put, different people. Because of that, it does us no good to make someone else’s marriage the blueprint for our own.
However, while we should never model our marriage after someone else’s, it would be foolish to deny the importance of mentorship, wise counsel, and community, for it is a fool who thinks they are right in their own way. Louis and I are abundantly thankful for the blessing of having Christ-centered role models in our lives from whom we can glean advice, biblical counsel, and encouragement. Where I often err is finding the balance between those good things and being vigilant of my tendency to set a foundation for an idol by allowing the roots of comparison to take hold in my heart.
The Lord has graciously focused my time with Him this week on reminding me that the only example worth imitating is Christ. In fact, imitating Him brings about the opposite effect of imitating others: joy, peace, contentment, graciousness, and righteousness. As Louis and I walk boldly and joyfully walk in our marriage, we are keeping our eyes set on the perfect example and fighting against the human temptation to compare ourselves to anyone else. After all, why would we settle for duplicating anyone else’s marriage when God is creating something beautifully new in our own?
Maybe for you it isn’t marriage. Maybe it is being an RA, or a mom, or a lawyer, or maybe an athlete. No matter the role, we all have the tendency to look around at others’ in the same position and desire to mold elements of our lives after theirs. When you are tempted to compare yourself to someone else, remember that it is impossible to make a fair comparison, for our God is a creator, not a duplicator.