We were squished in a booth at a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint when our friend dropped a small bomb on our dinner table conversation (and our marriage).
“I don’t know how else to say this, but I just think you two married the wrong person.”
He said it so matter of factly. There it was, this big huge slice of humility larger than the New York style piece that was sitting half-eaten on my plate.
I had lost my appetite.
So, there’s a husband, a wife, and a priest sitting in a pizza joint… I know this sounds like a joke, but that’s where my story begins. Chris and I had asked a dear friend, who is also a priest, to meet us for dinner one evening. We had been wrestling with some major life decisions concerning work/life balance and living out our primary vocations as husband and wife, so we asked a trusted advisor to meet us to discuss the issue(s).
This man, Fr. Nathan, knows us well, and he most certainly calls it like he sees it. So, after Chris and I both shared and then waited for him to weigh in, this was the last thing we expected him to say, “you married the wrong person”. It was a unnerving.
I met and married my husband, Chris, in less than a year of first meeting him. We also welcomed our first baby nine months after our wedding. And then we just kept on having babies! We moved, and he changed jobs multiple times in the first three years of our marriage.
We had to grind out some very hard decisions during those years. The ugliest, most selfish, most fleshy parts of ourselves were exposed. We were raw from the whirlwind that was our life and change had become the normal.
And I admit I had no clue what I was doing - I didn’t know how to be a wife or a mom. And learning to do both simultaneously yielded many painful conversations, sobering revelations, and utterly exhausting days.
So when a priest served me up a glass of sobering truth, it took some time to take down.
Chris and I mulled over this observation made by our friend. Ultimately, Fr. Nathan knew Chris and I obviously loved each other, our marriage was valid, blessed, and we were living out the sacrament.
The point he was making was that both Chris and I spent the first years of marriage waiting for the other person to finally arrive at our final destination.
We were waiting for the other to be the spouse we wanted, not the one they already were - the One God had intended.
One of my struggles with Chris was that he wasn’t the “perfect dad/husband”. He didn’t fit the mold of the father that I had drawn up in my head. I was going crazy, because he just wouldn’t fit into the husband box I had put him in.
Chris, on the other hand, had hoped he’d one day wake up to the super wife and mom. Always joyful, always willing to say yes, always content and able to handle any and all situations on the homefront.
And when we finally admitted that we had been putting false expectations on the other, we conceded that Fr. Nathan was right! We did marry the wrong person.
I married who I wanted Chris to be, able to meet high standards and jump a bar I raised. On the other hand, Chris married who he wanted: his unrealistic wife. Immature and naive, we couldn’t have known then what we know now.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways...
Isaiah 55:9 NIV
It has taken nine years of marriage and ten years of loving this man, and I am still learning why he’s right for me. Those characteristics and personality traits I once saw as wrong are aspects of him that have been so right for me.
In the same way it’s taken years of loving God and learning to listen to Him that I am able to clearly see the fullness of His plan for my life - for my mission at hand. If I’m honest, it has taken years for me to learn to trust both God and Chris.
“...and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:19
Sitting in that small pizza booth felt like a moment of complete failure for me. Chris and I have done “everything right”, and yet this priest is telling us we’ve married the wrong person??!
I now know why our friend challenged us in this way. It wasn’t until we admitted to ourselves and each other ‘I married the wrong person’ that God could unveil us in front of the other. When Chris and I let those ideal spouses go, we were given the eyes and hearts to see the beauty and perfection of the spouse we had.
I’m smiling as I type this, because I have it so right - The Lord made it all right. I give God thanks, because I didn’t marry the ideal man who I thought I needed. Chris is who he is, because that’s exactly who I need to him to be and vice versa.
These two pups might have had it wrong, but God’s redemptive love has made it right. And we’re exactly the husband and wife, mom and dad, that our four children need us to be - full of flaws and imperfections. And there is comfort in knowing I’m going to get it wrong from time to time.
So, I married the wrong man. And I’m ok with that. Because some of our biggest failures and wrong choices turn out to be our biggest blessings. And now I savor that pizza dinner with our friend, Fr. Nathan, and am grateful for the challenge he served us both.
As for my husband, I am thankful every day, for this man who isn’t necessarily who I wanted, but everything God knew I needed.
Is there something you may be “getting wrong” in your life that God’s redemptive love wants to make right?
Don’t be afraid of your failures or times you get it wrong. God wants to turn these in to your biggest blessings.
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing... I will make a way…
Isaiah 43:18-19 ESV