By Natalie Lussey
Originally published in Be Still Magazine, Issue 4.
In just a few short weeks, I’m getting married to the man God intended me to find.
It took a while, and it took some heartache. It was long and drawn out, and for a time I didn’t know why we seemed to be on different pages. Then miles and miles of land and ocean parted us. There were tears and uncomfortable moments and difficult decisions—but we made it, because finding and holding onto love is much stronger than the alternative.
The funny thing that no one tells you about setting the date is that doing so triggers a chain reaction of thoughts: What does it really mean to be married? How will my life change? What is involved in being a good wife or a good husband? Do I have the qualities and skills I need to manage this situation? What do I do to support and bring out the best in someone else, when until now I’ve only had to consider my own needs?
These thoughts aren’t bad thoughts, but they can be disconcerting, even when you know—or perhaps especially when you know—the answers to several of your own questions. My life will change considerably because I’ll be leaving the life I’ve always known in Scotland and moving across the Atlantic to America, a small compromise that means I get to be with the man I truly love everyday. As for the other questions—well, I’m just not sure of those answers. I don’t consider myself a selfish person, but I also realized that I’ve spent the last 27 years considering my own needs, desires, dreams, and ambitions without the need to consider someone else’s.
My reaction to the lack of answers I found myself producing in response to these questions was a period of self-led Bible study. In this time of waiting, I knew that I needed to be led by something greater and much more personal than the reading plans and devotionals I often follow. In the past three or four months, I have grown in knowledge and appreciation of the Word by pursuing and immersing myself in verses and passages that relate not just to love in its most general sense, but to the close relationship between husband and wife, their roles and obligations, and their place in the larger picture of God’s unfailing and boundless love.
Reading with no other aim or limit than this, I’ve been continually astounded by the beauty of the Word. I’ve lingered over Ruth, and I’ve delighted in the Song of Solomon; I’ve been back to the beginning with Genesis, and I’ve traced the bloodline of our Savior from the most humble of beginnings. I’ve followed His teaching into our broken world in Acts, and I’ve heeded Paul’s repeated calls for us to love one another in the Epistles. But most of all, this period of Biblical Marriage Preparation has become my very own love letter to Psalms.
I’ve often thought that if I could only read one book over and over it would be Psalms, because the material contained within it is so rich. I don’t believe there will ever be a day when we are unable to relate with the message relayed to us on the pages of this book, resonating as it does with every human emotion and experience: gratitude, joy, praise, tenderness, humility, honesty, grief, sorrow. There are, truly, psalms for all seasons—especially when your season is one marked by intense joy and fragile uncertainty for the future.
Marriage is the most vivid illustration and daily reminder of what it costs to love an imperfect person the way Christ loved us: without condition or hesitation. When we read the Psalms, we are reminded of all of the ways our Father loves us, cares for us, and protects us—even in the face of our sin. We are also reminded that we have not and will never be left alone, because there is no distance or circumstance that cannot be bridged by God’s great and boundless love for His children.
A good and Godly marriage needs a third wheel: it requires two people willing to accept the Father into their hearts and trust in His plans for them, even if it seems scary and uncertain. That’s why so many of the expressions of love, confidence, faithfulness, humility, and trust written into the Psalms are so joyfully relevant when preparing for marriage:
- “I will sing to the Lord for He has been good to me!” (Psalm 63:4) – Lord, let me express my gratitude for you in this season of waiting, for in Your grace and wisdom you have led me to the one with whom I will share my life.
- “Why should I fear for the future? For I am being pursued only by your goodness and unfailing love.” (Psalm 23:6) – Father, in the midst of all of this joyous uncertainty and unfamiliarity, allow me to recognize your unchanging presence in my life.
- “My thoughts towards you are countless as the sand on the seashore.” (Psalm 139:18) – May I always remember that love comes only from you, O mighty and loving God. Grant me the grace and humility to focus my thoughts on Your loving presence and provision in our marriage and in our lives.
Reading Psalms is a lesson in balance, which is the most important preparation of all for marriage. For every Psalm of joy there is a Psalm of sorrow; for every situation in which we are brought low, there is a time of consolation and understanding. That’s because our lives and our marriages can never just be loud songs of praise. We live through times of planting and uprooting, of breaking down and building up, of sewing back together again the things we tore up in frustration and anger.
I’m under no false illusions that marriage will be easy, but I know for certain that I am the beloved daughter of a Father who will always be at the heart of my marriage. Among the treasured love letters I will carry with me across the sea will be this one: to a Book of Psalms that so often captured the joy, uncertainty, apprehension and excitement I was feeling—when I couldn’t quite find the words for myself.