Eva and I didn’t get married until we were in our late twenties. By today’s standards, that may seem early, but it meant that we were, each in our own way, single and independent for a number of years on end before we started dating. Add to that, we were single and independent in a foreign country, far from home and its support structures. My twenties were no doubt a time of spiritual growth and maturity, but there were a number of lessons I was just not learning outside of the intimacy that marriage provides. Marriage has the potential to teach us deep lessons about self-sacrifice, seeking the good of the other above oneself, self-denial, and deep concern for another (or others, when children are involved). Though these lessons may be a great benefit of marriage, they are seldom the things that draw us into marriage in the first place.
Despite our independence, Eva and I were ready to get married when we did, and we haven’t looked back. Of course, old habits die hard, and we’ve had to fight our own stubborn self-wills at times, but it is worth the fight. Leading up to marriage, we had come to a point in our single lives where we no longer craved the freedom and independence that could be found there. We had had free time, free evenings, “free” cash…all kinds of free froms and free fors. What we had, frankly, was freedom of choice. It was the choice of how to spend our time, our money, and our energy. With that freedom came a lot of responsibility–and it could be stifling at times. I had lots of time to wonder if I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.
After marriage and three bouncing baby boys (yes, they really do bounce), we don’t have the same kind of options, nor would we want them. There is freedom in the fray of this kind of life. We don’t have the same liberty over our evenings or our budget, but there is still the freedom to learn, to grow, and most importantly, to love. True freedom isn’t just the choice of two or more competing options. Real freedom is knowing what course of action is the right one to take and being able to follow it. I already know “what” I am supposed to be doing: loving my wife and my children–promoting what is best for them. And the physical tasks associated with doing that take up 90% of our day, especially considering that our children are still so young. I no longer struggle with the “what” to do question. There is comfort in commitment. The real question for me is “how” best to do that. Thankfully, I have the answer: “Take up your cross and follow Me.”
Sure, we still face lots of choices as a family–from small ones like “Chocolate or vanilla?” to big ones like “Should we move to Africa?” Our choices call for just as much discernment as they ever did, but now we get to choose together–as a family. Eva and I have the privilege of watching the Lord change and prod the other so that, together, we discover His will. There is freedom in family.