by Kelsey Tarver
This word has definitely been a popular one around our house as Zane and I are experiencing all the “growing pains” that come with the first year of marriage. I sort of naively thought that he and I would adjust super quick to married life because we had dated for about a year and a half before. I thought, “we’ve been together for some time, there won’t be any major adjustments for us other than… you know, just staying in the same house and in the same bed!” It sort of makes me giggle now at the innocence I had then as a soon to be bride just guessing what my first year of marriage would look like.
I was fortunate to have parents who taught growth as a process in order to continue on becoming more like Christ, and whatever hardships I came up against growing up were just another opportunity to dive into more intimacy with Him. Marriage, for me, was God’s most intended form of sanctification in the process and growth towards Christlikeness. It both exposes weaknesses you never knew you had and somehow simultaneously heightens the ones you already knew were there. It’s like someone took a flashlight and said “Hey! Here I am! Work on me now please!” Presenting you with a lovely to do list of things to work on and improve to strengthen you, your spouse, your marriage, and your walk with the Lord.
You go into marriage with a certain idea or expectation of what it will look like, but in so many ways you learn a whole new world of things to grow in and understand once you are actually in the mundane daily grind of life. Marriage brings so much joy, peace, incredible deep love, and also so much pain and growth while your muscles start forming and stretching to expand past your own knowledge and understanding of what it means to be a Christ follower, and now you have real, daily, in your face, practice to put your spiritual muscles to work.
So for us we decided to welcome growth, accepting it in its sometimes scary or ugly forms has not always been easy or a quick decision to make, but we decided at the beginning of our marriage that we would open our arms wide to the sanctification process of becoming more like Christ by learning how to love one another well. I always tell Zane “I had no idea I was selfish until I got married! “We laugh together as he has admitted the same things, and we have decided to not let that freak us out but rather smile at the growth to come as we join hands and soldier on in our journey to continuously learn to love and put the other first. We are not marriage experts in our just shy of a year time together, but we have most certainly grown leaps and bounds from who we both were a year ago, because we simply decided to trust God first, accept the growth process, and as best we can smile (sometimes kicking and screaming…by me ☺ ) our way through it.
So whether it is marriage, a new job, a friendship, family relationships, etc. try to not let growth scare or intimidate you. It is not always easy to see our own weaknesses but you always walk out of a growth season walking a little taller and more confident in unleashing yourself to become all that you were created to be as a follower of Christ. He is always refining us and loves when we are hungry to learn. Don’t let the world fool you with its thousands of perfectly crafted pretty pictures or get caught up in glimpses of others moments, take a deep breath and accept that we are all just trying to figure this thing out together… and if we can still ourselves long enough to listen, God is ever present always ready to take us on our next journey in becoming more like Him. You may have some growing pains along the way, but it is always and most definitely worth it.
I always say I hate driving to the gym, but I never leave regretting that I went. The same has rung true in my learnings from our marriage… that even though I hate driving up to the doorstep of my own personal insecurities, fears, or shortcomings, once I decide to put the gas pedal down and head for them straight on, knowing that God is the one leading the way, I never walk out of a growth season regretting that I did it. God is faithful and will always give us the tools and comfort we need for whatever we come up against.
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Kelsey is 26 years old and resides in lovely Broken Arrow, Oklahoma with her favorite human being and very best friend Zane Tarver. She writes, produces, and works on the creative staff at thechurch.at. Her style of writing is very conversational, as if she were sitting across the table from you enjoying a cup of coffee. It is her deepest desire that in her writing you will feel inspired and encouraged to be free in Christ. To connect with Kelsey, follow her on Instagram.