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For Better, For Worse
James Tollett – August 2, 2013

This Sunday, August 4, Melanie and I celebrate our 34th anniversary.  When you say “34 years,” that sounds like a lot, especially if you are still under 30 years old.  However, as Melanie and I both have said this week, it seems only like a few years ago that we were standing in front of the preacher repeating our vows and eventually saying, “I do.”

There are many things and phrases that I remember about our wedding and our vows.  This year, one phrase has stood out to me: “For better, for worse.”  In Genesis 2, God created Eve out of Adam’s side because Adam needed a helpmate.  In verse 24, we find the process necessary to be married and to become a family: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (KJV).

I believe God ordained marriage not only to complete a man and a woman but, additionally, so they can complement and strengthen each other through the good times and the rough patches in life.  In other words, through times that are “for better or for worse”.

Like many, our first year or so of marriage was great.  We were young, we had energy, we were both working, and we were in LOVE.  This was all good and great times—it was the “for better” times.  Over time, though, we began to experience some challenges: at work, at home, with money, at church, etc.  We had hit those “for worse” times in our lives when the “rubber meets the road.”

It is easy to cleave to your spouse in the “for better” times.  However, it is not always as easy to cleave to your spouse in the “for worse” or rough times.  You start to blame each other, accuse each other, and—worst of all—stop trusting each other.  At those times, we need to stop and remember our covenant commitment we made to each other at the altar.  We promised to be with each other through thick and thin, through “for better” times, and especially through “for worse” times.

I am happy to say that Melanie and I have had more “for better” times than “for worse” times, at least in my estimation.  That does not belittle the times when we had problems of various kinds; however, we were committed to make it ’til “death do us part.”  You see, when you marry someone, it is for the long haul.

The movie “The Notebook” expresses this sentiment well.  Two young kids fell in love, got married, had a family.  Those were the good times, the “for better” times.  As they entered their senior years, the wife developed Alzheimer’s (the “for worse” times).  Even though some men would have abandoned their wives, this husband did not.  The movie ends with both of them dying together on the same night.  That was a movie, right.  However, it can also happen in real life.

You see, anyone can live through the good times, the “for better” times.  But the mettle of a real marriage is found in the “for worse” times.  In my family, and also in my wife’s family, we have some who are now living through the “for worse” times.  In both cases, the wife is in the throes of Alzheimer’s.  Nevertheless, both husbands have stayed by their wives’ sides.  They have fed them, washed them, talked to them.  I can speak more personally of my mother’s husband, Sam.  Although dealing with health challenges himself, he goes to see my mother every day.  Although she no longer responds or speaks, he talks with her, feeds her, and holds her hand.  About a year ago, I remember asking him, “How are you able to do this?”  His answer: “When you performed your mom’s and my wedding, you asked me to take care of her ‘for better or worse.’  We have had the better, now it is time to live through the ‘for worse.’”  I can’t tell you how much that spoke to me.

This Sunday, Melanie and I celebrate our 34th year together as husband and wife.  We have been together through better and worse, and are still making it.  This week, I challenge you as a believer to recommit yourself to your wedding vows, to remember the good, “for better,” so that those memorizes will energize you through the “for worse” times.  Remember: your commitment was not just to each other but to the Lord.

Until next week, I am James Tollett, your missionary to America.

ANNOUNCEMENT:
IN TWO WEEKS WE WILL BE PRODUCING THE 100TH EDITION OF THE BELIEVER’S TIP OF THE WEEK.  IF THIS MINISTRY, AND PARTICULARLY THIS WEEKLY EBLAST, HAS BEEN A BLESSING TO YOU, PLEASE SEND ME AN EMAIL LETTING ME KNOW.  IN THE 100TH EDITION I WILL BE SHARING WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID ABOUT THE BELIEVER’S TIP OF THE WEEK.  I WOULD LIKE TO INCLUDE YOUR COMMENTS.  SEND YOUR COMMENTS TO james@jtmin.org AND IN THE SUBJECT LINE TYPE “BELIEVER’S TIP OF THE WEEK”.