Marriage is the best and hardest thing that can happen to a person in so many ways. It is both beautiful and difficult, a thing to be grown and cherished and nurtured whether you feel like it or are having a bad day. It teaches you lessons you never knew you had to learn - and sometimes you didn't want to learn them to begin with. Marriage has shown me a lot of things throughout the past 6 years, and one of those is my own tendency towards selfishness.
I never wanted to live alone. I moved straight out of my parents' house to a college dorm with a roommate, and from there I lived with other people right until Nathan and I got married. I liked it this way. I had no desire to be alone, knowing I would go a little crazy if I didn't have someone there to talk to or just hang out with throughout the day. Never having lived alone, and in a big family with three siblings, I always thought that sharing and selflessness was high on my list of life achievements.
Oh how dead wrong I was. It turns out that when I am not forced to share or be selfless, my natural tendency is the exact opposite. It is too easy for me to focus in on what I want to do, where I want to go, and how long I want it to take. It turns out that selfishness comes a lot easier to me than sharing ever has, and this became abundantly obvious in our relationship almost immediately.
Another thing that can easily happen in marriage is escalation. One person gets angry, says or does things out of a reaction, and the other person gets angrier and reacts accordingly...and the vicious cycle continues. Soon a disagreement that started over nothing (sometimes it's even embarrassing to remember how it began in the first place!) becomes a full blown argument that taints your whole day - or more.
I can be selfish. And I can be an escalator. But I thank God every day that Nathan is neither of these. The most beautiful part of marriage is when you see qualities in your spouse that you wish you had - and you begin to strive towards those every day.
The grace Nathan has given me is that despite the fact that he grew up as an only child, never having to share, he is good at sharing with me. He loves me enough to be selfless with his time, with his things, and ultimately with his own love. He gives me grace when I am selfish by responding so selflessly it can be astounding. If I need something, he is the first to get it. If we are sharing, he jumps at the chance to give me more than half. If I want something he has, he will both joyfully and immediately give it to me without question.
Today I thank God that Nathan gives me grace and teaches me how to be less selfish, more giving, and more loving. Today I hope I learn that lesson...today and every day. That is what grace means to me.