Relationships Are Messy

Last summer, Greg and I decided to make use of our tent and brave the wilderness for a night of camping in northern Minnesota. We planned our meals, booked our site, packed our bags and put our bikes on the rack. Everything, we thought, was ready. As soon as we arrived and set up the tent, we hopped on our bikes and road out of the campsite. A few minutes into our ride, it started to downpour. Instead of returning to the campsite, we made the choice to embrace the unknown — and now we have a great memory of experiencing the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi in the pouring rain.

Marriage, it turns out, is just like that ride.

When Greg and I first got married, we wanted to build a strong foundation in Christ for our marriage, so we read a ton of books, went to counseling and took a bunch of tests. By the time we walked down the aisle, Greg and I felt ready for whatever challenges and joys marriage would throw at us. We were ready, we thought, for everything.

Today, three years in, we are a little wiser about how often we will not be ready and how often we will fall short, especially when we rely strictly on our own strength and preparation, however well intentioned. We’ve learned a little more about how the Lord intends to use what we’re unprepared for to bring attention to Himself. It can be frightening to think of the unknowns we haven’t accounted for, both between us and around us, but in marriage, as in all of life, unplanned for troubles are opportunities to remember that God is perfectly good and that His ways are higher than ours.

So, here’s my one bit of advice: whatever relationships and whatever circumstances you are in, embrace the unexpected and unforeseen, knowing that Christ is before all things and that in Him, all things hold together.

*Originally published under the title ‘Expect the Unexpected.’


  • One of Greg and Stephanie’s favorite marriage resource is Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage.
  • For a quick look at embracing the unknown, read through the book of Hebrews, chapter 11. As you read through this “hall of fame” try to imagine what it must have been like to face each of the unknowns these people faced.

Be refreshed.

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