A Christ Centered Vision Statement for Your Marriage
Highly Intimate couples make it a continuous habit to connect the dots of their vision and their plans with God’s. In fact, just like a child’s connect-the-dot picture, a couple is merely connecting the dots of a picture that God has outlined. However, we are not robots and God does not force us to complete His picture of our marriage. Rather, He knows what picture best fits the framework of our marriage. Therefore, a Christ-centered marriage gains intimate connectivity when there is a mutual willingness for a husband and wife to search out and then move toward God’s picture for their marriage.
Let me refer again to the wisdom of Proverbs 16:1-9: The plans of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the Lord weighs the motives. Commit your works to the Lord And your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished. By loving-kindness and truth, iniquity is atoned for, And by the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil. When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Better is a little with righteousness Than great income with injustice. The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.
The Work of Connecting to God
I have hung a lot of decisions about my own marriage on the words of this passage and here is what it boils down to: We design what we want and why, but God discerns our true motives and desires. The word translated as “commit” in verse 3 comes from a Hebrew word that means to roll. The picture in the original Hebrew language of Proverbs is that of a person pushing a boulder up a hill, and God pulling the boulder up the hill from the other side. A more apt picture for us today is to think of pushing your car up a steep hill and God pulling from the other side as you struggle to push from below. That is the imagery of us rolling, or committing, our plans to the Lord and of Him then making them stable.
Have you ever had an idea or plan that in retrospect strikes you as hilarious that you should ever have even thought it was a good idea? Well, as we let God discern and assist in moving our idea boulders up hill, He makes both our ideas stable and our enemies to be at peace with us. The conclusion of the thought, then, is that it is better to have a little and be right with the Lord than to have much and be miserably out of place with God. Our heads, filled with our dreams and notions, will always start us down a wrong path. But God’s higher view of the picture and direction of our marriage guides our steps toward stability.
It’s a really powerful piece of Scripture that reminds us that a stable, intimate marriage does not just happen, nor is it karma or goodwill or luck. In reality, it has less to do with us and more to do with how we spiritually connect our dots with God through planning and goal setting. Our marital connections are in the planning and pushing boulders up hills in concert with God’s pulling for our marriage. The implication is that there is work on our end; there is action we must take and responsibility we bear in connecting our dots with God’s picture. The work involved reminds me of a conversation I had with a man a few years ago as he dejectedly told me of all of the hours that he was spending in prayer, asking for a job. Despite long hours of praying, he was still unemployed. So I asked him, “Well, how many job applications have you filled out?” His blank stare, drove home the point. See, there is time to pray and receive wisdom from God, but typically, at some point we also have to take some action. So for the rest of this chapter, we will look at three tangible ways to connect the seemingly random dots of your marriage with the visionary picture that God has already drawn for your marriage.
Dot One: Marriage Vision Statement
How we see our marriage and perceive what it should be is a major connecting “dot” of a relationship. A shared marital vision asks and satisfies essential points of potential disconnection, such as “What do we value?” or “What is of importance to us?” It is in how we mutually see the answers to those questions that relationships receive a vision for how they will connect, act, interact, and love in their particular marriage. In most areas of business and life, a Vision Statement is a document crafted to lay out core values and principles, while outlining moral boundaries related to meeting key objectives. Such visionary statements are the backbone of many thriving corporations and entities. However, the unique challenge when Christian marriages craft vision statements is that coming to a shared vision requires balance between a couple and their God—a balance that calls for unique perspectives and levels of sacrificial submission that are different from the kind of vision statement that would be crafted for a corporation or other entity.
God Owns the Vision of Your Vision Statement
From a Christ-centered perspective, and with the words of Proverbs 16 still ringing in our ears, the marriage vision does not belong solely to the creators of the vision statement. Instead, an effective marriage vision statement captures the view of a husband and wife from their vantage point as they also surrender and line up their vision with God’s desire, from His vantage point. Their vision does not wholly belong to them nor does it exclude God in any way. The goal has to be to come to a shared vision between a couple and their God, for at the same time that we surrender our vision to God’s vision for our marriage, God also does not force His vision on us. It is our vision to live out and, as we allow Him to, God then directs our steps. The acceptance of God’s picture is not forced upon the couple, yet if they reject God and draw their own picture, they do so to the hindrance of their own dreams and spiritual growth.
So then, the crafting of our vision does not just include or consider God casually, but focuses on the bigger picture that God may have for our marriage. It can be challenging to know exactly what God is doing in a marriage, but we must seek for consistent “threads.” Just as we expect that a sweater or garment that we wear would have threads running all the way through it and not stopping and starting intermittently, in the same way we should expect that, typically, the vision of God will tie into common threads of our dating years, our relationship history, and our common strengths and weaknesses. We may have never thought about nor realized these threads before, but they are there. And because it may take some work and prayer to see them, here are a few starting questions for couples to think through to help locate their common threads:
Of course, these are just a few of the possible questions that a couple could ask. But they are the beginning of pushing the big boulder up the hill, as God pulls us toward a clearer, elevated view of our marriage. The point is that the answers to these questions, and any that you can add, provide powerful insights—and that’s what you’re going for: the insights. And get this because it’s huge: there is no right or wrong, just glimpses into what you both value—and that’s going to be different at times, possibly even in conflict. As you discuss your insights, some commonalities and differences will begin to emerge. Embrace both, and begin to write out what core values, principles, and recurring themes seem to be woven throughout your individual thoughts. That becomes your vision statement, but you are not quite finished yet.
The statements of values, principles, and commonalities are the framework for what you now begin to pray about. Remember that Prayer Menu from the last chapter? Have an intimate conversation with God about the vision for your marriage as you go on a nature walk or fast or pray silently together, etc. Include reading the Bible together at least once a week and typically what will happen is that your reading and praying will confirm and further support the vision. As you both become comfortable that you have arrived at God’s vision for your marriage, use it to guide how you will interact and come to decisions in your marriage. It is a “dot” that you can keep connecting your marriage around as often as needed.
This is an excerpt from my book, Elevate Your Marriage: 7 Practices of Highly Intimate Couples