Building a Marriage that Weathers Storms with Grace

"Before even moving to LA, the question posed at our wedding echoed in our heads: “What will be your foundation?” We were drawn to the adventure of a new place, the opportunity to engage new people and a new culture, and the possibility of realizing some long-held dreams, but we knew no one who lived in LA. We were each other’s sole support system. We knew we would need something besides just one another to build a strong faith in our adult life."

- Katherine Wolf, from HOPE HEALS

When Katherine and Jay got married, Jay’s dad officiated at their ceremony and encouraged them to lay a foundation on a rock that would endure—because the storms of life come to everyone. “We think the Lord knew we needed to have that truth planted deep in our souls. At twenty-two, we were both bright-eyed in love and perhaps a little naïve…,” writes Jay from Hope Heals.

Almost ten years ago, my college roommate went home for the weekend and encountered quite a surprise. His family lived perched atop an exclusive neighborhood in what can only be described as the pinnacle of Southern California living. Their magnificent home boasted every amenity human creativity can concoct, but there was a deep problem. Very deep.

In 1997, Southern California experienced one of the most severe series of downpours in recorded history. Foot after foot of rain saturated the ground. Unbeknownst to the family, their home had been built on two different types of soil- bonafide, been-here-forever mountainside and also scraped-together, packed-down, ‘at’ll do’ imitation mountainside. For years no one knew a difference existed. But several months of torrential rains made it more than clear. Their home broke and split apart with an eighteen-inch gap down the middle.

Homes, like families, friendships, and marriages, face extreme challenges. Weather sometimes changes dramatically. Sunny days turn into soggy seasons. Foundations that work perfectly well when life is warm and breezes are gentle show their frailty when clouds roll in. People rarely examine the foundations of their relationships, but perhaps we would be wiser if we did.

@@When everything else is stripped away, what are you standing on?@@

As a kid, I never saw the foundation of my home because it was hidden underneath carpets, flooring, wood, and dirt. And I had no interest in it because it worked. Had my house broken in half, I suddenly would’ve become very interested!

Our lives often build up layers upon various foundations. Life may be peaceful because of a nice boss, trustworthy car, pleasant home, or handy escapes like media or travel. When we feel a jolt in life, we look to the things that brought us pleasure or security and hope life’s shaking calms down. But we quickly see that these things, even when good, are not enduring.

Almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ revealed that our lives not only undergo storms but also God's evaluation of what endures - all that is solid, loving and righteous. As we are reassured that God's word endures forever, Jesus explains the sobering difference between a life that endures and a life that won’t.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practiceis like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.MATTHEW 7:24-27

In light of this reality, ask some diagnostic questions to see what you really trust for support in life - what you believe is solid and eternal.

1) Do you trust your education, appearance, humor, or experience when life gets tumultuous?

2) Do you expect that friends, family, coworkers, or colleagues will carry you through when a rainy season erupts?

3) Do you find it possible to entrust your life to God, knowing that despite what you can see, he has a plan?

4) Does your life reveal that you not only hear God's word but do it?

Have you seen foundations tested in the lives of others?

It’s great if your foundation appears to be working for you now, but you can only personally test it as far as your life has been tested. A smarter course is to build upon a foundation that has been tested in the lives of many others. As you take that route, you can believe that your foundation will hold when it comes up against trials you haven’t yet seen.

The Wolfs invite you into their story so you can examine the foundations they laid their tragedy upon. Walking with them through the pain, you discover how the soil of faith in God, trusting the Bible as his truth, and committing to the church as their ‘family’ gave them strength each day.

They grounded their life on a commitment to Jesus Christ and doing what He says - trusting, loving, laying down their self-centeredness. But this commitment was woven into a web with others who shared their faith. It was this faith community that became the support and scaffolding that allowed them to rebuild in the midst of the storm. They all shared a commitment to sacrificial love that ensured a unified, unspoken understanding of what could be expected in this ‘family’.

When you’re able to see how well faith in Jesus as the foundation holds people up through their storms, it makes “faith” much less of a “blind leap.” Instead, it begins to appear like a “safe bet”and an ongoing practice.

In your deepest relationships, Do you share the same foundation?

My roommate’s family experienced its catastrophe because the home was built on conflicting foundations. One was old, tried and true, secure. The other was new, inexperienced, and assumed. Sometimes spouses discover a deep rift in their relationship because they’re basing their lives on different perspectives that take on greater significance over time. Friends drift apart when competing visions of “what’s best” get the upper hand. Entire communities can dissolve when different factions envision their future in conflicting ways.

If you’re in a close relationship, spend time talking about your “foundations”. Discern whether you appear to be standing upon the same things. Many people think that the externals and the facades of a relationship matter most. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The hidden foundation provides the primary strength enabling a relationship to endure life’s storms and God's assessment.

What same things do you stand on? How does your relationship follow Christ’s pattern of love and righteousness? 


 

As I read this book, tears streamed from my eyes even as joy flooded my heart. Jay and Katherine are a raw yet refreshing testimony to the unshakable trustworthiness of God amidst the unimaginable trials of life. This book reminds all of us where hope can be found in a world where none of us knows what the next day holds.DAVID PLATT, Author of NYT bestseller Radical and president of the International Mission Board