Exposed in All the Best Ways

If you had asked me if I was ready to walk the aisle before our wedding day, I would have quickly and confidently told you yes. With absolutely no reserve, I would have shared all the ways God had prepared me for marriage. In my own mind, I was an ideal candidate for a husband.

I could have checked a lot of boxes that would put me in the “righteous boy” category. From the outside, I looked the part. I was respectful. I knew the right things to say to anyone asking. I had little on my resume that would give anyone pause. I was a “good Christian.” I sang in the gospel choir. I was academically gifted. I was a hard worker, and it showed in most every area of my life.

I excelled. That was my aim and highest goal. And if I’m being honest, I have to say that the fear of being exposed as something other than “most likely to succeed” was my greatest fear.

I suppose this fear came from growing up a mixed-race boy, never feeling like I fit in. At least that’s what I would share if I was sitting down with a counselor asking me the root issues in my life.

So instead of trying to fit in, I pushed myself to the top, daily. It didn’t matter whether it was sports, work, or extracurricular activities. I wanted to be pictured at the top of the class. I didn’t want to be seen or remembered as anything less than the best.

Frankly, it worked with most people and in most scenarios. That’s because most people are looking at your life as a snapshot. They never spend enough time with you to see the real you. They see only what you allow them to see.

Keeping up your image is easy to do in a snapshot, because you have to hold your pose for only a split second. Many of us learn to hold the pose at just the right time. Once the picture is taken, we go back to our normal selves.

Then a beautiful young woman with much less of an image issue began to expose the rest of the film in my life.

If you walked into our home, you’d see a beautifully framed, black-and-white wedding photo on our fireplace mantel. It shows Wynter leaning into my chest, her head snuggled into my neck, her left arm wrapped around my side, and her right arm grabbing my body just under my shoulders. My chin is pressed into her nose, and though her eyes aren’t visible, you can see joy in her entire face. I’m looking down at her with awe and wonder, with one arm clasping her left arm and the other placed gently on her back.

It’s a beautiful picture. It’s a very good snapshot, but a snapshot nonetheless.

The thing is, marriage is not a snapshot. It’s a live shot that lets you see, along with the final image, the milliseconds of movements made just before the shutter blinks.

Although for most of our youthful lives we tend to skip from one snapshot to another—from one relationship to another, never allowing someone to see us for who we really are—marriage is the beginning of one live shot after another. Yes, you will have opportunities to capture a snapshot, and those moments are still important. But marriage is living and active. It opens the door for full exposure and vulnerability that never quite existed in your life before.

To many of us, the thought of this kind of exposure feels threatening and awkward, a barrier to our ability to live from one snapshot to the next. It’s outside of our control, forcing us to reconsider everything we thought about life and relationships.

But being exposed is a good thing. By ourselves we can make only the changes in our lives we’re comfortable with. We get to hold on to some of the comfortable things that have defined us. Marriage, at its best, however, is where we can be exposed, but without fear of judgment and condemnation.

In a godly marriage, we are moving toward full exposure with maximum grace from each other and from the Lord. As we do, our live shots expose context and character, filling our lives with so much more goodness than a snapshot could ever express.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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