GROWING FROM INDEPENDENCE TO UNITY By Drew Walsh
I remember it like it was yesterday… I had just returned home from my Junior/ Senior HS retreat on Catalina Island when my mom called. “Hi Drew, I want to let you know that Ryan drove down from LA to talk to your dad and I about you. He’ll be at your school soon to pick you up and bring you home. Gotta go, bye!”
*Que Drew being so nervous/shocked at what her mom just told her that she throws up all over herself in her teacher’s car.*
Yes, as pathetic as it sounds is exactly how pathetic it was. But hey, when you start out as the underdog girl in the church youth group who’d been crushing on the worship leader, it all makes perfect sense. That same night Ryan took me for a drive and explained his intentions for me and that I was worth pursuing. This moment would begin our journey of five years of dating.
The long distance (California-Arizona) did so much for us individually, but also as a couple. We learned how to communicate, how to love from a distance, and how to release each other to the current plans of the Lord. Among the myriad of other things that Ryan and I learned and learned well, was independence. Although we loved each other, we became used to calling our own shots, making our own decision and following our own dreams. As much as we missed each other, we were proud to say that we loved our freedom to be independent and not “need” each other but “want each other.”
To say the least, this position was comfortable and easy to manage.
Our long distance relationship ended in unbreakable covenant on May 14th, 2016. After five long years of dating, Ryan and I were joined together as not two flesh, but one. Which brings us to the present. People often ask me now what it is like being married to the person I dated for so long. How different is it, what are the struggles? What are the triumphs? Now that we have been married for coming up on one year, I have been hungry to answer those questions. I have been eager to identify what my wins and losses are. Ultimately, I am eager to know how I have been stretched and grown.
So, what has changed you may ask? What has been the biggest obstacle and realization in marriage? In all honesty, answering this question took some digging. It took some prying, unearthing, pondering, and a good long stare in the mirror.
And then, like a ton of bricks it hit me. My biggest obstacle was me.
Somewhere along this journey of fighting to become we, I have been silently screaming for me. I had become so used to entertaining a long distance relationship, that my independence somehow became my pride. It was my badge of honor; it was my false humility.
To break it down, I had not been fighting for unity in marriage, but rather, my way. In so many words, I of course would say unity is what I longed for and worked towards, but somehow it felt like my flesh was fighting for something else.
In all of the tension, Jesus met me. In the most gracious and loving way I was baptized into fire. I once again was submersed in a sanctification process that only the lover of my soul could take me on. He graciously showed me that the struggle and striving I was fighting for came from a place of pride and was ultimately rooted in selfishness. Women, I want to share this with you because the battle is all too real. From the very beginning in Genesis 1 we see women usurping the authority of not only their husbands, but also their Heavenly Father. Eve was tempted into thinking she knew more, could do more, and be more, on her own and through her own decisions. What a divisive and disunited place to live.
If you’re anything like me, independence has been your mark of success. To do things on your own may be your biggest and most proud accomplishment. But to what demise is independence worth? Why should we trade our independence for unity? Fortunately, Scripture has much to say on the topic of striving for unity:
Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together in peace.”
John 17:23 “I in them and you in me-so that they may be brought together in complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Psalm 133:1 “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
Here is the honest truth about unity: it is really hard. It defies every part of our tendency for selfishness. Beyond these things however, it is NECESSARY. Our unity in marriage has the opportunity to show the world a difference. To show our friends, families, and co-workers, the relationship that Jesus modeled with the father … submission, surrender, and servility.
As 2017 carries on, wives, I challenge you to sharpen your awareness of how your marriage relationship reflects your Christ relationship. We must shift our perspectives. We must see and acknowledge that our marriages are an opportunity to lay down independence and pick up interdependence. I love interdependence because it takes two. Again, I challenge us wives to shift our perspective from one that says “I can do it myself,” to one that says “I choose to submit and come alongside another person.” Think of the the powerful affect our marriages would have as a witness to Christ if we fought for unity… let is inspire you, let it ignite you, and let it change you.
When all is said and done, I am learning what unity means more and more each day. I look at myself in the mirror and choose not to be defined by results, but to embrace the journey, and the process. In the end, this has unlocked a freedom in me that knows my identity isn’t defined by my independence, but by the dependence I have in Christ that allows me to be interdependent with my husband. In the wise words of Francis Chan, “Marriage is one of the most humbling, sanctifying journeys you will ever be a part of. It forces us to wrestle with our selfishness and pride. But it also gives us a platform to display love and commitment.” Over everything, I want to be a part of this deeper sanctification. I want to continually be refined and renewed into the women Christ has destined me to be. So to answer all of the questions; yes, marriage is much different than I thought. I now know that becoming one with my husband was not a one-time transaction that happened on my wedding day, it is a conscious decisions and action that I will fight to walk in every day. My perspective has shifted, my eyes are wide open, and my aim is unity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Drew (most recently Walsh) is a 22-year-old, college graduate from Grand Canyon University and a newlywed to her high school sweetheart, Ryan Walsh. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and is thankful to use her degree in pursuing a career. Drew is passionate about young people and is eager to see students reach their spiritual potential in Jesus Christ. Drew and her husband Ryan reside in San Diego California and direct an internship program at The Father’s House Church called Immersion San Diego. Some of Drew’s favorite life moments are soaking in a day off at the beach with her husband, writing, sipping on lattes and enjoying a good laugh. Through her writing, Drew hopes to promote transparency and vulnerability that can prayerfully lead to breakthrough and clarity for women of all ages.