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jennifer zumbiel wedding

The One Thing In Marriage Our World Needs To Cheer For Over & Over.

Have you ever watched a marathon? Have you ever stood on the side of the race, and really looked at the eyes of those runners? Have you ever had the privilege of taking in the whole scene at mile 26? Most of them are hurting. Some are crying. Some are bleeding. Some are limping. Some have a friend who jumped out of the crowd to run them in. But they are all moving forward. They are all focused on that finish line no matter how much pain and anguish it is creating for them.

Because of my marathon-running husband, I have had the opportunity to witness this mile in this life-changing race many times. It is simply incredible and one that always leaves me in tears as the bystander of greatness. It is hard for me to watch this – in my husband or complete strangers – and not be overcome with emotion for what they are accomplishing right before my eyes.

In my opinion, there are not too many places in life where this level of commitment is modeled as an example for others to see. If you want to see perseverance, pain, character, commitment, and the human spirit undergo the most self-inflicted stress and still survive, go watch a marathon.

Or ——— go watch a marriage.

Yep, a marriage. The equivalent in human relationships to running a marathon. Ongoing training, consistency, downhill strides, uphill battles, pain, perseverance, self-doubt, self-motivation, cheering, victory, and, above all, commitment. Can you imagine anything more valuable to watch?

On the anniversary of 15 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart, I cannot help but reflect that our entire journey has been based on one word: COMMITMENT.

I will never forget choosing the scripture readings for our marriage, May 29, 2004. We chose Matthew 7:24-29. You know it. The one that says the house that remains when the floods come and the winds beat against it is the one built on stone.

That’s it. That’s the secret. Something solid. Something that won’t shake, won’t collapse, won’t fall because it is incapable of it.

I always thought that foundation was faith. The faith we would promise to grow in ourselves. The faith we would promise to give and instill in our children and the ways we would be called to model our faith for others.

But as I really look back, I think the first step in even making faith a solid foundation in our marriage is that we first had to make a commitment. THAT is the difference between the crumble or COLLAPSE & surviving. THAT is the difference between what the world says will hold a marriage together and what our faith KNOWS will hold a marriage together. 

That daily mindset that you will not give up. That there is no other option. That you will keep running through the pain, the injuries, the tears and you will make it to that finish line because that is the commitment you made all those years ago when you said, “I do.”

Through 15 years of marriage, we have definitely weathered our storms: job changes, financial headaches, sacrifice after sacrifice, four children, conflicting views, outside opinions, and stress after stress. BUT we made a covenant before God and welcomed those storms because we knew the joy of victory would far outweigh the cost of pain.

It’s funny to think that all the times I watch my husband running those marathons, it has always been a metaphor for what he was teaching me all along. Learning what true commitment is. It has been the greatest gift my husband and I have given each other and it has been the foundation of the promise we made to each other 15 years ago. It is the legacy we pass to our children who witness that marriage is built on solid values and not something to be quit when it gets too tough. We have reaped over and over the fruits of self-sacrifice and determination and above all, we have done it together.

Jennifer Zumbiel

We, those of us who are currently in marriage, owe it to all the bystanders to fight as hard as we can to model our commitment. To exemplify it through the victory and the pain and to let them see our greatness. Just like that of a marathon runner, our steadfastness should bring them to tears because they see the beauty of how hard we work and how the human spirit can overcome and survive. They should understand that the secret of our strength lies in the fact that we NEVER EVER HAD A CHOICE TO QUIT.

Then, when it’s all over, “though the rains come in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on rock.” (Matthew 7: 25) And THAT is what our world will cheer for over and over again:


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