The best way out is always through. — Robert Frost
There are lots of ways to do something, but I believe there is usually one best way. For example, when we travel from Texas to Wisconsin, there are three different routes we could take; but I found the best one. More importantly, I figured out the best time of day to leave—7:30 at night. That way you eat a huge dinner, everyone but me falls asleep in the car, I drive through the night, and—BAM!—they wake up in Wisconsin. Brilliant! It’s the best way to get from here to there.
When it comes to marriage, most of us want to know the best way, right? Marriage is hard. Sometimes it feels like the best way is out—that the relationship cannot survive another day. Maybe you can’t imagine staying married because you can’t imagine a best way to fix the brokenness.
In 1 Corinthians 12—the chapter right before the famous Love Chapter—Paul writes for the purpose of growing healthy relationships in the body. The church was in a rough patch; terrible behaviors were dividing the congregation. In short, they were falling apart.
Paul wanted the best for them; he wanted them to grow in Christ. He tells them directly in 1 Corinthians 12:31, “And yet I will show you the most excellent way.”
He was saying, “Hey! Listen up! Sure, you can wrestle through this. You can even fall apart if you choose. But that’s not what I want for you. Instead, I’m going to show you the best way—the most excellent way—to grow together.”
It’s a relational principle that can be applied to marriage too. Right after 12:31 comes 13:1 and—you guessed it—the passage on love. I love how The Message paraphrases Paul’s words:
No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. (13:3)
Bankrupt without love. Not growing. Not thriving. Empty and depleted without love.
The best way to grow in marriage is through love. No, not “puppy love.” Not the kind of love you feel for a while but then it fades. I’m talking about God’s love. The intense, pure, unconditional love that not only saved us, but sustains us and works through us. Yes, through that love your marriage can do more than survive. It can thrive.
God, when I’m in the midst of a rough patch in my marriage, it’s hard to remember there is a way out other than quitting. I surrender my desire to quit, and I ask You to guide me away from relational bankruptcy into the way of love. Show me this more excellent way, Lord. I will follow. Amen.