Where were you on September 11, 2001? My guess is just about every one of you remembers where you were when our country got attacked on 9/11. I was treating patients as a physical therapist at Grady Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, and my wife was doing the same at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. I remember walking in and out of different rooms in the hospital, paying more attention to the news of the TV than the needs of my patients. The week holds extra significance for my wife and me since we got married four days after the attacks.
Last week, my wife and I visited the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, TX. If you ever visit Dallas, and I hope that you do, build in some time to spend a few hours at The Bush. We’ve been before, but each time we visit, the 9/11 memorial brings back a flood of memories and an onslaught of tears. The museum developers did an incredible job of capturing the highlights of this unforgettable period in our nation’s history.
Perhaps most impactful for me is a series of videos they show that detail the initial attack on each of the towers, followed by footage of both towers collapsing. As I watched these videos, I was struck by how quickly the towers fell. The best estimates online suggest that it took almost four years (3 years, 11 months) to build the two towers.
Yet, how long did it take for the towers to fall on 9/11?
In other words, it took 2,059,966 minutes to build the towers and less than 102 minutes to tear them down.
As I watched these videos tell the story of the crashing towers, I instantly thought of marriage (the strange thoughts of a marriage pastor). It takes minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years to build a marriage. Hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. Years and years of work to build a God-honoring marriage that will hopefully leave behind a godly legacy.
But, at the same time, just like the Twin Towers, the whole thing can come crashing down in less than 102 minutes. All it takes is a handful of poor decisions, and your marriage can come crumbling down. A one-night stand, a handful of white lies, or a few drunken binges, and your home life takes a hit. That once solid foundation begins to crack and the weaknesses become exposed. Before you know it, the tower of your marriage begins to collapse, floor by floor (By the way, we don’t think just because a marriage crashes and crisis hits, that it’s over and done. Come join us at re|engage).
All day, every day, you and I make decisions that will either build up our marriage or tear it down.
For this reason, we tell our premarried couples and newlyweds to build their relationship on the solid rock foundation of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus says,
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is 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.”
How will you build your house? And what will you do to continually reinforce the foundation? Each decision you make will either draw you closer together or push you further apart. There is no neutral in married life - you’re either moving forward towards each other or stuck in reverse, moving further and further away. And, as far I can tell, most couples don’t automatically drift towards strengthening their marriages. The passive drift tends to be downhill away from each other, not the active process of building the marriage.
Here’s a prayer for you and me. What if, moving forward from today, whenever you or I see an image of 9/11 or think of the towers falling, those buildings become a reminder of the hard work we’re going to put in to build our marriages? Let’s commit to doing the work we need to do to solidify and strengthen the foundation of our marriages.
As we saw on 9/11, a lot can happen in less than 102 minutes. The same thing holds true for our marriages. Let’s make those minutes count. Here are a few ways to spend some of those minutes:
Discuss with your spouse: