42 YEARS OF MARRIAGE

WOW – It’s hard to believe I’ve been married to this beauty for 42 years. This photo was taken when we were first dating; I’m shocked she went out with me again after seeing the oversized bow tie!

Janet and I have had an incredibly blessed 42 years and we’ve gone through tragedy in our family like everyone else. The one thing that’s helped us is our common commitment to Christ, one another and our family.

We are as different as can be, but also have some similar loves! A few of the things we love: each other, Jesus, our kids, our grandkids, our families, our church family, serving in our church, our friends, serving people, traveling, going to sporting events, and playing games with family and friends.

One of Janet’s greatest joys is loving on and serving our kids and grandkids! She’s an amazing wife, mother and Nonni. She’s played such an important role in raising our children to love Christ and His church, and to demonstrate love for other people.

Even though we’ve been together 42 years, I’m still learning and choosing to love and serve her. One of the most significant things I learned in my Radical Mentoring groups the past two years is that my primary responsibility is to love her like Christ loves me (and loves His church). Her response and actions don’t determine how I respond; I’m to love her like this no matter what. How am I doing with this? I guess you’d have to ask her, but I’m better with it now than I was before. I intend to love her this way for the rest of our lives.

In my time alone with God this morning, I was reading in Matthew 18 on what Jesus said to the Pharisees about divorce. One thing rang clear; Jesus said Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of people’s hearts. This is not a commentary on divorce. Some of our best friends and best ministry leaders in our church have gone through the pain of a divorce. Janet and I went through a tough time about 20 years into our marriage and I’m grateful we made it through that time. It was the result of my hard-heartedness; I drifted from a close relationship with God and her. Jesus was speaking specifically to the Pharisees in Matthew 18, but I believe a heart that is hardened toward God will always end up being hardened toward others which makes it easier to excuse behavior. For me to love Janet like Christ loves the church means I have to love Jesus and maintain a close relationship with Him where I choose to apply what He says.

As I was thinking about this and what it means to love Janet like Christ loves the church, I reflected upon Galatians 5; especially verses 22-23. As I choose to submit to Christ and love Him, I’ll see an amazing work take place in my life that allows me to love Janet as I want to and should. I’ll demonstrate love in ways that make sense to her (that usually means time together and serving her in some way). I’ll do all I can to help her experience the things that bring her joy. I’ll do my part to make our home and marriage one that’s filled with peace. I will intentionally choose to be patient with her especially as our differences play out in our marriage. I will be kind to her in words, actions and attitudes; putting her needs before my own. I will be good to her and I choose to be faithful to her no matter what. I also choose to be faithful to the Lord which impacts all of this. I will strive to be gentle with her and treat her with understanding, and I will demonstrate self-control in our relationship.

Again; how am I doing? You’d have to ask her. Yes, I fail. Yes, I choose to be selfish and self-centered at times. However, the commitment I’ve made to her and to Christ is to love her like Christ loves me and His church – no matter what. How she responds isn’t my responsibility; my responsibility is to love her like this.

Anyhow, I love you Janet. Happy 42nd Anniversary Sweetheart!

Here’s a more recent photo showing a portion of our legacy and our greatest loves.

About bjrutledge

BJ & Janet were married in July 1977 They have three grown children who are all married: Jeremy & Whitney Rutledge, Chris & Julie Hurst, and Josh and Hannah Rutledge. They also have four grandsons, and a granddaughter. BJ says perhaps our greatest legacy is even though our kids are PK's, they love Jesus and are all involved in ministry in the local church. BJ has served at churches in Dallas - Bossier City, LA - Houston - and was at Fellowship of the Woodlands (Woodlands Church) in The Woodlands before coming to Grace Fellowship. BJ is the Lead Pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Paradise, TX.
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