I have mixed emotions about the fall; it’s sort of a love/hate thing. Cold weather is imminent, but at least the grass-scorching heat will come to an end. Vacation season is over, but football season begins. No more popsicles on the porch swing, but a Thanksgiving feast is just around the corner.
Fall represents endings for many of us: the end of summer, the end of vacation and almost the end of another year. It’s easy to mourn the end of a season, especially a season filled with some of our favorite things. But the end of one season marks the beginning of another.
There are reasons to be excited about fall, beyond the shallow ones mentioned above. Fall begins a new school year, which I know many parents are celebrating. And it also marks the beginning of a new season of classes at many churches.
Now, I know many of us want to take a class as much as we want to go to the dentist. When I graduated from college, I vowed that I would not set foot in another classroom for a long, long time. Eighteen years of education was plenty for me, thanks.
But I’ve learned the hard way that I need continuing education in some areas. When the real world handed me a report card with a big fat ‘F’ in marriage, I realized I needed to pick up some books and start studying again.
Fortunately, many churches give us the opportunity to do just that. They offer weekly classes in a variety of areas that can help us work towards continuous growth. Marriage is one of those areas where I need that growth.
Based on the divorce rate in our country, I know I’m not alone. If you believe statistics, nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. And I’m learning that a good chunk of those marriages that stay together end up in a state of mediocrity or quiet desperation.
Marriage doesn’t have to be that way. Marriage wasn’t designed to be that way. But for many of us, marriage isn’t easy to figure out on our own. That’s why I have to be intentional about continuing to learn and grow as a husband.
In a couple weeks, my wife (Jody) and I are taking a 9-week course at our church called Dynamic Marriage. It’s going to take a little time each week and will require some mental energy, which seems to be in short supply when I get home from work. But I trust it’s going to make a difference in my marriage. Just the fact that I’m willing to go to a class like this matters to Jody.
Teddy Roosevelt famously stated, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
If you’re married, I know you’ve already encountered some effort, pain and difficulty. What are you doing about it? If you have trouble answering that question, I recommend signing up for a marriage class at a local church.
Go to ginghamsburg.org/classes for more information on classes.
James is a regular contributor who writes about marriage, family, and faith. He lives in Tipp City, Ohio.