Today Steven and I celebrate 40 years of marriage! I have never made a big hoopla on anniversaries but this one is a huge milestone within my heart. The goodness of God is remarkable when two baggage-carrying young people eloped having no clue what healthy relationships were let alone what a healthy marriage looked like.
Steven grew up under much abuse and oppression with parents that did not know how to show love or affection to their children or each other. My father died when I was young and I did not have any memories of my parent’s marriage in order to have a mental picture of what to strive for.
Steven married an independent alpha career women’s libber who hated most men. Yep, that was me! I married a quiet yet stubborn man who didn’t know how to love himself or another; he didn’t understand how to receive love from another without the assumption of ulterior motives. We were emotionally unhealthy, spiritually immature, had huge self-protective walls built around our hearts, and had no framework to know our personal identity or purpose.
Our first year was hellish as we stumbled in the dark trying to navigate this thing called marriage. I cannot write how we did everything correctly or how our choices honored God or each other. No, not by any stretch of the imagination! So how have we managed to miraculously make it 40 years successfully? There were certain principles that shaped our lives individually, as well as commitments we made to God and each other. Step-by-step they altered the trajectory of our lives and marriage.
Kingdom of God first…period! I was newly saved and Steven had barely returned from a backslidden lifestyle. We did know, however, that the only way our marriage had any possibility of survival was to literally put God first. Mental assent to His lordship was not enough! Using God to intervene in our lives for our needs-driven goals was weak-minded and hypocritical Christianity. Somehow, we knew that we couldn’t just serve God to get what we wanted; instead we had to give ourselves unreservedly to His purposes. Either He was Lord of all or not Lord at all.
Jesus is all authority and central! Though some marriage teaching was good on a practical level, we were instructed concerning the traditional hierarchal authority of the home. The “up-down” scale was taught explaining that God was over the man, the man over the woman, and the woman over the children. This never set well with us because we always saw Jesus as the center of everything and in everything He was THE authority—and scripture supports this. It was not about what “he” wanted or “I” wanted but “what did God say!” Some of our biggest life decisions were made when the Holy Spirit spoke directives to us separately that neither of us wanted or desired. We both did, however, surrender our will to His will—and we are so glad that we did!
Practice a partnership mindset! We both sought to hear God’s voice from the conception of our marriage. We always chose to partner together allowing the other to shine. We have been in ministry for over 35 years and many times ministry has physically separated us for short seasons. We have not been angry because “our need” has not been met, but honored to support one another in the release of each one’s individual identity and purpose. Steven is my greatest cheerleader thus my greatest Kingdom partner! We submit ourselves one to another in the fear of the Lord—that’s partnership!
Love is not a feeling but an action! In the early years of marriage Steven struggled with the communication of love. If he didn’t “feel” love he couldn’t “show” love. Because of our commitment to put God and His authority first, Steven sought the Lord for an answer. The Lord spoke to him and said, “When you show the action the feeling will come.” Steven took that revelation and applied it…and it continues to produce.
“This picture was taken shortly after we got married (we eloped). This is the dress I wore and the leisure suit Steven wore. This year, June 21, 2016, we celebrate a milestone anniversary of 40 years! Steven Hilton, I am so grateful for your faithful and loyal heart towards me! Thank you for allowing the Holy Spirit to build you into the man of God that you are and your continued hunger for more! There is so much more to accomplish for the Kingdom and I’m so grateful to share that with you! I love you!”
“Today Melodye and I will be celebrating 40 years of marriage. It doesn’t seem possible since I feel like I’m in my forties age wise. Melodye has always been loving as well as encouraging, never a negative word or put down. Our marriage has been built on doing the Lord’s pleasure, which has gotten us through thick and thin as well as taken us around the world. I look forward to all that the Lord has for us in the future, as well as enjoying the one I’m with. I love you, Melodye and look forward to many more years with you.”
Always wanting more! We have learned to rejoice in today and celebrate what we do have. However, we are hungry for MORE! God has been so good and we want to experience MORE! He has led us supernaturally…we want MORE! We are in awe of what He has done in our lives and family…we want MORE! We continue to be a work in progress but we hunger to grow, learn, and be conformed MORE into the image of Christ. We know that the more we are like Him the more we will experience heaven on earth in our home and family.
Though our journey has been imperfect, these principles have and continue to bring us back to true north.
I rarely talk about marriage because my perspective or language on the subject might not fit the traditional box. I do not favor some traditional marriage teaching that limits either husband or wife from fulfilling their unique and individual identity and purpose. I celebrate that every marriage is distinctive in order to fulfill prophetic purpose. Just as every individual needs to walk out their own salvation, every marriage has to discover their one-of-a-kind purpose and abandon themselves to Christ’s Lordship to walk it out.
Simple works for us! Kingdom purposes first…period! Then, celebrate and partner with each other on your adventurous Kingdom journey!
The best is yet to come,
Dr. Melodye Hilton