In Unison: The Unfinished Story of Jeremy + Adrienne Camp

In Unison: The Unfinished Story of Jeremy + Adrienne Camp

Jeremy CampBy Jeremy Camp26 Minutes

Excerpt from In Unison: The Unfinished Story of Jeremy + Adrienne Camp by Jeremy & Adrienne Camp

Chapter 7

“Us Over Me”

When two individuals become one in marriage, compromises are required. But what happens when one or both partners wonder, Am I reaching my full potential? or, Am I keeping my spouse from reaching his or hers? God may use you differently once you are a spouse and parent, so don’t constantly judge yourself and others against the goals and achievements of the past. God wants us working together for His kingdom, not blazing trails by ourselves.

Made for Relationship

The nature of love is God Himself; He is love (1 John 4:8). God is also in eternal community; He is in an endless love relationship in the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Relationship is His very being.

God made us in His image, which means we were made for relationship—first with Him, then with others. He wants us to look like Him and experience the fullness of His love, to honor one another and give the gift of relationship to each other. As we grow together and are patient with each other, we will see His beautiful, continuous work in our lives.

But the love we have to offer each other is incomplete. Because of our humanity, we each enter marriage with deficits that cannot be covered by the strengths of a partner who comes up short equally but differently. There may be ways we can balance each other out, but we most certainly can’t complete each other, no matter how romantic that notion might sound to some. The only way we can love each other well and completely is in a supernatural union that includes the source of love Himself.

Christianity is vastly different from any other religion in this way. Every other religion requires believers to improve themselves first. Only as they improve can they be elevated in spirituality. But Christianity is God reaching down to us in our dirty, unworthy state. God demonstrates His love by making a way, time and time again, for us to have relationship with Him. He perfectly loved us before we ever loved Him, and He will never love us any more or less in any other season of our lives. His love is preemptive, sacrificial, and unselfish.

But we as Christians have let too much of the world’s thinking infiltrate our own. We view relationships the way the world does—as self-serving. We expect from relationships what the world expects—satisfaction and bringing out the best in ourselves. You make me happy; you fulfill my needs; you see to it that I reach my full potential. But relationships are polar opposite in God’s kingdom.

The kingdom is better when we’re together.
—Jonathan and Wynter Pitts

God’s love is unconditional. He comes alongside us and is our strength in our weaknesses. When we expect others to love us in a way only God can, we end up destroying ourselves and them, because perfect love is impossible without God for imperfect humans.

We have to understand that God is the very One who created marriage. He is the One who outlined what it should be. However much we try to explain it, there is something supernatural about two people becoming one flesh. It is just as holy and mysterious as the compound unity of the Trinity—God’s very nature of relationship represented in our marriages. And it is just as impossible to undo. If we have flawed theology about who God is and don’t understand His nature and role in our marriages, then we ignore the very One who holds them together.

Lord Jesus, we put our relationship in Your hands. Since You are the great designer and maker of all things, since You are love itself, please give us the ability to walk in humility and make the daily exchange of our fleshly desires for Your perfection. Help us walk supernaturally and unselfishly where we feel weak and have been seeking our own gain. Help us not look to the world for our narrative, but to You. Please do a work in our hearts so we love each other as You love us. Amen.

Do you find yourself misunderstanding God’s integral place in your marriage covenant? Do you expect relationships to fulfill your own needs instead of going to the source of love Himself? Ask Him to teach you and give you what you need. Don’t think you’re pulling the wool over God’s eyes; He already knows your need. Why not make the great exchange with Him? His love for your selfishness. His patience for your harshness. His tenderness and grace for your frustrations.

Love at first is a child, and grows stronger by age.
—John Newton

Baby on the Way, Not in the Way

Husbands, be patient with your wives when they are overwhelmed. Mothering is one of the most exhausting jobs on the planet. Having a constant tagalong every single time you use the restroom or shower can wear you down after a while. The demands can seem never ending, and the hope of a break may easily evaporate, along with the hopes of having nicely folded laundry, a clean kitchen, and a spotlessly vacuumed home. There are victorious days here and there when the long to-do list gets completely checked off—which then lose their glory in a tornado of toys, crumbs, laundry, and dishes all needing full attention again. How does this mass chaos happen so quickly? However many times you do the chores, they just don’t stay done!

So don’t judge your wife when she rolls into bed at night, exhausted and wiped out. A mother has completed the jobs of a referee, teacher, chef, house cleaner, nurse, friend, cheerleader, coach, taxi driver, launderer, and policewoman—most likely all in a day—while hearing her name called somewhere close to a thousand times every hour. Be tender.

And wives, as much as you feel overwhelmed and exhausted from your never-ending responsibilities, remember that your husband carries an enormous amount of weight as well. Don’t just dump the baby in his hands when he walks through the front door, saying, “It’s your turn now!”

Depending on what your husband does for work, he could be coming home from exhausting all-day meetings, supervising different programs or difficult people, creating projects to meet urgent deadlines, answering tons of e-mails all needing a response immediately, or making hundreds of executive decisions for the people around him—while bearing the pressures of providing for his family and maybe desiring to be respected as a great leader.

When I first became a mom to our Bella, I had to adjust to many changes, at times feeling as if I might drown in the depths of diapers. I was eager to do something outside the home, but it seemed impossible. We were a part of a small church community in Lafayette, Indiana, where Jeremy’s parents pastor. There were so many needs at the church and so few people to fill them. One day I was talking to my mom-in-law, Teri, about these needs and how much I wanted to fill them, and yet I didn’t have the time or capacity to do so. She reminded me that there are seasons for everything. Just because there is a need doesn’t mean I have to be the one to fill it. I learned to focus on the things only I could fulfill—especially in motherhood.

Your season with your little ones—as all-consuming as it is, especially the first few years—flies by so fast. Before you know it, your “baby” is driving. (Jeremy and I will soon be drawing straws for who “gets” to teach driving lessons!) I’m not saying you can’t do anything besides be a mom or dad; there have been humongous and demanding projects on both of our plates during every season of our lives. We all must learn to balance the seasons and hold plans loosely.

Even when you both feel like everyone wants or needs something from you, remember that the seasons will change. This is not your eternity. Your kids will graduate and move out of the house, and you don’t want to end up just being roommates with your spouse. Don’t neglect your marriage; that relationship needs to outlast the season of parenting young kids.

How can fathers balance staying supportive and secure in their relationships with their wives and not be jealous of the attention mothers give their kids? How can mothers pay attention to their husbands, even when the children are so much more demanding of their time? How can you serve each other? Obviously not every family’s dynamic includes a stay-at-home mom and a working dad. There are many moms who work as well, and some of them are the main breadwinners for their family. Every couple has different preferences for how they handle different seasons and what they need from each other in order to be regularly refreshed. Work it out together. Recognize you both have needs and desires and meet in the middle, whatever your scenario looks like.

We can slip into bad thought patterns when we are too zoomed in on our own lives. We see everything close up and can become overwhelmed by the blurry details that don’t always make sense in the moment.

Ask the Lord to help you take a step back in order to see the bigger picture. Know every season has its purpose, and nothing should be wished away. For me, the more time goes by, the more I see how God has groomed my family for certain chapters of life by allowing us to walk through situations that didn’t quite make sense in the moment. So let’s trust God as we follow His lead. He truly does weave masterpieces of our lives if we let Him.

We can also trust God with our spouses. There have been many times I have rested in Him, knowing Jeremy hears His voice and, in the right time, the Lord will speak and do a work in his heart. Who am I to determine what life lessons my significant other should have learned by now? Do I think I have mastered everything myself? I think not. As I wait and surrender my trust to God to do His work in His timing for my spouse, He works in my heart at the same time. Spouses need to pray for each other and deal with each other patiently, knowing that God teaches us all in different ways and at different times.

What is God teaching you right now? Why don’t you ask your spouse the same question? Instead of being frustrated with the place they’re in, you may find you have more middle ground than you think.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
—John 16:33 NIV

No I In Team
Are you jealous of your spouse’s success? Do you feel as if you’re always in the shadows? No matter what season of life you’re in, remember that you’re running this race together. Your spouse may be the lead runner now, but there will be times when they finish a leg of the race and hand off the baton to you. You’re not running against each other. God has placed you together for a reason. Always be encouraging to each other—no matter what your role is. It takes a team to build something.

Be intentional about sharing the details of your day and inviting your spouse into where you are. Think through what you can do practically to ensure you’re on the same team. One small way Adrienne and I share life together is by sharing an email address. It sounds insignificant and can often be a little overwhelming, but it helps us stay on track with what’s going on in each other’s lives from an external point of view, especially since communicating details is not my strong point.

A fun thing we have done in different seasons is chosen a TV series to watch together after we have put the kids to bed. Adrienne grew up watching sports with her dad, and so she loves to watch sports with me as well. Because we often spend days apart from each other when I’m touring, we make an effort to stay connected and cheer for each other (not just our favorite teams!).

Anger As an Indicator

Never neglect each other and let resentment simmer under the surface. Words spoken in anger will not produce the fruit you want. Anger itself is not the problem; it’s what you do with it.

When Bella and Arie were toddlers, I met a friend for lunch at Chick-fil-A. We were sitting inside the play area, chatting while the kids climbed and ran around. The next thing I knew, another mom was crouched down, yelling in Bella’s face for apparently taking her son’s toy. Poor Bella was in complete shock while this woman unleashed total madness on my daughter, grabbed her child, and stormed out of the restaurant.

I instantly became angry and protective. What kind of adult is so out of control that she yells in a little kid’s face? Now, my kids are not perfect, but stealing a stranger’s toy sounded completely out of character for Bella. I waited to hear what the real story was. Apparently, the boy started crying because he couldn’t reach the toy he dropped, and Bella had reached down to give it back to him. The mom had wrongly presumed she had grabbed the toy out of his hands.

I was fuming, to say the least, but I felt the help of the Holy Spirit restraining me from chasing after the mom to give her a lesson on how inappropriate her actions were. My friend was blown away that I didn’t freak out at the woman for what she did, but what good would it have done?

It’s best to leave crazy people alone. Don’t fight fire with fire.

In your anger do not sin.
—Ephesians 4:26 NIV

The Bible tells us that Jesus never sinned, and yet there were a few times in Scripture when He was angry. Anger is an emotion God has created us to feel. Understandably, anger has a bad rap in our culture. There are many times we should have way more self-control than we do, especially in confrontational circumstances. Yet, undealt-with and suppressed anger results in unhealthy explosions. So pray through anger; talk through it. Recognize when heat is rising in your heart. There should be no excuses for letting anger and irrationality take over.

When I feel angry, I try to pay attention to why. Sometimes my feelings indicate that a boundary of some kind has been crossed. I then ask the Holy Spirit to show me what’s in my heart that needs His attention. Oftentimes, by doing this, the Lord has shown me an area needing to be talked through or to receive His healing touch. Ask God to be the revealer of your heart and show you the root of your feelings—and give Him access to all areas. Nothing should be off limits to Him.

Marriage is hard. There are no two ways about it. It doesn’t matter whom you marry; there will be a clash of wills at some point in time. Never mind the fact that, as it is, men and women are so different from each other. Throw in two different personalities, being raised in two different homes or perhaps different cultures, and you’re certain to have conflict waiting for you around any corner. Choose to believe the best about each other, and share what God is doing in your hearts and lives.

Joyous Trials

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4 BSB).

What does it mean to consider trials “pure joy”? Was James crazy? Joy in trials? This struck me one day. I realized that this type of joy comes when you value the character developing in your heart more than being comfortable and avoiding trials. It’s like saying, “I’ll take the pain—no matter how much it hurts—because the reward of deep, godly character developing in me is more valuable to me.”

I’m the chief of being willing to undergo pain in physical areas, especially when it comes to working out or being disciplined about my health. I love pushing myself hard when I work out. I’ll run until I throw up, get amped about feeling my muscles burn, but I’m much slower to be full of joy when it comes to allowing my character to be shaped through a trial. Trials can be exhausting and stretching, and most of the time I would rather just not deal with them.

The truth is, diamonds are shaped under pressure, and pearls come from irritants. There’s no way to develop inner beauty and depth of character without going through hardships, and the same is true for our relationships. When I look back at the years Adrienne and I have been together, we have clung to Jesus and each other during the trials we have faced. Instead of separating us, those trials have solidified our friendship and drawn us closer together. Because of the hardships, we have forged the best friendship, and I couldn’t imagine going through life with anyone else. We know trials will come in the future, but instead of each being alone, we can lean on each other.

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”
—James 1:12 BSB

Lord Jesus, please help us stand united in the changing seasons of our life together. Help us give each other the benefit of the doubt in the middle of our exhaustion and as we juggle the various responsibilities we have. Help us build our marriage and not tear it down—and teach us how to look for ways we can be a support to each other. Help us not look to our own interests, but to each other’s. Help us be mature and forgiving when we fall short and push each other’s buttons so that our marriage can be a blessing to us, to our family, and to those in community with us. Amen.

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