Before you read any further, think of the three best artists of all time: any country, any century, any medium.
Got them in mind?
I’ll bet ninety percent of you thought of Michelangelo.
It might surprise you that Michelangelo thought of himself in rather limited terms. There remains only one truly famous Michelangelo painting (the Sistine Chapel is technically a series of frescoes, not paintings) because Michelangelo always liked to think of himself as a sculptor. When he was asked to do the Sistine Chapel, he wasn’t all that excited about it. (But when the Pope back then asked you to do something, and you liked breathing, you usually did it.)
Even though he tried to limit himself to sculpture, we still think of Michelangelo as among the best of the best, don’t we?
Like Michelangelo, every brilliant marriage has its points of limitations as well. Some couples do very well financially. They have their budget, their steady stream of revenue; even their kids have their budgets and start buying their own clothes at age 12. They will be more comfortable in their early retirement than most of us will be in the midst of working 60 hour weeks.
Other couples know how to throw great parties, or they excel at vacations. Still others build show homes with magazine cover yards and a shed full of gardening tools that could service a small farm.
Other couples are just fantastic at raising their kids. They just get it. Their kids are amazingly educated, well-behaved, they love the Lord, and their parents’ Christmas letters make many other parents gag.
But here’s the thing: no married couple is all of the above.
You can be a brilliant couple who have a shoddy house. You can be a brilliant couple who make a lot of music together but when it comes to parenting, you’d rather not talk about it. You can be a brilliant couple who loves and serves the Lord together while always staying about five days away from bankruptcy.
Will you accept that? Your weakness in one area of marriage doesn’t overcome the brilliance of your strong areas.
I think Lisa and I have a very good marriage, but we have many weaknesses. Vacations can be rather tricky for us—we’re not particularly compatible in that arena, so each of us typically feels like we’re serving the other rather than taking our own vacation. Our eating styles? Try joining an elephant with a Chihuahua. You’ll have better luck there.
But in other areas we’re very strong, and it works. When we’re ministering together or doing other things, I couldn’t feel more blessed as a husband. After a conference, Lisa can just look at me and know I’m tired, and she’ll take over the conversation with our hosts. She gets my obsessions, and I get that she needs an extra gentle husband. We don’t think we have to excel in every area of life to be content in our union.
Nobody faults Michelangelo for not doing tapestry, making pottery, or painting portraits. But what he did do, he did so well that his name will likely be remembered a thousand years from now.
Stop mentally undercutting your marriage because you’re not strong in all areas. It’s okay to admit, “You know what? We’re just not very good at that.” If you’re not the kind of couple that is going to do a lot of hospitality or decorate your house with Christmas lights because you’re both doing triathlons on the weekend and are too sore to get the boxes down or vacuum the rug, that’s okay—thank God that you have a mutual hobby you really enjoy together. That’s special. That’s something to celebrate (besides, your shoes probably make the house a bit smelly, so we don’t really want to come over anyway).
This week, I want you to celebrate your brilliant but imperfect marriage. “This is us, and this is not us, and we’re okay with that.”
If a “limited” brilliance was good enough for Michelangelo, it should be good enough for us.