Umoja: The Swahili term for unity appropriately describes the fundamental aspect of marriage. We are united for the purpose of making the world a better place, and to honor God. This is exceptionally important for me to remember in times of disagreement, discouragement, and discord. God has united us, and we are becoming one; a process that inevitably creates friction.
Sesa Woruban: This West African phrase describes a symbol made of the morning star and rotating will. It reinforces the concept of transformation or change of character. Marriage will challenge, frustrate, and change us, however we decide if that will be for good or bad. I’m learning that in order to truly love my wife how God intends I have to be intentional about cultivating behaviors that produce a transformed life. And this is hard. Very hard. I’ve heard people say that you shouldn’t change who you are, but the truth is you must. Especially, if you’re like the rest of us with issues and you want to be different. If you’ve done what you’ve always done…you know the rest. Our character should always be on the refining wheel.
Ujamaa: Although this term is primarily associated with economic togetherness for the greater good of society, there are many transferable principles to marriage. Similar to umoja, we are united in our ideologies, finances and economic power (ujamaa). We work to acquire so that we can distribute. My wife and I lived many years raising salary for the work we did and it was a constant faith test. It was often uncomfortable depending on the Lord to work through our supporters. During this time we gained perspective that allowed us to know the value of money, as well as create habits that exhibit good financial stewardship. We now love to give. It’s a blessing to help remove barriers between God’s people and His work. Our savings, investments, and lifestyle are all meager attempts to position ourselves to be luxurious givers. We don’t want to live life making every major decision based on our finances. We stack this dough so we can help His kingdom grow.
Nkyinkym: Life is full of adversity, therefore we must adapt. Whether it’s internal or external; conflict will arise. How we deal with it determines who we become. In four years of marriage we’ve had to manage to financial hardships, unexpected job losses, family travesty, marital difficulty and more. The measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience but where he stands in adversity, and I once heard a pastor once say if you want to know who you will be in the future simply look at your character today. Ultimately, we are a sum of our decisions and how we respond to what life brings.
I’m grateful to live life with someone that truly loves God, has a passion for helping others, and is committed to His design for marriage and purposeful ministry. Marriage ain’t easy but it’s a lot more simple and richer with the right one.