Riding the Rails of Life in Marriage

We tend to think of life as having its peaks and valleys. But Marshall Shelley proposes a different view in this article from Marriage Partnership. Shelley writes:

Many of us, in marriage, long for mountaintop moments. Those times of shared success, satisfaction, and celebration. Times when the nail-biting drive of daily life is behind us for a while and forgotten, and all we can think about is the happiness of the moment . . .

It’s tempting to think of married life as a continual climb, looking for the next mountaintop. We may tell ourselves that most of life is lived in the valleys, but we hope we’re on the road to another mountaintop experience . . .

But what if peaks and valleys aren’t the best way to describe your married life? What if God didn’t intend us just to endure down times so we could enjoy an occasional up?

So if life is not just a series of peaks and valleys, what is a better way to describe life and marriage? Shelley shares the following about Rick Warren, pastor at Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life.

In a single year, his book reached the top of the best-seller lists and his wife was diagnosed with cancer. A mountaintop? A deep valley? Or something else?

“This past year has been the greatest year of my life,” wrote Rick, “but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer. I used to think that life was hills and valleys—you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth.

“I don’t believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it’s kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life . . .

“No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.”

How about you? Are you looking for that next mountaintop in life, or are you learning to ride the twin rails of joy and adversity?

Perhaps Solomon said it best in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes: “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.” (Ecclesiastes 7:10)


  1. Laney says:

    Those are true words of wisdom. When we think life is supposed to be easy or comfortable & we just endure until the next respite from difficulties, we miss so much. Until we get to heaven, we will always have a combination of difficult & painful trials co-existing with gifts and blessings from God for which we need to be grateful.

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