By Cindee Johnson
“We need to register for this marriage workshop,” I told Dave as I handed him a RINGS brochure. “Not because WE need it,” I confidently assured him. “I just don’t feel right referring couples in my congregation if we haven’t attended ourselves.” Dave nodded in agreement.
And, we both were wrong.
God quickly and mercifully showed us just how much we needed to invest in our own marriage before we could authentically invest in the relationships of others. Oh, we were unwavering in our commitment to one another. Neither of us doubted that. Yet, God knew the devastation that was to hit us in the five years ahead—a near death illness, spiritual warfare in the church, an adopted child diagnosed as a sociopath, an addiction revealed—the enemy meant to use to shatter our marriage and our family.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.” (Genesis 50:20) Joseph proclaimed those words thousands of years ago having survived, by God’s grace, years of devastation. It is the same testimony we proclaim and claim for our marriage today. And, by God’s grace, now it’s not just for our marriage.
That first RINGS class God led us to nearly 15 years ago opened our eyes and our hearts to the critical need for couples to invest in marriage, to strengthen commitment, to grow in communication, to discover healthy conflict resolution, to forgive, to dream, to leave a legacy of faith, hope and love. You see, that’s what RINGS really is about. Having the kind of marriage that leaves an eternal legacy.
It’s exactly why Dave and I are passionate about investing not just in our own marriage, but in the marriages of others. Because we all need to leave that kind of legacy.
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.