We sat in the midst of a holy moment —but no one was coming to know Christ for the first time or going through a life-changing transformation. Instead, we were gathered in Paul and Dawn’s living room singing worship songs. This was a sweet end to our evening together. Earlier that night, we talked over barbecue chicken while their youngest children played nearby. Months later, the other interns and I were still talking about how a simple night could make a difference for all of us. It was so encouraging to be invited over for dinner and have conversations about our strengths and what makes us feel alive.

Over the last few years, several couples have invested in me by handing me a cup of tea and inviting me to sit on the couch or having me over for game nights. Whether you realize it or not, there’s a good chance your marriage is impacting someone right now. You may be the ones that offer them the safe space to relax during finals week or the ones they want to text after they finally get the job. Simply by living your lives, you can inspire people like me who are not yet married. And people who are or have been married and could use some hope.

Your marriage can make a difference, but it’s not about having Scripture memorized for every situation or a floor free of Lego towers and grape juice stains. It’s about inviting others into your not-so-perfect, sometimes chaotic life, full of love. Whether you’ve never thought of your marriage as a ministry or have worked at a marriage ministry for thirty years, I want to inspire you to tap into the mentorship opportunities of everyday life.

Your collective experiences give you a platform to mentor

Several couples have mentored me during seasons of singleness and dating. They’ve welcomed me into their home, told me their stories, and invited me to share my own. I’ve received so much practical advice—everything from choosing where to live or where to order the best chicken wings. Mentoring can be as simple as chatting over coffee, walking around the neighborhood, or letting them sit on your couch and pet your dog (I have enjoyed all of these).

Collectively, you and your spouse have years of experience cultivating friendships, working various jobs, perhaps traveling the world. You’ve got the inside scoop on life —from preparing for an intimidating interview to having friends move away. Over time, God has used you and your spouse to stretch each other as you learn together. God intertwined your lives so you would add to each other’s knowledge and experiences. Through your unique experiences, what different lessons and perspectives do you have to share?

You may not feel like you have “enough” experience or qualifications to make a difference. But we have something to learn from everyone, whether we’re the mentee or the mentor. And often, the least picture-perfect parts of your story—the illness, the car accident, the family conflict—are the ones God will use.

After my broken engagement, I had to grieve my future plans and reconcile that with God’s plans for me being good. A couple from my church had me over to process this by sharing about when major plans fell through in their family. Our experiences were different, but our pain and questions were the same. That reassured me that if God brought them through, He would bring me through, too.

Your home can be a safe and welcoming place

After fighting through cafeteria crowds to get a fork in college, it was refreshing to gather in someone’s home around food or warm drinks. Now that I have my own place, I know it’s not just about the tangible comforts of home-cooked meals but about being in a place where you’re served up love. Whether your home is quiet enough to qualify as a library or filled to the brim with barking dogs and screaming children, you can make a difference by letting people see your genuine affection for one another.

It warms me up inside to see a dad chasing around his laughing kiddos, or spouses playfully teasing each other. This is what God made families for: we bear His image and share His love. Those natural moments—both endearing and messy—cannot and should not be planned. You don’t have control over every little moment in your home, but you can cultivate a home of love and laughter and invite others into it.

Connect deeper in your relationship with the Vertical Marriage small group study!

Your authenticity puts God’s work on display

Your marriage sets an example because it’s authentic and imperfect. It’s hard to be mentored by an ideal, unachievable marriage. They need to see how you and your spouse love each other even when it’s tough. What does it mean to show love when your spouse keeps taking out their work stress on the family? To hold your tongue when you’re tempted to complain about your spouse? To arrange for childcare so you can finally go on that date?

Set an example for others by serving your spouse first and embracing real family life. If you show up late, stumble over your words, or snap at your spouse, God will still use you and your willing heart. Don’t gloss over your shortcomings, but instead pause, breathe, and begin again. Your mentee will likely feel encouraged to see that you, also, are growing each day.

The Apostle Paul wrestled with shortcomings in his own ministry: “But [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Your marriage can model love and respect

Everywhere I turn, I’m presented with cosmetic ads, movies, and songs that tell me I need to earn someone’s love by being sexy, funny, and easygoing. I need visible reminders of love and respect as I consider what I want my future marriage to look like —people who demonstrate reasonable expectations and healthy relationship tactics.

Your marriage can preach a different message about love than the rest of culture. Ephesians 5:21-33 emphasizes love and respect and explains how marriage symbolizes the love between Christ and the universal church. You can’t preach Ephesians to every person you encounter. But your marriage can.

A marriage that can make a difference

So practically speaking, how can you have a marriage that will make a difference? If you haven’t already, join a church community and a small group so you can grow alongside other couples. Pray for an individual or couple to reach out to. Maybe start with having them over for dinner or inviting them to church. Consider FamilyLife’s free download, “How to Mentor, to get a jumpstart in the right direction.

In For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles, Dr. Amy Sherman explains that “ultimately, saying yes to marriage is about living a life of offering.” God pours His love into a man and a woman whose love for Him and for one another pours out into their children and the people around them. By loving one another, you reflect the love of God Himself. And that will make a difference.

Copyright © 2021 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

Alex McMurray is a writing intern for FamilyLife at Cru headquarters in Orlando. She graduated from Cedarville University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a concentration in child and family studies. She grew up in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania with her parents and older brother. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor adventures with her friends and playing card games.