Wedding days are surreal aren’t they? I still remember standing at a candle lit altar across from my bow-tied husband, teary and prayerful. In hindsight, I wasn’t giddy or shaking with nervousness as much as I was consumed. Before my groom, I posed quite intoxicated by his presence. At the ripe age of nineteen, as I clutched my well-chosen bouquet and my head bowed over it, five words were on my mind. Serve God. Oneness. A Lifetime. In a matter of seconds, they made their impression. I, however, hadn’t any idea the mountain terrain before us nor the tears I would drink.
When the humble realities of our new life set in after our tropical honeymoon, my husband cleaved to me. I loved it and I loved him, yet I struggled. Trouble found us in that one bedroom apartment, leaving my core belief shaken at the altar. I didn’t know what to do with my thoughts and my cocktail of emotions. What was this? Who was I, this overwhelmed young woman? Could I really trust the man standing in front of me? In my doubt and fear, I dishonored him with my mouth, and he in turn realized he married a panicked, trembling, teary, and frustrated young woman who didn’t know what to do as a wife. As a new bride, in my naivety, I tested him. I didn’t know my role as a helpmeet wasn’t to give full vent to my anger or embrace the dramatic. I didn’t even know what a helpmeet was or what a Christ following wife did. I was clueless. I pushed him away like the writings and shows I consumed described, all in hopes he would chase after me. They both lied and my twenty-one year old husband didn’t know what to do either. I was also blind to his struggles and I kept him at arms length. In those weak moments, I had nothing to offer. My husband often responded by bouncing around between cleaving to me, loud frustration, or escaping–all depending upon my mood. The reactivity was awful. I was one frustrated, lonely, unwise, and unequipped young bride. I forgot my purpose and security in Christ. In turn, knowing even less what a professing Christian wife should do.
God’s promises and resources were only a few steps away from me. All I had to do was drop the selfishness, the expectation, and the fear like a hot potato. No, it wasn’t easy! Oh my word, I needed to get off my lazy bitter butt of indifference and there was nothing easy about that. God needed pursuing and when I began, through Bible reading, God began His change in me. Through prayer journaling and worship, I found intimacy and an unexpected best friend. Because of God’s grace, I continued coming to my senses, often broken because He chipped away at my heart so faithfully. Together, my husband and I also attended many counseling appointments. Due to the misalignments in our communication, conflict resolution, and idolatrous habits of escape, we needed outside help.
Decades passed and alongside the many family highs, a marital cancer still grew. The slow growth ripped apart our marriage day by day, year by year, and fiber by fiber. Our once personal and unified aim was off. Vulnerable still and filled with fear, we began to let go–both sensing the end of our marriage. We were both a mess, all but divided and severed. However, as close as it was, our marriage remained tethered by a single strand of living hope. While our feelings of love bled out profusely, God’s love didn’t.
Then, one day, I remembered something quite key about our marital beginning that would provoke and pivot my thinking process. He wasn’t the only one to blame. As our honeymoon period once faded, as a young bride, I also lost my way and faced defeat. I also gave into temptation, I also believed lie after lie, failing to roll up my sleeves and boss my emotions around. I failed to set personal boundaries. I failed to claim all God promised me and let go of my past. My husband did learn how to sit with me and lead me through ugliness when I didn’t know how to escape its hold. These memories inspired me. So, with God’s revelation and help, I chose to put on the full armor and fight for my marriage in prayer. When my husband no longer cleaved, I found peace at the Lord’s feet. I cleaved to Him more and trusted Him for the victory. In this surrender, I found the ability to pray for unity and God’s blessing on my husband.
Thankfully, after many dripping lashes since, the permanent severing of what God had joined together didn’t occur. You see, once we both came to our senses and began to attach to God as individuals, He rejoined us. While it sounds simple, it wasn’t. The reconstruction hurt, yet God faithfully restored. He knit us back together strand by strand, vessel by vessel, and realigned us with His own skilled hands. After twenty-eight years of marriage, the lifeblood of our marriage now pumps and flows once again.
You know, in light of Valentine’s Day, I hope this encourages someone today. There’s much more to our story to tell but that’s for another day. Regardless of it’s length, this message speaks–please don’t ever give up fighting for your marriages and allowing God to do the same. God never let my husband or I go, especially when we felt alone and brought our naked hearts before Him. He enabled us to choose to love and obey Him even when we didn’t feel like it. With His mighty outstretched arm, the Lord held us fast and I will never cease to praise Him for it while splashing in His grace!
“And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.”
I John 4:16