'Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV)
26 “In your anger do not sin”[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
In the last 6 months I have witnessed 3 friends go through a divorce and few more quickly headed in that direction. I lost count of the number of friend's marriages that are struggling..but i'm broken hearted over it.
I'm going to cry during this post because this is my heart..all set out and raw for you.
I grew up in a blessed household with two parents that love each other deeply. They are each other's best friend and I was witness to that for that last 22 years. That's how I saw marriage the way God intended and although they had and have moments they drive each other nuts they followed true to the verse in Ephesians. You don't go to bed upset with each other and fights are resolved.
My father in loving my mother the way Christ loved us showed me how a christ-centered marriage was to look like. My mother is a strong woman she dealt with the early years where my dad had said he was selfish. Divorce could have seemed like a better option at the time for her I suppose but do you know how crazy about my dad she is now after all these years?? She loves that guy! And she doesn't even have to say it..you can SEE it when they're around each other. They have a love and respect for each other that others can see and it affected their children greatly.
I was sheltered from a world that divorce is now as easy as buying an ice cream cone. You drop yours (marriage) and you can easily go back for another (marriage). Bad comparison? ha well you get the point...we're not serious about the commitments we're making and satan is having his way with us.
Maybe we're not willing to put in the work and effort it takes to have a marriage God intended for us? I expected marriage bliss to simply happen and stick over the course of the years Darren and I'd spend together. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine i'd be sitting on a couch not even a year after we'd been married talking about divorce with Darren and a pastor. No, that wasn't in my wildest dreams because when I was 15 years old laying under the stars praying for my future husband I imagined pure bliss and that it would be just as the stories said it would...
I would find a handsome man who would love and care for me..he'd spend nights on the beach talking about our God and deeper matters of the heart. We'd enjoy dinner at the table and go out for ice cream gazing into one another's eyes finding laughter in the small things of life. He'd go off to work during the day and i'd find my work with the household chores and then as the mother of his children. It goes on...but I think you see where my dreams where. They were far off from the reality to come.
When I was 19 years old and very much in love I walked down the isle and had love in my eyes for Darren. We'd met online just 17 months earlier and although it was a strange way to meet we were perfect for each other. He thought that whatever job he would have would be far away after he graduated college so he wanted to marry me and take his bride along with him. Just about 7 months before our wedding there in the mountains of beautiful Arizona we were engaged and I couldn't wait! This was a dream come true...
No one prepares you for marriage, or lets you know, 'Hey this is going to take some work, it's going to be hard'. And as a 19 year old girl I don't know if I would have even understood. But life happened too quickly for us...within the first few months of our marriage my husband lost his job and I was working as a bank teller. I went to work from 9-5 and dealt with the public..the good and the very worst. I was bitter because this wasn't adding up to the expectations i'd had as a young girl. The laundry, dishes, bills, and problems piled up and we were in over our heads. How do you tell someone that you're marriage is failing in the first few months? I cried a lot and darren didn't feel good enough for the work world. We both felt like we were failing. We tried to get along but with life piling up against you there seems to be no chance of pushing through. We didn't have a home church or close friends on top of that. I was lonely..completely lonely. I started blaming my husband for the way I felt and sin crept into our marriage like the way it did for Adam and Eve that very first marriage...
We hurt each other bad with our actions and words. Who knew the power we held to break the other down completely? I was angry with the Lord..my Lord. How could he let this happen? How?
Things only became worse. I started to think about divorce and my rights. 'I didn't deserve to be treated this way', 'I deserve to be happy'. So I began to figure out how to provide for myself and when I went to my father to tell him I was leaving Darren he said no. I cried and tried to reason at first but He was the angel sent to guard the door by my God. He made what was i'm sure one of the hardest decisions of his life..he stepped in and brought me home for a few weeks to let darren and I cool off. We needed counseling, direction, and mostly love. We started going to counseling and talking through what were the most painful conversations for both of us. We were facing our sins head on and it hurt but God was reaching in with his hands and breaking us apart to build us back up.
Darren was going to be leaving for basic training and we came back together as things settled down. I didn't feel hurt or sadness for his coming departure. I didn't know how to feel towards him or God at the time. I was hurting and Darren was hurting. But we were going to make this work.
He left and I was indifferent. It took two weeks for it to sink in that my husband was gone. It was when I was staying a night at my in laws and that night I cried. I cried harder than I'd ever in my life. I cried for my marriage, for my husband being gone, and for all the wrong i'd done to that man. I prayed that if God would have us that he'd mend our marriage and do a miracle. I was a broken sobbing mess but one with hope after that night.
Darren began pouring in letters with quite some length on them! I was falling in love with my husband. He wrote powerful things that began to gain my respect and God began working in our hearts. Not everything was fixed but there was signs of light shining through.
I'd lost a lot of weight while darren was gone and it was just in time for his return. We headed up to his basic training graduation and I had never been so excited to see my husband. He was the most handsome man standing there and when we embraced it was the sweetest moment. I held a sailor..a sailor that was mine, all mine. We'd been through 2 months of training separate but together we were changing.
The navy had a way of bringing us together and then bringing us apart again. I thought we were good to go now and that all was going to be right. But Darren in his A-school in maryland didn't have a whole lot of time for me. We would invite friends over and I was getting more attention from his friends than him. It was hard to deal with and our home became somewhat of a party home. I never would have dreamed we'd be serving alcohol in my home. But that seems to be the way in the Navy..they weren't kidding about the whole 'drunk'n sailors' part. Things dwindled down and apart again. We didn't attend a church and didn't have close friends. Our families weren't too close and no one was holding us accountable. Sin crept in again and we did things to hurt each other badly. We were back were we started.
Meeting God on a dirt road~
I had a lot building up inside of me. I didn't have anyone to tell either. I couldn't dream of calling family and telling them of our mess and we didn't have a pastor to lead us back. I hadn't prayed in months in fact. So I went for a walk and before I knew it I began to talk to God. It was a walk that transformed my heart actually. I knew that it was time to be honest with Darren and confess different sins that would either lead him to walk away from me or stay. If we were going to have a marriage that honored God we needed to start fresh and that meant being totally honest. (I never had an affair if you're getting at that in your mind, thank the Lord! and Darren was never unfaithful either, that is such a mess to deal with in marriage!) Anyways it was march that all this happened and we agreed to work things out. I gave up my rights in the same way that Christ gave up his rights when he died on the cross for us. I knew that if this marriage was going to last we needed to have a solid foundation to build it on, Christ.
Starting fresh with the same one-
A lot of people at this point would have walked away but Darren and I are stubborn and God used that stubbornness for good. We loved each other and our relationship began to turn into something I never would have dreamed. We went out together and played catch, basketball, we watched movies together, we went to a few baseball games even. In about 3 months time we became best friends again. I adored him! I began to relearn him and gain new knowledge of Darren that led me to love him even deeper. It took a few hard years but we had finally gained a better understanding of how marriage was suppose to work and some ways to make it stick. Not perfect but definitely the way God had in mind.
A braves game and a new direction~
It was last may that Darren and I went to a baseball game. We were having an incredible time together and I couldn't imagine life being any better. We were on the ride home laughing about something when Darren told me he needed to sit down with me later that night. Friends, to say I was nervous is such an understatement..i was terrified because my husband doesn't have 'sit downs' he is not a talker!
So he sat me down and took my hands and told me he loved me very much and then said he wanted to start our family. I have never been happier. Who would have thought that next month we'd be pregnant! :)
Deployment~I was now mommy-to-be and in pure bliss. Darren had found out he would be going on a long deployment and my heart broke. I shed enough tears to fill a lake i'm sure of it! But I was trusting in God with all my heart that he would use this time to build our marriage. He did! He took that time and tended to my heart and darrens. I moved back to indiana to stay with my family and was surrounded with a church family that loved me to no ends and I helped in our awana program loving a couple of the cutest girls! I went on a few trips to visit family who I grew to love even more. I spent time in God's word again something I hadn't done for a long time. God didn't have to but He went deep in my heart and removed the bad, forgave and filled those empty places with himself.
Life since- The here and now
I love my husband more than I can write and it would be pretty lengthy to go into detail but trust me on this friends, He is the love of my life! I thank God for the miracle he performed in my marriage and heart. I don't have an easy story to tell but I have a marriage that is worth telling about because it took faith to accept God can do the unthinkable in any marriage.
Here's the truth i've discovered, the man is still going to drive me crazy!
Tonight for example-we're on the phone bickering about who should have to go to the post office to send back movies, and how I've changed more diapers than him and need a break! He walks through the door and we have a sit down talking about getting some things in order so our marriage can be better and i'm sure God is thinking 'laura do you ever stop talking! Give the poor man a break!' So he goes to sleep at 5 because he's dead tired after getting no sleep last night on duty and I let him...instead I go to cooking hamburger. I'm in the kitchen pounding away at that meat when I realize 'shoot what was I even making!?'. Thankfully there are so many choices for what you can make with hamburger :). But I got to talking about God and confessing how wrong I was and how i'm sorry. He forgave me and we had a nice evening but it made me think about my marriage as a whole and how thankful I am that the guy sleeping right now is in this home and committed to making this marriage work with me. I know that he's going to get up and kiss me and tell me I worry to much but he loves me anyways. I love him. And I am his wife/helpmate for the rest of my life. He is worth all the grace I can give.
Friends, marriage isn't perfect because of that three letter word I loathe...sin. We're going to fail each other and maybe even more often than we'd like to admit? Don't leave. Don't walk out that door throwing up your hand with the 'My Rights' card. Because Jesus dying on the cross for our sin didn't throw that out to save us. Marriage is worth fighting for and making personal sacrifices..
I'm not a marriage expert or counselor but I'm a firm believer in making marriage work. Trust God will do a miracle and start putting your spouse first.
You have my heart. I will love and cherish you through all the good and bad years to come. Thank you for loving me and seeing me through. I wouldn't want to be married to anyone else. You 'get' me and still love me for it! I'm one blessed woman.