Strength is great, until it turns to pride. Determination is great, until it becomes stubbornness.
How was it my most admirable traits quickly worked against me? Against us?
I was a young bride. Naive, incredibly self-centered, and at times, self-righteous. And insecure. And, as a new mom, utterly terrified. Maybe that’s where our marital problems arose. I don’t know, but what I do know is, left on our own, Steve and I wouldn’t be where we are now, deeply in love, twenty-some years later.
My first venture back into “church-world” happened on a Mother’s Day. Though my husband and I had attended on occasion prior, we eventually quit going. Neither of us were living our lives for Christ. God was more like a back-of-the-mind figure, one we’d call out to once in a while, when things got crazy or we wanted something in particular then forget entirely for long stretches of time. Meanwhile, our marriage began to disintegrate. Not that it’d been incredibly strong to begin with.
But then one morning, completely absorbed in my misery, I took our young daughter out for a walk. I ambled through the neighborhood, pushing her in the stroller. I don’t remember what I was thinking about, but I’m sure I was rehashing all the woes of my life. (Woes of my own making, I might add.) I turned a corner, and a woman, also out for a walk, drew near. Upon reaching me, she stopped and said, “You should come to my church.”
I blinked. Um… Oookay. Then listened as she told me where it was.
The next Sunday, Mother’s Day, I went. Alone.
It’s hard sitting in church by yourself on Mother’s Day, staring at the sea of couples all around you. And as I sat there, looking about, all I could think of was, “I want that.” I wanted the happy little family. I wanted my husband beside me, his arm draped over my shoulder, while we bounced our squirming infant between us.
That picture of peace, love, and intimacy seemed to far away, so unreachable. I knew what I wanted–what our marriage needed–only I had no idea how to get there.
But God knew, and that Sunday morning He began to lead us on a journey that was equal parts frightening, painful, and absolutely miraculous.
It started with Him prying open my strangled grip on my life as He whispered to my battered and terrified heart, “Let go, and trust in Me.”
Trust in Him. Not in my husband and his ability to be what I needed. Not even in myself and my ability to be the wife I so desperately wanted yet continually failed to be. Trust in Him to work through our messy lives, heal our broken hearts, and not only restore our faltering marriage but make it stronger than it’d ever been. Stronger than we’d ever imagined.
It started with surrender, and that surrender led me to another S word. One that may make you cringe. It certainly did me! Come back next Thursday and I’ll share more.
If God’s saying the same thing to you, this song, one of my favorites, might encourage you.
In the meantime, speaking of marriage, my publisher has released a free excerpt of my upcoming novel, Breaking Free, which reviewers are calling gripping and suspenseful. You can read it HERE.
Plus, I hope it’s okay to share, but I’m just so giddy about this… The other day I received the best review ever. What made it even better is that, that morning, I was feeling a bit discouraged. (We writers can be moody and insecure. I think it must be inherent to the creative mind.) And it felt like God was saying to me, “Keep at it, girl.” You can read that review here: One of the Best Books I’ve Read in a Long Time
Other resources you might enjoy:
The Spindle Chair (fiction, but wow, a great marriage resource.)
How Death Can Bring Life to Your Marriage
You Gotta Fight (Ignore the crazy bad posture. My word!)
Let’s talk about this! Are you married? If so, I imagine you’ve had your share of ups and downs. What has God taught you, in regard to developing intimacy? Or maybe simply in regard to doing life together? Or if you’re not married but either hope to be one day or have watched other married couples with intrigue, what are some things you’ve learned that you plan to implement (or think your friends should!)? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook, because we can all learn from each other.
And… for those who are participating in our Brain Experiment–any verses you can suggest to help us find the strength and courage to surrender our significant relationships? Share them with us!