If you had asked me yesterday morning if my husband and I were a match made in heaven, I probably would have said, “I don’t know.” Today, I say, “Most definitely.”
First I’d like to thank Mary Kathryn Tyson (MK is my first “virtual friend.” While this is very strange for me, it is also very sweet. She is such a nice person, you should go over and meet her sometime) for posting her “List” yesterday. I wouldn’t have gotten where I am today without the thought catalyst that her post presented. She made of list of qualifications for the man she would like to marry. I’ll be honest, after I read her list I was angry (it actually took me a while to admit that I was angry), and unhappy. And then I spent THE ENTIRE DAY thinking about why this made me angry and unhappy. And God used that anger and unhappiness to bring to my present state of understanding of what marriage is really about (which is a good thing, because I nearly lost sight of the big picture).
I have been married twice. The first marriage ended in disaster. Suffice it to say, I was wreck when I went to that marriage, and I was a even bigger wreak when my husband left me for another woman (for the second time). I am still married to the second husband. Thank the Lord.
I met my husband at church in 1994, approximately one year before the divorce would become final. I think I thought that he was kind of cute at the time (let’s see, I was 24, and he was 33), but I soon found out that he had a sarcastic, bitter streak a mile-wide. When he wasn’t being snarky, he was really funny (I still roll my eyes and laugh at his jokes after 15 years of acquaintance), and he was kind of cute too. But he was a traveling nurse, so he wasn’t around much during my first years at my church. So much for that. As for me, I was angry, bitter, confused, hurt, broken, by everything that had come before. I was in the midst of the hardest growing up years a girl could ever imagine. I had a son to take care of, a new found faith to navigate, no husband, and no money. Not to mention I was in terrible need of counseling and deliverance. I had already been working on my mental health issues in counseling before I met God, so I just kept going but with a slightly different angle (a God angle, if you will). God in his wisdom knew that it just wasn’t time for me to date anyone. Eventually my husband stopped his travel nursing and came back home. We became acquainted through circumstances that threw us together. I liked him, but I didn’t like him. I thought that he was too critical, judgmental, and disrespectful. But he was funny, and kind of cute, too.
So years passed, we were friends, but I didn’t like him much by the time 1999 came around. He had pissed me off one to many times. Especially when it came to my son. My son is off-the-charts ADHD and had limitations on how much he could handle in any given moment. My husband didn’t like his disrespect towards me or towards others. Anyways, during that year I had felt a lot of pressure to be someone I wasn’t, so I was pretending a lot. Somewhere during the summer I had an emotional breakdown. I couldn’t think clearly, I couldn’t communicate clearly, and I couldn’t be around people. I dropped out of church all together. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it there. But being around people made me feel exposed in a I-am-walking-down-the-street-naked kind of a way. And I wanted to hide. So, I did. During this time, I reached out to a counselor at the church for help in dealing with my issues. This turned into a group counseling team that involved a deliverance minister, a professional counselor, an “Elijah House” style counselor, and the person being my “mom” at the time. You know how diamonds are made right? Lots and lots of pressure form the hardest, most beautiful crystalline structure we have on this Earth. Which is made out of the most basic matter found, carbon. Well, I felt a lot of pressure from the inside out. As it turns out, I had a condition currently known as “Dissociative Integrative Disorder”, commonly known as multiple personality disorder. I was a splintered soul in intense need of divine intervention and healing. Definitely not the best time to start dating anyone in my opinion. I was a wreck. Thankfully God healed me fully and completely from this insanity, which is some kind of a miracle.
THANK YOU LORD FOR MAKING ME INTO A DIAMOND.
I had prayed almost the entire time that I was single this prayer, “Lord, please let the person that is interested in dating me be the one I am going to marry.” I had a son to think of, after all. I couldn’t have men waltzing in and out of his life at such a tender age. I might have been able to handle it, but not him. He needed a steady and stable man that would be there FOREVER. He didn’t need his mom constantly tempting him with a hope of a dad and then snatching it away. So, I prayed my prayer and stayed away from men as much as possible.
Then, right smack-in-the-middle of all that craziness my husband asked one of my counselor’s if she thought now was a good time for me to start dating romantically. She wouldn’t commit me to anything, but said she would talk with me and see how I felt. The ensuing conversation was rather amusing since she wouldn’t come out and say that my husband wanted to date me. She used the words friend and friendship a lot. Funny, I thought, we are already friends. Like I mentioned before, I had felt love/hate towards this man. Up until a certain point, that is. I had gotten a tiny peak into the man that God meant for him to be in July and August of 1999. I had been leading a dance group in our church. We usually had ministry time afterwards and would break up into pairs and pray for one another. I had managed to avoid praying with him all of the previous months, and, well, I just couldn’t avoid it anymore (I know, not very leader-like of me). During that month, God put a little chink in my husband’s armor and I got a look inside at the true man. The following months I developed a certain affection for my husband. He was being very kind to me and calling me once a week to see how I was doing since I wasn’t at church. So by the time he got around to asking me out, I was ready to say, “Yes”.
When we got married in 2002, I didn’t have any romantic notions about who I was marrying. I knew exactly the kind of man my husband was, and I loved him in spite of things that made me angry. Because of the vision, I had hope. Hope that this crazy little thing called love would work out in the end. I love him still, but even more fiercely than before. Let’s fast forward to 8 years later. In other, words, today.
Things have been really, really hard for the past year. We have had a number of losses. Jobs, a pregnancy, health, and financial freedom to name a few. My husband and I have also been fighting a lot. I mean A LOT. I feel angry about the same things concerning him that I felt angry about back in 1995 and 1999. But recently, I have lost hope. I have wanted to walk out that door, and hope it didn’t hit me on the way out many, many times. And I have been angry at him. I had lost sight of the man that God showed me, and quickly turned into a bitter, and angry woman towards my husband.
So, I have been asking myself lately, why do I stick around?
The other day I was at church for choir practice. In the room where we practice I saw a DVD case called “Sacred Marriage”. And the blurb went something like this “What if marriage isn’t supposed to make us happy? What is marriage is supposed to make us holy?” (I am quite sure that my memory is paraphrasing here). Regardless of my memory issues, this has stuck with me all week. I mean, really, what is the point of marriage? Because I have surely been unhappy.
Is this marriage really making me holy?
SoI began examining the implications for this “holy-making” marriage idea? This means that I married a broken person, and that broken person married a broken person (me). Because we are human we are all broken in some fashion, some more than others. Because we are starting from a broken place, there is no other way to go but up. Up towards the perfection of God. The process of marriage is the process of being knit into a single image with three entities, my husband, myself, and God. We fight, we argue, we see the imperfections in each other (and make sure the other person knows about these imperfections). Most marriages end there, some stay together, some don’t. If the purpose of marriage is to make me holy then that means that the process of becoming holy is difficult (Hence, the fighting and arguing). Especially if God is using that other person in our life to show us the broken places (iron sharpens iron, right?). God is trying to knit us all together to become one. But we push against one another and God. This causes ripping and tearing of the fabric that God is weaving together that represents our marriage. Which causes us pain. But pain is good if it has a purpose, right?
Here is where the becoming holy part comes in. When God shows us the broken places, he covers over our sins in love. He extends grace. He heals the brokenness. As long as we work with God, and our spouse in the upward direction, we can recognize this process as part of marriage and that the goal is to be holy (which often does not make us happy), then we can hold onto hope. And we can love the other person fiercely and protectively. We can pray for them. We can speak the truth in love. We can be vulnerable. We can trust. Because we believe in God’s ability to help us, and them, overcome.
And most importantly, we can stick around for the results.
I am choosing today to stick around because I believe in the man that God created my husband to be. I choose today to be kinder and gentler in my approach to helping my husband become that man. I choose to continue to work with God, and my husband, to works toward who I was created to be. Amen.
I’ll say it again: Are we a match made in heaven? Most definitely.
Thank you Lord for helping me to get my eyes back on the big picture. And for helping me hold onto hope. Amen.
Let’s discuss this, do you have an iron-sharpens-iron relationship that keeps you on your toes (this can be anyone in your life, husband, wife, friend, family)?