“I wouldn’t put up with that.”
I can’t tell you how many times this message was given to me either verbally or some other way in the early parts of my marriage. Sometimes, it came from a place of empathy and a desire to help my marriage to improve. Most of the time, it came from those too focused on self.
When I committed 8 years ago to have my husband from this day FORWARD, for better OR worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness AND health, I didn’t know what I was doing or what it meant to make this decision in covenant with a man I already knew struggled with drugs. I also didn’t know just how broken I was or how much harm I’d already done to my mind and body from secret sins that weren’t as loud as his drug problem.
I spent the years following our wedding day in a constant state of waiting. I used to say “one day, we’ll grow up. We’re still young.” I said that A LOT. Hoping it would be true. Just trying to believe that it would all work out because I couldn’t bear the thought of the alternative.
A few months before our 6th wedding anniversary, a divorce was on its way. My husband and I had reached the end of our ability to wait. We’d tried hard at this marriage thing, and we’d failed. Neither of us were consistently happy or fulfilled. We both wanted more and different. We couldn’t feel the love or the desire or the respect that we needed to go on. The messages started pouring in from every direction…
-If it isn’t working, give it up.
-You need to make yourself happy.
-If you aren’t in love, move on.
-It’s unnatural to stay committed to one person.
-Marriage is an outdated concept.
And so many more. All urging the same thing. Give it up. Find your own happiness. Love yourself enough to do something about it.
In the darkest moment of our marriage, I truly believed that it was over.
I stood staring at my phone after an argument and felt the weight of what I was losing. What I was about to give up. Who I was about to become.
There was no happiness in that moment. No freedom suddenly birthed from deciding that separating myself from my husband and becoming just Tiffany again was the only way to go forward. No fulfillment. Just a deep and abiding sadness that such beautiful potential had failed.
After that day, my husband and I resolved the momentary argument, but I believe that we both knew the path we were on was only going to lead us to one decision. To end it. And apart from an abrupt and abundant work by Christ, that is exactly what we would have chosen to do. I would not be writing this post as a married lady with two beautiful children. I don’t know who I would be, but I would not be this blessed.
We were at our weakest…
But he 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.–2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
And suddenly, Christ made us strong.
“I’ve been clean for a week now, and I can’t do this on my own. Will you go to a meeting with me?”
Those words changed everything. My sweet husband had been a surrendered man for a long time. Sucked in and mastered by a never-satisfied god. I was a desperate woman, needing to be needed and desperately wanting to be enough to satisfy. And when we finally realized that…when Jesus opened our eyes to how deeply we had sinned against Him and each other…our hearts changed. Our desires changed.
It was no longer about happiness. Or fulfillment. Though both of those have been granted to us through Christ’s mercy.
Instead it became about leaning on Christ in every moment. When its good and when its bad. When we have money and when we don’t. When we have a cold and when we feel like climbing mountains.
God granted us a moment to choose a different path. And if we hadn’t, much would have been lost. If I had stopped waiting, there might be two less beautiful little girls in this world. I wouldn’t have this redeemed man to wake up to every morning. I wouldn’t be a woman treasuring the moments when he smiles at me. I wouldn’t get to watch him preach his first sermon. Every single day, when I look in his eyes, they are clear. Unclouded. Focused.
If I had stopped waiting…I would have missed it. I would have missed out on Christ.
Christ never stopped waiting for me. He wanted me just as bad in all of my awful as he did in all of my awesome. He wanted me no matter how much was in my bank account. He wanted me snotty and energized. His gaze is forever clear. Unclouded. Focused.
To my husband on this eighth-year celebration of our covenant together, I want you to know something. You are a beautiful gift to me every single day. I cherish what our God has done in you and in what He has given to us despite our broken choices and failed dreams. Eight years ago, I walked down a lot of steps to get to that beach, and I barely remember anything after locking eyes with you down the aisle. All of the hope and desire and want and dreams that I had in that moment have come true. Thank you for the love that you give to me every day. Thank you for pointing me to Christ, and for having the courage to admit your weaknesses to me on that fateful day. I’m glad that I never stopped waiting for you. That it wasn’t about growing up…it was about growing in Christ. I love you.