This story gives me so much hope. Nothing in our lives is beyond repair or restoration. He makes beauty from ashes.
In November 2000, after 13 years of marriage and many empty threats to divorce, it finally happened. We crossed the line of threatening and decided to go through with it. At least he did — I just decided to let go and let him have what he thought he wanted.
Although maybe I shouldn’t jump so quickly to that part of the story. After all, that was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, but there were other problems and many of them were my doing.
I knew I loved him the night we sat in his car after a date. He bawled like a baby because at 23 years old, his mom and dad were getting a divorce. We were both Christians and during our courtship vowed that the “D” word would NEVER enter our vocabulary.
My husband and I married in March 1987 and marriage was wonderfully hard. The process of two becoming one physically, not so rough. Emotionally, relationally… ouch! We figured it out, though, and shared the journey with four kids along the way. My husband worked two jobs so I could stay at home and homeschool our children, but the exhaustion, financial pressures and my knack for dissatisfaction (with almost everything) created distance. Somewhere in our thirteenth year, he fell out of love with me. I was devastated.
It’s important to know that I am the youngest of five children — my closest sibling 10 years my senior. I was the joy of my family, not just to my parents, but also to my siblings who spoiled me rotten. I had never been unloved or disliked. How could this be happening to me? How could he possibly not love me? I had no idea what to do. I was embarrassed and broken. An active church member, a homeschool mom, I was the “perfect” Christian wife and mother — how could my husband not love me? My entire identity bubble burst and I was too proud to see how flawed that perspective really was.
I was without hope, so I did the only thing I knew to do. I lifted my eyes unto the hills, that’s where my help comes from, my hope was in the Lord — I dug deep into Jesus. I wept with Him, poured over His Word, cried out to Him on my knees. I sought counsel and became deeply dependent on the encouragement of a few women God placed in my life “for such a time as this.” The Precept Ministries study “Covenant” was pivotal in my hope. The verses that I clung to were, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 and “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He takes great delight in you; he will quiet you with his love; he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17. I prayed Philippians 1:9 over my husband at night, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth and insight…” It was the hardest and sweetest season of my life. Don’t get me wrong, my relationship with my husband was volatile and I was very angry at him for abandoning his love for me, but Jesus filled his shoes. He (Jesus) began to whittle away at my pride. He began to show me where I was at fault. He began to challenge me regarding my lack of love for my husband, by revealing my selfishness and by teaching me to love by releasing my hold on him. All this time, my husband had been my god. I depended on him for my worth and value. I expected his perfection and berated him when he wasn’t the biblical model of a husband.
That night when he said he didn’t love me, I wanted God to fix it right away. I foolishly believed this was about Him changing my husband, but it wasn’t — it was about Him changing me. God took that broken, prideful little girl and taught her how to love someone even when they didn’t love you in return. I ironed shirts, made dinner, gave up homeschool, went back to work, went to counseling, read books on marriage. I did a lot of things, but the most effective thing I did was surrender to God’s will. Whatever he told me to do, I did — including letting my husband go when he said he wanted to leave. Oh, it hurt. I honestly think God saved me from taking my life that night because I was undone, but I knew that I had to let go. When I did, my husband was left standing alone and the only person left for him to hold on to was Jesus.
After my husband realized he had nowhere to go, he accepted that divorce was not the answer and he was willing to work on our relationship. My brother came alongside us in that season and led us through a VHS bible study. He would come over, park his van in the driveway, and we would watch the video series and discuss the questions — that way, we remained close to our kids. We also started meeting with our church pastor. It was a period of about two years of work and restoration and God was the one who orchestrated the healing.
We celebrated 28 years of marriage in 2015. We have grandkids! We are growing old together. He is no longer my god, I only have room for one of those, but he is surely my partner. God redeemed what the locusts had stolen – He restored two broken people to Him and that resulted in the redemption and restoration of their marriage. God makes bricks from straw. To Him be ALL glory and honor and praise — forever and ever.