“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.”
-Song of Solomon 6:3
Pastor Jack did our premarital counseling. He pulled no punches and went in with us with no holds barred. The great thing about Pastor Jack is his enigmatic face. He’s hard to read. It always seems that he has the inside bead on something you don’t. So when he said this is probably not a good idea for you two, I waited for the punch line. He didn’t deliver one. He sat there with half a smile and a light in his eyes. My husband, being the bolder, flat out asked why. Jack went on to explain that we were already behind the eight ball before we even got started. He gave us the numbers and statistics on marriage failure. He threw those hard truths on the desk the first 10 minutes into our first session. I left that office not feeling full of promise or hope. I walked away with a book, unanswered questions and a directive to sit down and discuss some hard topics. Not wedding pretty but life gritty!
During another session he pinned me down with the question of “why” I wanted to marry my husband. I went on to list all the things I would get out of the relationship and what benefits were mine. That pragmatic little side smirk again. I knew I had it wrong. Not in a bad way, but in a way that may cause issues down the road for us. My answers weren’t inaccurate, but my perspective was. That by getting married I was agreeing to make someone else and their well-being a priority over my own. That’s a hard concept in a “me” driven world. You promise to love this person above all others for always. That includes yourself.
Let me explain myself a bit more. My current marriage is my second marriage. Enter the statistical standpoint on failure. I got married the first time shortly after turning 19 years old and almost 5 months pregnant. To tell you the truth I have no idea how quickly it all spiraled out of control. One minute I was graduating high school the next I was expecting, married and living in a single wide trailer. Not that living in a single wide trailer is a bad thing. I should have been attending college classes. Not playing house on the side of a highway. Poor choices followed by bad decisions chased by so much immaturity. Both my parents attempted to talk me out of it. I couldn’t move home nor could I relocate. Neither knew about the sweet baby I carried. My soon to be husband had just gotten divorced at the ripe old age of 21 and was again taking the leap with me. It wasn’t a love conquers all kind of moment or story. We never brought God into any discussions. He was not invited into the marriage at any point. We never attended church. It became a survival mode situation. It stayed that way for several years. We both were not good people. We did not bring out the best in each other. “We” were more him versus me with three little kiddos caught in the middle. The divorce was the icing on the proverbial messiest mess of all messed up cake.
Deciding to leave and imploding my life was the hardest, scariest, most gut wrenching decision I have ever made. Not only was I destroying me I was taking 3 little innocent children down with me. One thought kept coming back to me. I could not let them think that marriage as they knew it was the right way. My best friend let me move in with them. To this day I credit her with saving me. Jesus set her on my path to pull me back towards Him. I vividly remember an argument between her and her husband over something trivial. They way in which they spoke to each other with love in the moment despite their difference of opinions blew me away! No one was demeaned or belittled. Ugly words were not used. Voices were not raised. Wait! What?! They prayed, attended church, and were a team. He was in constant service to her and her to him. I had no idea if I would ever remarry, but if and when I did, I wanted that! She also gave me some real honest “time to change” your life talk. She loved me too. When I felt unlovable and used up. She showed up with kindness and strength I did not deserve but needed more than anything.
It has taken me years of prayer, therapy, self-reflection and love to move past a lot of the damage caused by my first marriage. The biggest stumbling block for me has been the broken promise to God. It’s the one I still struggle with. It has nothing to do with the person I was or my ex-husband was or our roles in each other’s lives. It has everything to do with the deeper walk with God I sought and still seek. The maturity that comes with time and experience makes me deeply remorseful at hurting God with my poor choices and inability to do as I said I would do. The well was not deep enough. I could not love enough or forgive or find it in me to work it out. I applaud those who do. It is a testament to the tenacity of love, the bigness of spirt and the all-encompassing power of God to right a wrong. To this day if anyone asks what my biggest regret over my divorce is, I always answer breaking my promise to God. My relationship with Him is the one I desire most. His love and forgiveness are mine. He’s already extended grace and blessings despite my brokenness. Simple moments in our daily lives that remind me of His goodness. The astounding wholeness God offers even though the sin was so prevalent and forefront makes me humble in my approach to my marriage now. He allowed me another chance.
My husband has always known who he is. His walk with God is sure and steadfast. His knee jerk reaction is to pray first act second. He helped me move all of my things after they had been tossed out of my house onto the side of the road. He waded into the abysmal mess, helped me sort and salvage. He invited me to church. He prayed for me. He was steadfast and strong. Even when the mess of my life threatened him he prayed and stayed. He showed me that God doesn’t give up. That He is where the help comes from. When our relationship moved towards a romantic one, he held his beliefs firm. He held me as virtuous. He refused to compromise himself for me even though I tempted with all I had! I began to see my worth because he saw it and showed it to me. He was all in while holding the line. He insisted on counseling. He insisted that God be the love of our lives. He set himself as the head of our relationship as I had never seen any man do before. I trust my husband implicitly to know what is best because I know that his first priority is not himself or his needs but me and our children and above all God. In turn he has modeled for me sacrificial love. He makes me want to love him more. He makes me want to love God more. The night before we got married we sat in the sanctuary with only Christmas lights on. We sat on the altar and he prayed. That moment was the most intimate moment between us. I felt God enter into communion with us. It shifted my core belief in who God is in our life. It is the cornerstone of our marriage.
That prayer locked in our heading. It took me some time to circle back to that question asked by Pastor Jack about why I wanted to marry the man sitting next to me in the office that day. It crystallized in that hushed quiet of a darkened church on a cold December evening. I want to love him and help him be a better man. I want to serve him in a way that glorifies the love we have been blessed with. I want to love him in a way that glorifies God. I want to be the one to walk with him in all the ways. I want to hold him and comfort him in sickness and affliction. I want to ease his troubles and carry the load. I want to be his helpmate. I want to know and be known by him. I want to celebrate and laugh. I want to make him happy and fill his cup. I want to rejoice at the Table of Thanksgiving when it’s time. I want to meet him or him meet me at that heavenly door step. I will do all of these things and more because I promised. I do…
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
Praying all good things in Him always friends!
Hey, HighPoint Church! Interested in writing?