Psalm 50:15 says, "And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me." I wrote the following post for The Bridge Church's blog this week in hopes of doing just that... glorifying HIM. Because of that reason, I decided to share it here on my personal blog, as well.
"My Story: New Marriage, Same Spouse"
As many of you know, Josh began a new sermon series this past Sunday entitled, Real Marriage, based on the newly released book by Seattle pastor, Mark Driscoll, and his wife, Grace. To say that the first message of this series was already powerful and convicting would be an understatement. Yes, it certainly was both of those things... but, another word I would personally choose to describe it would be “glorious.” Hearing Pastor Josh proclaim the statement from Genesis 3, “Because of the power of Jesus, the Risen One, there is hope for anyone to have a new marriage with the same spouse” set off deep rejoicing in my soul. It was all I could do to sit silently in my chair and not jump up and shout, “YES! YES, There IS hope!” The reason why I desired in that moment to so boldly and openly claim this is because I recently lived the transformation of which our Pastor spoke. And by the end of that worship gathering, I knew without a doubt that God was compelling me to somehow share my own story with the rest of the church body.
You see, one year ago this very month, my marriage was rapidly destructing. On February 1, 2011, my husband, Alec, and I were separated, honestly not knowing whether or not we would ever be together again as husband and wife. The reasons of our separation were many and had unfortunately began accumulating from the day we spoke our vows. Anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness had taken residence in my heart early on and were slowly corrupting my relationship with my husband. On the inside, I felt I had it all together and had mistakenly chosen to marry someone who didn’t. On the outside, however, I had become a self-righteous, nagging wife who consistently pointed her finger at all of her husband’s issues, while avoiding honesty about her own.
I spent the first month of our separation in a fog of numbness, both emotionally and spiritually, just trying to daily survive my new role as a single mother. The reality and seriousness of my situation had not truly set in at that point. I was still headstrong and in waiting for Alec to learn HIS lesson and change for me and our children. My conversations with others would sound something like this: “Look at what he is doing to me and our family! How can he continually hurt us in this way? I am an innocent victim of his terrible choices and there is no other answer but to leave him. He hasn’t changed in 5 years, so there’s no hope of him changing any time soon.” Little did I know that God was about to soon send a giant wrecking ball through the fortified city of sin I had been constructing in my own heart.
Throughout the following months, God did a major, unexpected work in my life... A work so significant that I’ll always remember it as the most altering season in my life next to my salvation. God began showing me that for as long as I had been pointing fingers at my husband’s addiction and sin, I unknowingly had addiction and sin of my own. Sure, it looked very different, yet it was real and it was surely destructive. God opened wide my eyes to see how much I idolized other people’s opinions and approval of myself. This was more complex than a simple struggle with peer pressure or wanting to fit in. This was a true emotional addiction to what people thought of me. Not stopping there, God then convicted me of the ways I had even cruelly used the issues and broken circumstances in my marriage to receive attention, affirmation, and approval from others around me. In a nutshell, God bluntly but gently showed me, “The problem is YOU.” For the first time in a very long time, I truly saw and faced the condition of my own heart.
Plain and simple, the ruler of my life was me. My spiritual walk had become grossly disordered from my efforts to pridefully manage and cope with my own sin, yet blaming and exposing my husband’s sin at every given opportunity. The choicest affections of my heart were soaked in my flesh and not in my Heavenly Father. I learned that He longs for me to find my security, identity, approval, and emotional gratification from Him, knowing His resources will never run dry. My time in the Word gradually changed from trying to search out Biblical grounds for divorce to learning about the fear of the Lord and His opinion of me. Once my true self was fully broken, exposed, and laid on the altar before the Lord, I was in a position for Him to then supernaturally and wholly heal my marriage.
The main instrument that was key to getting me to this new place spiritually I believe was prayer. Yes, Alec and I weekly sought guidance and wisdom from a Godly marriage counselor who walked with us through much turmoil. But the prayers of His children kept us going and holding on. I prayed as much as I could. Some prayers at times were barely made up of much more than “God, please help...” And then when I couldn’t muster up even the simplest words, others were praying. My friends prayed. My House Group prayed. Our church leadership prayed. Many, many people kept on praying. I’m certain God even heard the simplest prayers from my 4 year old whose chosen words for a blessing before meal time were, “God, please help my Mommy and Daddy to become best friends...” God’s people prayed and He moved mightily.
Now a full year later, my relationship with Alec is stronger than it has ever been. The level of intimacy we have now is new, fresh, and real. I am able to daily view my husband as a gift and not as an enemy. When problems and conflicts develop, I begin with repentance of my own sin instead of shifting blame to his. Even though this current year has my family walking through a season of intense financial adversity, I can confidently and joyfully say that we’re now able to truly love, support, and encourage each other through each difficult day, instead of turning on each other. And most importantly, because I am learning to relate to Alec with genuine humility and respect, my relationship with my Heavenly Bridegroom is much more tangible and satisfying. Because of His dynamic and deep work in my heart, I truly do have a new marriage with the same spouse.
Thank You, Almighty Father, for giving us REAL hope in our marriages. I pray that there would be at least one husband or wife reading today, whose heart is crying out for a new marriage, who will openly hear and receive Your comfort in these words that You’ve led me to share. Help my brothers and sisters in Christ know that you CAN and DO make beautiful things out of the filthiest dust. To You be every single bit of the glory!