I vulnerably share this with you this morning not so that you can have the juicy drama of our family life, but so that maybe, just maybe, one person can read this and have a different view of their marriage. Maybe, just maybe, one couple will be spurred to help bring healing to one another rather than running away from each other's faults. This topic is such a burden on our hearts, and there is so much more I could say on this topic but for now, this will have to do... to God be the glory for the healing and transforming He has done in our lives through our marriage over the last 8 years!
I thought for sure he was going to leave. How in the world could a good man like Trice stay with a woman like me who was so unsure of herself, so broken, so imperfect? A woman who had trained her mind to listen to the lies of the enemy? A woman who was an emotional trainwreck, who had no hope for the future and who was (and still is at times) overwhelmed by the adjustment of having 3 kids? A woman who claimed to be a Christian but was stuck in so much bondage?
But he stayed. And not only did he stay, he loved me well.
I remember a moment near the end of my third pregnancy where I was having a crazy meltdown about who knows what. I heard my kids in the other room asking, “What is wrong with Mommy? Why did she yell? Why is she crying?” Ugh. I hated myself in that moment. I just needed to shower. To wash away the feeling of repulsion that I had towards myself.
I stood in the shower, water washing over me, and I cried out to the Lord,
“WHY AM I SO CRAZY?"
"WHY CAN’T I KEEP IT TOGETHER?"
"WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?”
The enemy tormented me with lies of failure, insecurity and shame. “A grown woman would never act that way…” he said. “Look what you’ve done now, Sarah, you’ve ruined those kids… Your husband deserves better than you… Your best days are behind you…”
Trice quietly walked out of the bathroom where I had verbally attacked him, and he tucked the kids into their beds. As I was getting out of the shower, he walked back into the bathroom. I figured this was the time. He was either going to leave or I was going to get a lecture about how I shouldn’t act that way. But what he did instead was astonishing.
He loved me.
He got a towel out of the cabinet and wrapped it around me. He led me to our room. He tucked me into bed and made sure I was cozy. Then he laid behind me and wrapped his arms around me.
“You are so beautiful.”
“I love you so much.”
“I am the luckiest man in the world.”
“Our kids are so lucky to have you.”
“I am so proud of you.”
As I lay there with tears streaming down my face, my sweet husband whispered truth into my ear. He whispered love into my ear. It was such a beautiful display of the love of Christ in action.
We’ve always said that our number one goal in our marriage is to reflect the love of Christ to the world. In my mind, I thought that the best way to do that was to be happy all the time. I spent the first several years of our marriage trying so hard to keep our relationship alive through experiences, gifts and memories. I even named this blog “Our Happy Headquarters.” Happiness has been my pursuit.
But the truth is, Christ’s relationship with the church is not happy all the time.
Christ is not pursuing His Bride for happiness’ sake, but rather for healing’s sake.
In Ephesians 5, Paul says,
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her to make her, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
The true picture of marriage between Christ and His Bride is Him dying for her, cleansing her, and perfecting her with His selfless love.
The true picture of marriage between Husband and Wife is covering one another’s wounds with love and spurring one another on to healing... Choosing to love each other for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death.
The healing role of marriage is one of the most important roles it has to play.
Jimmy Evans with MarriageToday often says that we set ourselves up for disappointment when we walk down the aisle in our perfect, white dresses to our perfectly dressed groom. He says it would be more realistic if we were wheeled down the aisle on a hospital bed wearing a gown and having bandages all over! He says we should start our marriage as ICU patients and work toward leaving the hospital together, healed and whole.
You see, marriage is not about two perfect people living happily ever after. It’s about two BROKEN people becoming one. If your goal is happiness, you must realize that this goal can very easily lead to divorce. But if your goal is healing, your marriage can be a marriage that LASTS, that makes it through the good times and the bad. And as a result of that healing, there will be an abundance of JOY.
When your spouse hits a major low in life, the enemy loves to come and whisper lies into your ear, “You deserve better than this… That woman is crazy… That man is a terrible leader... You are doing all the work... You would be better off on your own... This isn’t the same person that you married...” But when you choose to love your spouse through their pain and bring them to Jesus, the enemy will be defeated.
Have you ever thought that out of all the billions of people in the world, God chose YOU for your spouse? That there is something that lies within you that God can use to unlock healing in your spouse’s life?
His kindness is what leads us to repentance. His covenant love is what heals our hearts. And we can mirror this for our spouses.
I didn’t even realize I had a problem with self-hate. I didn’t even realize that I had so many tender places that needed healing. When we first got married, I was a super adventurous, fun-loving girl. I wasn’t being fake. I was just young, a bit naïve and had never walked through a super pressing season before. And after being married for almost a decade, Trice could have totally used the excuse that “I wasn’t the same person I used to be.” I WAS the same. But somewhere along the way, the Enemy stealthily snuck his way into my mind and began speaking lies to me. Somewhere along the way, band-aids were pulled off of wounds that I didn’t even know were still there, and I started bleeding profusely. And instead of running away from the sight of blood, my sweet husband ran towards me and he
and laid me at Jesus’s feet.
And now here I am, 8 years after marrying my beloved, more whole and more free than I have ever been. The beginning of this year was dark, but now there is so much light. I am not perfect, and I still have my dark days. But I love myself. I see myself as a daughter of God. I have taken my seat at the table of the Lord. God has done the most beautiful healing work in and through me this year. And if my husband had chosen to quit, if he had chosen to put up a wall, if he had chosen to wait until I got my act together, I don’t think I would have walked through this healing journey. At least not yet. And I think Trice would have missed out on the opportunity to have a front row seat to the work that God has done in and through me this year.
So today, when your spouse lashes out at you, when he struggles with fear, when she has a crazy rush of hormones… love her. Love him. Don't take the punches personally. Choose to be a part of the healing that God wants to do. Choose to wrap a towel of love around them and whisper truth to their hearts. It will be so worth it.
Father, thank you that when we are in our darkest moments, you bathe us with your love. Thank you for allowing us to partner with You to help bring healing to our spouses. Help us to see the tactics of the enemy and realize that we do not fight against one another, but that we are on the same team. Help us to see our spouse the way that YOU see them. And help us to love selflessly, with a servant's heart and with agape love. In Jesus' name. Amen.