I know when I first became a blogger on this site, I said that I would talk about the challenges of a marriage that had hit the wall. My purpose was to encourage other women who may be going through the same challenges, and to give them hope.
What I have found, however, is that some of the things we are experiencing are so deeply personal, that it’s hard to share them without opening up a door into our relationship that really is not for anyone to see beyond except us.
But I will try to share something that happened a few nights ago, without filling in all the blanks, because God really did some amazing stuff.
Two months ago, due to certain events, I decided that I was done with the marriage. Finished. After spending a week with my younger daughter at our cabin in the woods (my older daughter was at a Christian camp), and being sick to my stomach the entire time as I prayed about what to do, I came back to inform my husband that I was moving out.
That conversation went on for four hours. My husband and I had never talked like that at any time during our 22 years of marriage. It wasn’t pretty–it was actually very painful. Still, when we were through, I wasn’t so sure I was moving out. This is not to say that he asked me to stay. Both of us were sitting on the fence, wildly uncomfortable in our present position–even feeling trapped–yet afraid of following through with divorce. We knew the carnage that would follow.
Over the next month or so, I prayed and prayed and prayed. Eventually God’s voice came through to me. He told me that I had been “talking the talk” all my life. Now I needed to “walk the walk.” It’s easy to say that with God, all things are possible. But did I really believe it? Did I believe that He is who He says He is? That He can do what He says He can do? Even with MY marriage?
With some reluctance, I climbed down off the fence. I had this sense that God expected me to be the one to do it–to believe Him and take a stand for the marriage, because I am the “Jesus freak” of the house. My husband calls me a zealot. (It could be worse, you know?) My oldest daughter says that I turn everything (conversations, yada yada) into a “God thing.” (Don’t be fooled–my oldest daughter is showing signs of Jesus freakness, too, but she doesn’t realize it. When viewing the big ghost hanging from our neighbors’ tree, she said something like, “Goodness, why invite Satan in?”) God led me to step up to the plate and take a stand.
I decided that I was not leaving. Not ever. I was going to believe God; believe that He could resurrect a dead marriage. Period. When I did that, two things happened. First, I knew that the devil was furious. I mean furious. I won’t tell you about some of the weird stuff that happened around our house. Secondly, I learned that when God calls you to the plate, He doesn’t leave you standing there without the right equipment. He began to teach me how to love my husband in a way that I never have.
He has given me a servant heart for my husband that was never there before. He has taken every ounce of fight out of me. He has given me a new humility that my husband doesn’t quite know what to do with. For the first time in my life, I am now learning what REAL love is–unconditional, expecting nothing in return.
But let me also make it clear that this new behavior of mine is not “mine.” It is the Holy Spirit working through me. I am really not all that wonderful. I know that it is the Holy Spirit, because it has been two months since I climbed off the fence, and if I was still trying to do this in my own power, I would have had 18 knee-jerk reactions by now, several tirades before God, and three or four in-your-face confrontations with my husband. And incidentally, that was life before I stepped up to the plate–before God honored my faith, and equipped me.
Now, about the other night. My husband told me he wanted to talk to me. We sat behind closed doors and he told me about how he was feeling. Without divulging what he said, suffice it to say that he is still on the fence and very uncomfortable.
But you know what? A miracle actually occurred, because the words he said to me should have knocked me flat. They weren’t mean-spirited, but they were honest. Maybe some of the most honest things he has ever said to me. And that is a very good thing–that he can feel safe enough to say such things. But they were the last thing I wanted to hear. Strangely though, as I listened to him, I felt no pain. God held my heart in His warm hands, and I was really OK. I was actually astounded that I was OK.
I told him that I was going to stay in the marriage, and I was going to love him, no matter what. He wasn’t quite sure what to do with that information, or me.
Afterward, I went out for a walk like I often do. It was 9:30 p.m., but I have my faithful Jessie dog (who sleeps beside me as I write), and my God, and both enable me to walk comfortably in the dark in our neighborhood. As soon as I got past our driveway, this amazing, unearthly joy took hold of me. I can’t describe it. All I could do was smile. But I knew first of all, that God had been there in the midst of that conversation, and that He had used me, and that He had held me and kept my heart safe. And something told me that the joy was a precursor to what will come with time. All I could do throughout that 45-minute walk was praise God.
The next day, the Lord brought my dearest friends to “fill my cup” (unbeknownst to them). I called one friend, and two others just happened to call–which almost never happens. I was on the phone for a total of almost three hours that day (an all-time record because I am not a phone talker).
The day after that, I was at Bible study and chatting with a friend of mine who has been praying for our marriage, and who has been an encouragement. As she listened to the latest events, she told me, “Three years ago, my husband was you, and I was your husband. The same thing happened almost exactly. I gave my husband every reason to leave me. In fact, I tried to make him mad enough to leave me. But he refused to leave, and insisted on loving me. Then, one day, I woke up, and I wasn’t angry anymore. I couldn’t even summon up anger toward him. I went and apologized to him. And now, look at us.”
Wow. When God calls us to the plate, He gives us the right equipment. And a wonderful team that supports us, and prays alongside of us.
We just have to be brave enough to get off the fence, and step up to the plate. Even if it looks like the odds are against us. Because God is for us. And that is all we need.
About Gwenn Quinn
Gwenn has been a freelance writer for over 20 years and has published a book called God, Up Close and Personal.