In another lifetime, I tried to bond with someone over something we had in common. I had high hopes this person and I would not only be lifelong friends, but more like lifelong family. The occasion arose where I had to give this person a card with a gift. In the hopes of creating that bond I seized the opportunity and wrote "I will always be here for you especially since..." then continued to list the thing that could have one day bonded us for life. The air sort of came out of my sails slowly when the person looked at me, closed the card and said "Oh no, we don't share our war stories." I remember all those years ago, even though I wasn't a Christian, thinking, "We don't? But I thought we were supposed to?"
War stories are actually God's gift to us. If we all hid our war stories, I believe it would be completely impossible for us to help others in the way God intends for us to. He gives us our war stories, not that they will be hidden and stuffed away in a closet somewhere, but so we can in fact shout them to the world and give Him the glory for getting us through them, however He so chooses to do that.
And if I want to do what God has called me to do and I am completely honest, then I must admit one of the biggest war stories of my life thus far was, at one point, my marriage. There could be some WV friends reading this whose jaws may drop to the floor at that revelation. But I have never, ever hidden the fact if someone asked. And about a year ago, the occasion rose where I was able to help a few people based on my own war story. It never occurred to me to NOT share my story or to keep it to myself...and I am glad I didn't, because God used my war story to save at least one other marriage. God using me to help save that one marriage, made every second, every miserable minute of my war story worthwhile.....but there is WAY more than that which makes this story worthwhile.
Years ago, when our babies were still babies, my husband and I fought....a lot. There are people who will say I was always in the wrong, there are people who will say he was always in the wrong, after all, there has to be a bad guy right? Truth be told, we were BOTH wrong, taking turns on who was stepping over which line at any particular moment. Inevitably, we decided that divorce was the only answer, though we lived with that decision for quite a while, neither of us ever took the steps to make it happen, instead, we seemingly made the decision to keep arguing.....only each scenario became worse. We grew apart and so miserable that I would revel in the times when I would pull into the garage and see that his car was not there, just so I could actually have some peace and quiet. He was quite happy to stay away from home because it was much more peaceful than having a nagging wife. And me? I was happy to play victim. I was married to the unhappy guy and I let everyone know it and made sure everyone felt good and sorry for me. Was I really supposed to believe that I might have played a part in any of his unhappiness? Absurd! I was a GOOD wife!
I had begun some sort of relationship with God not too long before this through my husbands near death experience..though I hadn't yet grown a centimeter in that God- relationship when the marriage problems started getting worse. And my husband? He belonged to a denominational religion, but he probably wouldn't mind me saying he hadn't actually grown in his faith in his lifetime, he had simply gone to church.
In the meantime I had started going to a different church. Everyone knew my story because I was really good at playing victim at church and asking everyone to pray for my husband!!!! We had ladies devotion before church each Sunday morning and I look back on it now and think, "Those poor women, they sat Sunday after Sunday listening to me blubber and slobber over my story!"
Then one day it all changed. Someone had given my friend Laurie the Stormie Omartian book "The Power of the Praying Wife" to give to me. I read that book in one day, all the way sirens were blaring in my mind, light bulbs going off behind my eyelids, as though Jesus Himself were screaming "HELLO, here I am and I can help you save your marriage." My marriage could be saved! I had zero hope up until this point and had resigned myself to living a life of argumentative hell, or possibly divorce. There was just one catch.........the book said that I had to change.....
Whoa, whoa, whoa....sirens stopped, light bulbs went dead..didn't Stormie realize that I was not the problem here? I had been touting myself as the innocent party for quite some time now, why on earth would I change? But I was desperate and I would give anything at this point, including giving UP control.....of my entire life. I hit my knees after reading that book and I knew exactly what I had to do. I gave my marriage and my life to Christ and told Him that whatever direction He took with it all, I would be ok and I would stop playing the martyr, change in any way I could, and learn all He wanted me to learn. Slowly, this all began to happen. Not only did I not learn it all overnight, I am still learning, still changing all the time, but I did begin praying for my marriage and my husband, sometimes ten or twenty times a day. At first, well, for a long time actually, things got worse. So I dug deeper into what I could learn. I devoured Joyce Meyers "Help Me! I'm Married" I still have that book today to keep as a constant reminder, packed away in the cellar somewhere, page after page highlighted and dog eared. I also bought a little book that turned out to be really valuable. Lee Roberts "Praying God's Will for My Husband". And I kept re-examining ways that I could change. I had never even shown my husband respect before, so that alone was a process and a half for me to learn. And it was a phenomenal place to start.
One of the books I had read said that I should really be praying for God to bring people into my husbands life to help him too, just as I had been blessed with so many people to help me, so I started doing that. Some time later, I pulled into our driveway to see a strange truck I had never seen before. When I walked into our living room, there, in front of the fireplace, BIBLES open, sat my husband and his best friend from high school who, not only had we not seen in years, but who I also had no idea this man had come to know Christ. I said hello to them as though I was not witnessing the miracle of the century, went up to my room and thanked God for his proof that He was listening.
In rereading this blog, the process seems so simple due to lack of detail, but those friends and family who were with us during those years (yes, I said years, as in the multiple years this all took to get better) will bear witness to the fact that it was ugly, nasty, heart wrenching, and most times, completely hopeless. We actually lost "friends" for not getting a divorce! And the couple whose marriage was saved because God used our story to help their story, if they could write here, they would tell you how bad our story was, how bad their story was, and how much we can actually do to make it work, even in the worst of scenarios.....Which brings me to the line from from Friday's post
"Staying married was the only way to work your problems out"
It's been years and years and years since the healing process began..and for a long time now I have been married to my best friend, my biggest supporter and the person I go to for everything. Do we still argue? Heck yes, only we learned to argue in a different way. There is no perfection here, only the real deal. Just a couple of weeks ago we were able to go away together for two days while a dear friend here watched our kids. It was truly the most magical time we have had together in our 20+ years of togetherness. I literally shutter at the thought that we could have given all of this up all those years ago.
I pray if you are reading this, that you don't let go, even if it seems as hopeless as, trust me, our situation seemed! Please don't listen to "caring" friends and family who tell you they just don't know if you should be married to your spouse anymore. No one can realize the blessings on the other side unless you have actually lived it. They are immeasurable. Just as my parents didn't have a perfect marriage and my husbands parents didn't have a perfect marriage...but we, as their children, have been able to witness......
**watching my in-laws dance on their 50th wedding anniversary, not knowing that just a few short years later, Memere would lose the man she had loved since she was 18 and he had whistled at her walking down the street....
**and we are blessed to witness today, the 49th anniversary of my parents, their love for each other clearer today after 49 years than it was the first time Mom ever cheered on the sidelines for one of Dad's football games.
One of my husbands favorite expressions our daughter and I love lately is "I HOLD ON"...and he does so because he learned from the best, first his parents, and then later when he met my parents. And for all of their holding on, my Mom's, my Dad's, Grampy's, Memere's and my husbands, I will be eternally grateful!
Til next time!
God Bless and Love Everyone!