Today, Dustin and I celebrate 6 years of marriage. Anyone just tuning into our story might not understand why celebration today is particularly significant. Celebration is standard at anniversaries, right? Well, our story has been less than glamorous. Look at those two kids in that picture. They were dreamy, ecstatic, praying for their beautiful future. Thank God one thing stayed true throughout the last 6 years. We prayed.
God is so good, and we want to shout it from the mountains. I’m sharing a bit of our story today, because I believe that you need to hear it. I believe that God’s name MUST be praised.
Shortly after that picture was taken, our life together took a turn we could have never prepared ourselves for…over the next five years, there would be challenges that took our breath and our hope away. Our beautiful future crumbled. There were obstacles from our young and short-lived youth ministry, enormous financial failures, strained extended family relationships, undiagnosed medical problems, and multiple moves. There was bitterness, shame, insecurity, selfishness, and humiliation. It was more than we could take on our own. And through a lot of those years, we did try to face it on our own. Although we prayed, we sought our own solutions…to no avail.
Dustin and I separated physically on April 9, 2013, and legally on May 14, 2013. I moved with our son, Josiah, found a job, and began life as a single, working mother. For a girl who felt called to be stay-at-home, homeschool momma and minister’s wife, my life and worldview were shaken to the core. I was desperate, afraid, and I thought my marriage was completely hopeless.
Dustin and I had somewhat regular visits so that Josiah and Daddy could continue to build their relationship, but our relationship and our situation continued to crumble. There were GOOD Christians who validated my pain and told me they’d support me if I chose the big “D” word. I don’t even want to say it because it hurts too much. What I’m telling you is that our situation was BAD. I would be lying if I said I didn’t seriously consider making our separation final, and Dustin knows that. He felt hopeless, too. We became acutely aware that being a Christian doesn’t make you immune to your marriage falling apart.
Throughout the last year, we prayed, we sought counsel, we cried, we fought, we loved Josiah, we relied heavily on our families and close friends, and we learned in no uncertain terms that we cannot do this on our own. First and foremost, we need God’s help, and we also need the love and support of the people He places in our path. We are not alone, nor should we try to go it alone.
Throughout this long, cold, ridiculous winter, God started showing us exactly what He can and will do if we truly pour out our hearts to Him, open our lives to His will, and trust and obey. You know what God taught us? That this is both of our fault. No relationship crumbles because of one person’s sin. No matter how heinous one person’s actions may be, there is another party sinning in his or her own way on the other end of the relationship. So…as we both gave our hearts and our sin over to God, He started piecing us back together. I have a friend who always says a person is “being dealt with” when God is working on their hearts…and let me tell you, Dustin and I have been “dealt with” this year. I imagine a toddler throwing a mighty fit. If you’ve ever been in charge of a toddler, you know what I mean. That kid is melting down. The only thing there is to do is stop and “deal with” that situation. I am so thankful that we have such a patient, loving Father. He stopped and dealt with us. He didn’t let us fall apart, even if it would have been by our own hands.
God has truly worked miracles in our marriage. “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21). He really does way more than we could ever think to ask. Not only has God pieced our marriage back together, He has given us our hope back, our joy, and our love. We have a love story. Thank God. We are not just surviving, we are in love.
As Dustin and I have reunited this month, we are celebrating our present and praying for our future. We are not those naïve kids anymore. We know that life is hard and that we desperately need God every hour, every breath. We know that our marriage could still crumble and that our enemy certainly hopes it does. We also have a new understanding for people who have lost hope in their marriages. If that includes you, know that you we do not judge you for wanting to give up or even for giving up altogether…but we also want you to know that there is more hope for you than you can imagine. God can save your marriage. And He can make it better than you ever hoped, even in the beginning.
God is so good, all the time.