It’s Holy Week.
A week of remembering the moments surrounding the single-most important person and event in all of human history: Jesus.
Life. Death. Burial. Resurrection.
A week to remember the everything before and after and to rejoice that we can now live from the center of “It is finished!”
Yesterday, my youngest and I occupied a pew in the little Episcopal church here in town for the first of five services our community will host this week. Today we’ll be at the Methodist church. It’s one of the many things I’ve come to love about this small country town. One week out of the year we gather in one another’s churches before God, united in the Spirit to worship our Lord and Savior; Jesus. How beautiful is the body of Christ.
In the brief moments before the service began, I recalled this time from years before and was filled with so much peace and joy for the life in Christ I have today. Because I was remembering how just a few short years ago, I sat in a pew alone, sin sick and heart damaged by so much pain and confusion.
Everything I thought I knew about all I thought I could depend on was falling apart and crumbling beneath my feet. I was lost amidst my own shattered illusions of what it means to be a minister of the Gospel, a woman, a wife, mother, sister and friend.
I’d come face to face with my own empty definitions, which somehow had become detached or maybe had never been truly attached to their meaning in Christ. I was a lost sheep in crisis and didn’t know if I’d ever find my way back home.
I didn’t know where home could be found and mine……… was falling apart.
Two decades of denial had taken their toll and I could no longer hold back my overwhelming dissatisfaction with the temple prostitute I had become. Angry. Fearful. Frustrated. People pleaser. Need meeter.
Years of inattention to details, false starts and unkept promises on both sides of my marriage added more and more kindling to the pile of dead wood smoldering inside of me and before I knew it,
this girl was about to self-combust and burn herself to the ground.
Of course, the enemy wasted no time… slipping in the well-placed attentions of others under the guise of tending to my neglected intellectual, emotional and spiritual needs. Needs I’d forgotten I had; deeper places and pieces of me I’d set aside early in my marriage thinking I’d get to them later…things all too soon forgotten until I couldn’t forget any more. The 2 Timothy “weak-willed woman”? That was me.
I was ripe for the picking and I had no clue.
My marriage was in shambles.
Can I just say that? Yes we are both sold out followers of Christ and yes, our marriage was in trouble.
Honestly, we were both doing the best we could with what little we understood all those years . We’d both come from homes decimated by sin and divorce. Simply staying together would have been enough to do it better than our parents had before. But that wasn’t enough and we knew it. We loved each other and we needed help. But how?
You know I’ve written an awful lot about mentoring and accountability. It’s because God has used these relationships to change my life and marriage.
God has used other men to minister to my husband helping him to stand firm and walk the walk and other women have counseled me and loved me back from the brink of disaster. It’s scriptural (see James 5:13-20) and it’s necessary. Do it.
Divorce was not an option but marriage the way we’d been doing it for 20 years wasn’t either.
We loved God. We loved each other.
However, my husband didn’t know how or where to lead, I didn’t know who or how to follow and after 20 years, we were getting nowhere fast. The fight was on. We fought like we’d never fought before. Something had to change; through the prayers of others and constant humbling, something did:
We got broken.
More broken than our marriage.
Somewhere in the middle of all the battles we stopped fighting…. each other and started to realize we were actually fighting for something far greater, and it was really worth the fight. We also realized we weren’t fighting alone. So we kept fighting for it and kept talking and listening even when it hurt.
I had to find the courage introduce my husband to the woman he actually married (once I found her again myself) and he had to find the courage to accept and encourage me here.
I had to learn how to communicate my needs respectfully and to encourage and spur him on to greatness in Christ –trusting God to do the work in His life, and he had to learn how to listen CARE-FULLY and not finish my sentences. Ha!
He’s learning how to lead…and where; through and to Christ.
I’m learning how to follow in all the same ways.
We’re both learning to trust and share the load of leading and following under God’s direction.
We hope we get to grow old together with the emphasis on the GROW in the midst of the old.
We are partners.
We are friends.
We are warriors.
It’s Holy week; the time when we remember the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who is so very real, active and alive in the world today;
Because this is the very real life, death and resurrection story He’s made of my broken marriage. It’s still broken but we’ve decided to keep it that way.
Because God is teaching us both to do whatever it takes to stay broken ourselves before the Lord and this marriage…this broken marriage… is our testimony and offering to Him; broken and made whole again by God
Dear reader, I don’t know where you are today but if you are anywhere near where I once was, I want to offer you this testimony of hope; healing IS possible.
Maybe you or someone you know is struggling in this place today or from where you stand, disaster is on the horizon.
Remember! It is FINISHED! Jesus is risen for you and for your marriage today.
And know this: you do not fight alone. I’d love to pray for you and hear your heart.