Alternately entitled: ” tales from the very. worst wife”
To be honest, this little 4-letter word means more to me today than it those many years ago.
Back then, I barely understood the true meaning of most words even though I thought I knew all I needed to know about this one and another word spelled
Heck, I thought I knew a lot about everything.
Taking a step back to adjust my focus I can clearly recall the scene…
She’s standing there in the upper portion of an Italian restaurant (now a Hooters) between the rented candelabras and before a Justice of the Peace who just happened to play Bridge there every Thursday afternoon. She was their waitress.
Just a slip of a girl….no family present and terrified. This is the first wedding she’s ever attended and it’s her own. There she is, standing in her future mother-in-law’s altered wedding gown, in a god-awful DIY headpiece she made herself, next to a guy she’s only known for 5 months and they’re about to say “we will stay” for the rest of their lives. No, she wasn’t pregnant….just stupid and in love.
She says it. A quick slug to the arm from his brother and Best Man, causes him to snap out of his daze just long enough to stutter his “I will” to the amusement of his family members. And that’s it: they are married.
It was November 16, 1989.
Stay. What did they know about staying?
She……abandoned and left to her own devices against the system of a world that was none too kind. Abandoned by parents who divorced and remarried multiple times and showed no power to stay true to anything or anyone anywhere.
He… no better off, abandoned by his father who likewise left behind a family so wounded that it would take years to repair and recover even a little of what was lost.
What did these two have to offer one another from that day forward?
How would they ever know how to stay?
How could they understand the cost of staying?
They had no idea.
And God would see them though the birth of 3 children and a business, multiple moves, a variety of churches and the death of their mothers. He’d be there in their good and bad decisions, and especially in the sometimes daily hand-to-hand combat with that unseen enemy trying to tear their marriage apart every step of the way.
Yes, God would be there because somehow, even in their ignorance, they knew early on to call out to Him.
Even when staying was simply the last place to stand.
When the enemy would
prowl outside their door
like a wolf in shepherds clothing… and fighting…
sometimes against one another,
sometimes against the God who loves them
and sometimes against
and the skeletons
and the whispers
and the darkness hiding inside their own souls….
they’d fight so hard to stay.
Because leaving is not an option.
Because staying is beautiful.
They’d learn the whole way… how to stay.
Last night I stood at the drugstore counter ready to checkout with an anniversary card in hand. The young clerk and I chatted about the chocolate I was buying for Him [because that’s the way he rolls and I know he’ll share!] She asked me how long we’d been married. When I told her, she sucked in her breath and in amazement asked me:
“What is it like to be with the same man for so many years?“
I had to stop for a moment. Truth is, no one had ever asked me that question before and I really didn’t know how to answer. On this particular day, no lie…it felt like hell.
It had been a horrible day in our history and I wasn’t really up to the task of locating an “I-love-you-Baby-with-all-my-heart” anniversary card. It wasn’t the first such day and it surely wouldn’t be the last.
Today has been wonderful and to be honest, there have been many more days like today than those like yesterday and I know by now to hang on for tomorrow; if God even gives us a tomorrow.
It’s because days like yesterday mix and mingle their flavors with the flavors of days like today and the result is the richness of relationship necessary to keep these two sinners hanging on to one another and clinging to God with all their might.
It’s the Holy Spirit’s staying power: God gives us the power we need to stay.
So tonight, I can celebrate that I do know what it means. I understand the cost and I’m willing to pay the price…
knowing It’s not a perfect relationship….
but it is a beautiful marriage.
And the only reason we know is because these two people were given the courage, by the grace of God to stay through it all just one more day.
33 thoughts on “staying power”
Yes, yes, so much yes to every single word. I’m hanging on by the edge of my seat as I read Lorretta, because it’s my story too. Except my parents were always together from very young. But my husband had your husband’s story and we’re both sinners clinging to God. Thank you so much for writing this. All of us women need to hear this!! I love you.
Sigh…. thanks Nacole. I know that God is still in the business of rescuing sinners like me and I’m grateful, just SO grateful that He did when He did and then brought me out of darkness, blinking into the light and there was a Nacole standing there too.
Oh Loretta, I so needed to read this today. So beautiful. Definitely sharing all over the internet!
This was absolutely beautiful!!! Happy Anniversary!!!
This was absolutely beautiful! You do have a beautiful marriage; beautifully real! I love it!!!!
Thank you Sweet Sister! It’s taken me a long time to live into it…and it’s also taken us a long time for my husband to release me to this calling. But you know, when I began to lean harder into Jesus as my “husband” and caretaker [Isaiah 54], that’s when things began to settle out and get really sweet. Blessings to you!
“knowing It’s not a perfect relationship….
but it is a beautiful marriage.”
That is what it is all about!
Happy anniversary & prayers for many more ahead!
I’m right behind you…@ 22 &1/2 years.
Praise God who gave you the strength & perseverance to…stay!
Oh, thank you Lauren and congratulations to you! Here’s to “staying power” everywhere! 🙂
<3 Thanks Natasha!
So beautiful and so much truth! I too am thankful for the Holy Spirit’s staying power. (I am your neighbor on FMF.)
Howdy neighbor! Thank you for the encouragement here and I’m glad you can understand the great deal of beauty in the Spirit’s power to help us stay and bloom where he plants us. Bless you!
So many in this world equate “stay” with drudgery but your story is a great reminder that “stay” is beautiful and blessed when joined by God. It’s no easier to “stay” than for the rest of the world, but God’s grace heals the wounds and changes our perspective in a way that no amount of therapy ever could (though sometimes He uses therapy as a vehicle for His grace, too). Thanks for baring your soul! Love ya!
And we both know what we both have been “blessed” to deal with! Thank you sister…I do love you and you gotta know that I’ll be with you every step of the way as you walk through the “stuff” of marriage too!
Hello, I am dropping in from Lisa Jo’s FMF. Wow, this was absolutely beautiful, and such an encouragement. I confess, the ending, the “knowing It’s not a perfect relationship….but it is a beautiful marriage.” brought a tear to my eye, and made my heart fill with love and appreciation for my own husband and our marriage. Thank you for sharing your story.
And you know this is why we write! God uses all of what we’ve been through–the good, the bad and the UGLY to minister and to shape our own souls and it’s from THERE that we are blessed to pour. Thank you for checking in and please feel free to share this with anyone who needs a “lift”. 🙂
Excellent! I have many thoughts brewing in my head, but none seem right. Stay (ing) for 18 years and counting!
oh girl. I started this last night but with kiddos and family here had to stop, then tried again before I went to bed, Could Not read was so tired. But this morning- what a blessing to read those words that we have all experienced in one way or other. “leaving is not an option” became our chant in the early years. Of course we’ve got a few years on you, but the challenges are there, sometimes moment by moment and the experiences of our past and the family of origin that haunts comes out in full force sometimes, even when we thought we were past it. It’s hard to stay fully in marriage when the examples all around are so fully against it. Love that you love each other, Lean into each other for the next 20 years- The more we let go of our “self” and grab onto God the better it works. love your story wrapped up in His story. God is so Good!
The world needs to hear more of these stories. Too many hurting non-staying people out there. STAY.About to hit 11 years of STAY for us. It’s possible.
Cool Loretta and congrats on your staying power. I tell people all the time. that I’m amazed God chose a man I needed THEN and NOW. You talk about growing older together, but you don’t really know what that means until you…grow old together.
It truly has been a beautiful thing Tina. I often think about the “what if’s” and I’m so grateful that God smacked me down when he did and raised me up when he did!
Congratulations to you, Loretta, and your hubby on 23 years of staying together, and clinging to God! So proud of the two of you, and what a great example for your three kids…Truly happy for both of you and praying God sustains both of you and your marriage as you both cling to Him, the true Vine (John 15:5).
Thank you Dolly….it’s amazing to me that you’d pull that verse….my “life verses” : John 15-5-7…I must abide. Bless you dear friend!
Aww, so beautiful to see your heart out there…and the honey out there, too. Too good for words!
Thanks Lani…I am truly grateful that God has blessed me with the ability to see my husband through His eyes. It’s been quite a journey!
Thanks Lorretta, couldn’t have worded it any better!
Yeah, I know what it means to stay, glad God has stayed with us even when we’ve both strayed. I LOVE YOU and happy anniversary again!
Hey, would you like to drive to Gainsville tomorrow and film an AWESOME Christmas performance! I hear Praise in Motion with be there….
Why, yes, I would be honored to accompany you to Gainesville Mr. Stembridge! <3
So, so beautiful! I wrote in a similar vein today. I wanted to do 5min Friday, but I needed to write this more. 🙂
Don’t you just love how God has knitted all of us together this way. You up there in Canada, me down here in Georgia…and we are family. I love that. Of course, it helps that I’m a cajun girl!