It wasn’t a pretty sight. Both of us sinking in despair, our marriage hanging in the balance, and our words threatening to slice the last thread tethering our once captivated hearts. Our vows spoken long ago with such certainty now convicted the stubborn, jagged corners of our spirits.
“For better or for worse.” If there ever was a worse, this was it, and if we were ever at our worst, it was now.
Hardened hearts always summon darkness.
Somehow “for the sake of our children” didn’t make sense anymore. We were too different, too hurt, too convinced we both deserved better.
How could we end up here after trying so hard? And was marriage really supposed to be this difficult? What happened to the promise of “to have and to hold”?
In despair, I poured my heart out to God, with tears flowing, while begging Him to fix this mess we had gotten ourselves into. Yet, my desperate heart would take matters into my own hands because God wasn’t working fast enough.
Desperate hearts can fall prey to lies.
Somewhere along the way, I mistakenly embraced a lie . . . that I had to be in control. I had to protect myself from hurt, and it was my job to make sure my marriage didn’t fail. Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of God as Pursuer and Protector and Lover of my soul.
It wasn’t until the lies left me crumbled in a hopeless heap that I realized I was willing to trust God with my eternity, but not with my life, or my marriage.
The truth is, God doesn’t expect us to fight our own battles. He never calls us to self-preservation. His heart simply yearns for us to trust, and his compassion beckons us to cease striving.
The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still. (Ex. 14:14 NIV)
Searching hearts need more than earthly wisdom.
The darkness in our marriage hadn’t taken root for lack of trying. Marriage books lined our shelves — each one read and re-read. When all else failed, we resigned ourselves to yielding for the sake of false peace. And with each yielding, bitterness strangled our hearts. God wasn’t calling us to yield to each other. He was calling us to yield to Him.
Yielding meant admitting we didn’t have the answers. It meant releasing the sum of knowledge gathered to the only One who could be trusted with changing the condition of the heart.
Ultimately, yielding to God meant allowing Him to break us for the sake of saving us.
Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love.” (Lam. 3:32 NIV)
Broken hearts can be restored.
No amount of effort trying to make my marriage work ever equaled the value of broken and surrendered hearts. Yet in the breaking, there were overwhelming days, when regret and doubt threatened the hope of a future.
Focusing, on God’s promises to restore, silenced the defeating voices. God never leaves us broken. Through the breaking, He tills and plows and replants. And our hearts become fertile again. All that was once lost can be made whole.
Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust. (Joel 2:25 NASB)
Today, we are stronger and more forgiving of one another because we chose to go deeper instead of giving in to what we thought we deserved. We chose to embrace our breaking apart so God could mend and heal and bind.
We’re still stubborn and human and flawed. But darkness no longer consumes. We’ve learned the beauty of yielding to the Light.
To have and to hold . . . for better, for worse . . . till death do us part.