Dear young, single, and soon-to-be-pregnant Sarah,
I’m going to tell you a story. This is your story, and not a story you may like. But stick with it till the end – you’ll see God’s grace and sovereignty, and what can become a very happy marriage if you surrender to Him.
Warm tears slid down my face as I lay in bed wondering why God allowed me to get here. Had I done something wrong? Was I not good enough for God anymore? Why had he brought me to such a place of deep sadness? The questions swirled around in my head like a tornado about to destroy an entire city. I looked over in the dark of the night to see my sleeping husband snoring away. We hadn’t even been married a year yet. Down the hall of our tiny apartment was a little girl asleep in her crib. My littlest love. My Grace. Yet my life at that time felt so ungraceful.
I think, sometimes, we try to distract ourselves from hurt, but I believe God calls us to these painful places at specific times. There is no one who could understand pain better than Jesus. I want to be like Him, and He endured much pain and suffering for me. As John Green stated in The Fault in our Stars, “The thing about pain is that it demands to be felt.” Wow. Is that true? Absolutely. You may try as you might not to feel pain, but, if it’s there, you’re going to feel it. For me, it helps knowing that the arms of my Father are wrapped tightly around me when I’m in the trenches.
Some might say that David and I did things completely backwards. We dated first, but then one summer things weren’t right and those two little pink lines confirmed everything I already knew. I wasn’t married yet – how could I have been so irresponsible? What would everyone say? That “Christian” girl who got knocked up before she was married. Yeah, some Christian. I knew David was the one I wanted to build a life with, but it seemed to be happening completely out of order. I was scared and confused. I asked God why?
When the shock died down, we began to formulate a plan. How could we put these broken pieces back together? We sought counsel from a close couple and attempted to make things right with The Lord. We rented an apartment just before the expected due date, and before we knew it she was here. We were 20 and 21. A perfectly healthy, beautiful baby girl, and she was ours. Two weeks later, we went down to the courthouse and paid $100 for a piece of paper that said we were married. In an hour’s time, I was suddenly a wife. David was my husband. We were happy and made a delicious meal that night in our 800 sq ft apartment. All was well. We took walks all the time, played with our precious baby, watched her grow, kissed her a lot, kissed each other a lot and decided that our life was perfect together.
And yet, not even a year later, I laid in bed angry with God. That happiness I felt just months before was quickly fading away. I looked around to see my life and it was not what I wanted at all. I was so young – I didn’t want to be a wife. That title has so much power in it. I didn’t know how to be a wife or what it meant, and our constant bickering proved it. David didn’t know how to love me. He constantly tried to make me happy and it only rubbed me the wrong way. He soon stopped trying to show me he loved me, and I retaliated by doing the exact same thing. The more he turned his back to me the more I distanced myself as well.
One painful night, I looked into my husband’s eyes, tears in mine, and told him I didn’t want to be married anymore. There was so much of our life that did not make sense. We both needed to finish school, we had to pay off debt, we didn’t have any money left to save, we didn’t know how to cook, we annoyed each other with stupid habits, my hormones weren’t back to “normal”, we didn’t communicate, and the list goes on. To say that Satan was living in our home was an understatement. Not only was Satan in our home, but he was controlling our every move. He made me believe that my husband was supposed to have answers to all of my questions, say the right things, do the right things, and if he failed, I would let him know it. I quickly realized what my most powerful weapon again my husband was: my words. If David disappointed me, I unleashed on him, tearing him down with every word I said. Knowing I could crush my husband with my words made me feel like I had some sort of control over my life when in reality I had none. My husband’s eyes immediately filled with tears when I told him I was done. I wanted out of this “marriage” I wanted out of it all. He grabbed my hands tighter than he had ever held on to me and said, “Absolutely not.”
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate that leads to destruction, and many may enter through it. But, small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)
Life has no pain-free guarantee and marriage certainly proves that. I got married, and my faith was put to the test. I struggled a lot, I fought with God constantly because much of what He asked of me wasn’t fair. I didn’t want to forgive. I didn’t have to say I was sorry because nothing was ever my fault. I judged my husband because he wasn’t the ideal husband that I had always dreamed of. He had too many faults.
We were sitting in church one day and the pastor said, “A house divided will not stand.” I immediately began to cry. This marriage that we entered into would soon some crashing down if we didn’t make a decision together to not let it fall. Divorce is such an ugly word, one that can seem appealing when you believe the lies that a life apart from your spouse would be better. Divorce is a wolf in sheep’s clothing waiting to send you into a whirlwind of despair. I thought about divorce. I believed that it was the right choice for me. The thing about family and marriage is that nothing is ever about you. There is always someone else who is effected by your choices. I looked in my daughter’s big brown eyes as I laid her to bed that night and wept. We live in such a fallen world – could my faith go the distance? Did I really trust God to change my heart? Would God even be willing to intervene in my situation when I turned my back against Him, and against my husband?
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.
Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)
Being a Christian doesn’t mean that storms will never come. They will. But, when they do, you’ll be able to withstand it. (Paraphrased from Fireproof.)
God never gives up on us. He didn’t give up on me when I was veering off the road headed for destruction. He didn’t give up on our marriage but instead came rushing in as soon as I stopped blocking the door. He put people in our lives who spoke light into our dark world. He put people on our path who wanted to walk with us. In John it says that from His fullness we have received grace upon grace. God’s love is like a waterfall that is just falling on top of us and there is nothing we could do to stop his love from flowing over us.
Isn’t it wonderful how God has so much faith and hope in us than we have in ourselves?
As you one day face these marital struggles, remember: You are seen by The King most high. You are loved beyond comprehension. You are not forgotten. You are His: God’s and your husband’s.
I want to end this letter with a prayer for those who may experience stories similar to ours, Sarah.