Sunday, July 17, 2011

some word i need to say...

when i was a little girl i used to watch the donna reed show on nick at night. i always imagined that was what my life would look like when i grew up. i would meet my husband at the door in heels with a cocktail every day. we'd laugh at the shenanigans our children would get into with a knowing smile. all of our problems would be wrapped up into a neat little bow and life would be relatively easy. i'm not sure why i thought that. it certainly didn't reflect my own household. my parents divorced when i was only a baby and my mother and stepfather spent most of my childhood trying to stay married. they are happy now, but growing up was a different story. my biological father was an addict who occasionally strolled into town to cause more havoc than anything else. i don't want to give the impression that it was all bad. my mother loved me with a devotion and completeness that i only hope to replicate with my own children. she raised us with patience, discipline and a desire to love Jesus. i'm just saying i never had a picture of a healthy marriage.
my husband, on the other hand, grew up with a pretty typical middle america life. his parents are still married, they love each other deeply, they raised their kids to the best of their ability and there was no major traumas in their upbringing. even still, we entered marriage as flawed beings. it became apparent early on that the donna reed show was not happening. we struggled through those first few years. we managed to seek wise counsel, work hard on our marriage and come through better. we spend the next five or six years pretty blissful. we had our minor issues but mostly it was smooth sailing. then a few years ago everything changed. in a span of two years we faced an three unexpected deaths, an unplanned baby, a catastrophic medical emergency, severe depression, near financial ruin, among other things. all while raising a large family. needless to say, our marriage suffered.
we became people who put up with one another "for the sake of our children".
people who slept separately.
people who were drowning under the weight of things left unsaid.
i found myself resenting that my happy ending was turning into a nightmare. i had grown up vacillating between thinking i was too dysfunctional to have a happy marriage or that i deserved one from my upbringing. either way, i wasn't getting it. i've shared many times that my fall back emotion is always anger. anger is safe for me. it is not vulnerable. in some ways, it is my oldest companion. the harder things got, the more i lashed out. at eli, at my family, at my kids, at anyone near enough to take it. the more angry i became, the more he withdrew into his own misery. all while we tried to "play normal" for our children and our friends and our church. i swore when i decided to marry i would never divorce. there were moments during this time when i thought "i'm going to be miserable like this forever." i'm a fighter by nature. i'm ambitious. i go for what i want and i'm tenacious until i get it. but this defeated me. i was too tired and worn down and hurt to fight. at the time when i needed that spirit the most, i was too apathetic to access it. when i reached a point where i really felt like i was having a nervous breakdown, about a year and a half ago, i went to see a counselor. i sat in his office and it all came out. all of it. more than i ever realized was in there. we talked about my husband and my dads and my childhood and my ministry and all of the things in between. i felt better leaving that day than i had in a long time, simply from letting it all out. i felt the anger go down just a notch. for the first time, i thought "maybe this can be saved.". while i wanted God to wave his wand (does he even have a wand? i don't think so!) and fix Eli, He had work to do in me. i remember one day sitting in that office spewing all of the reasons i should be angry and resentful at my husband. i lamented that i was at the end of my rope and out of options. my counselor looked at me and said "he needs you to love him unconditionally. because if you won't, he can't trust anyone else to." can i just be honest and say that is the last thing i wanted to hear? seriously. the last. but it was exactly what i needed to hear. i drove home that day and asked the Lord to help me love him. i confessed how angry i was. not only at eli, but at God for not fixing this sooner. and from that point on, he started answering that prayer. i wish i could tell you it all turned into a fairytale after that. in all honesty, it had to get a lot worse before God could redeem it. we both have visited places in our innermost selves in the last year that i don't think either of us ever want to visit again. i have felt a desperation for Jesus comparable to nothing i had ever experienced before. i have had moments where i literally felt like i was hanging off the side of the life boat clutching with my other hand our entire family. i don't say all of that to be dramatic. it's the only way i can think to describe it. i can tell you, unequivocally, without any doubt or reservation that Jesus has never forsaken me.
He has truly carried me. He has sheltered my broken heart. He has picked up the pieces of our shattered marriage and made something beautiful and new of it. He has made us love each other in a fierce and passionate way again. He has made all things new. i never thought i would be able to say that. but i am here to testify... there is nothing beyond His grasp. there is nothing so broken he cannot fix it. and i just wanted you to know that.


Rich Wildman said...

Awesome post Abby. I appreciate your transparency. So glad you held onto Jesus and loved Eli.

Veronica said...

Thanks for sharing your heart, your words and the events behind them, the testimony of your brokenness and how Jesus redeemed you and your marriage are an inspiration.

I'm trudging through some anger myself at the moment, anger and indifference... I know I need to move towards the Lord, I just haven't been able to give it up yet..

SheBelievesGod said...

Absolutely, Abby. Jesus will never leave you. He is the God of the impossible. You and Eli are a testimony that brings fame to His Name.

Christina said...

I just came to your blog from this is mommyhood's blog, and I am so happy I did. I needed to read this today. I'm halfway through my first year of marriage, and boy, is it tougher than I thought it would be.

Thank you so much for sharing this. Its definitely helped me see some things in a new light.

themrs said...

thanks christina! i always hope by sharing my own struggles it will help someone else. thanks so much for checking me out!!!