Saturday, March 22, 2014

March 18, 2014
The Hardest Thing I Have Ever Done……….
     I have reached a milestone in my life. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. I have stayed married to the same man for 25 years.
     Yes, being married to the same man has been a hard thing. I had two failed marriages before marrying Mike. So staying married was hard for me.
      When I married my first husband, a pregnant 19 year old,  I believed it was forever even while walking down the aisle with my father, hoping that someone would stop the wedding and rescue me. We divorced within a matter of a few years. I had to divorce him. Enough said.
      I remarried--an officer and a gentleman. He was good to me. He adopted my daughter and loved her as his own. We had a son together. But I couldn’t shake the demons and insecurities of my past. I didn’t know how. He divorced me….with good reason. Enough said.
     But it was the dissolution of that marriage and the total devastation of my personal life that caused me to seek the reality of a living God. After a particularly hard day and after someone had prayed for me on the phone, I decided to pray for myself.
     I went into the bathroom, and on my knees in front of the toilet, I prayed: “Jesus, if you are real, help me. I can’t do it myself anymore.” At that moment, it was as if a bolt of lightning and electricity jolted through me, and I was changed. I know it sounds dramatic, and it is, but it is the truth. And then I stood up and I heard, “Go and sin no more.” I looked up and said, “That’s in the Bible, isn’t it?”
     Yes, it is. Enough said.
     My journey of healing while being discipled went hand in hand. Dramatic changes occurred in my life. I went from teaching college to being a waitress living on tips. I moved out of a large, beautiful shared home to an apartment where I had to sleep on a couch. My downfall continued as I gave up my Audi 5000 for a junked car with holes in it. I handed in my credit cards to upscale department stores to shop at Target. The superficial part of my life was being replaced by something substantial.
     And then I started attending a ministry class: Ministry 101. There was an Army medic in the class. I ignored him. I was intent on pursuing God and praying that my marriage would heal, regardless of a divorce. God does the impossible, right?
     God does what is best.
     The divorce went through.
     And in my life was this man who started off as a friend. Our mutual love of Christ was apparent. We talked and talked about God….and once in a while….Stravinsky. This medic loved music.
     There is more to the story because while God was healing and talking to me, He was talking to Mike, too. He was telling Mike that I was going to be his wife.
      Hold the horses....did anyone bother to ask me??????
      Finally, Mike did. I wasn’t convinced. I was a smart woman-- except when it came to men. A lifetime of failed relationships and watching other failed relationships had soured me. But God does the impossible, right?
      Then there was the showdown. Mike had had enough of me testing him. He had me literally up against the wall. Little did I know my young daughter was on the other side of that wall. She heard what I heard. With his military bearing, and my heels locked, he told me, “I don’t care what you say or do. I will never leave you. I am committed to this relationship.”
       I needed to hear that….and so did my little girl.
       Now there were a few hot-headed days in the beginning of the marriage when we had to spend a few hours or nights apart. We are both passionate people. And I had stored up a lot of pain just waiting for a man to take it out on, but he didn’t flinch.
       Those early years were tough. We both brought baggage into the marriage. Although Mike had never been married nor had any children, he didn’t know what marriage looked like since his father died when he was young.  As baby Christians we had a lot of expectations of marital bliss that just wasn’t for us. We were truly “iron against iron.”
      And then there were the financial troubles and the birth of four more children right in a row. But we were growing and maturing; and where we might have had problems in other areas, our love for Christ and devotion to Him was always strong. We never wavered in our faith. We never disagreed on spiritual matters, even when others thought we were crazy; we knew we were following Jesus.
      Love kept us together: love for Christ and His Word. Jesus not only died for our sins, He died so we could have a marriage that reflects Him.
     We minister to married couples. We don’t hold back about our lives and our marriage. We lay it all out for people to see. Maybe if people understood that marriage is the hardest thing they will ever do, they would enter it with a long-term mentality and not a fairy tale expectancy. It is that expectancy that sometimes leads people into disappointment and divorce. In the end though, the truth is that Mike and I will live happily ever after.