*Today’s post as part of our “28 days of love” project is written by one of my best friends and my true soul sister. I’m thankful for her beautiful heart and willingness to share something very personal with all of us. Thank you, Amie!*
This afternoon, my husband and I were finishing up an overnight date by having lunch together at Cracker Barrel. My mom and stepmom wrangled our two younger children for the night so that Chris and I could celebrate our Valentine’s weekend together…. alone. A rarity for sure. As we were seated, my husband took my coat, pulled out my chair, and waited until I was seated to seat himself. A few moments into our coffee as we scanned the breakfast menu, an older gentleman stopped by our table, leaned into my husband and shook his hand. “Son, I saw you take her coat and pull out her chair. Don’t ever stop doing that. It’s important to take care of her. My wife was suddenly taken Home 11 years ago. I’ve been a preacher for 57 years. I’m just finishing up business here until I can join her.”
I smiled listening to him. We chatted a minute and then he left. I gushed at the man’s words. But, I also knew something that man did not know.
Just a few years ago, our relationship was so incredibly different. My husband wasn’t the chivalrous man he is today, nor was I one to respect and honor him. We had both come from failed marriages. We had both come from broken homes as children. I was raised by a single hard-working mother. I never had a marriage modeled for me, let alone a Godly one. When we married on October 16, 2004, the odds were highly stacked against us and our children to succeed as a family (I had a five year old daughter, Joey, and he, a 10 year old son, Dylan). Although we had both committed to follow Christ as teens, and we were crazy about one another, we both carried much baggage from broken hearts, mistreatments and past disappointments into our marriage…. a recipe for disaster.
Two years into our marriage, we had a child together, a little girl, Hollyn. Although she brought much happiness to our lives, it was about this time that our marriage began to deteriorate. You see, we still had no idea what we were doing, coupled with the fact that life just happens. We began to gripe. We began to fight. He had a vasectomy without my consent. I sobbed in the waiting room during the procedure, because God had once promised me I’d give birth to a son. Chris didn’t want more kids, so he just decided on the procedure himself. He didn’t talk to me anymore. He didn’t touch me anymore. I hurt. I was disrespectful to him and not supportive or understanding of him needing to spend long hours tending to the business we had just started. I complained about hunting trips and him spending time with his guy friends that helped him unwind. I didn’t compliment or encourage him. He hurt. We both were so concerned with ourselves, how our needs weren’t being met by the other, and rightfully so…. Needs are needs, and we didn’t care about trying to actually meet the needs of each other. What we didn’t realize is that love is like a bank account. In order for withdrawals to be made, there first must be deposits. We all know that when we spend and spend our money without depositing now and then, that money will run smooth out. Our “bank accounts” were dry… and we were suffering. I was needy and lonely, and he was bitter and emotionally checked out.
It was the summer of 2007. I made friends with a man who was single, and he quickly attached himself to our family. But, I didn’t mind. My companionship needs were being met. This man and I talked for hours. We loved the same music. He helped me with my kids when my husband worked long hours. My husband didn’t mind, at first, because someone else was doing his job for him, and he didn’t have to put forth the energy. But, obviously, this wouldn’t work for long. God didn’t design marriage to function like this. A husband and wife are meant to function as a unit, bonded by Him. We were functioning separately, and now, there was a parasite, so to speak, draining us of any life that remained in our marriage. Although I was not unfaithful sexually, I was unfaithful in my heart. The relationship was still wrong, and I couldn’t see it at the time. I had friends warning me, as did Chris, saying there were red flags all over this situation. I just didn’t understand. I began to lose friends. I was hitting rock bottom fast. Then I decided to seek God.
I remember after a horrible fight with Chris one night, crying in the shower, sobbing in fact. I yelled aloud to God. “What do you want me to do?! I have no idea what I’m doing! I have no idea how to fix this! You are the ONLY ONE who can do this…please help me!”
Then slowly, very slowly in the days ahead, God began to peel away the blinders from my eyes. I began to see this other man for what he was. By this time, he had wrong intentions. I began to pry myself away from the toxic friendship. I dug into God’s word and every Christian relationship book I could get my hands on. He revealed to me one day that the reason I was so needy was because I had an absent father my whole life. It hurt me to realize this flaw about myself. But, ever so lovingly, He promised to walk me through the healing process. He promised to be my Daddy, meeting my needs in ways I’d never known. I was elated to know I could relieve my husband of the pressure of being the one to make me happy and meet all my needs. Unbeknownst to me, my husband had found himself in a place of sheer brokenness as well, and also began crying out to God. He wanted our marriage to be restored as well. I started noticing him making efforts he had long stopped making. He began to romance me again. I was hesitant at first. But, after some time, I saw his efforts were sincere, not perfect, but sincere. He was really trying, and for the first time in awhile, I was too.
That was a two year process from beginning to end. Near the end of that dark time, when the extra friendship was over, when we could finally see bright light at the end of the tunnel, Chris came to me and revealed that God had been pressing him to reverse his vasectomy. I have to believe this was God because I do not believe any man would want to do this procedure of his own accord, without some sort of prodding. He did, and a few months later we conceived. And, yes, it was my son, Sawyer. A beautiful gift we received from a loving Father who walked us through the hurt and turmoil. We were broken into separate piles of rubble. God picked up the pieces and began building us back up, but this time… together. He taught us what love really was…. serving one another above ourselves, no matter what. He is so faithful, and He loves us so much. I am eternally grateful for the miracle God worked in and through us, and how even now He still is leading and growing us.
Thank you, God, for the man I call husband and friend.