Last night was kind of epic. Thank you to everyone who was praying for Matthew to find the right truck. He did! It is exciting and we’re so thankful!
Last night also brought some much-needed healing to a rough patch we were having. I’ll be honest. The last few months have held a boatload of challenges. The last fourteen days alone have felt like a few months worth of struggles condensed into two weeks. There is a war going on, and we are being distracted to death to try and forget about it. The enemy isn’t interested in messing with you if you don’t pose any threat to his agenda. And his agenda is pretty simple really: to make us ineffective. To get us to quit trying and to quit working hard on things which bring God glory. When we no longer feel like something is worth fighting for, we quit.
So while every space of our day has been full of doing things which are expected of us, all of a sudden we were staring at each other yesterday as if we were complete strangers. This has happened before, so we know the warning signs. And knowing warning signs and heeding them is vital to having a healthy marriage. We’re faced with two choices: sit back, relax, (or stay inanely busy), hope the other person will notice the distance you’re feeling, and just wait. The longer you wait for the other person to act, the farther the distance grows. The less keen it is felt, too, because eventually it feels normal to be living with a stranger. We’re very adaptable as people, and we will adjust our thinking and calendars to make this way of living with our spouse feel normal. Soon we’re desensitized to the fact that we are supposed to be lovers, not just co-inhabitants.
The second choice is to roll up your sleeves and fight. More honestly, we should be doing a lot more than just rolling up our sleeves. If you aren’t having sex with your spouse at least a couple times a week, this should be a warning sign. I get it, there are times when that is impossible. But those are the exceptions, not the norm. We have had difficult pregnancies and much sickness in our almost 16 years of marriage. I get it. But I also know there is a huge white elephant in our bedrooms, and married folks aren’t having enough sex. It’s all about NOT having sex before marriage (which is a whole ‘nother topic) but hardly anyone talks about the importance of having PLENTY of it WHEN married!
I’m not okay with fake plastic marriages. God isn’t either. Nothing is past His ability to heal, restore and revive. If He can raise people from the dead, He can do the same for marriages too! The thing about marriage is, it’s actual hard work. We are so conditioned to shirk away from anything too hard or too challenging. Yet every single thing which requires hard work to maintain or improve, is worth fighting for. Marriage isn’t a disposable plate or a frozen dinner which leaves us feeling used or sick. (If this is you, please, please seek help!) It’s hand-made pottery with intricate painted designs and the most delicious homemade spread, leaving us feeling cherished and refreshed. This is how God, who created marriage, designed it to be.
Matthew is an incredibly easy person to love. Except when he isn’t. And I’m super easy to love. Except when I’m not. If we only focus on the “when they’re not easy to love” moments… those moments start defining the other person. I don’t know what you’re going through right now, but if you’re human, you’ve struggled or are struggling in your marriage right now. Beg God to soften both of your hearts to see your spouse through new eyes. Whatever you’re feeling is missing, they probably are feeling it too. Whatever you wish they would do for you, they are probably wishing you would do for them. If you’re lonely, they’re lonely too. I realize some people might be truly in the trenches right now and I don’t want to sound like: one-two-three and it will all be fixed. There are no quick abracadabra magical formulas to make everything all better. But there is hope.
Another tactic the enemy uses a lot is this thought that we are the only ones struggling. Everyone else looks fine, so we must be the only ones weathering this storm. The truth is, we’ve all become much too good at chucking our umbrellas or stashing our life vests when people are looking at us. Hiding anything that shows we are only surviving. When we feel alone, we are in a very vulnerable place. Be careful. When God saw that Adam was alone, He said this was NOT good. So if you’re married and feeling alone, something is not right. You are not alone in the struggle. Reach out for some help if you need to!
By God’s grace, we are where we are today. I know chronic illness has been something which could have destroyed our marriage. But God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. He has used it to bring about so much good, even though it continues to be something that in and of itself is really very difficult.
This wasn’t easy to write. I mean, first of all, my parents and in-laws usually read this, and why does that feel awkward? Then I remember: they all know we do have six children. Speaking of children, the second reason for this being difficult to write is: my kids read this. But we’re pretty open about this topic and I know they feel secure that we fight for our marriage. And maybe one of them reading this will remember where our bedroom door key is and return it. Hmmm. Lastly, because it is such a sensitive and prevalent issue, I know it’s going to cause some ripples. I kinda feel like I’ve lit an explosive and am crouching in the corner, waiting for it to blow. But the truth is, I haven’t lit something with the intent to cause damage. A fire has been lit, yes. But not all fires cause harm. I pray the flame starts its journey towards many people’s hearts, because at the end are some of the most amazing fireworks you have ever seen. Be ready. Your marriage is about to explode.