It wasn’t a pretty sight. A breaking marriage never is. Both of us sinking in despair, our commitment hanging in the balance, and our words threatening to slice the last thread tethering our once captivated hearts. Our vows spoken long ago with such certainty now convicted the stubborn, jagged corners of our spirits. “For better or for worse;” if there ever was a worse, this was it, and if we were ever at our worst, it was now.
Darkness surrounded our marriage that day, hovering over the horizon of continual conflict, unbridled snapping and relentless blaming.
Hearts hardened and closed always summon darkness.
Somehow “for the sake of our children” didn’t make sense anymore. We were too different, too hurt, too convinced we both deserved better.
How could we end up here after trying so hard? And was marriage really supposed to be this difficult? What happened to the promise of “to have and to hold”?
I continually poured my heart out to God in my despair, tears flowing, begging him to fix this mess we had gotten ourselves into. And too many times, my desperate heart took matters into my own hands because God wasn’t working fast enough.
Hearts desperate can fall prey to lies.
Somewhere along the way, I mistakenly embraced a lie…that I had to be in control. I had to protect myself from hurt, and it was my job to make sure my marriage didn’t fail.
Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of God as Pursuer and Protector and Lover of my soul. And it wasn’t until the lies left me crumbled in a hopeless heap that I realized I was willing to trust God with my eternity, but not with my life, or my marriage.
The truth is God doesn’t expect us to fight our own battles. He never calls us to self-preservation. His heart simply yearns for us to trust, and his compassion beckons us to cease striving.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” Ex. 14:14 NIV
Hearts searching need more than earthly wisdom.
The darkness in our marriage hadn’t taken root for lack of trying. Marriage books lined our shelves, each one read and re-read. Still, peace and harmony have been elusive strangers more often than not. When all else failed, we did what so many do – resigned ourselves to yielding for the sake of false peace. And with each yielding, bitterness strangled our hearts.
God wasn’t calling us to yield to each other. He was calling us to yield to Him.
Yielding meant admitting we didn’t have the answers. It meant releasing the sum of knowledge gathered among pages to the only One who could be trusted with changing the condition of the heart. Ultimately, it meant allowing God to break us for the sake of saving us.
For me, it meant and still means that it’s OKAY to admit that marriage is a struggle; that my marriage isn’t perfect…it was never meant to be. Oh, how I need to repeat those words to a heart that longs for the perfect fairytale.
“Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.” Lam. 3:32 NIV
Hearts broken can be restored.
No amount of effort expended trying to make my marriage work ever equaled the value of broken and surrendered hearts. Yet in the breaking, were overwhelming days, when regret and doubt threatened the hope of a future.
“Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust.” Joel 2:25 NASB
I’ve been claiming this scripture for years. And often I think it’s the very promise which has kept me hanging on when all I wanted to do was cut and run. Even now, as I write these words, we’re not that far out of the woods, BUT WE ARE OUT. We’re still getting stronger and becoming more forgiving of one another because we’re choosing to go deeper instead of giving up and giving in.
We’re choosing to embrace our breaking apart so God can mend and heal and restore…us and our legacy.
We’re still stubborn, human and flawed and always will be. But we are growing…changing…darkness no longer consumes. Yes, it still rears its sinful, selfish head in the most unexpected moments, but it’s learning to yield to the light.
And so are we.
A version of this post originally appeared at crystaltwaddell.com, published with permission.