I wasn’t one of those girls that grew up dreaming about my future husband. I know some girls do that. I am raising one of “those” kinds of girls now and let me tell you, it is an area of disconnect for us BIG TIME! I don’t intend to have hard feelings towards people that dream of marriage but I can’t relate to it either. Like we always say at our house, “its not wrong, its just different.” So please hear me say that there is nothing “wrong,” per say, with dreaming about your future spouse. I just didn’t do that. Moving on…
I will admit that even though I didn’t dream of getting married, I had no healthy context for the institution of it either. My parents were divorced and both went on with their lives on their own. So I guess I just grew up thinking that the single life would be ok too. Married was ok but so was not being married. Neither had more of an advantage to it. Plus, I am a highly independent personality type so I didn’t need anyone to be anything for my sake. Then I met Nathan.
Even though I didn’t have the radar for relationships other than friendships with guys, there was something unique about Nathan. Long story short, I knew we were going to get married. Honestly, the fact that I was with him really complicated my future plans. You see I was going to become a missionary in Uganda after college (think of that Kisses From Katie girl- yeah that was supposed to be my life). However my new relationship didn’t quite assimilate to that plan very well so I needed to make adjustments. Thats what love does. Love is flexible when it needs to be so that the relationship can stay connected in a healthy way. As you can deduce, I didn’t move to Uganda to live in a hut and love on orphans and instead I stayed in Nashville and nurtured our growing love. We got married in 2003 when I was 23 and he was 24 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Yes, it was perfect! I was confident in our future and I felt ready to commit to this thing long term so I practically ran down that aisle. We said some words and exchanged some jewelry and voila’, our two had become one.
There is no way to really know what it means to get married before you get married. You can do counseling, read books, go to conferences, ask mentors etc but marriage is one of those things that you can’t fully prepare yourself for. Its kind of like parenting and adoption. There is just nothing like the experiential knowledge you get from being married that can teach you about wisdom in marriage. All that to say, I certainly knew what choice I was making on my wedding day but there was really no way of knowing how hard it was going to be to live with that choice. There is so much emphasis on weddings when the real work comes in during the marriage. I wasn’t naive, I was just inexperienced.
A few years after my wedding day my whole world crumbled into a million pieces. We had our first child and life seemed grand to me. But everything I thought was true about my marriage turned out to be only true for me. It was one sided. In the season of that disruption I realized I had done what all of those little girls I knew that dreamed of marriage had done. I had made a hero out of my husband and I had put myself into the role of the girl that needed rescuing. And I DO need rescuing but my husband is NOT the hero I needed. I asked God to replace Nathan on the throne of my heart and prayed fervently that I would find my identity only through His love. Even though that was the right order of things, it caused a great distance between Nathan and I. Sure we hashed out the details and went on with our lives but there was a wall of distrust and disappointment between us. We had moments of connection but I kept the fragility of my heart a safe distance from him. Life decided to really come after us and we would cling to each other through some really crazy storms but all throughout I didn’t know how to fully trust him again. I wanted to, I just didn’t know how to.
As most of you know, in November 2013 our family took a very big and a very public hit. In the process of losing everything, there was once again, a battle for my heart. The script where “I am the victim that always does the right thing but only has bad things happen to her” kept playing over and over in my head. “You don’t deserve this,” the Enemy said. “I told you, you can’t trust him,” he chanted. “You don’t need him,” he badgered. “Just leave,” he pressured. But the Holy Spirit fought back with whispers of grace for the moments right in front of me. “No one is deserving, so freely give,” the Spirit taught. “You can trust Me,” He promised. “Nathan needs you,” he chanted. “Stay, I want to show you something miraculous,” he invited. Every day it was a battle. Some days I lived from the Spirit and walked out faithfully and others and I let the Enemy rule my head and I was bitter. Its been quite a journey really. Which brings me to today…
As far as where things stand as I write this, I see myself as entering into my third marriage. Only in my case, its with the same man. In my first marriage I was educated but had no hands on experience so I had limitations of understanding. As a result, I lost my identity when the waves came crashing against us. In my second marriage I lived as if my husband had a function but it was no longer safe to emotionally connect to him, let alone fully let my guard down all of the time. So when the waves came, I stood strong through faith in God but what little I had left in my relationship with Nathan washed away. That can be a scary place to be. However, its allowing us to start over too. My desires for marriage number three is to find more health and balance. Together we need to make sure I am not the only anchor in our family where everything and everyone relies on my lack of mobility to thrive. Rather we need to create an environment where both Nathan and I are dependable forces that take turns letting the other take flight while we hold down the fort for awhile. We want a marriage where love can flow freely and safely and Truth will be at the root of it all. That our hearts towards each other will remain good and pure and we can trust without fear. Ultimately I pray this is our best marriage yet!
I write about all of this because I am a firm believer that I am not alone in anything I walk through. Sharing my story is often times sharing a very common story and so I use my journey as a way to connect to the bigger picture of “us.” I know the power of hearing the words, “me too” and how that can instantly lift a weight greater than anything else. So I continue to write about my life with raw honesty toward that end: to lift the load for someone else. May you walk lighter today knowing, you are not alone either. Marriage is messy, not just for you, but for all of us.