Today, my wife and I are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary. There is not a day that goes by in which I do not thank God for the wonderful woman He has placed in my life. I really stop and think about how we have grown together, pretty often. The road that we have traveled has not been perfect, and some of the bumps along the way have been very challenging for both of us.
There are always numerous challenges within marriages. I don’t need to elaborate. Anyone who is married knows how difficult it can be at times. It is always a complicated test of patience, acceptance, grace, communication, arguments, compromise, gentleness, cooperation, strength and tongue-biting. The list is long. It is a matter of how much the two involved mean to each other, that keeps the whole whirlwind of sharing worthy of holding onto. It is also very necessary to keep love at the center of the marriage, and that is what I would like to talk about.
Love is something that I had to really work on within myself, and within my marriage. I wish I could talk about how well I have treated my wife and children throughout our marriage. Don’t get me wrong, I have been a very loving and kind man, and the good times have outweighed the bad within the years we have spent together. Although, it has personally taken me several of those years to really learn about the love that I was missing, within. I must admit, when I first met my wife, I fell in love with her. We had a lot in common. She made me feel very loved, and accepted. It didn’t take long for us to realize that we were pretty compatible, and that we really enjoyed each other. We spent a lot of time together, and we also had the company of three wonderful children. I had never had kids, so taking on her three was a big step for me. I also fell in love with the three little babies, who were always lighting up my world with immeasurable cuteness!
We lived together for a short period before we were married. It really gave us a feel for the blended family environment. I will say, it was a huge shocker for me. Three little kids, and a stressed wife who took on the majority of the care for them, while going to school and changing careers several times. Kudos to my wife. She is a strong woman. There was also the fact that I was not very strong when it came to patience. I was not very cool with the uneasiness I was experiencing within an environment that was just for me, before I met my wife. I had girlfriends, but I lived alone. I didn’t have to share my space or spoiled ways with anyone. This transition was starting to really take control of me, and in return, I wanted to control. A lot.
I am not going to go into great detail about the things that happened within our first few years together. Not everything that is personal needs to be said. I will tell you a little about the love that was missing within, and how it caused a great problem within those early years. You see, I had experienced a lot of brokenness as a child, and well into my adult years. I was covering up many painful issues, with substances and harmful choices. Most of these things were still a big part of my life within these times of learning how to be part of a family. How to be a mate, and a father figure. I had not yet began a real walk with the Lord, and I had not given up some of those substances that I desperately clinged onto. I never really looked at how these two things were compromising my understanding of love. No understanding of God’s love for me, and no thoughts about how the substances were destroying my body.
I started going to church with my wife, and really started to see God as I understood Him, in a different way. I had never really experienced God the way that I did after really starting to figure out what the preacher was talking about. What did this guy mean, when he said that Jesus is, “the way, the truth and the life?” That puzzled me. I had to know what that meant. I started dressing up, and showing up for church, and saw all of these good folks gathering every week, singing and yelling. Worshiping the unseen. “What are these people doing?”, I would ask myself. I never really cared for the beginning part of the service, but the words of the Bible that were talked about following the theatrical show, really grabbed my attention. When I heard, or read the words, it would put me in a trance, so to speak. It would make my think deeply about sin, a word that was foreign to me. Sin? I had never given much thought to the story of the fall of man. To the part that the devil plays. To that book, that men wrote.
Several weeks went by, and I kept going to the church building every week. I started feeling terrible about the lifestyle I was choosing, and some of the awful ways in which I was going against the God of the book the preacher would read from. I started to feel shame. Conviction. I really started to see how the things that I was doing were ruining me, and I also thought that the great Creator was MAD at me! I had to stop. I had to stop everything that I knew was wrong, or at least what I thought was wrong, which was pretty much everything I was as a person. I would go through these crazy fits of rage, uneasiness, anxiety and unbelievable stress. I felt like I was going straight to hell, and found myself begging for forgiveness every night before bed. I tried to stop taking prescriptions, stop doing my favorite substances, and tried to become a good boy, dressing up like the good people did at the church building.
You know, that stress went on for years, and my family paid the price. They also had to be perfect. They also had to do what I was doing to be better in the eyes of the Lord. They had to become better people too. On and on, I would demand change from my family. I would try to force everyone around me to be perfect. It was ridiculous. Long story short, my wife got fed up with all of it, and left. She took the kids, and moved away from my craziness. Thank God she did. During that time, the good Lord had a plan for both of us. I started spending less time at the buildings, and more time walking with the Lord, through His Word. I would read the Bible. Listen to the Bible, and really focus on what Jesus was doing in it. I spent most of my past time, which was vast because of my family being gone, studying the Bible. I would read hundreds of different views online, instead of conforming to an organized system found within the church. I always felt like there was no room for questioning there, and that everything revolved around ego, and money. I found the meat and potatoes of God by reading His Word, and I really started to see what God is. He, is love. God, is merciful. God is so loving, that He reconciled us to Himself through His only begotten Son, so that we may have life. True life. Eternal life, and the opportunity to be part of the love that He is, and the love that can only be found in a relationship with Him. I finally understood love, and what that preacher had said about Jesus being, “the way, the truth and the life.”
My wife has such a beautiful heart, because she wanted to be with this broken, beaten, hurting and unmovable man. She just couldn’t be with a temporary lunatic. She actually did us both a huge favor, by leaving for a while. It was the time that God took me in, and showed me how to love. How to experience joy, and peace. How to be patient, and kind. He continues to show me what grace is all about, and He continues to sharpen me with knowledge that comes from His lead. He continuously lets me know that I am cleansed by what Jesus has already done, and the process is not about being crazy, trying to please Him, or doing millions of what we see as the, “right things”. It is about sharing His heart of love, and spreading that love, throughout. It is about loving others, and myself. It is about screwing up, and learning. It is about a loving relationship with Him, full of the fruits of His Spirit. It is about His perfection that is already accomplished, and living in the knowing of being one with Him, through Christ.
I thank God today, because He has blessed me with another day with this beautiful woman, who also knows the love of God. It shines in her, everyday. I look forward to each coming day with her. Her beautiful heart is something that I will always hold onto, and cherish.