I’m standing in the kitchen and he’s glaring back at me from the living room. Our little 600 square foot apartment had just become a battlefield and it was like I’d thrown a grenade his way called regret. Those words rolled off my tongue like butter, but the second they were out there I wanted to pull them back in and rewind time. That thought had been fumbling through my mind for awhile, but I guess the longer you let a thought like that linger it makes its way to the heart and attaches itself. I’d never intended to say those words out loud… and so waiting for his response was the longest few seconds of my life.
For some reason, he looks away before he mumbles his response. “Yea, why did we. . . ” Defeated, he slowly picked up the remote and turned on the TV.
My eyes were covered in mascara, all wet and puffy from crying. His were full of anger as we screamed back and forth for what seemed like an hour. This was one of our scariest fights, a fight that left me feeling hopeless . . and I can promise you he did too. That Sunday afternoon it seemed as if we destroyed every sense of safety either of us had ever gained throughout our relationship, there wasn’t an ounce of grace or compassion left in the room. The second I said those words, it’s like the marriage was drained of any future it might’ve had. I didn’t have any fight left so I went to my car and sat there because I didn’t know what else to do. I told him I was going to the book store, but I really just needed to walk away. I felt pathetic.
Knowing eventually I’d have to go back inside, I instantly felt ashamed and afraid of what I’d just said to my husband, the love of my life, the man God gave to me to love and honor and cherish.
Months before this, we celebrated our first anniversary. And everyone says the first year is the hardest, but for us, I felt like the past few months had been harder than the first twelve combined. It’s funny how a year of resentment and bitterness can do that to a marriage. How did we even get here? It seemed like he was always angry, and I was always hurt… and no one had any idea how badly we were struggling. That was the hardest part, feeling alone in it all. Like no one else is struggling like us and no one else is feeling as hopeless in their marriage and no. one. else. is going through what we’re going through. It all felt so embarrassing and I hated it. Eventually, it drove me to a place of deep insecurity because of all the shame I carried in our marriage.
I began to hate my body, and thought maybe if I was skinnier he would love me more. Maybe if I was prettier we wouldn’t fight as much. Maybe if I was smarter or if I made more money or had a better job things would be better.
It seemed like God wrote our story wrong.
About 30 minutes later, I got out of my car and walked upstairs. I was numb after all of the emotions I’d been putting myself through all morning, but I wanted so badly to feel hopeful. I wanted to walk into our home and pull him close and beg for forgiveness… to shower me with grace, to love me through my brokenness. But instead I walked in and closed the bedroom door behind me, leaving him in the living room.
Why didn’t I try harder?
My faith in reconciliation was hanging by a thread. But God doesn’t work based on our faith in Him. He is steadfast anyways. And I had to remind myself of those truths because I wasn’t sure what else to do at that point. God is the merciful father who will never forsake us even through our denial of His faithfulness. And so I forced myself to just open the bedroom door, standing in the middle of the doorway with my eyes still smothered in mascara. Tears start rolling down my cheeks because the longer I look at him I can feel the stubborn pride begin to fade, as if God is moving through me in that very moment. For the first time in what seemed like forever, I saw Him as a child of God rather than a scoreboard full of his sins and failures.
Then suddenly, he gets up and begins to walk towards me. Taking a deep breath, he wraps his arms around me and holds me close. We were both unsure of what to say, and just stood there in silence for awhile. And somehow I’m sorry’s fumbled out of our mouths and grace rushes through my veins and I felt God say, “I am with you.” When I lift my head to look up at him, his eyes are teary and I’d never seen him show this kind of sadness after a fight. And it finally hit me that we were slowly tearing each other apart by holding every wrong doing up to the other’s face, like giving each other crowns of disappointment and regret.
And I knew I wanted to fulfill what God has for marriage, but I no longer wanted the happily ever after. I wanted something greater than that. I wanted more of Him.
Because God doesn’t write happily ever afters, He writes redemption stories.
And redemption stories are beautiful masterpieces that shape us and force us to bring our heavy, broken hearts to the cross. Even full of confusion and anger and pain, we can bring our hopelessness to God so that He can redeem it.
“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23
We are children of the redeemer, the one true king, the faithful provider of all things beautiful. But sometimes beauty is wrapped in heartache and confusion and doesn’t always make sense because He is God and we are not. There’s no way we’ll ever be able to see what He is doing, even when it seems like the pain outweighs the joy of His goodness. Even when we beg to know why, God is always good and has you by the hand walking you through the plans He has for you.
And that’s what He’s been doing for us, taking us by the hand and leading us closer to Him through every hardship we face.
God brought us together in marriage to reveal our depravity and ultimate need for Him because we are two ugly sinners who need a savior. Marriage is a tool God uses to bring us closer to Him, to cleanse us, making us holy and blameless. We are His workmanship. He is constantly restoring us back to Him, giving us a redemption story that leads back to the gospel and what He gave us through the cross.
My heart with writing this is that you won’t feel alone in the mess of what you may be walking through. Maybe if I share the darkness in my own heart, my marriage, my past, you’ll feel encouraged to cling to Him tighter because of His sweet and mighty love for us. And maybe even let Him use the redemption story He is writing for you to reach someone else, letting them know they aren’t alone. Because we’re all in this together, having the hard conversations together because that’s where healing begins.
He is the writer of our redemption stories, let’s use them to shine light in the darkness.
*This piece was originally published at hopewithoutwavering.com