If I were to draw you a picture of my 13 years of being married to Matt it would look like a loopy, crazy, sometimes upside down, possibly going backwards standing up, roller coaster. But despite all the twists and turns we have always continued to march forward. Oh sure, there have been times we feel like we took several steps backwards in our relationship but then God does what He does best and dusts us off and puts us back on our feet. He hands us our spiritual battle gear and we once again hit the enemy lines united. Now some of you may look at me like a young 37 year old that doesn't know hardship. I look back on my years of being married and see that 24 year old bride as a caterpillar in a cocoon. I was young and tender and very naive to the struggles that lie ahead. God had to start growing my spiritual muscles in order for me to burst out of that cocoon. You know how your body feels when you first start working out after not working out for a long time? That feeling of sore muscles and barely being able to get out of bed in the morning? Yes, that's how I felt. I wanted to hide from God my personal trainer but He was very persistent and loving. He knew I needed to build up my strength if I was going to succeed at this marriage/life thing.
I used to think that I had a not so good marriage. We fought all the time, didn't agree on much; my laughter often faded into tears of pain. BUT, the one thing we had going for us is that we sought the counsel of others. We placed mentors in our life before we even walked down the aisle. We met with our pastors and Matt's parents and our small group leaders seeking advice and prayer. God was forcing us to build our marriage foundation on Him. I guess I shouldn't say He forced us because God gives us free will. Basically we had the decision of fight or flee. We have always chosen to fight; which means there will be wounds and scars. But when you think about it, Jesus has battle wounds too. He didn't promise us a life without struggles. In fact He clearly tells us in John 16:33, In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Last summer our marriage hit an all time low. Looking back it was something that had to happen in order for us to get the healing we needed and for God to open the next chapter of our lives. It says in Hebrews 12:1, No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. After years of pushing and fighting, praying and fasting, crying (sometimes kicking and screaming), I truly feel Matt and I have entered into a time of harvest and peace. Why? Because we surrendered to God and His will for our lives. We allowed Him to open us up and heal the hurt in our hearts. I would be a fool to think we're all fixed up. But I can stand here today and tell you we have a rock solid foundation. Am I anxious to face another trial? NO! Have I seen God be faithful? YES! I have fears just like you. Thoughts that pop into my head of how would I handle this or that if something terrible happened in my life. Those thoughts aren't from God so I push them out of my head and keep marching forward.
The Lord revealed something special to my heart last summer. He showed me that I believed a LIE that I had a bad marriage when in fact I had a great marriage! We never allowed ourselves to give up fighting. We were bruised but we weren't beaten. This brought me much peace in my heart! Just because you have trials doesn't mean your life is bad; it means you are being pruned for great things!
Will you join me in daily putting on your spiritual battle gear and pushing the enemy lines further and further back? I won't be easy but it's always worth it! FORWARD, MARCH!