I write this post so that all of you who are fighting for good marriages will know that you are not alone, that we are all struggling to choose to fight every single day, that we all have days and weeks and months and years where we wonder if it’s really all worth it, to fight so hard for a thing that makes you so tired. If maybe it’s all just a lost cause and we should settle for our relationship as it is. Marriage matters so very much. Don’t let Satan slip in with His lies of not worth it because He desires to steal and kill everything that is good in this world. And marriage can be so, so good – even though on it’s own, it usually isn’t.
Josh and I fought last week. We said things that were unkind. It was altogether awful – the culmination of months of unsaid, unresolved hurts. My knee-jerk reaction was to run to Barnes and Noble for coffee and books – to seek comfort in the tangible and escape through the wonder of words. But on this day I made a choice to take God at His word:
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8
I knew that seeking Him would not provide an escape from my circumstances but rather a way through them, that asking to know His heart would likely lead me down the harder path. Sometimes it’s just so much easier to run away, but this time I didn’t. This time I went to the place where I can always sense His presence, where I always see the possibility of what He can do.
The following is what I experienced while I was there:
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
I watch the wind tickle the gold leaves against periwinkle blue skies, birds darting across my view like mid-day falling stars, grass-hoppers bouncing about – the popcorn of the earth. I rest in the middle of it all, entirely unnoticed by creation itself but entirely seen by the Creator.
Before Him, altogether seen, I pour out my heart – the anger, the frustration, the brokenness, the hurt, and the fact that I cannot see the next thing to do. A half-obedience, a half-marriage – that’s enough, right? As long as we just stay together, it’s enough. It is, isn’t it? But it isn’t. He is not a God who accepts half-obedience because He is a God who desires His children to know full lives.
…I have come that you may have life to the full. John 10:10
I listen. I hear what He is saying. He is asking me to fight, but I cannot muster the courage to say, “Yes.”
That old tree is so grand, so magnificent. She begins to rustle at the tip top. She’s going to drop all those gorgeous, gold leaves again soon and she’ll stand there bare and grey in the cold for what seems like too long- but in the spring, He will fill her branches once more – old to new, bare to full.
I rise and walk, understanding that He’s asking for my whole, aching heart. He’s asking me to reach up and hand my heart above Josh and to Him – and in doing so I must, by default also draw closer to this man I have always loved but feel so distant from at the moment. I resist because I am tired. Weary. Not again. I cannot pour myself into this – again.
So, I crunch, crunch through the drying weeds back to my familiar path. Everything feels fuzzy, dream-like, a photo with a sunburst in the corner. Real but not – because the things that we said, the ways we’ve let each other down, sometimes it’s painfully stunning to think about.
It’s only a few steps to that house, my house, the one with the cathedral window and the falling down siding, the stone chimney covered in vine turned fire-blazing red in the autumn air, the old trucks piled out front and the sweet potato vine lime green along the fence. Maybe everyone else just sees a dump – a house falling in, unsalvageable, unimpressive. But I see dinner parties on the lawn, that Cathedral window clean and bright, white siding gleaming again. I see the stone chimney accented by that vine, not taken over by it. I see that unexpected stone front porch heavy with the footprints of people who need to believe in the possibility of restoration. And the sweet potato vine? It’s just perfect as it is. I see the magnificence of “again.”
And then unexpectedly, my God bends low. He whispers, “Emily, this is who you are. You see what could be – the old house lovely again, the forgotten chairs painted and right again, the drug addict alive and bright-eyed again, the sex slave walking upright and free, the orphan living in love and security in a whole family. You believe in restoration and you are a fighter. You are this because this is who I am. Believe in your marriage. Be a fighter for you relationship. Look hard for the possibility. This is who you are because this is who I am…a fighter, a redeemer, a God of ‘again.'”
And so I turn around and walk back to my car, back to my regular, eternal life – unsure of what to do next, still so tired of trying – but at peace, complete peace, and
…sure of this – He who began a good work (on July 16, 2005, when two naive 21 year olds said yes to forever) will bring it to completion, all the way until Jesus comes back and makes everything new forever. Philippians 1:6 (Parenthetical addition mine)
Who knows? Maybe one day my man and I will restore that old house together, and the cathedral window will be the one that watches us grow a little older together with the passing of each day – maybe that house will always and forever be God’s rainbow gift to me, a promise of His unending faithfulness. Because truly, God can do whatever He wants.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work in us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
Please know that if you are in a situation that feels impossible, suffocating, maybe even dead – God sees you. He is asking you to seek Him with your whole heart – no crutches, no safety nets – just the entirety of who you are before the magnitude of who He is. This is where beauty begins!