Those are the words I spoke to a woman, whose marriage was rapidly deteriorating.
I watched as my words landed. Observing her eyes widen, and her mouth open as if to protest, but nothing came out. She looked shell-shocked at my brashness. Confused, how a woman like myself, that is such proof of God’s miraculous restoration, could say such a thing to her. It’s not at all how she expected me to respond.
But for the record, I’m not the least bit sorry about it.
It’s not often that I’m so brazen with someone. I’ve talked to countless men and woman over the years about the brutal throes of matrimony, and the chaos and turmoil of a marriage unwinding.
I know for myself, the shrieking sobs of a breaking heart, and the lies and addictions that can unfold in a moment and send a crack through the foundation of everything you thought you knew. I’ve watched, as the man I pledged to love become unrecognizable to the person that once made me belly laugh to the point of tears, and whose arms wrapped around me as I did the dishes.
I understand how bloody the battle can be, and yet, every day I’m reminded that the fact that I’m still married and still breathing, is because God did what only He could do — He restored my life. And I fervidly believe He can do the same for each and every person I come in contact with.
But every so often, I come upon a person that just wants it all handed to them.
And each time I tell them, what every person whose ever fought intensely for a marriage (either successfully and unsuccessfully) knows:
God will NEVER hand-deliver you a perfectly restored marriage… What He will do, is invite you to put on some gloves and fight like hell.
Much to her dismay, I then went on to tell her the distinct marks of someone fighting like hell for their marriage (and its the same two things I will share with you, today…)
1. A person fighting for their marriage is willing to clean up a mess (even if their not the one who made it.)
When the lies and heartache unfolded in my own marriage, I was certain of two things: my marriage was over, and it was all my husband’s fault. And I wasn’t the only one that thought so.
I’ll never forget my toddler teetering down the hallway, almost scolding my husband.
“W—hhhhhy you make Mama cry?” she stammered.
(Even my two-year-old knew he was to blame.)
But here’s the truth God challenged me with back then, “If you love what is broken as much as you say, you will pick up the pieces regardless of who broke them in the first place.”
Let me explain.
Imagine a child playing ball in the house. (You know where I’m going with this.) You watch as the sphere whips its way through the air, only to collide – slow motion – into a treasured family heirloom, shattering it upon impact into tiny fragments and pieces. The mother, rushes into the room.
The more she cherished it, the faster she’ll dash to pick up the pieces; the longer she’s loved it, the more frantic she’ll be to scavenge the little that is left and see if – there is any chance – it can be reclaimed. — The same should be true for your marriage, God is challenging.
Yes, we’ll raise our voice and hurl choice words.
Yes, there’s someone to blame, and for that reason there will be necessary consequences.
But, if we truly value our marriages (like we say) it will compel us to do whatever it takes, to put our love back together again, regardless of who broke the vows in the first place.
(As a side note: staring blankly at each other, pointing fingers, and demanding repentance has never made that which was broken miraculously whole again, both in marriage and in priceless family artifacts. But alas, you can keep trying.)
2. A person fighting for their marriage will hear God speak compassionately about their spouse
There will come a day when – no matter what they’ve done – Jesus will speak compassionately to you about your spouse.
If you haven’t heard God speak this way, then one of two things are true:
Either, you haven’t heard God speak compassionately, yet. (and in that case, it’s coming…)
Or, God has spoken compassionately, and you’re not listening…
I will never forget when I was still reeling with heartache (and negotiating with God to hit my husband with a bus so that I could have all the life insurance money) that God spoke so clearly and warmly to me about my husband, that, to be honest, it enraged me.
The words God spoke will forever be embedded in my mind. He said, “I love your husband… I forgive your husband… and I can heal your husband.”
I believe God is saying those same words to you about your spouse today, and really, anyone else who has wounded you. And while initially, that may make you uneasy and maybe even furious — the question is: in the end, will we listen?
Will we let the Lord’s mercifully laced words penetrate the most damaged and fragmented parts of our hearts, even, when we may not feel (even the slightest bit) the same?
If not, it could cost us the miracle. It very well could cost the woman described above, her marriage.
Matthew 13:58 says of the people of Nazareth, “[Jesus] didn’t do many miracles there because of their hostile indifference.”
Now I ask you, could God say the same thing about our hearts? About our posture towards our spouse?
I believe when God speaks compassionately about our spouse, He’s testing the terrain to see if our hearts are fertile ground for a miracle.
Our mercy could be what sets the stage for that miracle. And the lack thereof, could be keeping the power of Jesus – and the very breakthrough we are pleading for – just out of reach.
Too many of us are waiting on God – like a debonair butler – to deliver a perfectly restored marriage (and spouse) on a silver platter, when instead, He’s inviting us to get in the ring and fight tenaciously for everything that’s been muddied and lost. Promising that when we do, He will miraculously multiply our efforts.
And that’s exactly what God did for my husband and I.
To be sure, there are still hurtful memories we carry; years of canceled wedding anniversaries, and times I catapulted myself across the kitchen to punch him. There have been callous words spoken, and thousands of dollars spent on heated counseling sessions that were followed up by arguments in the parking lot.
But even when each conversation ended with one person storming off and the other sleeping on the couch, we kept talking.
Even when the counseling appointments (we could barely afford) only succeeded in making us detest each other even more, we kept showing up, every freaking Friday. Even, dragging our toddler and Anna and Elsa with us, when the babysitter failed to show up.
Mark my words, it was brutal — but I speak as a woman who is a living, breathing, painfully human, example— The best fights always are.
“God could do this,” I challenged the woman, “…my husband and I are proof.
But I’m sorry, God’s never just going to hand you a perfectly restored marriage,
but consider THIS your invitation to fight like hell…”
// 52 weeks to write, 32 more to go. //