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Sometimes I feel like a broken record.
Every time I sit down to write our monthly entry, there seems to always be something challenging us, something we’re struggling with, or something that isn’t going quite right. There seems to always be something that needs improvement or attention or nurturing. There’s always a hardship trying to shake our resolve.
This time it’s our marriage.
Life never ceases to amaze me, both in its joys and celebrations and in its difficulties and complications. I wish we’d known better in so many things – how to truly savor the good times, prepare for the hard times, and roll with the times that are simply out of our control. I wish we’d entered marriage, parenting – life – with patient hearts that were not self-seeking, easily angered, dishonoring, and proud. I wish we could have gained wisdom without having to live the experiences that have brought the revelations.
But that misses the point.
Growing pains are what give us perspective. Self sacrifice is what gives us humility. Trials and tribulations are what increase our faith. Hardship is what makes us stronger. They all help us truly appreciate each other and the blessings we have. They produce increasing compassion and kindness.
The truth is I haven’t always been thankful for the trials of my life or understood the reasoning behind them. Sometimes it’s incredibly hard to see the outcome while you’re walking through the fire. God works in mysterious ways, with purposes beyond what we can grasp. And as they say, hindsight is 20/20.
But I’ve come to a point in my faith and my life where I’m able to have foresight and discernment. I no longer have to look back to see that our trials are simply springboards to a more complete, whole, and purposeful life. There is reason and meaning in the difficult times. There’s a basis for why God allows life to become overwhelming, why He permits frustrations to come to a head, or why He built us differently in so many ways. Despite the current circumstances and hardships, struggling in our marriage is not a curse or a failure or a sign that it’s headed down the drain.
It’s actually a gift.
Struggling draws out the parts of us that are holding us back from loving each other, and loving ourselves, well. It allows us to see how our past is affecting our present, how we’ve let our disappointments, fears, and failures rule us for years. Struggling stirs our hearts and our emotions and points us back to our need for God. And, ultimately, struggling points us directly to the cross, to God’s love for us, and to His unending faithfulness and provision.
But struggling also contains hope because it creates the possibility for something different, something better. Hard conversations, emotional wrestling, and tough times are gifts that give greater understanding and increase courage, strength, perseverance, and trust. Marriage was never meant to be easy. If it were, we’d stifle so many opportunities to grow. As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another (New International Version, Prov. 27:17) 1.
But it’s what you do with this gift that counts. The result of the struggle is determined by the mindset with which you enter the pain. Are you up for the battle, encouraged and motivated by the prospect of greater happiness and joy? Then the struggle will be a gift, undoubtedly teaching you something valuable in the process. On the other hand, if you allow yourself to be defeated from day one, dreading the process and unable to see the victory beyond, the struggle will be a burden and you’ll miss the lessons you’re meant to learn.
Let’s be real. No one likes having to do the work. No one likes to be faced with hard truths about themselves. Taking responsibility and owning up to our faults, mistakes, and shortcomings is pretty low on our fun-meter.
But struggling also means that progress is being made. Struggling means that growth and change are happening. It means that we’re dedicated and in it for the long haul. It means we’re fortifying our foundation for each other, our family, and the road ahead. Struggling means we haven’t given up.
We’ve been given the gift of a marriage that needs God. And lately, we’ve been given the gift of struggling and heartache so we can be prepared to receive the gift of growth. In His kindness, God has chosen to bring us face to face with ourselves so we can work towards something greater. We’re grateful that He’s not leaving us where we are, at odds, unhappy, and longing desperately to reconnect, thrive, and fall in love again.
In short, we’ve decided to follow the promptings of the Lord and dive head first into a Christian marriage course with stellar reviews. We want to be strong moving forward, especially before we bring home another baby. Every marriage has areas of improvement, and ours is no exception. We have some junk to work through. But the best part is that we don’t have to go it alone. Not only do we have God by our side, but there are several couples we know that are rising to the challenge and want to join us so they can work on their own marriages. I love knowing that many lives are about to be changed in amazing ways.
And, as far as we can tell, this detour isn’t going to delay our plans for FET this fall, at least not by much. Rather, we see it as part of the plan and the “pre-work” that needs to be completed to continue on our journey. Not only do we have the normal stresses of life to cope with, we also have a unique stress on our marriage, our family, and our hearts because of our embryos. So this is more than necessary. We believe this time has been ordained by the Lord to equip us and prepare us in numerous ways. We’re staying sensitive to the Spirit so we can discern God’s timeframe, being careful not to move to fast or too slow. If we have to delay, so be it. He has the final word.
At the end of the day, there’s a season for everything, including a time to stop avoiding the truth and burying the hurts so we can strengthen and fortify our foundation. The time has come and the season is upon us. It’s healthy and freeing to admit, unashamed, that our marriage needs work and intervention. Really, at some point, who’s doesn’t?
Most importantly and above all else, there are times in life when God will draw us deeper and deeper into relationship with Him as we wrestle with the humanness inside us. This is one of those times. Let us not mistake this season for a nuisance or a bother, but rather see it for the gift that it is. Some couples never make it this far. Many people never grow in Christ. But all of us are offered the opportunity.
The months ahead are certain to be riddled with growing pains, but by God’s mercy and grace, we have great expectations and hope for what lies beyond.
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- The Bible. New International Version. Bible Gateway/Biblica, 2011. BibleGateway.com, www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+27%3A17&version=NIV Accessed 1 Jul. 2019.