It’s a cold Saturday morning and I’m glad to be home!  Traveling is grand but there’s no place I’d rather be than here.  The dogs are a handful but our joy, the house is small but we absolutely love it.   We are blessed!

Patty and I still marvel at the second chance we’ve been given in our marriage.  To come through divorce and re-marry each other and realize the weight of each others loss only to recover it is no less than miraculous.   Though we are more diligent to work on it, vigilant to protect it, grateful to have it; we know only too well how much opposition there is to marriage. And that it requires ultimate surrender to God to maintain.  
Though she is my life and I love no one more, she is completely God’s first!  I can’t control or dictate what she does or thinks to my own liking.  I also don’t want to!   The beautiful thing is how her devotion to God only strengthens her desire and resolve to be a great wife to me and not because I ask her to be.  
We know and pray for many marriages in the grip of heartache and death.  We’ve come from death to life again in our own so we know it’s possible.  There are two things I know from our own experience.  One is, though we do all we can to save it-God alone holds it together.  Two, He won’t force His way on either one of us.  His best is there for having but comes at a cost and begins with our own death.  
The miracle you may need can’t happen till all the old dies first.  A counselor said that to us early on in our descent to divorce and I felt like punching him.  Turns out he was totally right.  Our will, our plans, our desires, our pasts, our issues, our sin; have to go in the ground and be buried properly for new life to come.  We won’t feel like we did always, we won’t have what we want-when we want it always, we won’t have a perfect spouse, etc… etc… But we can always count on there being a struggle and battle for marriage!  Most fail because they refuse to fight fairly and communicate through it.
If you wish to hold on to and honor the vow you made “to never let go and leave the other,” first there needs to be a laying to rest the false picture and reality that it’s supposed to look and feel a certain way for it to be God’s best.  If you’re in it, it’s God’s best.  Any tempting to believe it’s better elsewhere is a lie.  I can’t make you trust in truth nor convince you of what is truth, you have to decide first to believe what God calls truth or not.  If you have chosen to accept His word as truth then my encouragement is to call the lie a lie.  You are not better of somewhere else, alone, or with another.  You will be your best if you allow God to restore what is destroyed.
To help pick up the pieces and move forward I want to also challenge you to do something:
 One-even if you’re sick of the other, learn to pray together.  Bring your deadness, numbness, pain, hurt, anger, etc. to God with complete honesty and candor.  He is Big enough to deal with it.  
Two, realize you can only control You so focus on You and not your mate.  The problem is always half Your responsibility and the solution can only come if you’re working on you and not trying to mend the other first.  
Three, get help if you need it.  Let a trusted and proven advocate of God’s truth and way speak into it.  Don’t stop after one or two counseling appointments fail, they’re a bit like medication-you have to try more than one sometimes to find the right cocktail.  Christians are just as, and sometimes more than, clumsy as anyone else.  They say funky things, betray confidences, make mistakes, take sides, gossip, etc.; welcome to humanity- keep trying anyway!!  You need the strength of others to help carry you.
Last,  though time is not the healer itself, it does facilitate the process.  Takes years to get into our messes and time to get out.  So far I’ve never experienced a magic wand type of healing.  Thankfully God is merciful and works over time as a skilled surgeon to cure the inner problems.   We can fully believe that we’ll never get over something that’s happened or been done to us.  But over time He really can change what a heart believes.  That’s the miracle we lived and experienced.  A bit of advice; watch your words to yourselves and each other in the process, their power is strong and can add years to the recovery.  
Let Your own idea of the ideal marriage go and start the miraculous adventure and journey of surrender.  It works and it’s worth it! 

Marriage: Worth Fighting For!

When we are asleep we are most vulnerable to carefully laid strategies of a very real opponent.   A good marriage, which by God’s design is the best example of His love for Humanity, is a prime target for a patient enemy.   And there’s no such thing as a fair fight with him, the only way we overcome and defeat him is God’s way, period!

In my lifetime I’ve heard enough sermons to fill an ocean and know enough religious jargon to write a dictionary.  All my knowledge and experience did not make me impervious to a plan that gradually killed my marriage.  The greatest miracle I’ve seen however is the resurrection of my marriage even after we were divorced!   We’re living proof of what God can do with dead stuff.

On the front side of a love relationship it all looks good and we are in a true sense, “blinded by the light” a bit.  It’s awesome for sure but the feelings most of us make lifelong commitments by are fleeting and deceiving.  I can make no sweeping statements regarding other’s marriages but for my own, it has been very high and very low too!  Nothing has tried and hurt me more and no other relationship holds the mirror up to me as vividly, where I see the core of my own shortcomings.  What a good marriage will do is illuminate everything that lies within, good and bad alike!  

My wife and I now find ourselves warring, not only for our own marriage but scores of others who are at deaths door as we once were.   That’s certainly not to say we’ve been there done it and have it all figured out now.  We are much more protective, work harder to communicate and listen well, but still have to practice putting some tools we’ve learned to use in order to get through any impasses and over walls we build over time.   We do love each other more and are more committed than ever to doing life and love God’s way because we know first hand it works no other way.

When friends tell me of their deepest darkest hours I can relate much more than I’d care to admit.   I may have never signed on for marriage had I known what I would really encounter.  I remember one counselor saying to me, “you’re in Gethsemane and there’s nothing anyone can say or do to absolve of you of that experience.”  Christ went through it alone and there’s a certain amount of the experience we endure alone, doesn’t mean God has forsaken us though!  There was a time my instinct was to blame God.  I do know this, He’s never ever left me but has allowed me nonetheless to go through hell and back.

Marriage is always worth the fight and you do have to learn to fight for it.  You also have to learn to fight healthily as a couple.  We come into a marriage with a tractor-trailer full of issues and behaviors that we’ve spent our lives with.  We develop survival skills and they are ingrained in our being and guess what-the rest of your married life will be a journey of unpacking that crap and getting beyond an individual, self serving lifestyle.  You are two not one any longer and while you can be selfish and do ultimately whatever the heck you want to, it will not lead you to a whole and holy marriage.  It may well lead you back to alone!

If you have found yourself in a marriage you never imagined you’d be in, welcome!  You are now in the very marriage God would have you be in, there’s no other Best Case scenario for you.  He wants it to work and be healthy and knows what it will take to get you both there.  Though there are times when one of the party opts out as you can’t control another’s choice, you can always do your part-your best!   That’s where the miracle starts.   Healing is not a magic pill or a single visit to the counselor’s office.  It is a process and you can trust God’s process unlike any other!  The one thing you have to do that no other can do for you is Choose.  Resign yourself to surrender your own rights and wants and choose to stay in the fire just as you would stay in the bliss. 

It would require a book to tell you our whole story but suffice it to say, part of my problem was a serious inability to deal with my own pain coupled with a very real propensity for depression, which made me a self focused human being in order to survive.  So running from pain vs. dealing with it was my way and God let me run till I hit the wall and gave up.  It cost me a lot and I’ve had to painstakingly go back through the muck and mire in my life to relearn how to survive without leaving my wife alone to deal with life.  

You have your own stuff, your own way of dealing or NOT, and you have your own opportunity to flesh it out within your marriage.  If you learn to do it now rather than later you’ll lose less in the process and get to greener grass sooner.  If you neglect, ignore, run, quit, etc. then you’ll carry that caboose right into your next relationship!  It never disappears or just goes away; the crap will always hit the fan, trust me.

There are many great resources and people that can help but God alone can prescribe what you need and you have to be willing to deal with Him first then you’re marriage!   Coming from one who’s dealt with God a long time, there’s no greater grace, strength, mercy, kindness, and friendship anywhere to be found than in Christ alone! 

Marriage: yes it’s worth fighting for!