Beauty from Ashes
April 7, 2017
Do you ever look back over your life and try to figure out how you got to where you are? Like trying to trace back a thought to its starting point, have you mapped events that occurred and choices you made along the way that eventually led to your present?
When I consider my marriage and family and how God has shaped and led our lives until now, I can’t help but look to a series of painful and beautiful circumstances that took place seven years ago this week. The way God graced us to respond to that situation changed my life and my marriage forever.
While I’ll save the details of our story for another time and post (which can be found here), let me start by telling you that there was a devastating moment when I realized everything I had believed about my relationship with my husband was just a figment of my imagination. A mirage. Our marriage had never been what I had longed so badly for it to be, no matter how much I squinted my eyes. And now I had to acknowledge that truth. In that moment, I was engulfed by a fog of pain, loneliness and anger, and I could see no way forward. I felt betrayed and had no vision for a future with my husband; no hope of restoration.
Our second child was born three days later. She was nearly three weeks early, and I was so angry that this extraordinarily significant occasion was being overshadowed by the pain that was still so fresh in my heart. It wasn’t supposed to be this way; it was meant to be one of those life moments that is joyful and breathtaking. I asked God why He would let this happen. I longed for the circumstances to be different. But here we were, welcoming our precious daughter into the world through my tears of anguish. And then, in the midst of the darkness, my heart was given a glimpse of hope. In those following days of connecting with our precious little girl, God miraculously took those spaces of anger in my heart and filled them with a love for my husband that I cannot explain. I knew then that, somehow, our wreck of a relationship would one day be mended.
After we came home from the hospital with our new baby, we began the painful work of picking up the pieces of our marriage. While walking through the emotions and process of forgiveness, God brought peace and unity to our home. The choices we made in the following days and months LITERALLY changed the course of our lives. We made the decision to move to a different part of town and to a different church where we could have some separation from the painful reminders of the mess we were in. Little did we know, that church would be the place where so much healing and restoration would occur.
God used His Word to change our hearts and reveal sin, and He brought people into our lives who helped us grow toward Him and each other. I watched in awe as God gave me a new husband. I was married to the same man, but he was different. I was different. We loved each other more, and we loved Jesus more. The Lord brought healing and forgiveness and restored trust like only He could do. He helped us see that sharing our story of redemption with others would make His name great. And over the years there, we were able to speak into the lives of others who needed to hear that God is able. In His kindness, God didn’t waste the pain, but instead redeemed our broken places to reach others in their own times of darkness.
God, in his sovereign plan, also used that church to introduce us to Haiti, stir in us a love for her people, and enable our first trip to that beautiful country. He used the week we spent there to call us to greater dependence on Him. He also planted a tiny seed in our hearts that eventually grew into a dissatisfaction with living the comfortable, normal existence we have always known. We began to understand more fully that He wants us to live lives completely surrendered to Him, no matter the cost. He continues to use those lessons to shape our lives and the future He has for our family. Often times it’s painful and hard. We can easily slip back into just drifting through life. But He always calls us back to center and reminds us that His plan for us and our kids is better. It’s always beautiful. It’s always for our good and His glory.
Seven years ago, I could have walked away. I almost did. But God, in His mercy, reached down into our marriage and breathed new life. During that time, every prayer I cried out was met with the compassion of an ever-present Father. He showed me the truth of His declaration that He is near to the brokenhearted. He wanted us to surrender our hearts fully to Him and showed us that He’ll do whatever it takes to draw us to Himself. But in that, He will redeem. He brought beauty from the ashes of our marriage. It isn’t perfect, but it stands as a testimony to the kindness of the Lord.
Tomorrow is my daughter’s 7th birthday. And now as I look back, I am so grateful that my precious girl entered this world when she did. Her birthday stands like a memorial stone set up to remind us of God’s goodness and faithfulness to us. Each year as we celebrate her life, we rejoice in the transforming power of a loving, personal God who called us out of darkness into light. We look back at the seven years that have passed since her birth, and we are able to worship and say, “Look what God did!” I am so excited to watch His redemption story continue to play out in our family as He gives us the grace to follow Him wherever He leads.