(Photo: Sarah Lewis Photography. Again.)
I love our story.
I love that God answered the prayer of a little girl.
But the “how we became us” story is such a small part of life. It’s just the prelude. So many movies focus on the meeting and the courtship, then end with a marriage and “they lived happily ever after,” as if there was no more story to tell.
I’d like to share some more of ours.
After the wedding, we had a pretty good transition into marriage. As long as we’d been doing life together, actually living together wasn’t the rocky change that so many couples experience.
After a while, though, my brokenness surfaced.
I don’t want to make it sound like it was so awful—we’ve always done pretty well. Between the friendship we started with and a lot of grace, we’ve enjoyed each other. Most of the time.
But sometimes, my insecurity and negative self-talk got in the way.
I’ve always seen myself as not _____ enough. Not thin, pretty, smart, funny, interesting, or good enough. Not enough, period. And, since Andrew’s a pretty smart guy, I figured he must see how insufficient I was, and I could read basically anything he said (or didn’t say) as evidence he agreed with me.
So he’d say something innocuous on a day that I was particularly touchy about everything, and I’d take it as an attack.
I’d get mad at him for saying something awful about me—I’d put words in his mouth and assign him motives he never had. He would (understandably) try to set me straight. He’d try to correct my assumptions and reassure me that he really did believe the best about me.
But then I was mad because he was arguing with me.
I remember now how discouraged he’d get. For more than ten years, this went on. Not constantly, but frequently enough. I’d mishear him and basically accuse him of being a bad and hateful husband. He’d try to help me understand. I’d get mad because he wasn’t listening to me. Obviously, if he were listening, surely he’d understand how that thing he said really did mean what I thought it meant.
He’s human, of course. He’d get mad as I kept indicting him for things he never said and he’d say things that made it all worse.
But he kept engaging.
For more than a decade, his heart remained soft to me.
This strikes me as a miracle.
I’ve seen it go the other way in other marriages, and it’s ugly and heartbreaking and 100% natural. I can imagine the marriage-killing hard-heartedness seeping in over that length of time. He credits God’s grace to me- I was given a husband whose steadiness is one of his primary traits, and it was probably one of the things that saved us, or at least the joy of us. (We were never anywhere near calling it quits, but in retrospect, I see a lot of danger of becoming mostly roommates, which is so far short of God’s design for marriage.)
Then, somewhere in our twelfth or thirteenth year, it occurred to me that the guy I was fighting against wasn’t the one I married. I chose a better man than that. We named the other one “mean Andrew” and kicked him out. I wish there was more story than that- something we did that flipped that switch, because I feel like that would probably be helpful information to share. I’m sure there was plenty building beneath the surface, but my experience really was something like walking through a forest for years and years, then coming to the edge and finding light.
I’m grateful and astonished that my husband and my God kept pursuing me through it. It seems like an awfully long time to wait for light.
I’m still working through my insecurities. There’s plenty of growth for me and for him and for us as a pair to do. But, just like I love seeing and celebrating the faithfulness of God in the story of us two becoming one, I am starting to be able to look back and see the big story here, as well. It’s a story of God working in and through marriage to make us more like Him, and to make our marriage more reflective of His glory. Like it always is, the big story is about God being faithful to us, even when we’re sinners and broken.
How about you? When you look back, do you see any of the “big stories” becoming clear?
This post is part of a 31-day series called “Grace in Failure.” Other posts from the series can be found here.