Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The resurrection of a dead and buried marriage

This post is based on a speaking testimony I gave for Stonecroft ministries which was based on a magazine article I wrote for "Today's Christian Doctor."

Even though my husband and I had determined that divorce would never be an option, we were fast approaching that end.
Our marriage vows had sounded very poetic at the alter, but I found these promises impossible to keep in light of my husband's schedule and caring for two small children mostly by myself.
One of the biggest mistakes I had made back then was befriending people at even our church who advocated quitting if you're not happy... they would say things like "God would never want you to be this miserable." and "It is better to divorce than have your children grow up in a loveless marriage." These people did not dispute my self-seeking, destructive path... they were on one, too.
Jon's schedule in medical school overwhelmed me. I was lonely and he was under a tremendous amount of stress. I convinced myself that it would be the best thing for me and the kids to leave. This happened near the end of his first year of medical school.
Seeking career goals, even at the expense of motherhood, became my focus. This downward spiral of self-destruction seemed to quicken its pace and my continual errors in judgment regarding my career, my children, my husband, my life... it was taking its toll.
Achieving my career goals had proven horribly unfulfilling.
During this time, my resentments blinded me and hardened my heart. I was so empty. I thought my true friends and family had turned their backs on me. Why are they so determined to preach at me and judge me? I was so sick of getting phone calls and letters from them and from people I didn't even know! I just wanted them to leave me alone so that I could be happy. Except that I was absolutely miserable. (My husband admitted to me several years after our reconciliation that he prayed constantly that I would be absolutely miserable in my sin...)
In the meantime, my husband continually attempted to reconcile our family.
I would get so angry with him because I thought he was trying to manipulate me. He would pray with our little boys that mommy and Daddy would get back together when they were with him. So when they came home to me they would plead with me to get back together with their daddy. "Please, mommy. Daddy is so sad and misses you... and this makes God sad, too. Please, mommy."
I was shaking with rage soon after hearing their pleading... so I called him soon after.
"How can you give our children false hope like that. You know we will never get back together. I feel nothing for you and I never will."
I was so mad I have no idea what he said, but later after we reconciled, I picked up his journal and read his heart, "God has done things in me through this trial that he may nt have been able to accomplish any other way. It is by God's will that I am in this difficult place," he wrote, "in that I will rest."
At the same time I was becoming increasingly burdened that my children were now growing up in a broken home. I knew by experience how painful this is, and I had always determined that things would be different for my children.
I missed being "mommy" full-time.
From the very beginning of our separation, my husband was committed to reconciliation, so when I showed up at his door with the kids and all my stuff in a u-haul truck, he was very open to it. We were separated for almost 18 months. I tried to serve him divorce papers twice in that time... but "for some reason" it never happened.
Initially I returned for the sake of the children, believing that our marriage would always be miserable.
But I was so wrong... about everything.
Only4 months after we reconciled, I was told by a neurologist that I either had a brain tumor or Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
I was seeing double, experiencing numbness in my hands and feet, tripping over everything, talking with a slur, and passing out... sounds like I was drunk. But this was an ongoing thing and I had not a drop of alcohol. At one point I had to walk with a walker.
Several tests later, along with my medical history and an MRI that showed a pattern of lesions on my brain more indicative of MS, I was diagnosed.
My only experience with MS was having observed one of my college professors. His wife has MS. She is wheel-chair bound, her speech is very slurred and he had to feed her.
I am a very active person. This devastated me.
During one of my worst MS relapses my oldest son was memorizing Psalm 121. When he was done reciting it to me by memory, I wept. It has become my favorite Psalm.
The beginning of it says, "I will lift up mine eyes to the hills; From whence cometh my help? My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth."
My only peace and rest comes from knowing that a merciful and faithful God is in control and His timing and His purposes are always perfect.
Changes in my marriage did not happen over night, but by the grace of God, my husband and I both changed. God used my husband-- his steadfastness through our separation, his unyielding prayers and determination to reconcile. God used him and this trial with MS to show me that all those years I though I was a Christian, I really wasn't. I was listening to a sermon tape my husband had tried to give me years earlier to listen to. It was R.C. Sproul's "The Holiness of God" on Isaiah 6.
I was completely caught off gaurd by this deep conviction of who I really was before this holy God.
I began to evaluate my life. The evidence became clear to me that I had made a false profession as a teen.
My ticket into heaven? A repeat-after-me prayer.
I was merely tired of the consequences of my sin, but I was not in remorse over sinning against a holy God.
There were outward changes in my life, but through the years the inward emptiness was making the task of living up to this God-thing an unbearable burden.
Upon careful examination of my heart and mindset I realized I had not a heart for God at all.
I was merely on a roller coaster ride of self-sustained religion.
I had a Christless, empty, dead-end religion.
I literally fell face down and pleaded before this holy God to forgive me.
I then went to my husband and through blinding tears I begged him to forgive me. He hugged me for a long time.
Then he said, "What kind of man would I be if I did not forgive you as Christ forgave me."
So how do I know I am off that roller coaster ride of self-sustained religion and on the steady road of God-sustaining true-saving faith?
His grace has clearly transformed my life. I have a long way to go... but there is evidence of progression in this journey and I am so deeply thankful for what God has done... what he continues to work out in me.
Through this difficult time, my husband and I learned what is important in life. Our marriage reconciliation is a miracle from God. Those who knew us and observed our tumultuous marriage and separation have no doubt of this--
especially our two oldest boys. They experienced first-hand that God is real and He does answer prayers.
I remember one night when my husband was on-call and would not be home until the next day... I was praying with the children. One of them looked up at me, put his two hands on my cheeks and said, "Mommy, remember when God brought our family back together?"
I told him I would never forget... and even though God is the foundation of this home, it does not guarantee that we will have an easy life.
My oldest son replied, "We know. But God will help us."
I am thankful for the many people who "annoyed" me nearly to the point of insanity with their phone calls and prayers and letters that I did not want! They did not stop when I asked them to. I really am grateful they didn't listen. They showed me that they loved me enough not to let me forget the truth even when I didn't want to hear it.
My marriage and family have been enriched by God's forgiving grace. By the time Jon finished medical school and before the end of residency, we had 6 children. One year before he finished, we had adopted the twins.
(Here is a prayer he wrote in his journal way before our reconciliation: "Father, save our marriage. I want Christ to be the foundation of our marriage. Holy Spirit, work in our hearts so that we will always act in love toward one another. Father, build a heritage for Yourself from this home so that generations to come from Lisa and I will praise You and glorify You.")
(a little bit of the twins story can be read at this link: http://god-willing.blogspot.com/2006/02/i-have-been-diagnosed-with-insanabile.html )
We have made a commitment to God's perspective in our marriage and pray constantly for His guiding protection. God has nurtured our marriage and made it more than I ever imagined it could be. I never thought I would claim him as my best friend... he is not only that, but he is my hero.
(the two verses my husband clung to through this time were Psalm 142:3 and Psalm 50:15)
Please read TEAMPYRO's post... it is EXCELLENT!!!! http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2006/03/pastoral-marriage-counseling-what-if.html
Here is a link to another post I would love to share with you: http://god-willing.blogspot.com/2006/02/i-use-to-be-pro-choice-until-i-had.html

To God be ALL the glory.

8 Comments:

Blogger T A Blankenship said...

Praise God that you made the right decision, and your marriage is back together, and you are doing well.
It sounds as though you have a great family.

10:07 AM  
Blogger 4given said...

"Though a man plans his ways, the Lord directs His steps."-- Pr. 16:9
It is truly the Lord that directed my footing back to my husband. To Him be all the glory.

11:31 AM  
Blogger sheshe said...

This also shows how very important the people we surround ourselves with are. In the beginning, Lisa's church friends were encouraging her in her selfish and sinful ways. Yet, in the end, the godly friends and family spoke Truth to her, along with her husband and sons. Let this be a lesson to us, too.

Thank you, Lisa, for sharing this. I was not aware of this part of your life.

Blessings
Ramona

4:11 PM  
Blogger 4given said...

Amen SheShe. May we not turn our heads when the truth needs to be spoken in love.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Wow.
I'm speechless,
except to say thank you
for sharing this testimony
and thank You, God.

11:04 AM  
Blogger newlyreformed1 said...

What an amazing testimony, I am always encouraged to hear God restoring marriages. That is a difficult thing to swallow in out individualistic culture. May God continue to bless you.

Soli Deo Gloria

1:25 PM  
Blogger newlyreformed1 said...

What an amazing story! I am encouraged to hear that God is still in the business of saving marriages! THis is hard for many people, even Christians to swallow because of our individualistic culture.

Soli Deo Gloria

1:30 PM  
Blogger 4given said...

When I reflect on all that God has accomplished in my marriage, I'm left speechless... in awe of my Lord for His transforming power. I shudder at the thought of where i'd be if the Lord had left me where I deserved to be... in that muck of sin.

11:00 PM  

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