(Though it has been much longer now!)
He was right. It was the best eight (ten?) years of my life. Anyone who can do math knows that left a few years left over.
Years when I was in over my head.
I was married at 23, a child of divorce and a false convert to Christianity. I was idealistic, self-righteous, unyielding, and wounded. My understanding of men was broken and my knowledge of God’s identity was altogether wrong.
My husband and I dated seven months before we married in a small country church. I met my husband’s children at the rehearsal. They were wards of another state, taken from a terrible situation and stuck in a system we couldn’t seem to extract them from. It was the week after our honeymoon when we came to care for them part-time. A year later, we had full physical custody. They were eight- and ten-years-old.
It was a disaster.
We were four wounded, angry people in an 800 square foot house, my husband and I sleeping in the cement basement with access only through the garage.
I remember riding the train to work one morning and realizing that people were staring at me. It was like one of those weird dreams where you leave the house without brushing your hair, or discover you’re shoeless. I walked the two miles from the train to work and went immediately to the bathroom to figure out what was wrong with my hair. Everything seemed to be in place, but then I caught sight of my purse. My beautiful leather satchel purse that was a birthday gift from my dad and other-mother. Scrawled across the purse in black permanent marker was a word I won’t use, in the script of a child. Even as I remembered the history of pain that would allow for such an act, the pain of the betrayal and the meaning of the title written across my satchel sucked the air out of me.
My introduction to marriage was rough, to parenthood equally difficult. I was ill-prepared and without proper resources.
Every day was excruciating, a new wound received and new wounds given.
In over your head?
Friend, if you’re in over your head, I weep with you.
I know the pain and suffering of brokenness that only Jesus can heal. I’ve felt the stab of betrayals so deep that no scar will form without spiritual intervention. I’ve ached with the shock of the depth of my own sins and destructive habits (which are usually the direct result of my sin!). As a survivor of a drowning marriage, I want to offer you a little comfort and hope.
Jesus can heal anything. Anything.
To the wife who’s struggling
In addition to weeping with you, I’d like to offer four words of advice, if I may be so bold. They are offered in a spirit of humility, which I hope is clear.
1) Stay …even if you are in over your head
This does not apply to the rare situation in which the life of a wife or a child is in clear danger. In that case, run. Jesus can heal anything, but you don’t have to live in immediate danger to prove that.
In every other situation, stay. Just stay. Commit to staying. Commit to loving. Commit to healing. And commit to serving.
There’s something about making a decision and following through with it in faith that allows us to do and be that which seemed previously impossible. It causes us to seek the Lord with all we have. A decision to love is required for love to occur.
Love isn’t a warm, fuzzy feeling. It’s not romance and comfort. Love is hard work. It’s soul-searching, desperate, committed work.
2) Seek Jesus …especially when you are in over your head
Only Jesus can truly heal. Only Jesus can save.
Dear friend in over your head, seek the One who can help. Get in the Word and live there. Find solace in Christ alone.
It is he who validates his own, who loves his own, and who makes the broken whole. We can’t find our value in our husband, marriage, or children. We have value because we belong to Jesus.
It was in my brokenness and desperation I was saved. It was in my pain I came to know the Word of God. And it was Jesus who healed me.
3) Pray …when you are in over your head
It’s so easy, as women, to complain about our husbands, isn’t it? Or to gossip in the form of a prayer request.
Don’t do it. Just pray.
Our God is mighty. He commands armies and nations. If he can change the course of history, he can change a marriage.
It was in those years that I prayed for my husband, my children, and my marriage that women began to approach me in church on a weekly basis. They’d say things like, “I don’t know why, but my husband is praying for your husband. He doesn’t know your husband’s name, but God does.” Or, “Honey, I don’t know what’s happening in your home, but we’re praying for you, and God has a plan.”
I never once in those years told my church about my marriage.
Yet as I prayed, the Lord sent fellow prayer warriors to stand with me. I know he did the same for my husband. It still gives me the chills.
God is amazing.
Change …maybe you don’t have to stay in over your head
Sweet friend, you can’t change your husband.
You can’t make him speak sweetly, pick up his socks, understand your feelings, or lead your home. You don’t have the power or the ability to cajole, nag, bully, or manipulate your husband into change.
Does that mean that you shouldn’t share your thoughts and feelings? No. That’s not what I’m saying. Partnership requires vulnerability and honesty.
You can change you. You can go to God with your own anger, lust, pain, or resentment. You can choose to serve your husband by picking up his socks. You can speak sweetly. You can take your feelings to the Lord. You can fill in the gaps that your husband can’t or won’t.
Who knows what the Lord has planned for your husband?
While you’re waiting to see, why not serve him, love him, and find joy where it can be found?
I decided I’d rather be married than be right.
Looking back, I realize I was right far less often than I believed I was.
To the wife who is in over her head: Dear sister, cling to Jesus. He is the healer of all things. Even the marriage that looks like it just may be Atlantis.
Happy anniversary to my Ed, the best husband on earth. I love you more than I ever thought possible.
Help Your Kids Learn and Love the Bible
You want your kids to learn and love the Bible.
You want to teach the Bible…
As parents, we deeply desire the best for our kids. We look for the right schools, we make them eat right and exercise, and we get them involved in extracurricular activities. We take our job as parents seriously.
But are we also putting our time and energy into
teaching them the Bible? Giving them the life-changing, soul-nourishing words of Scripture is not only doable, it’s an essential part of parenting kids for Jesus. And the good news is, studying God’s Word as a family doesn’t have to be difficult!
2 Timothy 2:15, ESV, says:
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,
a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Our job, as parents who love Jesus, is to help our kids become approved workers, unashamed and rightly handling the word of truth.
The good news? Teaching the Bible isn’t hard. Your family can learn the Bible together.
…and you can!
A Crash Course in Teaching the Bible to Your Kids
Danika Cooley’s book, Help Your Kids Learn and Love the Bible, will give you the tools and confidence to study the Bible as a family. It will help you identify and overcome your objections and fears, give you a crash course in what the Bible is all about and how to teach it, and provide the guidance you need to set up a family Bible study habit.
You will finish this book feeling encouraged and empowered to initiate and strengthen your child’s relationship with the Lord through His Word.
Help Your Kids Learn and Love the Bible will equip you with everything you need to know to teach the Bible to your kids!
More Thinking Kids Posts You’ll Love
Help Your Kids Learn and Love the BibleTeach Your Kids to be Thankful for Life in the WombMartin Luther: When Lightning Struck! Book Discussion Guide9 Intentional Christian Parenting TipsStewarding Talents and Spiritual Gifts in Your Children3 Reasons to Teach Kids About Life in the WombTidying Up | Materialism, the Bible, and Your KidsTeaching Christian Worldview to Your Children in a Way They’ll UnderstandHow to Volunteer with KidsHow to Study the Bible at Home (Even If You Haven’t Read It)Life Lessons from MotherhoodFour Reasons to Teach Christian History to Your KidsChildren in Church: Teach Kids to WorshipWhen Your Child Breaks Your Heart | How to Survive5 Things That Occur When I Complain about My KidsChristian Parenting. Fight the Good Fight.100 Ways to Encourage Your ChildCalm the Angry Parent Inside and Build Your Kids UpFive Things That Occur When I Encourage My Child5 Things that Occur When I Overreact to My Child’s Offense5 Things That Occur When I Yell at My ChildTeach Kids the Bible Using the BibleTen Ways to Show Respect for Your TeenParenting Lessons from Early in my Marriage
Join the newsletter
Get the Family Prayer Box Project FREE!
Teach your children to pray with this fun project that includes 7 printable sets!