Soar Like An Eagle


“They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;

they shall walk and not faint.” — Isaiah 40:31 [ESV]

 

Every time I think I’ve made the decision to stay in my marriage, I discover the “well goes dry.”  My writing stops, I have no creative juices flowing, and I feel as though God is silent.  So I wonder, at times, if the following is true:  Is God silent, because I’m not listening and being obedient to what He is telling me to do?

For instance, take the following:

God speaks to my heart letting me know divorce is the plan.  In “good” moments, I picture it in a positive way…  My husband and I communicate well with each other, he marries someone else and is happy; I write and help people, possibly marry, and am happy; the kids’ stress dissolves over time, they adapt, and they’re happy.  In “bad” moments, I picture it in a negative way… I blame my husband for things; I wind up penniless and living off the street, unable to work and emotionally/physically drained; the kids spiral into depression and unhealthy behaviors; and we all self-destruct.  (I’m a very black and white thinker.  Can you tell?)

I feel in my gut… in my heart… the thought of divorce, and I believe God is leading me down that road; but I always stop just short of following through, because I think, “That can’t be God.  God wouldn’t tell me that.  God HATES divorce.”  But here is what God is also unveiling… yes, He hates divorce, but He also hates sin.  Hating someone is sin.  Pretending to be someone I’m not is sin.  Not acting in a loving way is sin.  Staying in my marriage may be just as sinful as divorce.

Writing these things down makes me feel foolish… like perhaps I am trying to twist things in order to condone divorce as a viable option.  I don’t think that’s what I’m trying to do, but I do think Satan tries to mess with our minds.  So, I pray for God’s direction in following the right path… the one He has prepared for me… the one He predestined me to go down.

When I think I should stay in my marriage for my kids’ sake, I realize that I will need to find other (healthy) ways to get my needs met.  I resign myself to thinking my life will be tolerable at best, miserable at worst.  I’m not sure I can do miserable again.  I don’t for one minute believe that’s what God wants for me either.  God wants me to soar like an eagle… to write for His glory… to show others that no, divorce is not right, but neither is marrying out of insecurity.  We all make mistakes, but we don’t need to let those mistakes define who we are.  We can learn from them and use them to help others.

I came across a beautiful saying today that so accurately describes what I believe I struggle with so much lately…

If you doubt your ability to make a life-altering decision, to take on a daring aspiration, or to fend for yourself after many years, consider this:  surely, if a bird with healthy wings is locked in a cage long enough, she will doubt her ability to fly.   — Sandra King

I want out of the cage.  The cage may be my marriage or it could be something I have put around myself.  I have folded my wings beneath me, found a safe spot on the floor, and resigned myself to being there; but I hate the cage now, and I long to be free.  I long for a gentle soul to open the cage, coax me out, and patiently teach me how to once again find my wings and fly… only this time, I don’t want to flap my wings in exhaustion; I want to find the thermals (of God’s plan for my life) and soar like an eagle.

Interestingly, when I was researching the verse from Isaiah at the top of this blog spot, I learned that the Hebrew word for “wait for” means to bind (twist) together.  That means, if I twist myself together with God (immersing myself in His Word and spending quiet time meditating on what He is saying), I will gain new strength.  Eagles, when they fly, conserve energy by looking for thermals of air to glide in and out of so they don’t have to waste energy flapping their wings.  I want to live like that!

Looking for thermals…

Lori Lynn

LORD… we can’t rise up and soar like an eagle if we are bogged down with the weight of insecurity.  Teach us to bind ourselves together with You, gain new strength, and soar in the freedom Your Son died to give us.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

 

 

 

Rejection


The one thing everybody’s looking for is unconditional love. We all need somebody to love us just the way we are – Joyce Meyer

There are days that just lend themselves to moments of reflection… when we look back over our lives and see things that maybe weren’t quite so obvious at the time or that, when taken together, impact us in such a way that we realize our perception of things may be a bit skewed.  There may be a moment that has such a significant impact on us that it forever changes how we view ourselves and those around us.  For me, that moment happened when I was in the sixth grade.

Everyone in my grade signed an “I-Hate-Lori Lynn” petition–everyone, that is, except for one other girl who was also an outcast at the time.  I was devastated.  Even though everything pretty much blew over by the end of that summer and I was friends with everyone again in seventh grade, it had a profound effect on me.  It has caused me to spend the majority of my life thinking people don’t like me.  I have spent a large majority of time thinking there is something wrong with me.  I have often felt that I’m not good enough.  It is only now that I am getting older that I realize it doesn’t matter so much, because we are all flawed in some way.  The older I get, the more I realize almost everyone deals with low self-esteem or insecurity at some point in their life.  Despite that realization, I still have moments of sadness and loneliness that stem from that root of rejection.

Rejection causes us to act weird.  We may try too hard to make or maintain friendships.  We may be afraid to speak up, too timid to make a suggestion or give our opinion on something.  We may fall into a pit of despair.  We see everything we’re “not” instead of the beautiful creation that we are.  I heard Joyce Meyer say once that it is proven that at any given point in time, there are always going to be 10% of people who will not like you.  Instead of lamenting that statistic, I have learned to view it in a different light.  I now say to myself, “Well, too bad for that person.  It’s their loss!”

The father of the man I dated before I met my husband absolutely hated me (more rejection).  I never quite understood why, as he never had an opportunity to get to know me very well.  He had formed some preconceived idea of me and refused to get to know me better to see whether or not his preconception was accurate.  That bothered me for years, especially since I really wanted to marry his son.  I always thought I wasn’t good enough for this very well-to-do family.  I thought the flaw was in me.  I found out later that the man was an atheist.  When I found that out, my first thought was, “Good grief, no wonder he didn’t like me!”  What I find really amazing is how God was using my encounter with that man to change me on the inside.  A few years ago, when that man was dying, I felt so compelled to pray for him.  God laid on my heart this intensity to pray that I had never felt before.  As much as I disliked that man here on earth, because I saw him as a barrier to my having a permanent relationship with his son, I nonetheless sure hope I see him once I enter the pearly gates of heaven.  I am hoping that for a few minutes before he breathed his last bit of air here on earth that he had an encounter with the Lord that forever changed his place in eternity; and how awesome would that be if my prayers made an impact on his final dwelling place.

Any time we enter into a relationship with someone, we risk potential rejection.  We have to ask ourselves, is it worth the risk.  Is my desire to know this person more important than the potential risk of rejection?  What do I have to lose?  What do I have to gain?

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to lay myself bare before someone I had been in a relationship with in my 20’s, a relationship that ended too soon due to a rash decision on my part.  This was a person I loved deeply, and I had never completely worked through my feelings for him.  I was able to express my feelings and give him the opportunity to do the same.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t in the same place I was, and there was nothing for him to say.  I’m not sure if I was looking for closure or if I was looking for love, but it didn’t take long for the old feelings of rejection to surface.  I realize now that the feelings I thought were there on a mutual level probably were never there to begin with; and I guess more than anything that makes me sad.  Whereas I often long for what was, I am realizing perhaps the majority of it was just in my mind.  Reality can really bite sometimes.

I tried explaining to my husband when he was home this past week that part of what I long for is to matter.  I want to matter to someone.  I want to matter to the world around me.  I want to help people and make a difference in their lives.  I wonder sometimes if perhaps I’m my own worst enemy.  Have I let the rejection in my past prevent me from taking hold of the love of those around me?  Do I have a tendency to reject myself and, due to a fear of more rejection from others, beat them to the draw so to speak by projecting rejection onto myself before they can do it?

We can let rejection define who we are, or we can ask God to open our eyes to Truth.  It may be that there is something we need to change about ourselves, because our behavior is abrasive or repulsive to those around us.  That conviction is necessary in order to make a change.  On the other hand, it may be that there is something in the other person’s past that causes them to see us inaccurately.  Then the problem isn’t with us; it’s with the other person.  The best thing we can do in that case is pray (continue to be kind and considerate in the meantime).

I am learning that if a relationship is part of God’s plan for my life, it will come to pass.  I am also learning that it isn’t so important what other people think about me; what’s important is what I think about myself and what God thinks about me.  After all, I am blessed to be chosen by the King.

Wrapped in His embrace…

Lori Lynn

Dear LORD, when I am feeling rejected, help me remember that I am chosen by You.  Remind me again that You love me.  Wrap me in a holy hug and warm me with an extra measure of Your Spirit’s presence.  I love you, LORD.  Amen.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgGUKWiw7Wk]

 

 

 

The Missing Link


A week or so ago, I came across a blog entry by Karin Friedemann entitled “Asperger’s Syndrome Wives Need Understanding.”  (I haven’t provided a direct link to the page because it appears that she may have plagiarized some of her material from an earlier article written by Carol Brigg, which you can find here.)  Whereas I appreciate Carol Brigg’s article, because it is thoughtful and well written; I have to admit it was Karin Friedemann’s blog entry that made me feel like someone finally fully understood my life.  As I finished the article and read the comments that followed, I wanted to cry.  My insights into the life I’ve been living are more accurate than I realized, and I discovered I wasn’t alone.

You see, I believe my husband has high-functioning Asperger’s Syndrome.  Please note that I am not saying my husband HAS Asperger’s, because he has not been tested for it.  To be fair, he could just as easily say, “I think my wife is bipolar” because, quite frankly, when you live within the grip of codependency long enough, you begin to act bipolar at times.  I’ve been to enough counselors, however, to know that if I truly were bipolar, they would have told me by now.

I’ve been married almost 20 years, and I knew very early on (especially once we had children) that our marriage was not like other marriages.  I would frequently cry out to my husband, “This is NOT how God intends for us to live!”  I first began to suspect Asperger’s in my husband when I listened to my two older children complain about what it’s like living with their younger sister (who has been diagnosed with ADHD, Nonverbal Learning Disorder, and PPD-NOS, which many of her therapists and case workers suspect is high-functioning Asperger’s).  It occurred to me that their complaints about her sounded just like me when talking about my husband.  Prior to that “aha” moment, I had also begun to notice many similarities (physical, mental, emotional, academic) between my Aspie daughter and my husband; so when I came across Karin Friedemann’s blog entry, it was like finding the missing link.  Suddenly, all of the puzzle pieces I had been sorting through over the past 20 years began to fall into place and make sense.  The interesting thing is that when I mentioned the article to some of our current healthcare providers, many of them had the same response, “I was wondering about that,” or “I’ve been wanting to ask you about that.”

The article talks about what it’s like being married to a man who has Asperger’s.  The comments that follow it give a bird’s-eye view of the hell it can be.  My heart goes out to my husband if he does suffer from this disorder, but I still struggle with whether or not the best thing to do is stay or to leave.  I realize that sounds a bit heartless and cruel, and I certainly don’t intend it that way.

The fact is that after years and years of internal torment, frustration, and dysfunction brought about by undiagnosed issues that go untreated, when does one draw a line and say, “That’s it.  I have reached my saturation point.  If I stay in this situation any longer, the bad negates the good.  I have become worthless to what God is calling me to do, I have become a negative person with nothing good to say, and I don’t want to live like this anymore.”  When the distractions and responsibilities of the codependency bog you down to such a degree that you are suffering, your children are suffering, and you are accomplishing nothing, isn’t it logical to ask yourself, “Is it really wise to stay here?”  (This is AFTER you’ve struggled through the question, “What is God trying to teach me in all of this?”)

In my insecurity 20 years ago, I made a poor decision.  I thought God would help me grow to love my husband, but I have grown to dislike him immensely.  I am not proud of that fact.  It fills me with shame and guilt.  Who in their right mind marries a man they know they don’t love?  Who in their right mind blogs about stuff like this?  Well, I’ve already alluded to the fact that I may not be in my right mind, so here we are.

The truth is, life is messy.  As much as we would like it to be cut and dried with a nice thick manual to refer to for each messy thing that crops up, we don’t have that.  (Before all you fundamentalists get on my case, I know we have the Bible, and it truly is a manual for right living.  My point is that sometimes we really wish God would have put an index in there with specific page references for the problem we are currently encountering.  We would like the solution to be written out in step-by-step format with additional instructions on where to get the ingredients necessary to make it all work.  We want answers that are tangible and easy to see.)

I am not a proponent of divorce, which makes my life right now even messier for me.  I don’t believe staying in my marriage is the right thing… two wrongs don’t make a right.  God knows, I’ve been trying to make it right by denying self, pretending my needs don’t matter, praying, and bearing a mountain of responsibility alone, but I continue to feel like my marriage is cursed.  I remember Beth Moore teaching in one of her Bible studies that God does not bless something He hasn’t ordained.  When I told my friend that I thought my marriage had never been blessed because perhaps it wasn’t something God ordained, her response was, “How can you say that?  Of course He ordained it; you’re married!”  But I beg to differ.  I believe God allowed it, because He knew He could bring good from whatever happens; but “allowed” and “ordained” are not the same thing.

My children don’t like it when they hear me make comments about how unhappy I am in my marriage, because they take that one step further and think it means I wish I had never had them; but here again, I beg to differ.  What if part of God’s purpose in allowing their father and me to marry was because each of them was supposed to be born?  We all know that God has planned out, in advance, the day of our birth; and He is intimately involved in the intricate details of forming us in the womb.  Each of my children was destined to be, and I firmly believe each of them has a special calling on his or her life.  The difficulties they are going through do have a purpose.  God will use them for good.  And God will bring good out of what I’m going through.  The hard part is this messy middle part.

I struggle with putting so much of this in print, but I truly believe there are others of you out there who are struggling in your marriages, too.  I’m sure there are children out there who feel like my kids do.  The truth is, life stinks sometimes.  The question is, what are we going to do with the smelly parts?  Are we going to let them define us, or are we going to use them as catalysts for change?  I think we need to take a good look at our lives and ask some serious questions:

  • What does God say about this? (Even if you can’t find a specific page number indexed to your liking, His Word does give guidelines to get you pointed in the right direction.)
  • When does the way I’m currently living become so unbearable that I simply can’t do it anymore without causing myself (and/or those around me) serious physical, mental, and/or emotional harm?
  • When has the struggle to keep things together negated the benefits of staying together?
  • Is the message I’m giving the world (or my children or my spouse) a negative, ungodly one?  If I make this change, will that message become a positive, God-centered one?

Your problem probably isn’t Asperger’s, but it may be something just as debilitating.  Maybe it’s an alcoholic spouse or an adult child spending every dime he has on drugs, and he keeps looking to you to bail him out.  Maybe it’s your teenage son immersed in a pornographic world he can’t escape from, and you’ve done everything you can think of to help him.  Maybe it’s your pre-teen daughter caught in the trap of anorexia.  Whatever the issue, it can lead to a vicious cycle of codependency that destroys the entire family.

The truth is, I don’t want to get divorced, because I know my heavenly Father hates it.  But I also know that I simply cannot go back to the marriage I had.  God keeps laying before me Matthew 5:29-30:

If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.

I used to blame my husband for my misery.  God has shown me it isn’t my husband so much as it is the marriage the two of us have built together that is the offensive thing in my life.  What remains to be seen is if it is the marriage that needs to be cut off in order for the remaining body(ies) to be spared being thrown into hell.

My signature verse is Romans 12:2:

 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I’ve made this verse my signature verse, because it gives me hope.  I may not be able to change people around me, but I can change myself.  I can choose to think differently.  By opening myself up to the transforming power of God’s presence in my life, I will then be able to test the thoughts that cross my mind and come to understand God’s will for my life.  And whatever His will is, it will be good!

Lori Lynn

For those of us trapped in a world of codependency, LORD, I ask for Your wisdom and discernment to make some tough, life-altering decisions.  We cannot change those who are near and dear to us, but we can change ourselves.  Divorce may not be Your plan for any of us but neither is living a life of misery and frustration.  You sent Your Son to die for us so that we might have life, and have it abundantly.   Give us the strength we need to follow through, in love, with whatever needs to be done to get ourselves and our loved ones in a better place.  Amen.

7×70


Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.  –Matthew 18:21-22 (NASB)

 

I woke up to Chris August’s song 7×70 playing on my radio this morning.  Somehow I don’t think it was by accident…

My husband and I are struggling to keep our family intact.  We have been married for 19+ years, and I would have to say we could probably count on two hands how many good months there have been.  It has been a rough road.  We have been to multiple marriage counselors, we have resorted to mud slinging, and there has been so much anger and bitterness and resentment building up for years that I don’t know if it’s better to try to salvage what we can or pack it up and move on.  As a Christian couple, neither one of us wants to go the divorce route; but the continuation of living like we are is taking its toll on all of us.

My husband has been living and working 1300 miles away for almost three years now after losing his job with a major US company.  Many people have  remarked how difficult that must be for me, but the sad truth is I hardly notice.  When my husband lived in the same house with us, he was so busy with work and was continuously buried behind either a computer or TV screen that we never got to interact with him (in a meaningful way) all that much anyway.  In retrospect, the best months of my married life were the four months he was laid off.  For the first time in a VERY long time I actually felt like I had a husband.  I had a helpmate.  I had someone to talk to.  I had someone to share things with.  When I rode out to Massachusetts with him to help him move, I could tell the minute we hit the Massachusetts border.  His driving changed, he was distracted, and he was “gone.”  It went downhill from there.  By the time I flew back home, I had this feeling of dread in my soul.

For those of you who have read my earlier posts, you know that our house did not sell that summer, and we pulled it off the market once the school year started.  The children and I stayed put intending to move the following year.  One thing led to another, and the girls and I are still here.  (My son moved out to Massachusetts this past summer to start high school and be around the father he so desperately needed.)

I’d like to stay in my marriage for my kids’ sake.  I see the impact broken homes has on kids nowadays and I think, “I SO don’t want to contribute to that!”  But the truth is, the lack of love in our home, the chaos, and the added impact of mental health issues (ADHD, Nonverbal Learning Disorder, and borderline Asperger’s) have taken their toll on my children anyway.  Their insecurities abound and they constantly tear at each other in order to make themselves feel better.  Of course, it backfires; and everyone feels miserable in the long run.  What they need is a home filled with security and love.

The answer seems so simple in theory.  Get more counseling.  Work things out.  Unfortunately, theoretical answers are so much easier than reality.  I just don’t know if I have what it takes.  Correction… I KNOW I don’t have what it takes (on my own); but with God, all things are possible.  I do realize that.  I just don’t know if I can go back to a life where my needs don’t matter, where I have to pretend to be someone I’m not in order to make someone else happy.  It’s exhausting, and I’m so tired of the codependency.  I think if my husband would be able to realize that I didn’t get to be the way I am now overnight and that many things contributed to the process, I would be able to give it a bit more effort; but so much of what I’m hearing from him makes me think that nothing has changed from the time we met with our first marriage counselor and he said to the counselor, “I really hope you can help HER.”  (To be fair, I have blamed my husband for many many things as well, so don’t feel too sorry for me.)  The truth is we both need help.

That all being said, Chris August’s song this morning reminded me of how important it is to forgive.  I think the most difficult thing about forgiving someone is that we think it will mean what the other person did is okay.  It doesn’t mean that at all.  What it means is that you are going to let it go so that YOU are okay.  Forgiving someone doesn’t mean we have to put ourselves back into a bad situation; it just means we release the effect of the behavior over to God.  I can forgive my husband for the things he did in our marriage that were extremely hurtful to me, but that doesn’t mean I forget them or that I am going to allow myself to be hurt in the same way again.  My husband could choose to do the same.  If we both are willing and able to do that much, then if we do decide to go our separate ways, at least we can be civil to and respectful of each other and wish each other well in our future relationships.

Part of the process of forgiving involves becoming emotionally healthy.  I am learning how to establish boundaries.  I am learning that I have choices.  I am learning nourishing support practices (e.g., to follow the “truths” that God has placed in my heart, making a list of things that make me happy, opening myself up to joy).  Did you know that recent research shows that we actually have the ability to retrain our brain?  We can formulate new pathways (neuroplasticity) and grow new neurons (neurogenesis), which means we don’t have to continue to live negative, victim-thinking lives if that is the hole into which we’ve fallen.  I like what Joyce Meyer says, “I may not have had a great start, but I can still have a great finish.”  I’m learning mindfulness, the art of being present in the moment.  It’s a nonjudgmental acknowledgment of what we feel, think, or experience.  I am learning to practice gratitude.  I have lived enough different places in my life and experienced enough job changes to know that no matter where I go or what I do, there is always going to be something I like and something I don’t; so I am focusing on being thankful for the things I like in a given moment.  When I get discouraged, I think of something my first boss was fond of saying, “This, too, shall pass.”

We human beings are such imperfect people.  We can’t begin to meet everyone’s needs, and we shouldn’t look to others to do that for us.  We need to discover what our needs are, find healthy ways to meet them, and look to God to fill the empty places.  By looking to others to fill them, we are inadvertently trying to make them little gods; and that just doesn’t work.  We will always wind up disappointed and frustrated, and those other people will feel inadequate and inept.  A dear friend of mine once told me, “It all boils down to love.”

As much as I hate the thought of divorce, I believe God is teaching me that no matter which path I choose, He will still love me; and He will use it for good.  If I can emerge from this difficult period with my ability to love restored, I will be extremely grateful; and if I can be transformed into a person who can bring hope and healing to others, I will be truly blessed.

Leaning on God—

Lori Lynn

Dear LORD…  We are such imperfect people, and we hurt one another more often than we care to admit.  We ask for Your help in forgiving those who have hurt us.  Unforgiveness is such a heavy weight to bear.  Help us lighten the load by handing it over to You.  In so doing, please teach us how to love again.  When we have difficult decisions to make, please grant us Your grace and wisdom in making a wise decision; and give us discernment and understanding to see how our decision will impact others.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

 

 

 

Life Lesson #1: Deal With Your Stuff


“A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”    — Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV)

It’s very difficult when writing a blog to know just how much to share with your readers.  As a writer, I want to touch my readers’ hearts.  I want them to read what I write and say, “Oh my gosh.  I know exactly what she’s talking about!”, or “I SO get where she’s coming from.”  At the same time, I don’t want to share so much that it portrays people in my life in a bad light; because there are two sides to every story, and you are really only hearing mine.  Suffice it to say, because of poor choices I have made in the past, my life has not exactly gone the way I had hoped; but I am hopeful that some of my mistakes can be used for good in teaching others not to do what I did.

Lesson #1:  Do NOT marry someone until you have dealt with your “stuff.”

When I married my husband, I knew I did not love him.  I did know he was a good Christian man, and he had a good heart; and I truly believed that God would help me grow to love him in time.  I was 28 years old, desperately wanted to be a wife and mother, and felt the biological clock ticking.  I had just come out of a four-year off-again-on-again relationship with a man whom I loved more than anything but who had no intention of marrying me anytime soon because of family pressure on his side.  It was actually this man who sat in church with me one day, looked out over the congregation, saw my future husband in one of the front rows, pointed and said, “You should go out with that guy.”  My initial reaction was, “Oh my gosh.  No way.  He is SO not my type!”  (Now I realize that many of you highly-intelligent readers will be asking, “Why did you go out with this guy for four years when he is telling you to go out with other people?”)  Can I just say, “It’s what insecure people do.”  It’s also what led me to marry my husband.

Which brings me back to dealing with our stuff…

We can drag an awful lot of baggage, which we aren’t even aware of, into our marriages.  Are you familiar with any of these:

  • Insecurity
  • Low self-esteem/unworthiness
  • Unresolved relationship issues
  • Poverty (lack of money or love)
  • Emotional/physical/verbal abuse
  • Codependency
  • Anger
  • Mental health issues

If you haven’t dealt with them BEFORE you tie the knot, trust me when I say that you WILL deal with them at some point after.  All of the baggage mentioned above comes with a bountiful set of emotions.  Emotions get triggered in our brains from the darnedest things…  a sound, a smell, a touch, a look, a word, etc.  You may think that you can suppress emotions, but they can only be suppressed for so long.  Emotions are alive, so suppressing them is like burying something alive.  They will eventually erupt and find their way out; and when they do, it isn’t pretty!

I’ve been married for 19 years.  I can honestly say, it has been a struggle from Day 1.  On my wedding night, I was crying because I had a new last name.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I had every intention of changing my name when I got married.  It wasn’t having a new last name that was the problem; it had everything to do with thinking, “Oh my gosh, I can’t go back.  I’ve made a horrible mistake.  This is not what I wanted.”  I don’t come from a belief system that says, “Get married today and divorced tomorrow.”  I had made a covenant before God.  This was serious business.  For what it’s worth, my husband was probably feeling the same way.  All of the sudden he was faced with a hysterical wife who was not at all like the woman he thought he had married.

In retrospect, I think I was more in love with the IDEA of getting married (the ring, the dress, the flowers, walking down the aisle) than I was with the man I had agreed to marry.  Also, in my insecurity, I didn’t believe anyone else would ever ask me to marry him.  My husband did; therefore, I thought I better jump at the opportunity.

I had had similar feelings (that I was making a mistake) that morning but had brushed them off as wedding-day jitters.  At that point, I remember thinking, “I can’t back out now.  Everyone has flown out here for the wedding.  My parents have put a lot of expense into this.”

Both of us have lamented the fact that we did not have premarital counseling before our wedding day.  We were supposed to have it.  We even went to our first session; unfortunately, right in the middle of it, our pastor got an emergency phone call and had to end the session.  We somehow never rescheduled.  I think the pastor thought, “These are two mature individuals who obviously love each other, both from good Lutheran stock, so they will be fine.”  (Of course, I have no idea what he was actually thinking.  Pre-marriage counseling for us may have just slipped his mind.)  I do think, though, that many of the conflicts we have struggled with over the years would have surfaced in those counseling sessions, and we could have been spared quite a bit of the heartache we’ve experienced (or at least been a little bit more prepared for it).

So, why are we still married?  In this Married-Today-Divorced-Tomorrow Age, I’d like to think it’s because neither one of us can come to terms with breaking the covenant we made before our God; and we’re both too stubborn to give up.  In reality, it isn’t because of anything WE are thinking or doing.  The truth is that God is the third strand in our cord, and where our two strands have broken, His is holding on.  That means there is a purpose in all of this.  That means that just as an ugly ragged-edged rock can be put into a tumbler and bounced all over for days on end and come out a beautiful gem, our marriage has the potential to come out of this as a beautiful thing to show others.  It means that all of the junk our children are being forced to wade through is strengthening them and building them up for service to others.  They will have a sense of compassion and empathy from having “been there” that will give them remarkable insight in helping others through the maze.  I have also come to realize that divorce does not separate us from our stuff.  If not dealt with, our stuff follows us into any marriage we enter into.

Maybe you are in a similar place.  Maybe you’re about to get married and you realize you’re not getting married for the right reasons.  Maybe you’re already married, were lucky enough to have been in love when you walked down the aisle, but now find you have drifted apart.  Maybe you’re struggling with a wayward or mentally-ill child, and it is wreaking havoc in your marriage.  (I have a daughter who is ADHD/NLD/and borderline Asperger’s.  Trust me when I say I KNOW the havoc mental health issues inflict on a marriage.)  Maybe you are a single person who feels the only way you can be loved is to sleep with every person who asks you to with the hope that maybe one of them will propose.  Maybe you are the child of an alcoholic who has become a workaholic to compensate for the love you never got, and you’ve reached the point where you realize you’ve accumulated a lot of things but you have no one to pass them on to.

We all have issues.  We all struggle.  But there is hope.  We CAN deal with our stuff before it deals with us.  We CAN break the cycle that we’re in … be it codependency, verbal abuse, anger.  We CAN stop it.  It isn’t easy.  It means making some tough decisions, but remember that it is for your good and the good of those who come after you.  Dare to be the difference in your future child (or grandchild’s life).  Dare to be the one who breaks the chain.  And remember… the best thing you can do is to deal with it BEFORE you get married!

Holding on in Christ…

Lori Lynn

Dear Lord… Thank you for being the third strand in my frayed and broken cord.  Without you, I would have been done a long time ago.  Continue to show me in a myriad of ways that You have a purpose in all that I am going through and give me the strength to continue holding on until beauty shines through.  Give me the courage to change what I know needs to be changed; if not for my sake, for my children’s sake.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.