blessed but still with baggage

I never mean to write so much about my new marriage to make others feel bad or give the impression that it’s not without challenges or that it doesn’t require work. But I do want you to know that what I share here is intended to encourage others.

Others who are waiting for love but are disenfranchised by fear, pain or their past.

Others who have been told that they ought to carry shame because they’ve been divorced.

Others who have not given themselves in their marriage and believe that they can’t give more or be loved well; that things won’t change.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:23-25

It is my desire to write and share vulnerably enough in this space that even one woman might have hope and take steps toward reclaiming the view that God has of her, no matter where she’s landed or believes herself to be in relationship with the man in her life. When we’re in healthy relationships, we want others to be too.

I have dented luggage y’all. My past with men is not really pretty and has quite honestly at times made me feel like I would never make it through to this stage of love in this life because of the way I’ve thought of myself in romantic relationships throughout the years.

My first marriage was a bit of a shock to me. That a man who I found to be attractive was even so interested in me, pursued me with reckless abandon and made me the focal point of his world – for the first 5 years we were together. We grew apart and were often not on the same page, for so many reasons. Most of my failure in that first marriage was about my believing that he’d not really seen the beauty and wonderful in me and that in order to keep him happy, I’d have to keep changing to whatever it seemed he wanted me to be.

Which now in hindsight, I think was the undoing of our love connection.

Eight years into our marriage, he died from injuries sustained while serving in Iraq.

My second marriage was built on smoke and mirrors. Since I hadn’t really figured out who I was in my first marriage and learned some things that broke my heart about my war hero husband that could never be changed or addressed, I fought my way into becoming a wife in a marriage where I needed to be needed. Believing that that alone would add value to my soul and lead me down the path toward overcoming and healing.

Wounded people in a marital covenant with one another – even if they are claiming God’s superior reign in their lives – will cause a lot of suffering. And it did.

My grief and his unsettled wounds from things I’m not sure of to this day, made it almost impossible to work together, to grow and to have any kind of healthy connection.

When I finally saw that I was in a dangerous, unhealthy, toxic marriage and got the courage to request that he move out, we spent 22 months attempting to reconcile – professional counseling as a couple, me as an individual, couples in the church did a book study with us, we took time apart from talking and trying dating one another again – which only made it clear that divorce was imminent.

God can do anything y’all.

Anything.

But he will not take away our ability to choose. And for the life of me, shifting into the woman I believed I was expected to be – spiritually, physically, mentally – was no longer an effective plan.

This shape-shifting assimilating gal needed a new plan.

Of course this is all hindsight now. But back then, divorced and depressed, I wasn’t sure that I’d ever recover or ever love again. Certainly, that I’d not ever marry again, though buried deep down, I knew I still had a flickering ember of hope that I would; that I would not only get married but be in a truly godly marriage.

It has been a rocky road to get to where I am now with this man who genuinely loves me and does it well. One of the things that helped me head down the road toward this blessing was learning to be me.

If you’re hopeful and waiting for your love to come along or praying about how to rekindle the love in your current marriage, I encourage you to simply ask yourself if you’re being authentic.

Authentic about the things you love about yourself. Your quirks, your body, your season in life. Whether you’re being real with a few trusted people to ask the hard questions about your potential blind spots and areas of weakness, the ways you’re prone to sin against God. If you’re being real about your contribution to the staleness in your marriage or the pain of a relationship that meant a lot but came to an end.

Set aside some time, grab a journal and a cup of coffee. Get quiet and listen. Be brave, you won’t regret it.

 

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