Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
I’d been watching him self-destruct, my stomach in a tangle of knots, that sinking feeling of almost hopelessness and drowning. Another day went by with no changes after I’d thought it might be different. His worship of the glass god was almost unbearable.
The questions came at night. The ones when you cry into your pillow shedding a trail of hot tears, clutching the blanket in your fist while you silently scream out to God in the lateness of the hour.
Does he know what it feels like wondering what I’m doing wrong, to hear words pour forth like poison, knowing it isn’t him talking, but the demons in his tortured soul?
Does he even know what it feels like worrying about friends and other people, wondering what they think of him? Did it occur to him how he spoke to me that day in front of them? Has he offended them? Are they talking behind our backs?
Does he know what it feels like at events, watching and waiting, not enjoying one moment as I count the drinks he’s having? To worry if this may be the time he goes too far and I have to explain why I’m driving home yet again and answer the questions, ones he won’t even remember the next day.
Does he know what it feels like holding these thoughts inside day after day with nobody to tell; shame, fear and silence as my constant companions?
Does he know what it feels like to believe this might be the day he stops? The day the promises are really kept.
Does he know how close I’ve been to leaving, giving up and letting go?
Tears streamed down my face as I clutched a shredded Kleenex in one hand. My sobs echoed loudly in the stillness of the room while I poured out my heart to the pastor who sat before me. I’d come to him seeking guidance about my husband and some of his recent, hurtful behavior. He’d disappointed me and let me down, making promises he wasn’t able to keep.
My wounds from a previous marriage were fresh and raw. I’d been through so much pain; I vowed no other man would ever hurt me again.
The pastor sat quietly, listening, scribbling notes every so often on a pad before him. “As I see it,” he said, leaning forward in his chair, “bold prayer from your heart is the answer. And treat him as you want to be treated, with kindness and respect.”
Are you kidding? I thought. How could I do this when I’ve been the one so grievously wounded? He doesn’t deserve it.
I slipped behind the wheel of my car that day a little disillusioned. The glorious sunshine streamed through the windows, the warmth enveloping me, and it began to open my heart to the feeling of God’s love surrounding me.
Perhaps my hardened heart wasn’t allowing me to see how much unforgiveness I held onto from my past. Though my husband had been wrong in how he behaved, I realized the only person I could truly change was myself.
A little later in the day, a cup of tea sat before me on the kitchen table, untouched as I began speaking to God as one would talk with a loving parent or dear friend.
Help me to know you better. Even though I’m not feeling it right now, I want to completely surrender to your will. My husband has his own burdens. Please help me to see him in a different light. Make me an element of change in this marriage.
Something inside me broke. When he returned from work that evening, I spoke more kindly toward him. I made an effort to ask about his day, and really listen from my heart. Little by little, it became easier to affirm his good traits. It became easier to hold my tongue when I wanted to lash out in anger. My husband melted as I considered his needs first. He softened toward me when I began to love him with my whole heart.
We began praying together out loud every morning before we went to work, our hands clasped together speaking to our Father for guidance. Then at other times, alone, I would cry out from my very soul, rebuking the darkness and calling upon the light.
I would like to say that the changes were instantaneous. They weren’t. But a newfound peace and patience would overtake me, replacing my old way of thinking, my need for instant gratification and instantly answered prayers. I learned to love myself, and not look to the marriage to satisfy my needs. It would be my relationship with God and complete surrender that would bring the much-needed comfort to my own ailing soul.
It’s been several years since I spoke to the pastor and surrendered myself to becoming a godly wife. Daily prayer has become a strong bond in this marriage. And the miracle I’d believed for has finally come to pass. No longer is alcohol an anchor or crutch in this home. No longer does it take hold of a good man, giving him a false sense of security, taking him down into pits of despair and guilt. Not overnight, but in God’s timing, teaching us both lessons along the way we’d never have learned on our own. For this has been the greatest change of all: The power of spoken words which has rooted out love and commitment to one another more deeply than I ever thought possible.
Father, I pray our commitment to you and each other will grow stronger with every passing day. May I continue to be a source of inspiration and encouragement to my husband and may our home be a safe haven he can return to each night.
When Karen came to me a few weeks ago with her story, I knew she was a person full of love, positive vibes, and kindness–after just one e-mail! I couldn’t wait to share her story, but she confided a deep sense of responsibility and worry to tell the story in a way that honored her husband’s journey, too. Anyone who writes knows that our stories don’t belong just to us–they belong to the people who walk beside us, too. I think she did a fabulous job.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for sharing your words with us today.
And, oh my goodness! Do you ever sleep, Karen? Check out her author pages and websites – this is one prolific and talented author. Be sure to visit her here in the comments and at her blog and author pages. You won’t be disappointed…Scout’s honor (*waves to Karen). xo