“And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11
This is the scripture laid out before my heart this morning. Ever wonder, as you prepare your heart to read the word, what the Lord would speak to you? That was my question this morning as I rose, knowing today held some special significance as it is Alan’s and my 8th anniversary. I read and reread this scripture this morning sitting in the words on the page.
It’s hard to say we are “celebrating” our anniversary today. As I’ve been transparent about much of my struggles and feel led to continue to do so, it feels as if we are barely limping through this anniversary. I wrote to someone recently, “the road to restoration is long, but we are committed to the journey, most importantly, together.”
If you’ve ever walked (figuratively) through a sun-scorched land, bones weak, frame small, the sun beating on your face, it doesn’t feel like a celebration. You’re desperate for water, for shade, for a break. there’s no “pep in your step.” Your feet drag on, you know you must continue. You have to limp on. Meanwhile, why does it look like everyone around you is celebrating? Here’s a secret I’ve learned, their not. Everyone has their battle, their own journey. In John 16:33, Jesus tells us that “I have told you these things so that in me, you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” Guess what? Trouble is promised to us all. But we can find peace and the living water we need to not only survive, but to grow into a well watered garden in this life is also promised to us.
When we strive for things of this world, we will always be left thirsty for more. Our bones will always ache. The world promises us trouble. But Jesus promises us peace.
On our anniversary, the promise of peace and living water is all I need to celebrate, even from a sun-scorched land as we drink up from his well and new life springs forth.
On this day, I was thinking what I might tell myself 8 years ago. If I could meet that girl standing in the wings, ready to walk down the aisle to meet her man, I might offer these few words of wisdom to her:
- Don’t lose yourself in the daily grind. Enjoy and soak up being married- laugh with Alan often. Make love often too!
- You grew up believing you “had to be heard,” and you “had something to prove.” Don’t worry about this with Alan- he has already chosen you.
- Let him make big decisions. This one will be hard for you. You’ve had the freedom to make decisions for your life since you were a teenager. But you’ve worn this “freedom” like a heavy yoke around your neck. Let go & trust your mate. He will trust you too.
- When Alan makes a decision you don’t agree with, take it first to God, not others. Let the Lord help you work through anxiety and your struggles to be right, heard, or in charge.
- It’s okay to be YOU. You will not be lost in this marriage, BUT you won’t be the same. You will be changed, and this is okay, in fact, it’s Biblical. You and Alan will begin to become one and this is right. If you aren’t, ask God to help you.
- You do not ever have to settle on believing that life is ‘as good as it gets.’ Pray for your spouse and eventually your children every day without fault. It will be hard, but it will help keep your heart in line with the Lord’s heart. You will see great transformation in you both.
- Be guarded in community. Not everyone wants the best for you. This is simply a reality. Some will even believe they are entitled to details about your personal life, but they are not. You do not have to answer everyone’s questions with full disclosure. Remember this through hard times. You will need community, and you will need to surround yourselves with those who want the very best for you and see you the way the Lord sees you.
- Make time every. single. day for yourself. Babies will come, the troubles of this world will come, ministry will always be there, but you and your family are as much a part of the Kingdom as those you seek to serve. Make this a priority. Read scripture daily- as much as this will be hard, do it. Work out often- sweat everyday doing something physical (sex doesn’t count). Date your husband. If you aren’t regularly practicing these things, check your priorities and ask the Lord and Alan to help you make changes.
- A bonus! It’s okay to say “no.” You are someone who has believed that you had to prove yourself and earn your worth your whole life. Lay it down. You will need counseling to do this, but it’s important that you learn how. Learn how to follow the dreams the Lord has grown in your heart and not the expectations of others for your life. He will unite you and Alan in this. He will give you shared dreams and do not be afraid of your future. The Lord will always be with you through the celebrations and the bone breaking heart ache. Lean into Alan. Oh and don’t sweat motherhood or twins- YES I said twins!! You will be a great mom- you will want to tear yourself down and question your “calling” all the time- don’t. Your children will adore you. OH, and just wait until they turn 6- you will love that age.
Alan, I love you. Here’s to 8 years, drinking from the living well together, and moving closer and closer (even if it’s at a crawling pace) to becoming one.