Whether the question is about marriage, child rearing, difficulties at work, or a health challenge, our charge is the same: LOVE ANYWAY.
My father always said that “whatever didn’t kill us, would make us stronger.” Honestly, there have been times when I thought I’d die before my Maker would prop me up, blow extra air in my lungs, place a steel rod in my spine, and walk me through the affliction.
This week marks our 31st wedding anniversary, and when I look back over the years, we had some really high hurdles, and steep mountains to climb.
What’s the secret to our success?
Be spiritually united. My husband didn’t start attending church with me regularly until the children became involved in AWANA. That was 1998 and eleven years after we had said, “I do.” It was at that time that we became committed to a common spiritual foundation and rule book to refer to while raising our children, but more importantly, how to preserve our marriage when the going got tough.
Over the 31 years, there have been dark times that we could have walked away from one another, and quite frankly, we didn’t like each other very much. We’ve had lean times when we prayed for bread, lost jobs, and sat by the bedside of family members that we loved very much. We had rebellious teenagers, and have desperately missed children and grandchildren who have moved far from home.
Through it all we stayed together. We did the right thing even when it wasn’t the easiest thing. We worked with professionals and created a support system. We never stopped trying. Some days we made progress. Some days we took three steps back.
God used the dark times to strengthen us for what was to come. We needed to have those support systems in place for when the heat was turned up even more. We are now beginning the seventh year since the worst year of our marriage, and the year before the dreaded diagnosis.
A promise is a promise. We made vows that were taken seriously no matter what and because we remained faithful, we have been blessed. Today’s devotion contained a reminder to LOVE ANYWAY. “As God’s chosen people… (we are called to) clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…and over all the virtues put on love…” Colossians 3:12 & 14.
This year I have learned that it is more important to keep a strong testimony than to be right, and my goal has been to accept what happens because “God works all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
In a strange way, the past five years have been a blessing for our family. Although we face losing the Patriarch of our family, we have savored life beyond what we would have done without the diagnosis. My goal is to live each day, one at a time, with my palms up. I have given up the urge for order, organization, and a schedule. Instead, I have given EVERYTHING to my Maker: my husband, children, home, and job because I know that when things aren’t right with the Lord, nothing is right.
So to my children, grandchildren, family, and friends, the secret behind 31 years of marriage is to LOVE ANYWAY. Be a joy seeker. Count your blessings. And when things go sour, as they sometimes will, thank God because he works all things for good to the faithful.
“There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears. There will be a day when the burdens of this place will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face. Until that day, we’ll hold on” (Jeremy Camp) forgiving each other the way God forgives us. Every.Single.Time.