“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” - Proverbs 13:12
Two years ago, while on a women’s retreat with my church, I sat in this garden on this same bench, writing pages and pages to God, communicating with Him about my relationship, future, and life direction. It was a 3-hour sabbath that ultimately equipped me to go forth with the quiet undercurrent of His peace, and ended up being a pivotal weekend that neither my husband nor I will forget…
To go back for a second - one of my biggest fears within this relationship was that my husband would be too afraid of marriage from his own past that he would never end up wanting that for us. He’d lived through four divorces as a child and was understandably very tentative about the idea for himself. Yet, I knew that God planned me for a life with someone because of how much He’d placed being a wife upon my heart. I worried I had seemed to have chosen a person for two years who didn’t feel the same about being a partner, or so I thought. I had a deep sorrow based on that assumption and an even deeper anxiety at what I would do next, either way. It was a type of emotional crossroads for me that I had no idea how to navigate. After journaling all of my fears, insecurities, faults, and desires, here is part of the final prayer I wrote out on January 28, 2017:
“Meet me, Father. Affirm me in either staying on without a promise or lead me to an assurance that you have more for me elsewhere. I love him but I seek peace for this relationship, surety...I also pray for his heart, God. He is so often more than I feel I deserve. Grant him a peace that only comes from your hand. May he feel this and not question it. Build in him an identity in you, not of his experiences. Allow him to feel he is not alone, even without me, if that is your will. If you’ve already spoken on this, speak louder…”
So as I was sitting 60 miles away on this bench two years ago, praying for God to do a work and lead our relationship where He desired, even if that meant away from each other, my husband was with my parents asking for their permission to marry me. That same weekend.
Now, the engagement didn’t happen until months later but in complete ignorance of what he had done, I spent those months with the knowledge that I had rendered unto God what should have already been His. Giving my relationship over to Him was something I had to repeat and still will, but I knew that to continue any other way would have ruined any chance of the future I wanted...I wanted God to choose my husband, not me.
Returning today, being married for almost half of our first year together, I realize how much God is at work in our lives even under the surface. He is present and working for our good in situations even before we surrender them to Him - in my husband’s brokenness and my own fear. As I was writing out my prayer for Parker and his heart that day two years ago, God was answering me. He heard. Over those months that followed, I still doubted at times but I had His peaceful assurance that I was not to abandon where He had placed me.
Through the beginning of this new season together, I have learned just how deeply we are meant for community - first in Him and with Him. Secondly, community with our spouse, and finally, community with others who can share wisdom and encourage us where we are. Marriage is not easy but it’s also not as hard as living alone without another person to continually make us more like Christ. The best goodness I have experienced from another person who wasn’t family has been from the man I married. He has only known me for five years but consistently sacrifices for me and for our future. He strives to be the best husband that he can and encourages me when I’m struggling with how to be a wife. There’s a beautiful gentleness that is cultivated by marriage that I definitely didn’t fully feel in dating or even engagement. Echoing the words spoken over us at our wedding ceremony - not only do I choose God everyday but I also choose my husband. I believe this to be absolutely essential. Sometimes it is easier than others, but my promise was to always try.
The foundation on which we should ultimately rely is this - the undercurrent of God’s intention for us is good - amidst the darkest or most confusing moments we encounter, even Romans 8:28 reminds us that He is working them for our good. Since we are never separated from Him, His breath is our breath. His heart hurts for what pains ours, and He gives attention to every tear we shed on behalf of something. May it be our expectation that He is working for us, especially when we no longer can. I hope this post can help to give that assurance.