Part 2- All Grown Up:
I left off talking about how even in the most beautiful of God's gifts- in my case- my marriage- sin can take root and cause pain and strife.
The hubby and I got married when we were pretty young. I was 22 and he was 21. He was finishing up his bachelors degree down in Texas when we got married- so after the wedding off to Texas I went with my bags packed with not only clothes, but big dreams of marital bliss and happily ever afters.
Once we were settled in we immediately started going to church. Nolan had not gone to church since he had been in high school and his parents had made him. However we were married now- so he was more than willing to go to make his sweet, new wife (me- haha) happy.
I'm not going to lie- marriage was a huge adjustment. When you move in with your significant other you find out all sorts of stuff about the other that you never imagined...some good- and some- not so good. However, we made it through those first few years better for the things we'd experienced together.
In the next few years Nolan finished school- started a career, we moved a few times, and we began to start our family. First God blessed us with a sweet, little boy, and then a few years later with a loving, cuddly, little girl. It was around the birth of our little girl that Nolan began to struggle with his faith. Now when I say struggle what I really mean is he came out and told me that he wasn't completely sure that he had ever truly believed in God, and if he did he definitely wasn't sure he believed in the Christian God. He started throwing around words like atheist and agnostic. He told me he would no longer be joining me and the kids to church. He had always been a Sunday morning service goer- never Wednesday or Sunday nights. I knew deep down that if I had ever said lets not go to church anymore that he would have said, "Sounds good to me". But despite knowing this it still felt like he had literally punched me in the stomach, and that my world had just crumbled to the ground.
Up until this point our marriage had been fine- good even. We had the occasional disagreement, the occasional fight, but nothing, I mean Nothing, had prepared me for this. I was literally devastated. We had two little ones. How was I going to explain to them why their daddy never came to church with us? What happened when they got older and they started questioning why they had to go if dad wasn't going? I was the wife- it is not biblical for me to lead our family spiritually- how in the world would I do it? It was through all of these questions that I became very, very angry. Angry at Nolan. Angry at God. The angrier I became the more I lashed out at Nolan. The more I lashed out at Nolan the more depressed and distant he became. He was confused. He was very depressed. He was hopeless. He was Lost. And I was just angry- and I let him know it often.
Around this time a close friend and mentor of mine was sweet enough to let me share my burden with her. She advised me, prayed with and for me, and told me to bring my kids and come to her church. So that's what I did. Every Sunday I would load up the kids and go to my friends church without my husband. I would love to tell you that I did this with a happy spirit, but the truth is- I felt like my spirit was completely broken. I usually walked out the door with a snide remark to Nolan about him not joining us and him making me go alone. This went on for about a year, but it was sometime during that year that God really laid it on my heart that all the nagging, complaining, and snide remarks were doing nothing beneficial in the war for Nolan's soul. He revealed to me that what Nolan needed was prayer and grace.
I'd love to tell you that over night I stopped nagging and that the angry outbursts just disappeared, but the truth is it took time and lots of prayer. Prayer for Nolan to know the truth, and prayer for myself- that I would learn to love him right where he was. And God was faithful. He met me were I was- broken, hurt, and angry, and little by little my anger ebbed, and the atheist philosophical books littered around my home began to be replaced by Christian titles. And then one day out of the blue Nolan was dressed to go to church with us. And almost four years ago, sitting in our room alone, Nolan excepted Christ into his heart to be the Savior of his life.
Since then God has begun a work in our family that is beyond anything I could have ever imagined! Nolan has stepped into the role of spiritual leader of our family leading us in bible studies, prayer, and to church. God has healed our marriage and brought us closer to one another than we have ever been. In January 2013 God blessed our family with another sweet, baby girl. In January 2014 I watched as God allowed Nolan to lead our 9 year old son to Christ. God is moving, and we are willing and ready to answer and to follow wherever he leads. And all of this because he was willing to answer my small- fragile prayers with power and faithfulness that has blown me away!
He is faithful. Through this he has shown me so many things. He has shown me to rely on him. To trust in him. To give it all to him. He allowed me the opportunity to pray over my husband- to be a part of the amazing miracle that took place in my husband's life. And while it was the hardest season of my life so far- He used that time in my life to draw me back to him because if I was being completely honest- before my husband came out and said he was a non-believer I was just going through the motions. Doing the minimal- no more- no less. He used what felt like a hopeless situation to bring about new life in Christ for my husband and myself. I have recommitted my life to Him, and am so thankful that he was gracious enough and patient enough to show me the way back.
So while I became a Christian when I was very young I spent many years wasting time- not forming the relationship with Christ that he calls us to experience. Through my husband's salvation he showed me the many areas in which my own relationship with him was lacking. He showed me that he is my Savior and that he should be #1 in my life, not my husband, not my children, and not my things, that nothing else can replace the giant, God sized hole in my life but him. Daily he transforms me, molds me, and shows me areas in my life where I need his guidance, grace, forgiveness, mercy, and wisdom. Sometimes he has to teach me these lessons through discipline and suffering in order to humble me and to show me his ways are better, but thankfully these lessons always come through love, and with hope of a new and brighter day.
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul,
'therefore I will hope in him.' " -Lamentations 3:22-24
I don't know where you are in your walk with Christ. Some of you reading this might not even know Christ, but as I sit here I pray over this testimony in hope that it will reach you right where you are. That from it you can see how powerful and amazing the Love and Mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ are. Maybe He's calling you to walk closer to him, maybe he's showing you areas of your life that need prayer, or forgiveness, maybe he's laying someone on your heart that needs to hear about his saving grace, or maybe it's you that needs his saving grace.
Wherever you are- know that he is faithful, that he loves you, and that he will meet you right where you are- no matter where that might be.