Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God…”
(1 Peter 5:6)
In May, we will be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary.
We didn’t arrive here without bumps and scrapes along the way. I married Josh at 19, he was 20. I look at wedding pictures and can’t believe how young we were.
Poor man had no idea what he was getting himself into. I carried wounds etched deep and had mastered the art of manipulating and controlling situations so I was never vulnerable.
I came into our marriage with very distinct ideas. I was always very independent and things tended to come easily to me. I excelled in school with minimal effort. I landed jobs easily. I assumed when we married, we would both work, save money and then travel or go into missions somewhere.
We were on the 5+ year plan which meant we didn’t want kids for at least that long. We were so young. We had so much life to devour. Although Josh and I are polar opposites, we found common ground in our love for other cultures, travel, and our desire to live simply.
We were in love. But love is easy when you live in Hawaii, you’re 19 and have money to spend, very little responsibility, good health, and fabulous hair. Just sayin.
However, shortly after we got married and moved to Oregon, I was crushed with debilitating pain and fatigue. I couldn’t work. Some days, I could barely get out of bed. I dragged myself through my days. I was nauseous a lot. I spent much of my time in the bathroom or doubled over in pain. I was constantly anemic and light-headed. The world felt like it was tumbling past me. I gained weight, a little at first but because of the lethargy it piled on until I felt frumpy and undesirable.
Then the depression began. Like nothing I had ever experienced.
It was an excruciating time for me. It never occurred to me that it must have been an equally pressing time for Josh. Here was his new bride, sick, exhausted and no fun to be around because of her growing insecurity about her weight. Without me working, we barely had money to cover our basic bills. Neither of us had gone to college and my husband was working as hard as he could but it just wasn’t enough.
So much for traveling.
We had plunged into trials as soon as we said “I do.”
In sickness and in health had only been sickness. For richer or poorer, we had only known trials, trying to make the money cover the bills each month. Love was harder in these circumstances.
It was humbling to have to depend on someone else to provide for me. To have no resources or identity of my own. When we did go out and meet people they would always ask “what do you do?” Inwardly, I’d flinch. “Ummm, I’m sick a lot. I don’t know why. I don’t work, I don’t have children. I don’t have any identity or skills that I am excelling at or that validate who I am as a human. Now I will just stand here and feel awkward until you walk away.”
Who was I? This is not what I planned on and because we no longer had the option to travel or go into missions because of my health, it seemed like we also had no vision. No common ground. Our differences became glaring, apparent, and cause for constant tension. We fought.
It was a year before a doctor diagnosed severe endometriosis and we were told if we planned on having children we should start trying right away because fertility can decrease and make it difficult or impossible in a few years. It took over a year to conceive and there was a lot of heartache along the way.
Sometimes, when there is decay or infection deep within, it has to be excised. It’s not enough to clean the outside because the infection has spread so deep it has sealed itself off. The wound has to be cut open, cleaned out and then left open for a period of time to heal. If it is not treated the person can become septic and die. My emotional wounds were deep.
Our first few years of marriage began stripping me. My self-reliance. My identity, which was based on what I could do or excel at. My looks, and fabulous hair , which have never been the same since we moved to Oregon. My independence and freedom, I was trapped in this sick and hurting body. The wound was open. God was cleaning me out.
I wish I could say I learned then. I wish I could say I have learned now. But this stripping, this wrestling my grip open and allowing me to be free to God is a theme. It’s the anthem of my years. If you’ve followed my blog at all you will see that I am in the trenches.
That this wrestling with God is a finely perfected dance that I have yet to learn. I sidestep and sway and often find myself trying to lead. I step on toes. I am not in sync with the music. I forget the steps. My frame crumbles and I spin wildly but always within his reach. Always within His strong arms.
Some of those wounds are now healed completely and I can look back and see the faintest of scars. But most are still in process, left open, allowing God to heal them.
It is from that place that I write. That I wrestle and dance. That I hope to commune with God as we glide across this life’s ballroom. That I hope to invite you to spin madly with me.
Josh has and it’s been a journey full of pain, soul cries, belly laughs, cuddles, warm fuzzies, and the excising of tender and broken places. In many ways, he’s been God’s physical arms holding me up in the midst of it all. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Although, I wouldn’t mind my Hawaii hair back.