I did not get to experience the mutual love and support that some of you have shared is your experience. I am truly glad for you, because that is what I believe is God’s intention for marriage.
My own experience was one of intolerance and abuse in my home until the death of my husband. The Bible tells us that God heals the brokenhearted, and of course I prayed for healing. But healing doesn’t always come with someone’s emphatic prayer or a little dab of oil on your forehead. For me, the single most significant turning point was one morning when our pastor spoke on the marriage relationship, describing how it is for companionship and care and protection of one another. A great sorrow swept over me and I thought, “Oh, just look at what I’ve missed, what I’m now never going to have!” And God spoke in my heart, as clearly as if He had said it out loud, “You have been so hurt and disappointed that you have forgotten how strong and sufficient I was for you in the 37 years you were single.” That changed my outlook completely, because from that day until now I have tried to turn my attention to new ways of remembering how faithful God was to me for so many years . I choose to turn the pain into something positive. This is a very real thing to me, not just another slick way of learning to cope. I choose to think this way. It is an intentional decision.
When I recall, “We were sitting in this very restaurant when Dennis [not his real name] got angry and stomped out.” Then I say, “But oh, Lord, I am grateful that You are so patient. You have never threatened to leave me.”
“Here were all these lies, a whole web of deceit in Dennis’s life. But God, You are the Faithful One! You are always reliable, perfect in your trustworthiness.”
“So much scorn was heaped on me. But You, Lord, have always treated me with respect. You have led me through difficult circumstances sometimes, but You have never tried to humiliate me.”
And so on through every painful memory. “Lord, You are the perfect Giver. Thank You for giving to me everything pertaining to life and godliness, not for what You might get in return, but out of Your love for me!”
“God, You are not one who wields the control that bars my humanity. You are in control because You are God, but You don’t rule Your obedient child with a harsh rod. Thank You!
“I thank You for Your love that is pure, untainted by unrighteous motives. You have nothing to prove about Yourself. And you have no need to make me prove something!”
“God, You are not fickle and changing. With You there is no shadow of turning. Thank You that I never have to question your continued love and loyalty.”
“Lord, Your words are sweet when You speak to me! Even when You correct me, I feel Your love lifting me to a better place.”
“God, I love Your sense of humor! It is so gentle. You don’t laugh when people are put down and you never make light of life’s issues. Thank You!
“Lord, You did not choose comfort, but the way of the Cross. I am so grateful that You did not choose ease but sacrifice.”’
“God, You know who You are, the great I AM. You know who I am. And You are letting me learn who we are! Thank You, thank You!”
This has changed not only my response to sad memories, but it has also given me a better understanding of God the Father and a closer relationship with Him. The Scripture even talks about Him being the husband of the forsaken, and that is a beautiful thought to hold onto if one has been hurt and disappointed. While I thought God’s intention was for my marriage to be for my joy and blessing, I think it’s entirely possible that the deeper understanding and relationship with God that I now enjoy is what He most desired. I thought that Dennis and I would have this beautiful marriage and grow old together. This was supposed to be the best part of our lives. I think that is what could have and should have happened, so my experience has been one of terrible disappointment. There is sorrow for myself, of course, but for God too, that He didn’t get to see His plan worked out as He intended. God is God, but I think He still does not always get what He most wishes because He lets us make choices. Sadly, we sometimes do not co-operate with Him in what is one of life’s greatest shared adventures!