December 24th, 2005 was the day my husband was delivered from alcohol and God began to heal my heart and our marriage. What I didn’t understand or see at the time was I had built up walls in my own life from past hurts and I had carried these hurts into our marriage. As God started to build my husband into the man he had created him to be I felt my world crumbling. I had gotten used to the chaos and the crazy and it was all I knew in my past and I didn’t want things to change. I had been praying for the Lord to heal my husband but I didn’t realize what that entailed, I would have to change as well.
All of a sudden my husband wanted to be the leader in our home and I felt threatened. My whole life I had been the strong woman. I had the I can do it myself attitude, I didn’t need anyone! I learned this from a young age to take care of myself at all cost. I knew how to remain self-sufficient to count on nobody. I was the controlling woman, I controlled the finances , the children, the house, everything possible I wanted my say and I wanted to be right. If I didn’t get my way I would fight until I did, because I was right. My way was the only right way to do anything: loving, disciplining the children, cleaning, folding laundry, homeschooling, talking, listening, paying bills, balancing the checkbook, cooking, grocery shopping, etc.
About seven months after my husband was delivered from alcohol, we found out we were 17 weeks pregnant with our first child together. I started having severe pain and we thought I had miscarried. We rushed to the hospital only to find out I actually had kidney stones. We were so thankful. I went to surgery and a stent was placed in my ureter to keep my kidneys draining until the baby could be born, this would be a long pregnancy.
Relying and trusting other people is not something I was used to. I was literally forced to my knees because I was in so much pain I couldn’t do anything for myself any longer. I had to relinquish all control and learn to accept help from my husband and our children. I was so ungrateful during those first few months, I constantly complained that things were not how I would’ve done it. I was horribly selfish. All I could think about was how I wanted to be healed so I could fix the mess and take care of myself. It was ridiculous how self-absorbed I was.
Slowly God began to open my eyes to the truth. I began to see my husband was not my enemy. My eyes were opened to the fact that I was not always right and my ways were not always the best. I realized I needed help and I could rely on my husband and our children. I began to believe my husband and our children loved me even when I was needy and I had nothing to offer them but my love. I had believed the lies that I had to do things for them or buy things for them to be loved. My husband was amazing how he was so unselfish during those times. I remember him bathing me because I couldn’t do it myself, he would put my robe in the dryer to make sure I was warm. He would rub and massage my back daily sometimes several times a day for months to ease the pain. He did all the cleaning, all the laundry. He bathed the children and helped them with their homework. He paid the bills and balanced the checkbook. He loved the children and disciplined them too. He cooked every meal for our entire family for years. Yes I said years, because you see I am stubborn and literally we went through this for years. I believe this was my thorn in my side to help me and teach me. With every child I ended up having kidney stones and then even after the deliveries I would continue to get them. I have had more than 17 surgeries I think, I have lost count.
During this time we all learned so much about God’s faithfulness and His love. We learned we could count on each other. We learned grace and forgiveness and patience it was so hard for everyone especially our children. Our kids are amazing they never complained about mom always being in pain, or another surgery it was what they knew. My husband never complained either he just did it, but he did it with joy and with love. He never made me feel guilty or bad he made me feel like the most loved woman ever and I am so grateful for him. But as I said before, I am stubborn and it takes me a long time to get things and I am here again having to relearn things I thought I already knew….
This past sunday was like any other sunday really. We got up we were all getting ready for church. I was rambling to my husband about something the Lord had reminded me about minutes earlier that had happened years ago and I had forgotten about. I was blown away that I had forgotten it. My husband sat there intently listening, smiling. We read the bible together had great conversation, it was a great morning. He is usually very patient, but today something was different he was extra patient and loving and I wasn’t catching on or paying attention.
We made it to our new church, this was our third time visiting and about five minutes into the service our youngest was ready to be done, so my husband took him out into the foyer. I was fit to be tied, because all I wanted was to be able to sit in a service with my husband. It drives me nuts to be at church and one of us is out in the foyer, we never get to enjoy the sermon together. (I know this is only for a season and we had to go through this with all of our children.) Our 4-year-old was antsy and she didn’t want to be in the service, she was asking me every five minutes when was it going to be over and if we could leave, I was beyond agitated. I couldn’t concentrate on the message I was irritated about everything including the message, this was the condition of my heart. The service ends, and we get to the truck and I am ranting about everything and my husband says, “I love you, you’re beautiful. I am married to the most amazing wife ever. I have the best kids ever. I am the most blessed man ever.” He kissed me and grabbed my hand to hold, he opened my card door for me, all of which he does everyday, yes everyday!
I am still undeterred, and ungrateful. It’s as if nothing he said or did had any impact on my hard heart and I continued my rant. He asks me if he can take me to lunch somewhere, to which I reply, “NO! I want to go home.”
He continues to drive and we end up at Safeway. I am frustrated because I don’t want to go to Safeway I told him I wanted to go home, but we all go in anyhow. We end up in the bakery department staring at the cakes and my husband looks at me and smiles and says, “Why don’t you pick out a cake?” I think I said, “No, I don’t want one” or something rude or “Whose birthday is it?” He looked at me with this look I hope I never forget, and he said, “Its my birthday and I would like to get a cake for us.” I wanted to crawl inside myself and die at that moment. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t want to believe it, I even looked at my phone to check the date. How did this happen? My mind was racing, I could barely make it through the store. Every step was so heavy and my feet felt like cement my heart was pounding my eyes were floodgates holding back an ocean of tears.
We made it to the truck and I was a wreck. Our son said, “Mom are you ok?” I said, “No, son I am not ok I forgot your dad’s birthday.” The ride home seemed to take forever and I couldn’t escape my own prison of self condemning thoughts. I was the worst wife ever. I was the worst mom on the planet. I was not worthy of being his wife or their mother. I was unforgivable, some of the thoughts I had in my mind I can’t even type. We arrived home after what seemed like an eternity and I couldn’t function I was barely able to not completely breakdown. My husband made the kids lunch and then took me into another room.
He sat me in a chair and knelt down at my feet and he told me how much he loved me and rubbed my legs. He said, “Honey this was the best birthday ever, this was the best gift you could have ever given me, and I am going to lead you and not allow you to go down that path of self-destruction, I love you.” I asked him for forgiveness and said I was sorry to which he said, “Of course I forgive you.” He explained how months earlier the Lord had prepared his heart for this day and he knew it was coming. He shared how this day, he had my full attention and I wasn’t busy doing things I normally would have done if I had remembered it was his birthday.
You see. all along what he had wanted all these years on his birthday, was my heart and my attention. All the prior birthdays I had been busy giving him gifts, hanging streamers, planning a party, buying another pair of shorts or shirt but never fully giving him me. After his birthdays, again I would be left feeling disappointed and burned out, unappreciated and empty and then I would repeat the same thing again the next year.
As I sat in that chair tears flowing down my face and my heart full of condemnation and guilt my husband was loving me truly loving me and offering me grace and forgiveness when I didn’t deserve it. I had a choice to accept his love freely or hang on to the guilt and condemnation, like I had always done before. My husband couldn’t show this kind of love and mercy in his own strength it is not possible. It was Jesus Christ in him shining through him, my husband took his hurts to the Lord and he allowed the Lord to be his all, his everything. When I forgot his birthday and let him down and hurt him Jesus was still his everything, it didn’t devastate him because Jesus was and is his rock, not me!
He said, “Babe God is going to use this for his glory and your going to share about it.” I was angry and said, “No I am done writing, I thought I was doing what God said and what God has called me to do, but I was so busy encouraging others I forgot my husband, my best friend.” “How can I continue to write?” “God has the wrong person!” For two days I struggled with guilt and my thoughts and how I wanted to somehow make it up to him. I couldn’t get out of the self condemning thought process.
Then out of the blue I received a text message from a friend saying, “I’m so proud of you for continuing to write on your blogs. You’ve been for ages faithful. Keep on keepin on sister you are making a difference in the lives of the women who are reading the posts.” I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I called her and shared what had happened, I shared how I felt not qualified to share anymore about how much I loved my husband because look what I had done. Then she shared that day she had also forgotten someone’s birthday special to her, and was struggling as well. She encouraged me that I don’t have to be perfect because only Jesus Christ is perfect and He is perfect in my weakness.
She shared Romans 8:1
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
The miracle is Jesus Christ and that while we were still sinners He came gave His life as a ransom for our sins so that we could be set free from sin and death. Our punishment we fully deserve for the things we have done and will do, but instead he offers love and forgiveness freely. I would say, accepting love, grace and forgiveness is the hardest thing I have ever done, because I am not worthy. It’s hard to believe that someone would die for me while I am a mess, but that is exactly what Jesus has done for me and for you. May my mistakes and messy past show you that if I can be forgiven, so can you. There is hope and healing power in the love of Jesus. I know this healing power!! I have experienced His love so many times in my life and one huge example was this past weekend through my husband, thank you babe. I know God gets all the glory. Thank you for putting Jesus first and letting His love and light shine so bright in and through you every day. I am truly the most loved and blessed woman alive. God has made you into an incredible example of Jesus Christ and I stand in awe at the work He has done in you and through you. Babe you make me brave, thank you for your love and your encouragement to carry on and to persevere. I pray I can be the wife God has called me to be for you. My prayer is God would continue to heal your heart from any hurts I have caused you, I love you with all my heart, babe please forgive me. Love your Adoring Wife
When God does something amazing with the worst part of you, there is no pride there is only awe….
(Quote shared by a friend who saw it on Facebook, not sure who said it originally but wow is it powerful and so true!)