I want to share with you a little story. A lesson I learned, in a sense, in hopes that it will save you the destruction it has caused in my life. I also want to state that I would not have learned this lesson if I had not sought God in prayer first, because my initial reaction would have been to seek answers from others first.
I was once blessed to have a man come along in my life who loved me, who I believe truly loved me. He tried so hard to show me and to tell me this, but I felt so insecure in myself and who I was that I didn’t allow myself to believe him with my whole heart. I still had guards up. I had been hurt too many times in the past by men and I myself had hurt others. This caused me to believe that no one, NO ONE, could love me or be completely faithful to me. If no one else had been and if I myself hadn’t been faithful in my past relationships, what made him so different?
Well, weeks turned into months and months into years and yet he still stood by my side and remained completely faithful to me.
We went through our struggles as all marriages do. When you become intimately intertwined with another person, it multiplies the struggles. I struggled with alcoholism, which didn’t help matters at all. I turned to drinking to find my self-esteem and guess what? It’s not sold by the bottle or box. We struggled with communication as he spent the majority of our life together far away on deployments or TDY or just training trips. I craved a close connection with this man and yet it felt impossible because I wanted someone present in every sense of the word, but because of his job he couldn’t provide that. He struggled with work and finding time and energy. Just to name a few.
However….me wanting this connection….this idea that I had of connection…that’s what cost me my relationship. When we were together and when we did talk, I wasn’t fully listening to him. I didn’t understand what it meant to be his help mate. I didn’t know what it meant to be a wife, to be completely joined to this man who I agreed to spend my forever with. I didn’t listen.
It wasn’t until today, when looking through a box of old letters he had written me that I found one that stopped me dead in my tracks.
It was a letter he wrote to me on our 5th anniversary. He had drenched the paper in coffee and rubbed it in the dirt….you know, trying to make the paper look all weathered and worn. You remember doing that in school for History assignments? Anyway, I pulled out this letter that I hadn’t read probably since the day he gave it to me. The funny thing is, I was in search of the wedding vows he had written to me and I found this letter instead.
In the letter he spoke of how he was so incredibly thankful to have me by his side and how I have been such a wonderful mother to our (then) 2 children and soon to have a 3rd on the way. How we have gone through so much with 2 deployments and the move to a new country. How I had opened his eyes to new experiences and how grateful he was for what I brought to our marriage and family. You get the idea…he was a wonderful, loving and just the sweetest of men!
He also wrote something that I hadn’t really payed attention to before…not like I should have. He wrote how he was under so much stress. Yes, he said he was thankful to have me because he “knew” I supported him and that I would always be there to go through whatever came our way. I say “knew” though, because now….years later…I KNOW it was more of a hope than a firm belief. There were other moments in the years after that I recognized his stress and I didn’t know how to support him or help him through it. I didn’t do a great job at really helping him KNOW I was there and I certainly didn’t point him to the ONE who WAS there through it all.
He was there for me through my struggles in going through sobriety and taking care of our growing family and my own stress and trials. But I wasn’t fully there for him. Don’t get me wrong, I supported him! I tried to help in any way I could, but I didn’t fully SEE him. I didn’t encourage him in the ways that he needed encouragement. My encouragement was seen as me trying to fix him or to control situations.
In a sense, I was trying to playing God. There are times in your life that things will arise, when people will seek to rely on your strength and encouragement. They will want and need you to LISTEN and UNDERSTAND. And if they are struggling with something that you yourself can not help them with, you need to hand it to God. Do it together. Pray together. Grow together as God leads you and shapes you and shows you His purpose! In the mean time, be everything else that God expects you to be! He’s written it down for you in one very convenient place if you need guidance.
I have prayed over and over that if God would “help” my circumstances that I would use it to glorify Him in ways that even I couldn’t imagine but man was I excited and pumped about starting that journey!!! Well, I know now that I can glorify God even in my struggles and even when things are not what I would like to be. I can glorify Him even when I am heartbroken and struggling to put on a smile some days. I can glorify my God because He has seen me through the struggles. He saw us through the struggles. He cared for my husband when I couldn’t and He cared for me when my husband couldn’t and even though I didn’t seek His help.
God is always with us. He is always working in our lives, whether we recognize His hand in it or not. However, I recognize now that there are those who will sacrifice so much for us that they don’t take the time to help themselves or to even ask God for the things that they need. This man was living under a cloud and where there are clouds there is a shadow. Eventually that shadow will spread and then there will be darkness. Where there is darkness, there is no light, no God.
That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them. Isaiah 49:9-10
I tell you all of this not because I want your pity or because I want judgement cast on myself or others. I tell you this so that hopefully it will open your eyes as mine have been. To spare you the anguish and regret I have. PLEASE listen to those around you, especially your loved ones! If they are struggling and you don’t know how to help them, then be a spiritual guide. Pray for them, pray with them, pray that God will guide you in understanding and knowledge!! I know what my prayers are filled with now and I won’t cease until I’m dead. Prayers that God’s light and love will surround those I love and that they will be reminded of his great love for us when others fall short. That I will never forget the lesson I learned today, though I know it won’t be one easily forgotten.
The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
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