Less than a year after we were married, my husband shoved my sister against the side of a car and told her he never wanted to see her again.
And so began the worst period of my life.
In retrospect, I realize the tension between Mike and Beth had been growing for some time. They grated on each other. Her ways of responding to life struck him as manipulative and controlling. He was volatile and hot-tempered, and she viewed him as someone who had to be managed.
Their relationship exploded during a family camping trip.
After the explosion, after everyone had hurriedly packed up and left the campsite—I in someone else’s car, Mike in ours—I had a long, three-hour drive to contemplate my future. And when we met at home and I found that Mike was unrepentant, shouting he’d do it all over again if he had the chance, I felt I had no choice but to leave him.
How could I stay married to a man who I couldn’t count on to be kind to my family?
Over the next several days, I consulted friends and family members. All of my family felt I should divorce him. And all of my friends—except one—agreed. The friend who felt I should stay said, “Stick with him. He’s rough around the edges, but he’s worth it.”
Two weeks after the horrible events at the campsite, I still didn’t know what to do. As I drove to work early one morning, I was sobbing as I prayed, “Jesus, please show me what to do. My heart says to stay, but my head says to go.”
In Jesus’ unmistakable, inaudible voice, I heard, “Why does your head say to go?”
“Because he has the emotional quotient of a 12-year-old. Because he’ll never change. Because I’m not getting any younger, and it’s stupid to throw good time after bad.”
“And why does your heart say to stay?”
“Because I love him so much.”
And Jesus’ answer was as clear as if it had been said out loud for the world to hear: “Then I’ll give you what you need.”
And he did.
For two years, I woke up every morning fueled by anger and the memories of how my husband had hurt my sister. I would get out of bed and go for an hour-long walk in every kind of weather. For the first half of the walk, my mind would rail against my husband as I replayed those campsite images again and again. By the time I reached the halfway point of my walk, I had exhausted my rage and was ready for Jesus to minister to me. By the time I reached home, I could honestly pray, “Jesus, please give me what I need to get through this day and to honor you.”
And he did.
The truth is, I didn’t know from hour to hour what I would need. It might be patience. It might be forgiveness. It might be grace. It might be the ability to keep my mouth shut. But whatever it was, Jesus gave it to me, again and again and again.
For two years I spent Christmas morning with my husband and his family and Christmas afternoon with my family. Easters were spent the same way. Every holiday was a piercing reminder of how broken my family was.
And then my husband’s mother died. And my sister came to the funeral.
I’ll never forget the sight of my valiant, vulnerable sister, walking down a long hallway at the church, headed straight for my husband with no idea of how he would receive her.
She walked right up to him, put her arms around him, and whispered, “I’m so sorry.”
And that was the beginning of the rest of my life.
Excerpted from We: Outrageously Committed to My Marriage | 52 Devotions
Source: My Life Tree