630,720,000 seconds. 10,512,000 minutes. 175,200 hours. 7,300 days. Twenty years…dual decades…dvacet rok (Czech)…twintig jaar (Dutch)…venti anno (Italian)…viginti annos (Latin). No matter how you say it, a lot can happen in 20 years…. a baby can be born and grow into a beautiful young woman, a son and another daughter can join the family, three parents, a step-parent, and 3 grandparents can be lost…and a wife can finally figure out what it means to truly love her husband after she finally allowed God to truly love her and be loved in return!
I met my husband in September of 1996 and I fell fast and hard!! He was the man of my dreams…he was tall, dark and handsome, polite and well-mannered, successful, and well-liked by my family and pretty much everyone he came in contact with! He was the whole package…the problem was he came into my life at a time when I was searching for an escape from family drama. I was 18 and my entire life had been flipped upside down…my parents marriage of over twenty years was crumbling around me…the word that Christians dare not speak, you know, the D word (!!), was now a reality to me. DIVORCE.
According to the American Psychological Association, 40-50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. For a girl raised in a Christian home by two loving parents who were always in church, this statistic was, in my mind, a them not us deal. I was raised with the “it will never happen in our house” mindset. You know they say you can count on two things in life…death and taxes! I always thought a third thing could safely be added: death, taxes, and mom and dad’s marriage! All of the sudden that third one was erased. To say that my parents divorcing ripped me from my bearings would be a gross understatement. So, this was where I found myself when I met my husband… disillusioned with marriage, angry at my parents, and questioning everything I ever knew, including God and His role in my life.
It was a whirlwind romance…he was a Navy guy stationed near my hometown in MD and we knew our time together was limited…so four months later, when it was time for him to return to his home port in CA, we were already engaged to be married! He knew that I was having a very hard time with my parents, and marriage in general, and he reassured me over and over again that my parents wouldn’t be us. So I packed up and moved to California to plan our wedding and our life together. California…3000 miles from the life I had known…3000 miles from the family drama…3000 miles from who I had always been and who I thought I would be. Looking back I can honestly say I may have been running away from my troubles a bit…rushing things with marriage because I didn’t want to be “stuck” in Maryland with everything going on. He was my “escape route” and honestly I never even consulted God…but I loved my man so I pressed forward…wedding, marriage, family!
If you’ve read any of my other posts, you already know where this is headed. I lived my entire marriage, until January of this year, running from God. I was saved as a child but I wasn’t walking in relationship with my Savior. That’s not a good scenario for a marriage. I wasn’t the wife he needed or the mother I should’ve been to our three children…it was all about me…making selfish and destructive choices. It was literally a miracle that we made it to twenty years!
“If divorce is present within either spouse’s family of origin, their own chances of marriage instability, or even separation, will often double. This occurs because the individual was raised absorbing a message that commitment and unification are not sustainable over the long-term which gives them a defeatist attitude when problems arise.” -Maile Timon, wevorce.com
I didn’t want this for our kids and deep down I didn’t want it for us as a couple. I didn’t just want to be another statistic. According to wevorce.com, 1 divorce occurs every 13 seconds in the United States and an estimated 80% occur in the first five years of marriage. Well, we made it past that five-year mark, by quite a bit, but then what?! In January of this year it all came to a head…it was a do or die moment…I could have thrown everything away. Thankfully, God reached down and spoke through my selfishness and pretending! He reached me, renewed me, revived me and restored me!! Relationship!! Finally! And do you know what happens when you truly enter into relationship with Christ? You finally know what love is! I finally realized what love truly meant!
Only half of all marriages make it to 20 years, according to the CDC…but is it enough to just “beat the odds”?! Merriam-Webster defines beating the odds as succeeding despite not having a good chance of succeeding. But is that what we really want in life? Is that what God wants for us?! John 10:10b says, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Abundant life is God’s desire for us…but what does that mean? Abundant is defined as existing or available in large quantities; plentiful; more than adequate; oversufficient. So why had I been so content with adequate? With just making it? With just beating the odds? Shouldn’t life, and our marriages, be about so much more?? So, I prayed!! I truly turned to God regarding my marriage for the first time ever! I knew I needed to talk to my husband about all we had been through…all the mistakes and choices I had made…all the changes God had made in me…most importantly, I knew I needed to apologize and see if he desired more than just “beating the odds”.
I prayed, we talked, God met us in our brokenness…things changed! I changed. He changed. Our marriage changed. Our family changed. Our desires and plans changed. And change, when prompted by God, is a very good thing! Last week we went on a trip to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We ate at places we did as an engaged couple, took walks in places we did twenty years ago and visited the very spot where he officially proposed. We did it all with a renewed sense of purpose, a newfound love and a dependence on God.
So even though 2018 is the 20th year of our marriage, it may be more appropriate to say it is the beginning of our true love story…one that involves three: me, my husband and, most importantly, our God! Ecclesiastes 4:12b says, “..A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Here’s to twenty more years of so much more than just beating the odds!!