On August 5, 1989, Warren and I pledged our love and our lives solely to one another in a small church in Dennison, Iowa. Just before the wedding, a tornado went through town and we couldn’t help but wonder if that upheaval in the natural world might be suggestive of the commotion going on in another place. It’s not that I think the devil was worried that our joining together as husband and wife was a serious threat to his oppressive rule ~ by his strong arm the enemy keeps countless families trapped in cruel domination and in that way Warren and I were not exceptional. We both had our share of head trips ~ we were manipulators and game players, we were ignorant, jealous and petty, and we knew all about betrayal, abuse, fear and failure. Considering that both of us came from broken families and had gone on to make a total mess of our own lives, I’m sure the devil could only be clueless about what was to come ~ how could he have guessed?
Still, there was that tornado ~ which tells me that Somebody knew. God looked deeper than Warren’s alcoholism and drug abuse, He saw more than our promiscuity and my infidelity, the shattered relationships, Warren’s son and my little girl ~ both conceived without the benefit of marriage, the Lord looked past Warren’s divorce and mine, too. The devil had no idea, but God knew ~ because He looked at our hearts and saw that despite the sin, the shame, and the general insanity of our lives ~ the couple who came together that stormy August morning eighteen years ago were two people whose lives were fully committed to Him.
A lot can happen in eighteen years ~ and if Warren and I had been able to see into the future, I’m sure neither of us would have believed what we saw. I mean, fairy tales are for fantasy books ~ not real life. Not our lives. There’s no way, we’d have thought, that we could have a stable home life ~ a comfortable home in which the police are not regularly on our doorstep and our friends don’t steal from us and we haven’t needed to pawn our furniture and the cupboards have never once been bare ~ we haven’t been shot at since we moved in and no-one’s ever had a hangover in our home. Amazing. Impossible that we would have seven children! Seven children ~ that would be nuts! It’d be even freakier if we homeschooled all of them. And our own business?! No way. Not just any business either, but as publishers of the Nebraska Family Times ~ come on, us? Writing a paper to strengthen and encourage families? What did we know about that? If we could have seen ourselves in 2003 when the governor presented us with the award of Nebraska Family of the Year, we’d have both shook our heads and said, Give us a break ~ that’ll never happen. Seriously ~ that’s the stuff of dreams.
Warren and I had no idea how the Lord would use the two of us to completely turn around generations of dysfunction and warped relationships. We never expected to do such damage to the enemy’s domain. Given the fact that neither one of us had any understanding of how to live godly lives in Christ Jesus ~ we couldn’t even imagine what makes a decent marriage, we didn’t know what we should do and if we’d have known, neither of us had it within us to make it happen ~ there’s no denying that it’s been the Lord Who’s brought us out of the chaos and ordered our lives in a way that’s honoring to Him. I think the only one more surprised than we have been is the devil himself. About two years ago, it seems that our subversion of the war on families came to his attention and that’s when “all hell broke loose” on our home. It’s been one thing after another ~ an unrelenting assault until Warren and I both feel like we just can’t take it anymore.
The constant battles have worn us down. Yesterday, on the eve of our eighteenth wedding anniversary Warren told me that he’s no longer attracted to me and he feels like he’s fallen out of love with me. The really awful thing about that is, when I heard it, his words hardly affected me at all. I wasn’t devastated or even very hurt. I’m feeling just too tired to really care. So it would seem the enemy has won a major victory. Maybe he’s dancing a little jig today. Dancing on our anniversary. Dancing like I imagine he did when he saw Jesus nailed to the cross.
That guy really doesn’t learn his lessons very well does he?
Do you know what? All that Warren and I are going through right now and the very real difficulties we’re having don’t even worry me. I’m not panicking. In fact, I feel completely confident that everything is going to be okay. How can I be so sure? It’s because I know that it’s been the Lord carrying us all along. We’ve never claimed to have it all together and we haven’t pretended to be the perfect family. All the good in our family has been accomplished ~ not because of any outstanding abilities which we may or may not possess ~ I believe it’s been because we’ve not relied on our own strength. Many, many times I have gone before the Lord in complete honesty and said, You have to do this for us, Lord ~ I have no idea what is right or how to do it. I’ve admitted that I don’t have the know-how, the health and energy, or sometimes, even the motivation to make it work for our family ~ and from that position of weakness, I’ve trusted God to carry us through and He has.
We’ve had enough experience with His grace, His power, and His faithfulness that it’s easy to trust Him to carry us through again. Today, it feels as though we’re defeated ~ the enemy has conquered and all that’s left is to seal our marriage in the tomb with a heavy stone. But as we are fully aware, today is not the end of the story. There’s still the matter of that tornado that went through town on the morning Warren and I were married. Somebody knew that day back in 1989 ~ and although the devil is still clueless ~ Somebody knows right now. Our lives are still fully committed to Him. We couldn’t imagine eighteen years ago what He had in store for us ~ and we probably would be stunned if we could see what’s ahead. In spite of the uncertainties, in spite of appearances, in spite of our utter lack of sufficiency and capability, we’re holding on to this assurance ~ that the One Who began a good work in us, will be faithful to complete it.
The Lord has used our pledge of unity to gradually, yet undeniably, loosen and, in many ways, even break the stranglehold of the enemy ~ and that same Lord Who is our Lord, promises that the years to come will be more of the same. So look out, devil ~ I think there may be a tornado brewing.
Ugh ~ I really don’t have much to say about this.
As I read this letter, Warren joined me at the front of the church ~ he was crying and telling everyone that he really didn’t mean it when he’d said that he had fallen out of love with me. My older girls got up and walked out ~ they were so angry.
I was a little confused as to why everybody was so upset about my public declaration of fearlessness in the face of the devil’s all-out assault on my marriage.
I was hopeful. In fact, I was positively confident in the Lord’s ability to turn the whole situation around ~ this too, would become yet another testimony to His power and His goodness as He worked everything for our good. I just knew that we were going to be okay. I believed wholeheartedly and trusted absolutely ~ so why should I worry? God is on the throne ~ He is in control.
Within a month, I had moved Warren out of the house to stay with some home church friends ~ and when he insisted on returning home, I ran away to Kansas City for two weeks. Before the year was over, I had filed for divorce. So much for all my optimism and absolute surety that the Lord would come through for our family.
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