I never set out for all of this to happen, at least not so soon and not quite like this. Him? All of them?
No they were not in my real life plans. I left for the University with big bags and big dreams. I had declared that I would not become a Mrs. until I earned my PhD. Yes I was on a mission, my mission. Then I met this young man name Tyrone at the 22 Illini bus stop on 2nd and Chalmers in Champaign. I had no clue that this meeting would forever change my life.
I came home that faithful winter break my junior year of college. I was full on the outside but was empty and hurting on the inside. Salvation had been a long time coming. The church was having a revival and my soul desperately desired to be revived. I had been running, and when I stepped foot in that church I stopped. It was then that God began to change my mind.
I went to the altar and said Yes to Jesus. 3 years later on August 11, 2001, I went back to that same altar and said yes to Tyrone. The vows I uttered were poetic but for the record, I had no clue what I was really saying yes to.
- I did not know I was saying yes to Jesus at another level inviting Him to use my marriage as a tool to go beneath the surface and do some spiritual deep cleaning.
- I did not know that I was saying yes Jesus please begin a deeper process of changing my mind, changing my agenda, changing my plans and changing my heart.
- I did not know I was saying yes Jesus use this marital relationship to prune me, to show me the depth of my selfishness and pride, and teach me true submission.
- I did not know I was saying yes God, overthrow our five year plan and let the babies start coming after year one, and continue to come for that matter!
The” for worse” part came sooner than thought. We had some extreme lows (full display of flesh, hair loss, income reduction, sick babies, shed tears, and anger) but these lows created a greater surrender, pressing out a “yes God go ahead and change our minds because you know best.”
The beauty and the challenge of getting married young is that you get to “grow up” together. We have seen God perform surgery on our hearts on more than one occasion over the last 14 years. God has birthed beauty from great pain and closeness when the enemy sought to tear us apart. My love for this man has gone deeper than I thought possible. All of my initial plans have not been accomplished but here I am 14 years later thanking God that He changed my mind!
My husband told me yesterday that he loved me more now than he did before. He was falling in love all over again. I blushed and told him the feeling is mutual. Our marriage is in a good place. This man is pursuing me like nobody’s business and I am LOVING EVERY MOMENT OF IT. This has not always been the case. During our marriage, we have experienced highs and lows, some deep wounds, shed many tears, spoke some very harsh words, had moments of unforgiveness and bitterness BUT God!
Marriage is hard work. Period. However as Tyrone and I reflect on all we have been through we recognize that it was NOTHING but the grace of God that kept us together. Difficulties are a guaranteed part of life, but God promises the victory…ALWAYS. These years have taught us that it is not money, beauty, or even good health that keeps a marriage together. We have been challenged in all of the above departments. After 13 years, 6 children, 2 miscarriages, 2 babies in the NICU, 1 income, and severe hair loss I can confidently say that we are not enduring in our marriage. WE ARE THRIVING. How? Pursuing God. The difficulties that should have torn our marriage apart have produced a deeper love for God and for each other.
You see, even in all of our challenges and imperfections, God has given us the victory. God tells a husband that he is to love his wife as Christ loves the church and gave himself for her. This is for better or for worse kind of love. Not something a husband can do in his own strength. Then for us wives we are told to respect our husband and submit to his authority. Respect him even when you don’t agree or can’t understand why he does what he does. Submitting to Tyrone’s authority was not easy for me. I was so dug in and very bent on doing things my way. However as we both pursue God, He has given us the grace to do what seems impossible. One of the reasons why I am falling in love with Tyrone all over again is that he now has a greater pursuit of God. Knowing that my husband seeks the face of God brings me great comfort as a wife; trusting his leadership. Submission then becomes a joy and not a chore.
Having a good marriage is not automatic. You have to work at it. But let me tell you it is absolutely worth it. If you are on the brink of throwing in the towel on your marriage, I want to encourage you to consider otherwise. There is so much more to lose than to gain if you walk away. I can confidently say that God is a redeemer, try Him with your marriage. Take the steps necessary for success. Have you repented of your sins and given your heart to Jesus? Are you connected to a church body? Accountability and sound BIBLICAL counsel are necessary ingredients for a good marriage. If you are in the Chicago land area and are looking for a church home, I of course encourage you to join me at my church. Oh and bring your spouse, even if you are mad at him/her.