I’ve always been in awe of people who share their testimony. In awe of the power of God in their lives. In awe of their willingness to share something incredibly intimate. Basically, just in awe. And, I tend to feel a little, “Wow, I wish I had a testimony.” You must understand that I was raised in a very traditional Christian denomination that was BIG on ceremony. I can’t emphasize the importance of ceremony enough. Ever. And, the majority of people I encountered while growing up in that church didn’t really talk about their faith. They did good deeds, tithed to the church, volunteered when the church needed them…but they really didn’t talk about their own faith. My take on God by the time I graduated high school was, “You are good as long as you help others and do penance when necessary.”
In college, I tried to continue with church, but I just wasn’t that into it. I found that I my own opinions differed greatly from the opinions of my church. (Truth be told, my own opinions on some things differ with just about every church to some extent, but I digress.) I felt like a fraud going to church just to go through the motions. My boyfriend/fiance/spouse (same person, just different things at different times) was raised in what some would call the polar opposite as far as Christian denominations go. (If you can’t tell, I’m trying really hard to leave specific denominations out of this because I don’t think that is the important part.) We went through spells of attending churches of varying denominations and atmospheres (big, small, mega, contemporary, traditional). Not too long after Abby was born, we visited a church with a friend and I felt like a light bulb had gone off in my head (and my heart). I completely felt like I was finally in the right place and that this was what God wanted for me. That night, I was baptized (for a second time…I was baptized years before as ceremony and tradition would have it in my childhood church…but this time was for reals).
Now, back to the testimony. Nope, not there yet. I married young. Some would say too young. I think both of us may have been in over our heads, for different reasons. We became parents nearly six years later. For anyone who has kids, you know that if your relationship isn’t solid before kids, adding a kid to the mix tends to emphasize those weak spots. And emphasize it did. We continued to struggle. And, we eventually separated and divorced. We both had things we needed to address. Of course, when the divorce was finalized, I was certain of two things. 1) I still loved Mike. 2) I would never get married again. Those things may sound strange, but in my mind, I had totally failed at marriage. I didn’t want to go through that again just to find out I couldn’t cut it. And, I still loved Mike, no matter what crap we had gone through together and because of one another.
Less than six months later, I was standing at the Wake County Courthouse with Mike, Abby, the Magistrate and two friends (witnesses) getting hitched again! God has a funny way sometimes. That was five years ago, today. Five years. God’s love and grace can overcome anything. Literally anything. And, it can be a path to so many things that you never even knew existed.
My testimony is one of reconciliation. My marriage is stronger today than ever before. The love I have for my husband can’t be measured. His love for me is unfailing. The struggles that we have faced, even in spite of each other, have made us the couple that we are. The friends that we are. The people that we are. Are there things from our past that we aren’t proud of? Uh, yeah. Heck yeah! Are there things from our past that we had to face in order to get where we are today? Absolutely. Do people judge us for what we’ve been through as individuals and as a couple? Unfortunately, but we try to move past the judgement. It isn’t always easy, but it can be a really good “weed out” tool for those “fair-weather” friends. Are our lives filled with rainbows and unicorns, gum-drops and chocolate fountains? Not exactly. Our lives are filled with poopy diapers, projectile vomit, fruit punch stained carpet, dog barks, eye-rolls, rewashed loads of laundry, hugs, kisses, dirty dishes, never ending bills, supportive friends, God… and LOVE. (Those last two go hand-in-hand, don’t you think?)
For the record, let me be clear, while God’s love can overcome anything, some relationships are so unhealthy that they shouldn’t be reconciled. If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, help is available here. There are also local agencies and groups that can provide assistance and support.