Once upon a time, December 2010, to be specific, I stood at a turning point in my life. Well, my husband and I did. We had made all these decisions together. Tough ones. Major ones.
That was nine years ago! We’ve come a long long way.
Some days ago we were driving to my parents’ house for the Christmas Holidays. While our kids were playing the “are we there yet?” game, I took my husband’s hand. “Do you remember December 2010? We sat in between moving boxes in Virginia, wrapping up our life in the U.S.” He nodded. It was so much more than just another international move. For us it was the beginning of a new era.
I smiled at him in the car and asked the question that I had just asked myself a moment ago: “Do you regret anything ever since?” He tightly squeezed my hand, smiled and shook his head. “No. Not one second of it!”
As the year of 2019 is coming to an end I frequently catch myself wandering back to previous December memories. However, the scariest and most exciting one remains the one of 2010.
During the summer of that year I had collapsed on a business trip in Alabama. What followed next was my first experience with extensive therapy. I’ll be honest: Those months were tough. Intense. Cruel at times. But they helped me survive and it was the starting point of a new me. Surely not over night. But over time, yes. You can read some more here.
And so, as I remember how we sat in our house in Virginia, labelling all those moving boxes, I still get butterflies! Why? Most importantly, because back then my husband and I had no clue what was ahead. The only thing we knew with certainty was this: Jesus had called us out of the boat. It still makes me smile as I’m writing this. Little did we know what kind of life was about to unfold.
Valleys and mountain tops
During these nine years that followed, we started out by walking through the valley of the shadow of death. We grieved the loss of our firstborn son. And through it all, our eyes were on Jesus.
At times we barely made it. We just tried not to drown in those deep waters.
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.Isaiah 43:2 NLT
After the valley came a mountain top – our daughter was born! And three years later another son. They surely are our greatest blessings on this earth. Some nights we sit there as their parents and just cry. Because we’re so grateful and humbled. However, between these and other glorious mountain top experiences lay many valleys. Valleys of unemployment. Valleys of no breakthrough and no miracle around the corner. Plenty of valleys of doubt, strife and marital crises.
I want what you got
Today, people often look at us and say “I want what you two got!”
Let me assure you: It comes at a price. It will cost you. Both, my husband and I, will tell you this: Unless you’re willing to lay down your plans, your agendas, your comfort zones and sacrifice for the sake of unity, it won’t work.
We don’t have a “five keys to a successful marriage” road map that we could share. And we still struggle. Not like we used to. But we’re both humans, come on! There will always be times of tension and moments of quarrel. But even then, one will stop bickering and walk towards the other, saying: “Honey, let’s stop. We are a team!”
Many marriages would be better if the husband and the wife clearly understood that they are on the same side.Zig Ziglar
We do have one advice for couples that struggle like we did: A strong and healthy marriage isn’t something you just find. It is something that you make and create. It means work. And it most certainly means loads of forgiving, praying and in some cases a decent amount of proper counselling.
The truth in love
But it’s so worth it! Over the years our marriage has grown strong deep roots. We are rooted and grounded on the rock, Jesus Christ. And we never forget or let go of our vision as a couple: To grow old together, wrinkles and all of that.
Our guideline is one single verse that keeps us focused and helps us readjust from time to time:
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”Ephesians 4:15
Let me encourage you: In my darkest hours as a mother or a wife or just simply as a woman I knew one thing: Jesus would never ever leave me alone. Not one second. I may not understand many twists and turns in my life. But that doesn’t keep me from trusting Jesus with my life. All of it.