It Is Well With My Soul

Written by my daughter, Cristine.

Two years ago today Chad and I had a difficult conversation that would forever change the landscape of our lives. We had just walked though a long season of struggle, loss and pain that pushed us to the brink. I remember gradually closing the blinds in my room and delicately pulling the sheets over my head as I retreated to a very dark place.

After several days I made my way to my counselor’s office. She had walked through the post-transplant days with the boys and me and had really been a support to us. The only thing I remember about this particular appointment was that we decided to take an intense, 24-month journey together. Slowly and gently, and with great care and compassion, she started investing in my mental well-being. We met regularly, often for back-to-back-to-back sessions where she patiently and loving led me to higher ground.

One of the things that she told me was that my journey should look like a roller coaster; that I could allow myself to really enjoy the good days, but also permit myself to visit the low places on the bad ones. For years I had been trying to live my life in a place of balance; my goal was to be even-keeled. I guess I had always thought that spiking high and diving low equaled instability and I had never allowed myself to live that way…until then.

And so I embraced and relished the good days. At first they were few and far between but thanks to my faith, family, and friends (so many of YOU), those days did present themselves. Ironically, it was the darkest of days that I grew to appreciate.

When depression and pain came knocking at my door, I let them in. I gave myself permission to go to the hellish places and stay there until things were settled. I wrestled with anger, disappointment and anxiety. I acknowledged my severely damaged self-esteem. It was excruciatingly painful but I started living more authentically than I ever had before.

I owned up to my shortcomings. And after working through them, I let them go. But never prematurely. I got really stuck at times, especially when it came to forgiveness. When I uttered the words, “I forgive,” I wanted them to be authentic and genuine. Eventually, the breakthroughs came and they were powerful. Life-changing.

I stand here today a different person. Broken, shattered, and miraculously restored. Far from perfect, but ever-so-willing to keep working and get help when needed. And to share my story of healing with others who are hurting. (Yes, I have been writing…more to come.)

I certainly have not arrived and I realize my journey is far from over but hey, I traveled the first 730 days and I’m still standing. So today, I pause and reflect with gratitude and appreciation. And I celebrate progress. When trials in life come we have a choice: we can be a victim or we can overcome. Overcoming takes energy and effort that I believe can only come from God, attesting that we truly do need Him. And I am proof: He is faithful.

Why Does It Hurt When I’m Healing?

Whenever we hear that someone we know is getting a divorce, we immediately want to talk with them. Yet 100% of the time someone close to them insists that we leave them alone. Their reasoning always is, “They are hurting enough already. Don’t make it any worse for them by talking about how Jesus can change things. You’ll just give them false hope.

Recently a friend of ours tried to meet with the daughter of a friend of hers who was going through a divorce and the girl’s parents told her the same thing. It seems that family members are quick to protect their loved ones from any challenge to healing or even the thought that reconciliation could be possible.

We understand that they are hurting and yet we know that left alone, they may not heal on their own. When someone breaks a bone or tears a ligament, there is great pain. The first step in healing is often surgery or, at the very least, the setting of the bone. Sometimes pins must be used to insure proper healing. All of these things are painful and may even seem to add to the initial pain of the injury. To leave the person without these remedies, though, would insure improper healing and perhaps even permanent crippling.

It seems to us that many times this is what well-meaning family members, friends, and sometimes even pastors, do when they recommend that hurting people not be approached with the truth of covenant faithfulness. We realize that when someone is going through the pain of separation and divorce, they are really hurting. To those who love them and want to help them, just getting them through it may seem like the best option.

Many pastors have told us that divorce is the best solution for this particular couple. It is best they end years of pain and get on with their lives. The problem is, what seems like an effective resolution in the short term always produces continual problems in the future.

Case in point – the daughter of a friend of ours divorced two years ago. We wanted to talk with her at that time, but her family insisted we leave her alone. We almost lost relationship with them when we expressed how important we felt it was to see her. The other night we saw her at a party. She shared with us how her life was going. She was unhappy with the shared custody arrangements. The kids were hurting. She was angry. Her “ex” was uncooperative.

Then she shared about her dating life. She initially tried meeting men at church and in social situations, but that hadn’t worked well. Now she is online dating, but the outcome hasn’t been much different. As I listened to her I thought here is a woman desperately seeking peace and fulfillment. She thought divorce would set her free to obtain it all. Instead, she is still dealing with the same issues she faced in her marriage and cannot find the man she believes will change her circumstances.

She is healing crookedly because her wounding was never set properly with the Word of God.

Sometimes we have to be willing endure a bit more pain to ensure we are truly healing. Sometimes we have to look deep within ourselves and see things we do not like in order to have the Lord help us change. Sometimes we have to stop pointing fingers and blaming and start looking in the mirror. Those are painful moments, but if we are willing, they lead to true healing.

I remember when I first began to stand for our marriage and I was so eager for God to begin working on Michael. He really needed help! How shocked I was when the Lord made it clear we were going to work on me instead. I was the one serving the Lord! I was the one who wanted to see the marriage healed! I wasn’t in adultery! Why would God want to start with me?

He started with me because if I didn’t endure the pain of healing my broken heart, if I didn’t endure the pain of looking at my attitudes and behavior, or if I didn’t allow the Lord to remove the dross from my life, I would never have healed properly and I could never have truly loved my husband again the way I needed to in order to stand and intercede for him.

Sometimes facing the truth is painful, but if we trust the Great Physician to walk us through the pain to healing, we can be assured that we will heal properly. He has promised that “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Physical therapy hurts. We never want to push ourselves past our place of comfort, but the therapist makes sure we we push through the pain and gain more mobility. Being protected from truth, never produces freedom. Love, Marilyn

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  John 8:32

Close to My Heart

A few weeks ago I was sitting beside our youngest grandson on the glider in our backyard. We weren’t talking very much, just sitting together and enjoying the garden. Then he turned and looked up at me and with deadly seriousness he asked,

“Grandma, do you know we’re getting a divorce?”

The words cut through my heart and I fought to keep back tears. I had wondered when he would be willing to talk about it and had left the timing to him. Never did I suspect, though, that he would take ownership of it. To him this wasn’t just Mom and Dad that were splitting up, it was the whole family.

Through the years we have watched many couples change their stand on divorce and remarriage when their own children went through divorce. They always told us, “It’s different when it’s your own child.” I often wondered how it could be. Truth is truth, no matter whose marriage it is. God’s plan to be faithful “until death do us part” is His marriage covenant. We have always said we can’t control what our children do, but we can control how we react.

Knowing God’s truth about marriage and seeing His miraculous healing of so many marriage through the years makes the pain of watching our own children’s divorce even greater. Knowing that God not only can heal a marriage but wants to, makes choosing the devil’s answer even more tragic.

Seeing our children under attack also makes us twice as angry at the enemy! We are experiencing the pain that so many of you have of living in a “no fault” divorce state where the enemy can tear apart a home with no resistance, where no counseling is mandatory, and no hope is given.

Again, as I have asked so many times before, where is the Church? Why is there no battle for this family? Why is the devil’s solution seen as a Godly answer? I know you have asked these same questions in your own life. Sometimes it seems all of us are a lone voice crying out, yet it makes us more determined than ever to see the enemy lose once again. And this time for the greater glory of God!

On Chad and Cristine’s wedding day, we challenged all their bridesmaids and groomsmen (and there were 20 of them) that they had voluntarily chosen to be witnesses to their covenant. If their marriage came under attack, they needed to stand with both of them, not taking sides, but fighting for both of them and for their marriage and family. Well, that hour is here. Now is the time to surround them with prayer support and stand together with them. It is not a time to agree with one in opposition to the other. On the day they married, Chad became our son and we stand and fight the enemy for both of them, for their marriage, and for their precious children.

Our generation has seen God work miracles in family relationships. We have witnessed impossible situations changed as only God can do. Yet at the same our children’s generation has witnessed break up after break up of marriages in both the Church and the world with few people ever offering any Godly alternative. A marriage that is meant to last a lifetime is only a dream to so many! As we walk through this, may this generation also see the powerful hand of God that we have witnessed through the years!

That day in the garden when our grandson asked me that painful question, he added with hope in his voice, “But we don’t know if it’s permanent.” Amen! The faith of a little child’s heart should be what we all stand in right now. Love, Marilyn

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”  3 John 1:4