08 Dec Joyful Expectation | December 8
I was so excited for this new chapter in my life – getting married, starting a new job, and moving to a new city. My parents enjoyed 50+ years of marriage, and I was looking forward to the same, including the plan to have at least 4 kids.
Fast forward a year, and I quickly learned that my spouse and I held entirely different ideals of what a marriage was all about. Riddled with denial and embarrassment, I continued to portray a happy and successful marriage to those around me. With my self-confidence plummeting, I turned to the church for support, but seeing all the kids and families just made me feel even worse. So, I stopped going to church, but continued to pray to God to save my marriage.
Four years later, I was still waiting for therapists to give me the right solutions, and I was still waiting for God to answer my prayer.
For some reason, I decided to call an out-of-state friend and finally shared my situation. He said, “Each time you think about something negative with your life, give equal time to thinking about something that is positive in your life.” While that was far from the solution I wanted, I gave it a try anyway.
Then, a few weeks later, I reached out to another friend and again shared my situation. She asked, “What do see in your future?” My response was, “I fix my marriage and live happily ever after or I get a divorce and live happily ever after.” She said, “What about the possibility that nothing changes and you live in limbo the rest of your life?”
I was speechless and felt like I had been hit with a 2 x 4. I had never even thought about that third possibility, but that was exactly where I seemed to be headed. After absorbing these two separate conversations, I realized I was so attached to what “I” thought my future was going to hold, I was unwilling to accept anything that deviated from that picture. This also prevented me from feeling joyful for others who were happy.
I gradually started to lean more on God, not for answers, but for support. Instead of praying for my marriage to stay intact, I simply prayed for direction and guidance. And, I thanked God for giving me those two friends at exactly the right time.
Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
I did eventually seek a divorce, and I have since remarried. I have a wonderful spouse and family, although it does fall shy of the 4-plus kids I envisioned (WHEW!).
Overall, I believe I’m exactly where God wants me to be. Those years of liminality now allow me to more easily deal with the ups and downs of life. And, I’m much more at peace without having everything planned out because I know I’m not alone.
Any yet, I also know I’m not perfect. I still catch myself trying to manage life on my own. It is those times where I especially reflect on this story reminding myself that while I may not like a given situation, I need to be patient and put my trust in God.
Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
God’s decision – not mine — to give me the years of liminality with my first marriage changed the direction of my life. Remembering that helps me realize that with God by my side, I can more easily face other times of liminality as they occur even though I know it is very possible that the result or solution “I” desire or envision may not be the same as the one that God intends for me.
This post is part of a series of Advent Reflections – “Joyful Expectation”
Learn more about the series at gslcwi.com/advent