There are times in life when we can barely hold on. I experienced this beginning the day I thought my marriage was ending. The months that followed were a constant struggle. The hurt ran so deep, and due to the nature of our situation, it lingered. Each day became about survival, and even surviving a day was too much at first. I had to survive chunks of the day in order to make it through the whole day. I kept asking God for more – there had to be more than just survival.
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No matter how your marriage falls apart, you feel devastated. My marriage struggle happened to have a lot of devastation and trauma attached to it, and happened seemingly out of the blue. I went from a life that was moving forward in a beautiful manner, to a life that was completely broken.
I was responsible for our kids’ education, I had to get a job, yet I could barely get out of bed. Each day was purely survival mode. I was uncertain of what God would do, or if my marriage would even survive.
Survival mode is terrifying. It takes a lot of energy, it impacts every part of life.
Mercy and Grace
The first six months of this part of my journey were rough. I lost so much in that time and the hurt seemed to get compounded each day. I often asked God, “How much can one person endure?”
Each new day, though, became an opportunity to get up and to find the new mercies of God that He promises (Lamentations 3:22-23). There was nothing I could do about my marriage or the situation that my husband and I were in. Rather than continuing to live in shame and fear, I decided that I would choose where to set my focus.
A dear friend of mine provided me with an opportunity to go to a womens’ conference with her. The conference was about a year after everything had fallen apart and I had made the decision to stay in my marriage. The theme of the conference was “From Survival to Revival“. The Lord used every aspect of that conference to show me ways that I could continue to walk out each day in His mercy and grace. He even gave me specific phrases to drive home the reminder that though my life seemed bleak, this was but a part of my story.
Just as God could protect Daniel, Jonah, and so many others, He could protect me. The key though, was to remember that His protection may not look like what *I* expected. Jonahs’ protection was in the belly of a fish; Daniels’ was in a den of lions. Even so, it was the mercy and grace of God that provided protection.
When I took my eyes off of myself and started to focus on God, my perspective began to change. As I chose to abide in Him, rather than trying to have control over my situation, He began to work in my heart. The first work He did was in my relationship with Him, not in my marriage. I expected a resolution to my marriage issues, but God did something even more wonderful as He worked in my heart. He needed to remind me that my priority should be on my relationship with Him – first and foremost.
My heart had taken a beating through our marriage issues; rebuilding trust would be a long process. However, God worked in my heart to provide a new love for my husband. Our marriage would never be what it was; that was a truth I had to accept, even though it hurt. What I did not realize though, is that our marriage would be better. No, our love is not a “mushy” love. Rather, it’s a deeper, more abiding love based on the revival that God has done in each of our hearts.
What did it take to move out of survival mode? It took time, dedication to following God, and letting go of how I thought things should go. If God could shut the lions’ mouths, and protect the friends in the fiery furnace, couldn’t He work in my marriage? Yes! Would it look the way I thought it should? Absolutely not! I would never put anyone through what I endured.
Because of the valley I have walked through, I’m now able to offer hope to so many others who are in a hurting marriage. I cannot promise that God will restore your marriage – only He knows what will happen.
But I can tell you that God is faithful, and I can say that because of my own journey that nearly took me under.
If you are in a struggling marriage today, I can tell you that the Scriptures are full of God’s promises that we can cling to in this time.
I asked God for just one person who I could encourage during this time. He has answered that prayer so many times over, with not just one person, but many. He answered by sending a woman named Jen into a small blogging group that I was in. As we all got to know each other, Jen and I found that we had very similar stories regarding our marriages. Over time, God gave us an opportunity to combine our stories and to share a book called Hope for the Hurting Wife.
Our book shares 30 days of practical encouragement for your marriage. We’ve filled it with Scripture, but also with real-life stories and applications that you can use in your own marriage.
We’ve also started a shop to be able to have a few personal items for women on this journey. Jen and I have heard from so many women saying, “I need a tangible reminder of why I’m sticking this out.” So we now have a shop where you can browse some wonderful reminders of why you’re on this journey.
God has done a wonderful work in my marriage, but before He did that, He worked in my heart.
To truly experience revival in the midst of survival, we have to let go of what we think should be, and trust God for what will be!
God gave Rebekah a front row seat to the work of His redemption in her marriage. After surviving the initial trauma, she determined to fix her eyes solely on Jesus and trusted Him to carry her through the storm that followed. Rebekah shares not only her heartache, but also her great hope with other wives so they might know God still redeems, even in the toughest of circumstances. Now, years later, she praises God for restoring her marriage.
Rebekah co-leads an online community for struggling wives around the world and shares encouragement for those who face the daunting task of surviving the “for worse” of marriage. You can learn more about her ministry to wives at her blog, Sharing Redemption’s Stories. You can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.