Whenever there is a moment for me to reflect on God’s faithfulness in my life, there are countless ways I can see how He’s wonderfully and purposefully interwoven details together that I could never have pieced together on my own. But there are two extraordinary ways I’ve seen God move in my life that are always the first testimonies that come to mind: the way He is mastering my sin of anger and the healing of my parents’ marriage during my childhood.
When visiting my friend, Corrie, this past February, I sat in the front row next to her while we visited a small church in rural North Carolina. The organist and the tiny choir played and sang with gusto, and I was overcome by the realization that as my parents woke up that morning, they were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary.
One might find it odd that my parents’ marriage, once in shambles but now made whole, is at the top of the list of one of my own stories I can testify to as a witness to God’s goodness and power. But as a child who heard the fights; as a child who was sat down at least once or twice a year and told her parents were going to get divorced; as a child who watched her brother run away and hide in the front yard bushes because he didn’t know how to handle it all; as a child who was buckled inside the car before the sun rose so her momma could leave a note on her daddy’s car at the hotel he was staying at because he’d left; as a child who walked through the ups and downs of her parents’ pendulum of love and lack thereof, it is nothing less than a God-given miracle my parents’ marriage was restored when I was twelve and are in a loving, faithful and committed relationship thirty years later!
On the windy, country road through North Carolina, Corrie and I talked more at length about my parents’ marriage and how ultimately, it is only by God’s grace and goodness that He reconciled the two of them. But we wondered what other factors were at play that kept them trying. Kept them at it. Time and time again, was there something tangible God was using to help them not completely give up and walk away?
So I posed the question to my Momma not too long ago. We talked about it briefly, but nothing stuck out to me about what she shared until she approached me a month or so later, saying, “I’ve been thinking about your question and have given it a lot of thought.”
Eager to hear her thoughts, what spilled out of her mouth hit the core of me:
The community of their church, their friends. “They were tough. They were hard core. They were serious about the marriage commitment and the power of God to heal and restore. They would not let us walk away and give up.”
The blessing of restoration came through people willing to walk with my parents through the nitty-gritty of life. You better believe a number of them got messy in the process! But they were able to be Truth-bearers and encouragers to my parents when they were blinded by their own hurt and selfishness. My parents’ friends didn’t turn a blind eye; they were courageous and brave and didn’t take the easy way out by thinking, “Oh, surely some one else will do it,” or “It can’t be that bad.”
At the same time, it took my parents to call their marriage for what it was: broken. It took humility to share the messed up parts of their relationship to those they could trust and who would love them, pray for them, and take the time to minister and help them. They didn’t turn a blind eye; they were courageous and brave and didn’t take the easy way out by thinking, “I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone what we’re going through,” or being worried about what other people thought of them (although I’m sure that surfaced at times). They unmasked the pain and surrendered the shame by sharing with their community what was happening.
What was hidden was brought to light, and the Light was able to break through the darkness.
Tomorrow morning, my Daddy will escort my Momma into the hospital for her umpteenth surgery. Their marriage isn’t perfect. It’s always being refined and refining. But by God’s grace, the gift of community, and my parents’ humility, they will walk into the hospital hand in hand. Daddy will sit in the waiting room praying for the bride of his youth, there to help her through recovery. And Momma, no doubt, will enjoy resting in his arms. All of it, gift. All of it, Christ’s grace.
Daddy and Momma are both living testimonies of God’s power and grace to transform broken lives. There is worth in sharing the messy stuff of life with a trusted, loving community. There is worth in being the Truth-bearing, willing-to-get-messy kind of friend who walks alongside the hurting and broken. And the One who has the perfect wisdom to guide, the power to transform, and the gentlest scarred hands to carry every bit of pain and brokenness is of Greatest Worth.