Recently our son Kasey and I were driving somewhere on a beautiful early summer day. We had Toby Mac cranked and were singing along and loving it, but the song that came up next was nothing like the fun Toby songs we normally jam to. This one was a live men’s choir singing a hymn, “Crown Him with Many Crowns” from a Promise Keepers conference in 1993. Kasey quickly asked to skip to the next one, but I wanted to listen–the song brought tears to my eyes as powerful memories flooded in with a reminder of how far we’ve come…
It was the Spring of 1994
During that time Kent had a stressful job which made things difficult between us because he’d come home wiped out and ornery after work, and instead of being the peaceful wife he needed, I’d snap right back at him. Growing up with a Dad who was often verbally abusive to my Mom, my attitude was, “no one was going to treat ME that way“. We were going to church at the time but our faith wasn’t deep. The walls between us grew; we were cold with each other and hardly speaking except to bark back and forth or worse, scream in anger over the latest problem. In a few weeks/months everything spiraled downward and felt SO heavy and wrong, there didn’t seem to be any hope left. Our only light was our two year old, and I’d sob into my pillow at night thinking of how his life would be flipped upside-down forever if we didn’t turn this around, but I just couldn’t see any way through this.
Everything felt dark and utterly impossible.
That was when I was talking with my Aunt Karen one day and she told me about Jesus. I’d been going to church but didn’t have much of a relationship with Him at that point. She said if I really gave my life to Him and followed His way, there was hope for our marriage. She taught me to ask Him for help, to close my mouth instead of lashing out, and to pray for my husband. She said Jesus wanted our marriage healed even more than I did! I wasn’t convinced at first and felt a little awkward, but she prayed with me and started sharing resources to help. Once she sent me a cassette with songs from a men’s conference that a bunch of guys from her church went to called “Promise Keepers”. (Yep, it was still cassette tapes then!) Apparently these conferences were filling up sports stadiums with men who heard songs and speakers that drew them to a deeper faith and a stronger commitment to their families. I started listening to this and other tapes and poured my heart out to the Lord. I begged him to someday lead MY husband to want to go to something like that, but I knew that I was asking the impossible.
Well that shows what I know about how God works!
It wasn’t always easy, but this ended up being the first of MANY times Jesus showed me how He CAN do the impossible — you guys, within only a few months the Lord moved, WOW did He move. (***Read the whole story here with more details about how God saved our marriage.)
Kent has now gone to many men’s conferences, including Promise Keepers way back when, and today he helps to PLAN a mens conference here in Grand Rapids!
He truly loves and follows the Lord and goes to daily Mass because He wants to walk closely with Him. He prays faithfully several times a day for the kids and I and so many others, and he loves us sacrificially. (What I mean by that is that he does things he really doesn’t want to do to help me or the kids, usually without complaining!) He’s the example that our sons need from their Dad (like his Dad & Mom were/are) and I tell our daughter that I pray she finds a man like him. He makes me laugh, we talk about everything, and we share our faith and our greatest desire for our kids to know the Lord as adults, too.
So we’ve now been married over 30 years and even have 3 more kids who wouldn’t be here had our marriage not been saved!
Just so you know…
It’s not that he’s perfect, of course. He still drives me really crazy at times and we have issues that come up now and then like everyone does–I might make him a little nuts once in a while too, ha! And yes, he can still be a big snot, but not often, and I can be a “B” at times too–there are no perfect couples or relationships that are rosy every day. This is where forgiveness comes in, communicating, and learning to let things go. It’s not always a walk in the park, but nothing valuable is.
I’m sharing all of this to give you HOPE that God CAN do the impossible!
Don’t believe the lies, it can get better, it’s not easy, but you really truly won’t feel this pain forever. (Read more about that in this post with advice for a good marriage.) Nobody talks about this! We usually only hear about the ones who are splitting up. However now we also know of so many friends and loved ones who struggled through terrible times in their marriages, wondering if things could ever be good again, but they stuck with it and are so glad they did now. Especially because they get to move forward making memories with their kids together as a whole family unit.
More about how the healing started…
Aunt Karen taught me how Jesus works… By imitating Him and denying yourself and sacrificing for your family, this brings “fruit” or results that are powerful. Things start to happen when you die to self and live for HIM first–when you turn over the control. So instead of fighting with Kent, I started to close my mouth and fight for my marriage in prayer, that’s how miracles begin! (That link goes to the War Room movie trailer, I cry every time I watch it–that’ll teach you the best way to fight for your marriage, but my Aunt taught me this long before that movie came out! Sadly, she learned about all of this when her own marriage broke up years earlier.)
She gave me specific advice and resources that explained how it looks to fight right: when Kent would come home in a bad mood and lash out, I needed to shut my mouth and pray. I didn’t have to snap back. By doing the opposite of what my “flesh” said to do, or what I really wanted to do, or what the world said I should do (“Don’t let anyone treat you like that!”)–that’s why it’s called a sacrifice but it’s where true change happens.
It’s also why Jesus’ teaching is sometimes called the “upside-down Gospel”.
The world says you’re great if people serve you. Jesus says you’re great if you serve others.
The world says life is about power, prestige, possessions, popularity, and position.
Jesus says it’s about whether you’re willing to live as a servant of others.
It’s an upside down kingdom, and we’re invited into it. (Source)
Even though I wasn’t always successful at being quiet (shocking right?), slowly as I did this more and more and sacrificed for our family, it changed the whole atmosphere in our home from one full of tension and negativity, to one where HOPE took hold. He saw that I was striving to be kind, to act like his friend again, and it caused him to step back and want to be friends again too.
Things were happening!
It often felt like things were better and then they’d be bad again, but overall it was 2 steps forward and only 1 back. Patches of light began to pop through and I’d tangibly see and feel Jesus working on us both. I dove into my bible for the first time in my life, and the day I saw Kent doing that too I sobbed tears of gratitude and knew we were going to make it! There’s a lot more to the story than this of course, and you can read about it at that link where I share a more, or you can ask me anything, but the point is…
NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD (from Luke 1:37)
That’s a memory verse I’ve had our kids learn. I want them to know it deep within their souls. The Lord showed me that He can and does do the impossible ALL OF THE TIME. How He must love surprising us like that when we are open to it–ask Him for the impossible and He’ll show you how to do your part, then stand back and let Him have the reigns.
There’s so much hurt in the world, and there’s not always a happy ending…
Because of how the Lord brought us back, as you can imagine, we have a heart for those who are struggling the way we were. And I know some of you are reading this and hurting because it doesn’t always work out like it did for us.
Recently a friend told me that she and her husband are divorcing. He had an affair and apparently can’t live without the mistress–obviously his choice is the opposite of denying yourself, and instead it’s the picture of utter selfishness. God gives us free will though and doesn’t make anyone do the right thing.
I don’t know for sure, but he likely justified his actions by telling himself something like, “I deserve to be happy.”
To which I would have loved to remind him: “No, no you actually don’t. That’s a lie. You deserve to keep your vows like a real man and deny yourself for a time while you invest in the relationship you joined into on your wedding day. You deserve to step up and be there for your kids and your wife. Once you get through this bump in your marriage, the fruit on the other side of your sacrifice is TRUE happiness with a family that is still together, and a love between you like you didn’t think was possible. By being an example of faith and showing a solid marriage to your children and grandchildren, THAT is real joy!”
But obviously he instead listened to all of the marriage lies and lies of the world. 🙁 Now his wife has to pick up the pieces as a single Mom because she has no choice. (If that’s you, just know that Jesus can also do the impossible when it comes to your healing! And don’t be afraid to ask for help–God uses others to bless you in this tough time, and someday you’ll be the one God will use to bless others, because you’ll have been there.)
I have another friend who faced the temptation of an affair.
She deeply wanted to be with this other man, but she was stronger deep down than many others and knew (partly from her faith, partly from her upbringing) that it was wrong no matter what her feelings told her. Oh how the Devil loves to get us to listen to our emotions and our wishy-washy feelings instead of what we know to be solid Truth from God. So she chose to do the very very hard work. She denied herself, took up her cross, and stuck with her marriage. Now things are better with her husband and their kids have a home that is whole. Thank God divorce isn’t part of their family legacy!
And by the way, an affair doesn’t always mean the marriage is over.
Thankfully Kent and I did not have an affair to deal with on top of everything else, but if that is part of your struggle, and IF your straying spouse wants to stay together and invest in your marriage again, read these posts from Tonya about Surviving Infidelity. She talks about how she found out, how her husband did regret it and ask for forgiveness, how she confronted the other woman, how she was able to forgive, she even discusses sex after infidelity and so much more. It think she should make her story into a book!
No matter what your story is, don’t doubt it, God CAN do the impossible!
He can heal your marriage and give you unimaginable joy again. Or He can heal YOU if things in life didn’t work out how you wanted.
If you are in a situation right now that just seems impossible, whatever it is, turn it over to Him and watch Him go!
As always, email me anytime if you need a listening ear or if I can help you with anything at all: Kelly@KellytheKitchenKop.com. God bless you!
More you might like/resources for hurting marriages:
- These movies are a touch on the cheesy side, but I LOVE cheese and these are powerful ones about marriage: War Room and Fireproof. (By the way, this one isn’t marriage-related, but it’s my favorite movie EVER and there’s virtually no cheese: Woodlawn. Watch the Woodlawn trailer here. It shows more of how WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. “This is what happens when God shows up.”) Here’s the War Room trailer–it makes me cry every single time:
- A Father’s Day Story
- The 5 Best Kept Christian Secrets to the Best Sex Ever by Hallee the Homemaker
- Teaching Our Kids About Real Love
- Surviving Infidelity
- Will You Share Your Advice for a Good Marriage? (Plus My 7 Tips)