In the beginning years of our marriage, the first 10, I had many, many people tell me how perfect our marriage seemed.  It wasnt at all, but many saw it that way.  After year 10 though, that image, as images do, began to shatter, to unravel and to reveal what was under the surface.   All who know us well, and some who only know us from a distance, watched as we went from seemingly having everything in its place to having, what looked like to the naked eye, much in chaos.  Perhaps I needed it to look perfect.  Perhaps I thought somehow that would make me ok, acceptable, worthy.
The breaking point was in August of 2010, year fourteen of our marriage, when I allowed a lifelong fear of abandonment to wholly overtake me.  I had come into my marriage believing that Doug would ultimately leave me and so, in my mind, I made that a reality.  There was no convincing me otherwise.  I had a nervous breakdown.

My family and dearest friends moved in close to examine what was really happening.  It was difficult to discern the quiet truth in the midst of my articulately screaming for help.   I falsely and calculatedly slandered my husband to his oldest and closest friends, even demanding that they confront him biblically as a group.  They believed me.  All but one.  And that one was Provisionally, being the elder in years, viewed as their leader.   He said Doug wasn't capable of doing what I was accusing; he knew the deep waters of Dougs heart.   The others thus put down their weapons.   I was left alone with only a mirror to face myself.   But in that moment another thing happened:  Doug saw who his truest friends really were.  Amidst his wife starting fires left and right, wanting him to burn at the stake, Doug could see who really stood with him.  To this day, he sees that as Provision.   He refers to it as The Perfect Storm.  I refer to it as something meant for evil being used for Glory.

You see, God intended that marriage between two believers should be one of the most powerful tools we have of showing a lost world what God is like and what His plan of redemption is all about. A godly and growing marriage should reveal (and I didn’t say a perfect marriage, because clearly mine isnt that) to the world the gospel, the undeserved love that God pours out on His people. He loves us, not because or merit or performance or because we deserve it, but because of His grace.   So as a husband and wife love each other—not because of performance or merit of the other one, but fueled by the spring of God’s grace and His love—then they’re revealing that love of God to a world that has no clue what God is really like.

Doug made a decision while surrounded by smoke and flames to be silent and let the Lord be his defender and to love me through it all, regardless.  He never told anyone he was making that choice, hes not like that.  He lives a mostly silent life, letting his ways be his testimony.    He was painting a picture with every color available.

I remember looking into his eyes as I said my wedding vows, the tenderness that met me there.  And in those months of turning on him, hating him because I felt so betrayed, being unable to hear truth or receive love, how that same tenderness met me.  He never slandered me in return, but rather stayed close and ever ready to receive me when I wanted to believe.   What a picture!   I can not imagine how hard that must have been.   I was unreachable, unbelieving and felt he was my enemy.  All the while, in reality, he was my closest ally.  Perhaps that description helps you understand better the brokenness within me.

I would like to say that I am healed and that all those inconsistencies in me which led to that breakdown have healed.  They have not.  I still struggle greatly, repetitively.   I am half a woman in many ways, clinging to a God and Truth I need to be real but unable, unwilling, to fully embrace them.   I am half a wife in many ways, clinging to a husband I need to be real but unable, unwilling,  to fully embrace him.

What I can say with confidence though is that my marriage is a picture of the Gospel.  Doug has loved me with an undeserved love, like the kind that God pours out on His people. Doug loves me, not because of my merit or performance or because I deserve it, but because his life is fueled by the spring of God’s grace and His love.  And that is what I think makes my marriage beautiful even in its utter brokenness - its revealing that love of God to a world that has no clue what God is really like.