I wish I could say I fully trusted Warren when I agreed to marry him, but the harsh truth is it took many years.
Though, isn’t that the way it is for most of us? We think we expose our heart fully to the other person, but in reality it often takes many years of marriage before we let down our guard. Sadly, some never do. The truth is, it took over seven years for me to come to know that I could surrender and trust that Warren really loved me, and I know the moment all my walls crumbled.
We had just received word that a fellow minister, a cherished friend, had a moral failure. He had an affair. To say we were shocked would be a huge understatement. We were breathless from the news. Warren and I sat in silence for a long time. A million questions coursed through our minds, but few made it across our lips. Any answers would have been nothing more than a guess. What we did know, is how much our friend loved God and treasured his family.
For a long time we just sat side-by-side on the couch. The pause button had been hit on our busy life. All the big things suddenly became small in comparison to a broken relationship. No words were spoken between us, only hands held. With a pat on my leg, Warren got up and disappeared down the hallway. I did what I normally do when I’m stressed, I began to clean. A million more questions began to race through my mind, but soon those questions turned into tears that prayed words I didn’t have for our beloved friends.
I don’t know how much time had passed when I realized I wasn’t hearing the usual sound of Warren pounding out a melody on his keyboard. I began to walk toward the back of our tour bus but stopped half way back. I found him lying on the top bunk with his face buried deep in a pillow. I gently rested my hand on his arm as I asked if he was ok. His muffled reply, “How do I know I’m not next?”
I asked him what he meant by his question. I was sure I knew the answer, but I wanted to make sure we were both on the same page in this conversation. Warren lifted his face from the pillow and turned toward me. His eyes were red with tears and he was clinging to his Bible. Clarifying, he asked again, “How do I know I won’t be the next to fall? How do I know I won’t cheat on you?”
You see, by this time in our marriage we had witnessed so many affairs, alternatives lifestyles, and abuse issues within our field of ministry that we had become extremely guarded with our marriage and ministry. Our personal battles within and the battles that surrounded us seemed relentless at times. We had learned to talk openly about our own relationship and the struggles we faced. We decided to be each others safe place, where we could freely talk out our fears, our insecurities, and the things that tempted us. We had to if we wanted to succeed at doing life together. We sought out the areas we had left unguarded in order to establish the necessary boundaries to safeguard our relationship. We knew that the fiercest attacks from the enemy would be not on our ministry but on our marriage, because if the enemy could destroy us as a team he’d also have the ministry.
The answer to Warren’s question came without hesitation. The words came out of my mouth with such a bold confidence that I knew it was God speaking. I knew, because I too was learning the answer as I spoke.
I said, “As long as you keep this heart.” I then rested my hand on his chest. “As long as you have this fear that you are capable of falling, you won’t. It’s the moment we think we’re strong enough on our own that we will be in danger.”
This is the moment I knew I could fully trust Warren. I saw his heart for me more clearly, as well as his sincere longing to be found faithful with God. That is the moment I came alive to the fact that Warren deeply and truly loved me. It’s a love that is rare these days. He loved me with a pursuing love. Warren was pursuing my heart after seven years of marriage the way he did when we we’re dating. From the outside, with our busy life, his love looked different, but he was fighting for us. Warren was wrestling for us, clinging to God for us, surrendering himself to God for us – loving me like Christ loved the church. In that moment God humbled my heart. God stripped blinders from my eyes to see the man He had given me more clearly.
I can almost hear the thoughts being whispered in some of your minds as you read my words now. Please don’t let the accuser attack your spouse with his luring lies. Don’t listen to that voice that is so quick to pipe in with thoughts like, “I wish my spouse was doing that for me.” Or, “That’s great but my husband/wife doesn’t… “ You get my point. Don’t forget, I said this happened seven years into our marriage, and I believe the only reason we came to this realization when we did is because both Warren and I chose to love God and seek Him. Neither of us loved each other enough in the beginning. We didn’t know how! Had we not chosen God and His laws first, we never would have survived the first few years of our marriage. We were fallible humans before we were ever ministers.
Marriage has the great ability to illuminate all the things we’ve kept hidden, and bring to surface so much that we ourselves didn’t even know was buried deep inside. The things we think, say, and do can be really ugly sometimes, leaving ourselves stunned by our own yuckiness. Marriage forces us to come out of hiding in order to have a healthy and sincere relationship. To refuse full heart exposure, is a choice to stay blinded by the accuser. Maybe this is why people don’t get married these days, but that’s another topic…
I had a choice to make the moment God let me peek deeper into Warren’s heart. Like Warren chose to pursue me, I had to choose if I were willing to still pursue him. It takes all three to make an unbreakable bond. I’m so glad I did! Little did I know the gift God was handing me at that moment. That was the beginning of our last 2 1/2 years together. Warren was killed by a drunk driver while we were out ministering, January 2006.
Our friend paid a high price for his decision, but God’s grace has covered he and his family. They weathered a tough storm, but they’re doing well. God still redeems!
To trust your spouse or not, is not the first decision. It’s being willing to see them through God’s lens or not – the way we want to be seen, and it’s a daily decision.
Yes, God still redeems! Will you let Him?
Another lesson along the journey…