Late August/Early September.
It happens every year when I see wild sunflowers blooming along the fence. It happens when school picks back up and mornings are cooler and days are busy and the grass gets too tall.
I can’t help but reflect on the past three years. I can’t help but praise God and God alone for the miracle He worked in my marriage to Caleb.
I use a lot of humor in verbal conversations and in my writing because 1) I like to think I’m hilarious, and 2) humor helps me cope with hard and serious things. So, few people actually knew the depths of our pain and the extent of our problems, or why I actively began making preparations for a life as a single mother of three young children.
I can’t remember that time of my life without choking on thin air and tears, even now. That searing, gut-wrenching pain in my stomach comes straight back. I am paralyzed if I let myself remain too long in the memory of those days, those months, that year.
2015 was when we broke. It was the year I watched my best friend slip away through my fingers a little bit every day. It was the year Caleb left me–left our family–in his heart, mind, and soul.
It was also the year I grew in my faith and God strengthened me and held me. It was the year I truly realized the true meaning of friendship and of Christian brotherhood, of sacrifice and suffering. It was the year I lost the man I loved but gained the husband and the friend that that man had always been designed by God to be.
And I give God every single fraction of an ounce of the glory.
I begged and pleaded with God for my husband in the late summer days and nights of 2015. I fought the devil for Caleb, every morning when I woke up alone and every evening when I put the kids to bed by myself. I burned with rage at the thought of him and crumbled in sadness at the sight of him. If there was any chance of me dying because of anything at anytime ever, it was from my irretrievably broken heart. When I could utter no sound, when I could do nothing else, I reached up with my arms and simply prayed for God to grab me and keep me from ending it all.
I don’t know how or why or when, but a change took place in my husband.
And because of God, and because of the persistent obedience and unrelenting love of God’s people, our brothers and sisters in Christ, who spoke truth to Caleb and me, even when we didn’t want to hear it, we grabbed hands and pushed onward.
And everything that I thought had been difficult before that point became nothing compared to the fire we entered into.
One step forward, two steps back.
Three steps back.
One step forward.
I heard horrible devilish screams at night, and I dreamed about screeching demons and witchy claws and a scary, pursuing evil. And my dreams shook us awake, and Caleb and I both cried out and prayed.
And God was with us.
And God protected our marriage.
To this day, three years later, I look at the stars and they are my reminder of God’s steadiness. In a chaotic world where nothing is guaranteed and nothing is safe, not even the world’s strongest marriage, God remains unchanging. God waits patiently. God answers prayer.
It is because of God and only God that we sit and hold hands, or go on dates, or make each other laugh with hilarious jokes, or watch movies cuddled up together under the covers, or make awesome snacks or take country drives or evening walks. It is because of God that we don’t spew out the most hateful words we can think of at each other, or drive away mad, or treat each other in ways not even a dog should be treated. It is because of God that we both wear our wedding rings, and we pray together.
If you asked me in 2015 if I’d have any more children with Caleb much less sleep in the same house as him by the end of the decade, I would have laughed (or cried) in your face.
It is because of God that in that three miraculous years since the death of our old marriage, we have welcomed not just one new life into our family (Lucy) but 3 lives (plus twins).
We don’t deserve these blessings and we didn’t earn them.
God saved me. He saved my husband, and He saved our family. He sent angels to walk with us when we couldn’t–or didn’t want to–move our legs.
If our relationship was susceptible to that kind of destruction, then no relationship is safe. But if our marriage could be rescued from the hell that was 2015, then any married couple can experience the grace and the healing God granted us that year and in the years since.
Caleb and I are ever so far from perfect but we strive for Jesus together and we strive to love.
Love above all things.
With everything in me. Until my very last breath.