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julie portrait3BW[From Julie] Last fall our women’s study group did a Priscilla Shirer study on Jonah.  It was called Navigating a Life Interrupted.  It was a good study.  In one of the lessons Priscilla said something that has stuck with me ever since.  She said that sometimes our ‘biggest mess is our greatest message’.  I’ve thought about that a lot in the last few months.  What a positive message just in that one statement.  It’s a beauty from ashes type of statement.  We get a chance to not only learn from our mistakes but also to use them to help others.  What are you going to do with the lessons learned from poor decisions?  You may not repeat them but can you also help others not to make the same mistakes?  I’m not suggesting that we all air our dirty laundry to any and everyone but I think in the right forum it can be beneficial to others and healing for us.  Maybe that’s what God wants us to do.  Not just be forgiven for our sins but to use the lessons learned to bring glory to God.  Paul certainly felt this way.  He called himself the chief of sinners (1 Tim 1:15) and he never forgot what Jesus saved him from.

You may wonder what any of this has to do with marriage but I think we have seen an example of this already here on the blog.  I appreciate Sandy’s reflections on her marriage to Rick.  She gave us a unique opportunity to see into the struggles they faced and the issues they were up against.  Their issues were big and had the capacity to destroy their marriage.  So why didn’t they become another statistic?  Only Sandy and Rick and God really know that but I can tell you that it took them a lot of effort, prayer and a willingness to see the good in their spouse.  Both Rick and Sandy knew that loving the other was worth every battle they had to fight.

How many of you would say that your marriage is wonderful?  Perhaps even better than what you thought it would be?  How many of you would say that it’s been a difficult road and filled with disappointments?  This post is intended to be an encouragement for those of you who are struggling with the disappointment.  The truth is marriage is hard.  It has the capacity to sap us of all energy and enjoyment.  If you find yourself in that spot you are not alone.  Just by the divorce statistics you know that many others have been through the wringer as well.

Sandy has opened her life a little for us to benefit from the lessons they learned while they dealt with the trauma of past inappropriate actions committed against Sandy.  She and Rick navigated that difficult road and by the grace of God were still deeply in love and committed when Rick died.  Beauty from ashes.  There is hope for all couples no matter what you are up against.  God is in the business of miracles and if it is going to take a miracle to redeem your marriage than pray for that.  Remember you are praying to the God who has raised the dead, and commanded the waves and the storm.  He can also direct the storm of your marriage.  Don’t give up.  Keep your eyes on the prize and hold on.

You do need to make sure that you are safe particularly if you are dealing with issues of abuse in your marriage.  Do not put up with that in the name of being holy or because you think God wants you to stay in the relationship.  Sometimes it takes a massive change of direction for an abuser to take your problems seriously.  That’s one of the benefits of being surrounded by a good church community.  They should help you find the resources you need to heal and to learn a different way of reacting to your spouse at the same time as pray for you.  The church should be a safe place for you filled with people who love you and offer help.  If you don’t have this find a church that does and become involved.  Get to know people there and learn from them.  Listen to their stories and life experiences.  We have so much to teach and to learn from each other.

If you’ve dealt with difficult issues you have an opportunity to let that mess become a great big message.  Don’t just bury it and move on.  Get whatever help you need and ask for support from others.  I would also encourage you to pray for wisdom and opportunities to share some of your story so that others can learn from you.  We live in a messed up world filled with trauma.  Can we redeem some of that trauma to build stronger marriages?