05 Dec THE POWER OF PRAYER
Your hand is on the door, you’re ready to call to it quits. The tear stains on your pillow are the unspoken evidence of sleepless nights as your heart stung with the loss of what you had hoped your marriage would be. You were sad, then angry, then sad again, and now you are just numb.
You are trying to look ahead to life without your husband. On one hand you feel relief that it is almost over and you can forge ahead with a new life; yet, on the other hand, your heart grieves with every beat the loss of the man you thought would hold your heart forever, who now is no longer there to even offer a sympathetic hug in the most anguishing trial you have ever had to face.
If you’re really being honest with yourself, in the quiet of your heart and beyond the built-up resentment, there is a restlessness. You are trying to not pay attention to it because the new-found numbness feels better. Even still, it is there.
Let me tell you our story before you file for divorce…
It was 4 years ago that God worked a miracle and salvaged the unsalvageable. We had been married for 9 years and our marriage looked nothing like what I had imagined. My husband was a drug addict, addicted to pain medication he had started taking in the days of his youth. At first, it wasn’t noticeable. He used them seldom and, quite frankly, marital bliss let me see everything through swooning young love eyes.
But soon came kids, one and then two, then he could no longer hold down jobs as his addiction was taking over. Soon the pressure of work landed on me. I was working, raising kids, maintaining a household, and taking care of an often mentally-absent husband. After years of working at that speed while watching my husband check out of reality, my heart began to become callous. I was worn out and worked to the bone. I had started taking heart medication as I was not handling the stress well. I blamed him for my failing health.
This was not a man worth loving. This was not a man I wanted to grow old with. This was not the man for me.
We argued. I yelled…a lot. I grew angry, bitter, and fed up. I stopped internalizing my feelings and started letting everything out at the expense of my husband’s feelings. I didn’t care. He was hurting me and I was giving it all I could to throw hurt and pain back on him. I hated who I was becoming. But again, I blamed him for that too. The extremely small few who knew our story told me to get out. They told me he would never change, and that I deserved better.
And yet, through it all, whenever I prayed I never felt at peace about leaving oddly enough – and I hated that part! Though I certainly fantasized about life without him, or life with a man who had it pulled together…I daydreamed of a life with a spouse who was a companion, not just a drugged out shell of a man wearing a hole in the couch. I could not understand why I didn’t feel released to go. I certainly wanted to with every last morsel of my mind and body. So I did the only thing I knew how to do…I prayed.
After a year of what I would call the worst of it, I cried out my final prayer to God: “This is all I can take! No more! Save me! Am I not worth more to You than this?! Why won’t You give me peace to leave?” I trembled and sobbed uncontrollably. It was just too much. It was that night that I asked God that He would either let my husband die from overdose, or let me just not wake up.
I had been sleeping in my daughter’s room for about 2 years at that point, and the following morning he came stumbling into the bedroom before I had even woken up. He let out a loud wail and collapsed on the floor. The dramatic awakening reminded me that God had not answered my plea. Both of us had woken up. What happened next was a series of actions that moved quickly. I kicked him out. He moved in with his parents.
I began to finally speak about this quiet hell that I had been living in with a set of good friends for the first time. They assured me that my husband needed help and that they would rally behind us. We prayed long and hard! My heart was racing and sleep was elusive as we moved through this phase of the journey. A few days later I called him home and gave him an ultimatum. Get help, or get out–permanently.
This decision did not come from me genuinely wanting a divorce. In spite of it, this was the man I once chose to make a lifelong commitment to. It was in this moment that I realized that I could not save this marriage on my own accord. I was keenly aware of the risks involved. My husband could have said “no” to help and walked away from me and the kids. He also could have said “no” and found a great lawyer and taken the kids for himself leaving me with nothing.
It was in this moment that I let go of the white-knuckled grip on my marriage and placed it in the hands of God. He was the only hope I had, and for the first time in years, deep down inside a small glimmer of peace began to brew.
After much anger and name calling to me, he left to rehab. Unbeknownst to me, he had every intention of completing the program with the intent of coming home sober just long enough to divorce me and take the kids. The very fear I feared the most.
Everyday came phone calls from him while he was in rehab. Each time I picked up came badgering words. One day I was laying on the couch, too exhausted to move, when the phone rang. It was him. I didn’t want to pick up, but something in me caused me to reach for the phone before I knew what I was doing.
“Hello, Beautiful,” he said to me.
Was he high? Who had snuck drugs into this man in a locked up facility?!
We had been praying for him in our prayer group the night before and that morning. He knew about these prayers, but had simply told me to, “Shove it.” He wanted nothing to do with God, and didn’t think prayer was of any use. He told me regularly that praying for him would be a waste of time. Nevertheless, we prayed.
What he told me next was nothing short of a miracle. He told me he was sitting there that morning when a wave of peace and joy washed over him. He felt new, like he had never felt before. In that moment, and from that moment on, he was washed clean from the desire to do drugs. He was filled with God’s presence in a tangible way.
Tears rolled down my face and I knew that God had answered all our poured out prayers.
He came on Christmas Eve (best Christmas present ever!). Oh, don’t get me wrong, it was not an instant happily-ever-after story. It has taken work to rebuild trust. He has had to live openly and honestly with me when I ask him questions about his health. And I have had to relearn how to put the filter back on my thoughts. He is not the man he was, and I cannot treat him like it. It has been tremendous effort on both our parts to come together again, but it has come with sweetness and joy as we pursue the marriage we originally hoped for. Truly this victory is God’s!
It has been 4 years ago to the day that he took his final pill. I now have a new husband. He is truly the man I had hoped to marry many years ago. I am completely in love with him, and he with me. I want with all my heart to grow old with this man.
My dear, sweet reader, have hope. Your marriage is not lost, your grip on it is just too tight. Place your marriage in the stable, steady hand of God and then grip His mighty hand as He works in ways you cannot see today. He will hear your cries.
First and foremost, pray for your own heart that it would not callous over to the man you pledged your love too, but that it would stay warm to the idea of marriage to him. Pray for your spouse that his heart would soften. That the chains of his past would be broken and new bonds would be made.
Pray that God would work miracles. And be willing to speak, move, push, and (the hardest of all) be still and be silent as He leads. (Psalm 46:10)
May I leave you with a verse that helped me in my trials: “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled…” (Hebrews 12:12-15)
*Read more from Sarah on her blog, www.thebackyardmissionary.com!