I’m sharing this largely because it’s just a great story. It came up at our last session of Art of Marriage last Friday and I was inspired to share it. It’s the story of the 3 days from divorce papers to reconciliation in my marriage.
A very brief background on my marriage. My husband, Matt, and I were married for 17 years. Like every marriage it was peppered with the tough times, some of them pretty intense, and some of them that were perpetual, always coming back again and again. We were getting by, struggling, getting better, getting worse, but it abruptly hit the breaking point just a couple months after our 17th anniversary. We separated, Matt moved out, and we were waiting out the one year requirement that North Carolina has between physical (housing) separation and divorce proceedings.
During this waiting time is when I came into real relationship with Jesus. It was glorious… and painful. As you may know, coming into relationship with Jesus is like looking into a mirror that has the ability to reflect back every ugly part of your character and personality that you’d rather avoid looking at. Well, I spent many, many… many days, looking into this mirror. And I was acutely convicted of my contributions to the failure of the marriage. I was repentant and sorry for what I had done. I was ready for the next go-round if the Lord blessed me with a new husband.
Six months into the separation I attended the Divorce Care class series on a recommendation from a friend. It’s a 12 week class that focuses on a different topic each week, separation, anger, isolation, dating, etc. I cruised through the first 10 weeks with fairly little consternation about each topic since I had already been run through the Jesus ringer anyway. The 11th week came. The topic was Reconciliation. The motive was to consider it. This class made me MAD! I mean mad, mad, like really hot mad. I was so mad and it was so disproportionate to my experience from the previous 10 sessions that I realized I really needed to scrutinize it. I went into prayer that night asking the Lord for wisdom. The answer I got was, “It’s time to ask Matt back now.” What???!!! I was floored. Never, not once, had I considered this. When I had been praying for a whole family, I meant a new one (a new husband anyway, not my kids of course). I did NOT mean Matt. This happened on a Thursday night.
On Friday, my brain was like a tsunami of thoughts about asking Matt back. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I sent a note to my lady friends from the Divorce class and they told me to hold tight until we were meeting for coffee the next night. So I did. I went into prayer that night and I put God to the test. “God, if you really want me to do this, I need a chance to talk to him in private. I’ll know you want me to do this if he asks me out to lunch,” I prayed as Matt was already dating someone else.
The next day, Saturday, I was out shopping and I texted Matt asking him if he still wanted to go in on a bike for our oldest daughter for her birthday. He said yes. I asked if I could just pick it up while I was out or would he prefer to do it together. He said together. I asked him when would be a good time for him and he said, “How about over lunch this week”!!!! Yes, seriously, that was his answer. I was speechless, and totally unprepared for that. So I went into “technicality” mode – technically, he didn’t ASK me out to lunch. I told this little ditty to my girls from Divorce Care that night over coffee. There were four of us, 3 white ladies and one black. We very affectionately call each other our vanilla sisters and our chocolate sister.
My vanilla sister said, “Don’t do it!”
My chocolate sister said, “Girl, if that’s the Holy Spirit talkin’, you betta listen!”
Wow, that threw me off. But I had to agree with her; she was right. So then I started down the, “Well, if he this and if he that,” path.
And my chocolate sister said, “You betta just tell him you love him and would he come back.”
Double wow. Now that was the Holy Spirit talking to me. She was right again.
So what did I do? I went home and put God to the test… AGAIN. I got to the point of accepting reconciliation in my head, but it was far from in my heart. I wanted to walk in obedience, but I wanted to be darn sure what I was being asked to do. I prayed that night, “Lord, if you really want me to do this, just give me a really, really big sign,” and I went to bed.
I went into worship at church the next morning about the same as before… with massive tension through my entire chest cavity and up through my neck that was so painful it was starting to prevent me from being able to take a full breath. This had started and was getting progressively worse during the separation. I started singing during worship. The presence of the Holy Spirit flooded me and instantly the tension and the pain melted away like hot butter. It was gone. I decided that was my really, really big sign. My heart was filled with desire to reconcile with Matt.
We were planning to meet for lunch that Wednesday to get the bike and I assumed this was the time I was supposed to ask him back. But God had other plans. He said, “Today.” What??!! This was Sunday, only three days after the original “Reconcile” message!! I told Him that if I had the opportunity to talk with Matt in private when he brought the kids home that evening that I knew He really meant today. The probability of this was absurdly small as the kids of course would crash through the door and practically bowl me over when they came home. That evening they pulled up in the driveway. I had the kitchen door to the garage open and could see them coming up. The kids decided to stop and play basketball. Seriously. Basktetball??? They hadn’t used the hoop in months! Then Matt came in the house, into the kitchen, by himself, not another soul around. Seriously???
I asked him if we could chat. I reassured him that if he were too busy we could do it another time. He said no, now was fine. I suggested he take a seat. I told him I loved him. I asked him to come back to marriage. He actually did not fall out of the chair. I told him I would wait until he was ready, however long that took. It took precisely two and a half weeks. That was April. We celebrated our 18th anniversary together that May. He came home that July. And we celebrated our 20th anniversary this year. Since then, Matt has come to know and accept the Lord also. Our marriage is now founded on the rock that created it and it is growing stronger every day.
Matthew 26:61: I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.