With our fourth wedding anniversary approaching, I can't help but reflect back on the years that are behind us. I will be the first to say, I'm so glad they're behind us.
Steve and I stood in front of one another on that special day four years ago in the bay of fire station #5. Our family was present, my dad officiated the ceremony, and our friends, as well as a whole bay filled with firemen I had no clue who they were, but were there to show their support were all in attendance. I start to laugh when I recall that day. I have to laugh at what I know everyone was thinking, our parents included:
Hmm, let's see here... they're both divorced right out of the gate, she has three kids from her prior marriage, and she's pregnant. I'm betting this union lasts about a year.
Steve and I have been tested. No, we really have. The statistics aren't favorable for second marriages, now I know why. There's more stress, more "baggage", and certainly, more negatives that come into the equation. The two of us joke, but I know there's some truth to it, that couples that stay together and don't remarry have it much easier than second marriages. There's less stress on them, the blending of other families you never asked for aren't present, and the fact that the children you may have are yours...strictly yours, period...no sharing of step this or step that.
We've been tested in the sense that our marriage was very rocky those first two and even three years. So rocky that we both wanted to throw in the towel and go our separate ways. We were going to make those neigh sayers right about their prediction on the length of our marriage. It was so rough, ugly, and awful, that we both couldn't take the outside pressures of our blended union (all my baggage, none from his side), any longer. From an ex-husband who made choices in life that sent him to prison, to me carrying my emotional abuse from one bad marriage into what was supposed to be a great marriage, to the constant battles Steve had to endure to capture my heart and keep it, and the fact that Steve was trying to be the best step-father he could to my three children in hopes that he does an okay job. These were the issues that stared down at us daily, threatening to break yet another marriage to shreds.
We both knew the ramifications of divorcing one another. We both were witnesses to what a torn apart family looked like, we were living it. And we both knew we didn't want to put the kids through it again, especially our own two boys. We struggled. And we struggled. We sought counseling. We spoke to others that had been divorced, but their advice wasn't helpful because their blended family was "normal", ours wasn't and we couldn't relate. We couldn't relate to having dinner with my ex and his new wife as we smiled and said, please pass the butter. We just couldn't. We both even branched out and spoke to our own families, but the advice they gave us was to stick it through, we'll be okay, it just takes time. Time? Who has time when your family is falling apart? We surely didn't have the time, but we made the time. We made the time to turn our whole direction around. The direction towards God.
You see, both Steve and I grew up with God in our lives. He was like that distant relative we all have. You see Uncle Joe here and there. You may not be so close to him that you know his favorite food or what TV show he likes to watch, but you know he's your uncle and he's part of your family. That's how God was for us. He was Uncle Joe in the respects that we knew He was there, was part of our "family", and was always going to be there. The problem was, we ignored him, just like we all ignore Uncle Joe...until something happens of course. When we find out Uncle Joe has had a heart attack, we rush to be by his side. We hurry to be the family member we know we should have been all of these years, but weren't. That's the same with our relationship with the Lord. We never turned to him unless it was heart attack time, unless we knew it was the last moment, the last straw.
It's when we turned to our Heavenly Father that really set us apart, set our marriage apart. When Steve and I devoted our marriage to Him is when we started to see things change. And we saw real changes too. Changes that lead us to where we are today...happily married. It has been a rocky and bumpy road for us. We have been challenged to the max. And we have wanted to quit because we couldn't take another minute of it. But I thank God He didn't give up on us. I thank Him for knowing where we'd end up in the end...on His side of the tracks. But what I'm most thankful for is the realization that Steve is the man I'm meant to be with. The man God placed in my life for a reason. Maybe that reason was to find God. To truly find him. I can't tell you the reason, only He knows. Regardless, I'm happy to be married to my best friend. Married to the man that has my back no matter what comes our way. I know without a doubt that our struggles early on is what has formed us into the couple that He has created us to be.
As I look at my family today, I see them with a different set of eyes. I see them with grateful eyes, thankful eyes, and the eyes of compassion, grace, and mercy.
And I can truly say, I'm more in love with Steve today than I have ever been. Our trials and tribulations have exposed him in ways that have made me notice what a true man he really is. A man of God, and a man I'm proud to have as my husband.