Imagine yourself standing in front of all of your family and closest friends, a preacher and God Himself, making the biggest decision of your life in a single moment. It's pretty intense and it's a big gamble, considering that the biggest decision you're making is vowing to stay with one single person for the rest of your time on this earth. That could be a day, a week, a month, or 60+ more years!
I made that big decision on May 27, 2012 but for me, that decision actually hit me a few days prior when Rob and I went to apply for our marriage license. We were sitting in the office we were advised to go to at the courthouse, sitting at a desk and individually filling out our applications. I remember writing down my date and place of birth, then my parents, and I got an overwhelming, "oh my goodness, is this really happening?!" moment. That moment when you have a mini panic attack and wonder if you're making the right decision, if you're jumping into this thing too quickly, and if you're 110% sure you're going to be in this forrrrever, even in the really ugly times. I filled my application out, signed it, took a deep breath and handed it in.
I come from a broken home where my parents divorced when I was 4 or 5. Rob comes from a broken home where his parents divorced when he was a year or 2 old, and many people don't know this but he himself went through a divorce. I always wanted the cookie-cutter marriage and live in a cookie-cutter life. In reality, cookie-cutter doesn't exist. The edges of our marriage, our children, and our life as a whole are not finished off with perfect edges like when you use a cookie cutter to press out beautifully shaped sweet treats but rather, our edges are tattered and torn. There's sharp and rounded edges but what's inside those edges sure are sweet.
I remember declaring before we married that we had to have a strong foundation. We had to find a church and get involved or I wasn't sure how we would get through life together because this world is an ugly place. Yes, there is beauty in it but generally speaking, we live in an ugly place and without God as their cornerstone, I'm not sure how couples make it through. Rob agreed. I was in love with the idea of marriage but when it came down to really thinking about it and the massiveness of the commitment, I was terrified because I'm not good at failing. I've been surrounded by divorce my entire life and the ugliness that it brings so I told myself that I'd only do marriage once especially once kids were involved.
In February of 2012, Rob and I joined a gym and started working out, in preparation of our wedding. At that gym, I met a woman whose name was Michele. After weeks of working out and seeing each other in the mornings, we struck up a conversation and one particular morning in April, I overheard her talking to someone about her church, how her dad was the pastor and she was the praise and worship leader. For months before this encounter, I had been seeking a new church, one where I felt like I belonged. When I moved to New York, Rob and I started going to his family's church--the church his grandparents married in and many of his family members attended, however, I was not in an active walk with Jesus like I knew I needed to be. I was going through the motions and not getting anything out of the sermons. I was living in sin with Rob, missing my home and the things I was accustomed to, sitting in on sermons on Sunday and feeling pretty empty. I was not in a good place spiritually. So on that morning at the gym, balancing on a bosu ball, I heard Michele talking about her church and my ears perked up at the conversation. I asked questions about her church, what type of music they sang and when she told me all about The Journey Church, my heart leaped and I would have gone straight there right then, sweat and all. I told her that the following Sunday we already had plans to attend Rob's sister's lacrosse game in Connecticut but the Sunday after that, I'd definitely visit. The Sunday before we were to marry (exactly two weeks after talking to Michele about her church and one week before our wedding date), I went to The Journey by myself. I remember exactly where I was sitting and I remember bawling my eyeballs out, finally feeling a sense of home when for the previous 14 months I had felt so lost and alone. Exactly one week later, Rob and I promised each other that from that day forward, we would love and cherish each other in good and bad times, through all the storms and trials of life.
We stood true to our agreement to have Christ as our center and the weekend after we returned from our honeymoon, we both attended The Journey together. We jumped into serving, even though we were new and only knew Michele. We attended every class we could and God started us on a wild ride. We settled into married life while navigating what it was like to live a life sold out for God versus living in the world during the week and putting on our Christian selves on Sunday. There were secrets and lies that were kept that eventually came to the surface which was the beginning of a rough season in our early marriage and brought me back to the afternoon we were sitting in that office in the courthouse, filling out our marriage license applications, wondering if I was making the right decision. That season was the first major "in good times and bad" we were going through. I had to make a choice whether I was going to give up and walk out or if I was going to hold on to Jesus, stay true to the vows I made to Rob and love him and forgive him like Jesus did for me in my darkest, dirtiest moments.
It took many tears, late night talks, pushing through insecurities, advice from godly counsel and a whole lot of praying but we got through the darkest season of our marriage thus far. We had a few setbacks but every step we took back, I feel like it just made us both lean into Jesus that much harder. I'm not going to lie and say that I don't have moments of doubt or insecurity, or that we don't have moments of struggle and temptation but overall, Rob and I came out of that season stronger in our faith and closer to each other than we'd ever been. I personally feel like even though, I of course would love the idea of a cookie-cutter life, it's the really tough trials and storms that make me stronger as a Christian and a person, and if it takes a storm to knock me off kilter so that I'm drawn down to my knees and in a posture of surrender to God so that He can impart in me a life lesson and supernatural strength, than the storm is worth it...as crazy as that may sound. I know it's so cliché but you can't get the rainbow without the rain. Rob and I have walked through many other dark times like having trouble conceiving, losing two babies and going through a financial crisis. All of those things made us cling to each other and more importantly, cling to our Cornerstone. We've only been married 6 years so I know we've got a slew of more storms to walk through in our marriage, I pray that they aren't tsunamis but even if they are, I have the hope that our marriage is built on the strongest Rock you can imagine and we'll hunker down together...the three of us.
And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. -Ecclesiastes 4:12