{when i gave up on my marriage}

I remember the days when I was ready to give up. When it was hard to love you. When it was hard to love me. I remember loud, violent fights. I remember throwing things and screaming in your face. I remember slapping you trying to evoke a response.

Such a bitter wife you had, Jim. Such a broken, confused, bitter wife. Full of sin and sadness and hatred.

I remember words that tore you down. Cut to the quick. I remember betrayal. I remember hurt. I remember chasing anything that might make me feel whole... or that would numb the pain I knew inside.

I remember giving up. Knowing in my heart that we weren't going to make it. That there was no way. Imagining what it would be like to not have my children on the weekends.

And then, oh then… the unexpected.

Then I bumped into Jesus.

Looking back, He had been there all along, pursuing, wooing, calling… but this time I realized it was Him. This time I was ready to relent. This time I was ready to give up and give in and throw my heart into His hands…

And slowly He began to heal the hurt, the hate, the bitterness… the brokenness he found there.

You didn’t understand what was going on. You saw me going to church on Sunday and yet during the week I was still this mess of a wife sometimes. It was such a struggle between who I had become and who I was becoming. I walked out my fledgling faith so poorly before you at first.

But things were changing at the heart level.

And even that day when I stood in our empty house with tears streaming down my face saying  ”God, this is IMPOSSIBLE! He hates me now! I have ruined everything!!! Tell me God, how in the world can we NOT get divorced?” Even when everything in me said there was no way, we had gone too far, said too much, hurt too deeply… I wanted to turn that sinking ship around and find shore before we drowned.

It seemed impossible. Everyone could see it. Our family, our friends, our children.

And then, there are the prayers of a three year old. There are the prayers of a three year old girl in her bed that no one knew about until last year… there are prayers of a little girl saying “God, please don’t let mom and dad get divorced.”

And God was listening.

Slowly, I learned what it meant to really follow Jesus. How to love like Him, even when it was hard. How to bite my tongue when everything in me wanted to argue or nag or convince. How to walk as a Godly wife, in submission even to one who did not yet believe.

And then, I gave up for real. I  realized that I couldn't fix what I had broken, only God could do that. I couldn't undo the hurt I had caused, only God could do that. I couldn't make my husband fall in love with me again, only God could do that.  

It was not me, but Jesus in me… refining and teaching me through this marriage.  It was Jesus fanning the flame of my first love and giving me the want to to make it work. It was Jesus listening to a little girl’s pure and simple prayer to keep her family together. It was Jesus teaching me how to love my husband with His love.

Jim, it was hard. It was hard to know what a bitter wife I had been to you. It was hard to know that the words you spoke out of hurt, came from wounds I placed there. I am so sorry, babe… I am so sorry.

And then Jesus called this one with so many words to live a quiet life before her husband. To love you well, even when it was hard. To let you lead, even when I thought I knew a better plan. He told me to get so completely out of the way, that He would have direct access to your heart. I was learning how to love you like Jesus does.

And we began to fight again. Not with each other, but for our marriage.

We fought with the tools of compromise and apologies and patience and perseverance.

Ours is truly a love worth fighting for. When I’m driving down the road and I think about the way your smile explodes into your eyes… I still get butterflies. When you sneak behind me in the kitchen and kiss my neck… there is still electricity.  The love I have in my heart for you has never been this big or this pure or this full of admiration.

You amaze me, Jim Boyles. You amaze me with your quiet love. You amaze me with your quiet service. You amaze me with your gentle care of me. The way you flirt with me and make me feel pretty. Figuring out how to make all my favorite foods gluten free.  Giving me the space to chase hard after Jesus. The way you care for others: building bedrooms for dreamed-of-children, mowing lawns without ever being asked, rescuing from the side of the road, coaching little men in so many more things than baseball and football- but also character and integrity and sportsmanship.

Thank you for not giving up on me. On us. On our family.

Friends, if you are at the end of your rope… ready to throw in the towel and walk away. Know this… God is able. He is able to take something that is broken and hurting and make something beautiful. He is able to take a marriage that is coding and bring new life. He is able to take your bitterness and replace it with love, your anger and give you gentleness, your hopelessness and give you HOPE. He is able. If He was able to take the mess that was Jim and Becky Boyles and create the beauty that we now know, truly He is able to do anything

I won't sugar coat it and tell you that the journey was easy- it was not. There were few steps forward and many steps back. But when I look over at the man driving us to church on a Sunday morning, my heart explodes with praise to the God that restores. I thank God that He gave me a heart of surrender in my marriage! I thank God that He showed me how to love this man well... 

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