Almost exactly two years ago, I got married for the second time. May 28, 2015 was one of the most amazing days of my life and the word that was touted on that day was the word redemption. The bad was being redeemed. Joy filled the walls of the rustic barn where we said our vows and then we were off to seven of the most fun filled, exciting, relaxing heavenly days in Hawaii.
However, it didn’t take too long for the word redemption in relation to my new marriage to feel not quite so redemptionish. By August, I was very close to writing my new marriage off as one of my bigger mistakes in life. I wanted to reverse everything. Unmarrry. I had envisioned that Tony and I would bring healing and grace to each other and to our five kids, but in reality, we brought our hurt with us and bled some more and so did our kids.
Somehow, by the grace of God, we are still married. Somehow, by the grace of God, I understand a tiny bit more about loving someone. Somehow, by the grace of God, I see my sin so much more, which, strangely, draws me so much closer to Jesus. You would think it might work opposite. That I would see my sin and my shame would grow, but I feel like the woman who was a well known sinner who began to pour oil on Jesus’s feet, while the Pharisee said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is-that she is a sinner.” (Luke 7:39) A few verses down, Jesus responds to the Pharisee (the rule follower) and says: “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little, loves little.”
You see, I grew up in a nearly perfect family, with a nearly perfect childhood, with nearly perfect parents and a perfect little dog, etc. . . . We went to church every Sunday and I actually always LOVED going to church. I still do. I never went through a rebellious stage. I always made good choices, when it came to money, friends, and boys. I never smoked, got drunk, or went to parties. That all continued through college at Oklahoma Baptist University. I taught seventh grade Geography for 11 years and loved it. I got married to Dave and had Spencer and Leah and things were pretty easy, besides a stint with Leah when she was a baby and a stint with Dave when he was rather distant, but we went to counseling and it turned out I was pretty much OK, but he needed to deal with some stuff. Then we adopted Macie and Dave died. I had back surgery. I got married again. That new sweet marriage turned out to be very hard, so we went to counseling and again, it turns out that from what she saw, he was the problem and I was pretty much OK. Any guesses as to what happens when someone who grew up pretty perfect (I'm saying that with sarcasm) lands in an unperfect situation with unperfect people?
I began to judge. I was the judge. I probably grew up being a little mini judge. It has not been that long, since (by the gentle grace of God), did I see that I was judging my husband for his actions. And that judging others can come awfully easily to me, too. This two part broadcast by Paul David Tripp was part of me getting to this point. Click here and here to hear it yourself. This is the best talk on marriage I have ever
People who make a lot of mistakes and make poor choices are probably not as quick to pick up the gavel and go to town, I would presume. And on top of it all, I have made millions of mistakes and poor choices.
With the unveiling of this sin, I see where I judge other people for the choices they make with their lives, or their finances or their child rearing or their choice of schools, or what they put on facebook or how they handled a difficult situation, etc. . . .
In fact, I wish I could go back and tell Dave that I’m sorry that I was judgmental towards him. I always felt like I knew how to parent better, or use our money better, or I knew how to word conversations with his boss better and on and on. He rolled with it so graciously. Sorry Dave.
It has been very freeing to work on giving up my life of judgment. I have found that it is much easier to not judge those people outside my home. It is still quite a battle to leave the judgement to God, inside my home. Naturally, it is complicated for raising kids, because I have a responsibility to raise them well, but that is for another post.
It has been difficult to not judge my husband when I feel he has hurt me or wronged me. Mostly, I have this deep desire to DEFEND MYSELF. In no way, am I saying that anyone should let anyone treat them less than what is right and respectful!!!!!!!!!!!! That is the challenge. How do you set the bar high, in terms of how you treat each other in every word and in every action, yet you don’t assume the role of judge. For me, the first step was to ask for forgiveness. And now I am on my knees, praying that God will show me how to do this. It takes a lot of trust in the Lord, to not want to take on his role of judge, to make sure it gets done. I take it up over and over again, but then I get to repent and I feel like pouring oil on the feet of Jesus, for taking me, the sinner that I am, back again and again.
One thing is for sure, redemption has not come in the form that I thought it would when we said, “I do,” two years ago. But lately, I wonder what God is redeeming. I thought this new marriage was going to redeem the death of Dave, somehow. But now, I wonder, if God is working more towards redeeming my heart. I’m not sure I would ever have seen this sin in me, if redemption had come in the form of a new, perfect marriage. Right now, I’m just amazed at how gently the Lord has brought to light, so many dark things in me. I am, also, so grateful that Tony and I are still married (and even doing well . . . even with some pretty major stressors at the start of our summer) and that we are both in a place of learning more about repentance, idols we worship, grace and mercy and love. I have so much to learn . . . just when I thought I knew it all.
This is a difficult one for me to digest. The idea that figuring out how to not be the judge in your home is certainly an amazing pursuit. I see you being refined in Him more each day. I love your family -- the family of 7 that you have right now. But I want you to have mercy on yourself and on what kind of mama you are (precious and special) so that, in the act of relinquishing your judgeship you might find a sweet, tender place where the Walls family is the Walls family in its own right -- without need for measuring up to or against the family you had with Dave. Do I REALLY know what I'm talking about? No. But your sweet and raw honesty gives birth to the same thing in me. Maybe that's the place where growth and mercy for one another can thrive.
"One thing is for sure, redemption has not come in the form that I thought it would..." I feel like this line encapsulates so much of life. I can absolutely relate to wanting things to be a certain way, look a certain way, feel a certain way. And when the reality contradicts the dream, it's so easy to wonder what went wrong. When in fact, God may be trying to turn the whole darn thing on its head so we can see things through a new lens -- HIS lens. I am also grateful that you and Tony are still married. And like Christina said, I hope and pray you guys fall into a beautiful, messy, holy rhythm all your own. "Refiner's fire" is the phrase that comes to me in this moment. As you dance in the fire, I pray that outsiders will be looking in and saying -- it seems that there is one dancing in the fire with them -- one who is a "son of the gods." That is to say, Jesus Himself. His work is profound in you right now. May we not miss it.