She’s Stubborn Folks
I’m here to tell you, it’s never too late. It’s never too late to find grace. I have spent the majority of my life doing everything the hard way. Ask anyone who knows me. If it can be done in a more complicated way, I’ll do it. It comes as no surprise that finding the path that has brought me joy and contentment was achieved by taking the long, slow, and complicated route. I have discovered so many ways to screw up my life, that I now have become an expert in what doesn’t work for me. The beauty of this is that now I know how to be content and joyful even when life is hard, and maybe I can help others with that knowledge.
Like many women, I spent a large part of my adult years looking for an inner peace that we are told can only be attained by reading many self-help books. That you will achieve some oneness with the universe through yoga, chakra alignment, having your birth chart done, learning the secret of “The Secret”, putting yourself on the newest diet…etc. Always, your life will be better if you only do this or that. The reality is we are born with a strong desire to connect with something more than ourselves, most of us flail around fruitlessly trying to figure out what exactly it is. What I discovered was that “something”, was not what I thought it was. It was not a what, but a who.
The Wrong Things
I’m about to get real here because I want you to know that if a mess like me can get her life together then so can you. Oh, and here’s a little secret, you don’t have to be perfect to be a Christian! In fact, that’s kinda the whole point. The only thing you have to be willing to do is give up control and admit that you need help.
I spent my late teens and early twenties trying to find love and approval in all the wrong places. You know the story; high school dropout, party girl, too many of the wrong guys, couldn’t keep a job etc…. I was a mess. You can probably imagine all the details I’m leaving out. And the only person I had to blame, was me. I didn’t know it then, but God was trying to put the right things in my path, I was just too stubborn to realize it. That was the case until he decided to drop the perfect guy in my lap.
Aaron showed up in my life at the exact right time. God knew that at that moment I was ready for something different, something healthier. People always ask how I knew Aaron was the one. I tell them, “He was the one guy I could truly be my genuine self around. With all the others, I always held something back. I always hid a part of myself I thought the guy I was with wouldn’t like”. Aaron got to experience it all; the good, the bad, and the really ugly.
Happily Ever After?
Well, I found my prince, so this is the happily ever after part. Right? Wrong. In order to have a happily ever after in fairy tales the prince has to marry his princess; I was more like the witch. It was like the witch in Snow White ended up with the prince. And in this case I literally was, you see I was a self-practicing pagan. I really took the “self” part to its full extent though, because in paganism you learn that if you don’t like something in life you can manipulate it. And boy was I good at manipulating things! It was an extremely self-centered way to live.
Now before you start lighting the torches and grabbing the pitchforks, I’ll have you know that although I was Pagan, I wasn’t a very good one. People used to ask if I practiced black magic, I said, ” No, I try to create balance in the world, and the world has enough evil”. I know now as a Christian that that really doesn’t matter, but back then I believed that I was still a good person. I like to think that most of the good morals I was raised with, were still there in my head and heart. So how does this relate to grace? I want you to get the big picture; to see how far I’ve come.
Aaron was raised Christian and still believed in the fundamentals of his faith even after marrying me. So you can see how this could make for a shaky foundation to base a relationship on, much less a marriage. We were genuinely happy for a while, if not stressed from time to time. Then came baby and all the blessings and stresses that come with that little bundle of joy!
Two years after we were married I found out I was pregnant with our first and unbeknownst to us only child, a girl. I became a stay-at-home mom, so during our daughter’s early years, we were struggling to live on one income. Despite our daughter being such an easy and sweet child, the struggle of trying to make ends meet began to take a toll on our marriage. And please, don’t for a second think having our little girl was the cause of our strife, she was our one saving grace through this whole dark period.
Aaron sought distraction in video games and computers to relieve the pressure of being the sole breadwinner. I began to resent the lack of attention and loneliness of being a housewife at such a young age. It started to feel like I was a blow-up doll who also cooked dinner. I selfishly wanted to be out there partying with the rest of my friends. You know, friends who weren’t married and hadn’t even thought of kids yet. It was only a matter of time before something snapped. And boy did it snap! Without going into the gory details (that’s a story for another time), I filed for divorce after only 5 years of marriage. It was one of the most painful decisions of my young life.
The In-Between Time
The next few years were very difficult. We became single parents with shared custody. I became even more self-centered, he became just as selfish. We did our best to not let our daughter see the worst of it. After a couple of years, we tried to make things work again, we actually remarried after 5 years of divorce. Our existence from that point on was, we would do well for a couple years and then have a huge blowout. For the majority of our marriage we were stuck in a vicious cycle, never really understanding how to fix it. Until last year. And in one brief moment, everything changed.
About three years ago I began to worry. Our daughter was graduating from high school and soon she would be leaving home. I had the very real fear that she would move out and the one thing Aaron and I had in common would be gone. At first, things were pretty good, it was kind of nice having the house to ourselves again. We were young empty nesters with the majority of our life still ahead of us. I thought everything was ok until it wasn’t.
Aaron came to me after Thanksgiving and told me he wasn’t happy. He felt like he wasn’t where he thought he would be at this point in his life. We were still struggling financially and I was still trying to fill that empty spot in my heart, only this time it was with gambling. I found out that his current electronic addiction, an online game, had resulted in a friendship with a female. Where I had failed as a wife to build him up and make him feel loved and needed, she was more than willing to succeed. It was gut-wrenching.
By Grace Alone
I woke the next day exhausted and defeated. The fight that happened the night before had physically drained me and I was done. There was nothing left to do, so I got down on my knees and I prayed. For the first time in my life, I truly gave my heart to God. You might think I prayed to ask God to make Aaron stay with me, I didn’t. I prayed that God would show Aaron true love, that he would help Aaron to know what love is; whether it was with me or with someone else. It was the first truly selfless act I had committed in my marriage and I had meant it with all my heart and soul.
I spent the day in our room, with the lights out, I didn’t come out even to eat. Early in the evening, Aaron came to me and asked, “Why are you still with me”? I responded, “Because I fricken love you”! We both broke down in each other’s arms. That was the day everything changed. We talked for hours every day. We talked about our future, what we wanted to do as a couple, how we could change our lives with God now a part of our marriage.
The Happy Beginning
Over the course of the next few months, things in our life started to dramatically change! I wasn’t looking for a job, but on a whim, I applied for a position as a resource librarian at our local library. They called a week later and offered the position to me. It was amazing to finally have a job that I enjoyed and felt fulfilled doing. The extra income had the added bonus of taking pressure off of Aaron and allowed him to finally feel like he was more than just a paycheck in our marriage. It was at this job that God would bring me a friend who would lead me to Him.
I had been thinking about going to church for awhile, I just didn’t know what church was right for me. Since my prayer, for Aaron, I began to pray every day asking God to show me the path he had chosen for me. I knew that I wanted to go to a really traditional church that’s foundation was the Bible and didn’t change doctrine to suit the culture of the day. Despite being pagan most of my adult life, I held very conservative values.
Making It Home
One day I decided to ask my co-worker what church she went to and if I could come along on Sunday. She enthusiastically said, “Of course”! I joined her and her mother that Sunday. I knew that day that I was home. God spoke to me through the music and the sermon, I cried because my heart was finally healing. When they introduced me to the pastor he literally said, “Welcome home”. A couple of weeks later Aaron joined me at church as well. When we left, he also said that he felt we were finally where we belonged.
For the first time since the beginning of our marriage, we felt the darkness that had surrounded us for so long finally disappear. I prayed to God that night and repented for my sins, that I would no longer live a life without Christ, and I asked to have a relationship with Him always. That was the day I felt his Grace.
Every part of our life has been changed forever. We no longer fight when we do the bills and budget, we communicate more and have planned out a goal of a homestead for our future. There is more laughter, love, and light in our home. Don’t get me wrong, we are far from perfect, we are human after all. This is why we created Making It Home, to share with you how to find the one thing that took me twenty years to find, Grace.