“Desiring God’s will for their lives and believing that includes each other…”
I read over those words, run my finger over the embossed calligraphy so carefully chosen eleven years ago, and I wonder. Did we really believe that? Were these just pretty words to grace manilla cardstock, or did we believe them deep down?
Oh yes, we truly did believe that then. When we picked those specific words to begin our wedding invitation we were a starry eyed young couple who wholly believed that it was God’s will for us to be together. I realize now that there was a part of me that also thought that if it WAS God’s will for us to be together, and if we submitted to His will, then surely this would be our “happily ever after”…
“Babe, come here. I’m going to paint your hand.”
“I want to paint your hand and put it in Song of Solomon in my art Bible.”
He chuckles a little, shaking his head in amusement, and says, “Alright.”
I hold his hand in mine, turning it palm up, and my heart flutters. Oh, I love these hands. Strong, calloused. Gentle, loving. These hands personify love and strength to me.
I layer on black paint and then carefully turn his hand over to put it on my Bible page…and it is almost too big for the page.
“Squeeze your fingers together so it will fit…” I tell him, before pressing his hand down against the delicate pages of my Bible…
“…believing that includes each other…”
I read those words again.
Do I still believe that today?
‘Yes’ is not strong enough. I don’t just believe. I know. That man is not only my best friend and soul mate, but I can honestly say that I see now how divinely we two have been knit together. We were literally made – created with Divine design and intent – for each other. I would not be who I am today without him, and I cannot become who I am to be down the road apart from him.
But did I always believe that?
There were days … months … years even … when I could not see how that could possibly be true. Pain and woundedness and bondage and heartache clouded my vision and I thought, “Surely this cannot be God’s will. This cannot be what He wanted for me.” I loved him – deeply – but loving him hurt too much. I know he felt the same way at times. That this marriage was too painful, too hard, to be the divine will and purpose of a loving Father.
“Okay, now slowly lift your hand straight up.”
He starts to pick his hand up and then glances at me hesitantly. He looks back down and tries to lift even slower, but as he does part of the page sticks.
“Did it tear?!” I ask, worried.
“I am so sorry!” he says, his voice pained with remorse. “I tried to lift slowly, but the paint stuck too much.”
I look down to see a beautiful imprint of his hand, but also a page torn in three jagged pieces.
I am disappointed, but also touched that he cares about my little art project. I grin reassuringly at him and say, “It’s okay. I’ve become an expert at repairing book pages as the mother of your little boys.”
“Are you sure,” he asks.
“It’s fine! Don’t worry about it!”
I’m not actually sure it’s fine, but I feel so loved by him joining me in this moment – by him showing concern for something just because he loves me – that I’m not going to tell him that I’m doubtful I can fix it.
Like a puzzle made of tissue paper I begin to carefully lay the pieces of the page back together. I doubt that it can be saved, but I also can’t bring myself to throw the pieces out without at least trying. It takes some meticulous piecing and taping and touching up, but in the end I sit with my Bible in my hands and smile…
If only I had known in those hard places, those times when it felt like my heart was being ripped in shreds, what the Lord had planned. If I had truly understood that our loving Father does allow us to walk through fire. That He does let the pages of our heart be torn. But that He is also the Father who turns our ashes into beauty. Who takes the torn pages of our stories and gently pieces them back together. And then points us to the blank pages ahead and gives us hope that our story is just beginning.
It is my favorite page.
I love it because of how it looks now, but I love it even more because of the story it tells. A story of destruction and tearing and ruin and mistakes, and then of restoration and forgiveness and redemption and beauty. Just like us…
I am grateful. Humbly thankful. Amazed and in awe that the Lord kept us together somehow, and that the marriage I once thought was impossible is now the greatest gift I have. That the man I once thought I would never be able to respect and live with peacefully is now the most godly and loving man I have ever known.
Don’t throw out the ashes. Don’t toss the torn pieces of your story. Put them into the hands of your Father and wait on Him. Wait to see what He does with them.
You never know … those torn pieces just might become the most beautiful page in your story.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.”