Monday, February 25, 2013

Nineteen and Pregnant: Twenty-One Years Later



White walls, hard chairs, forms to fill out, questions to answer, and a small fee if you could afford it. Our state-run health clinic wasn't very busy that day.

I remember sitting, my hands covering my face. A few months ago I graduated third in my high school class. I was in my first semester of college. I was 19. And I was pregnant.

Last week my husband and I celebrated twenty-one years of marriage. Our hearts are bigger, our pride is smaller, and our commitment more resolute than it has ever been.

This journey has not always been easy.

And when your matrimonial bliss begins at nineteen and three months pregnant with child, it takes faith to see a happy ending. It takes courage to keep going and it takes God in all things.

My friend, Warren, wrote a post this week titled "Unnecessary Burdens." In his post, Warren talks about all the things we accumulate and acquire during our marriage, during our lifetime together. But he also commented that a successful marriage "is not just a matter of accumulating; it is a matter of letting go, too."

I know a little about letting go. We both do.

We had to let go of some strange ideas we had about marriage, some crazy expectations we had of each other, and a lot of baggage we both brought into our new life together.

And honestly, there are things we have to let go of and forgive everyday.

Little (and BIG) annoyances, offenses, imperfections, frustrations, unreal expectations, failures, disappointments, mistakes....

There is an idea that things, people, relationships can be perfect.

In this imperfect world, there is an illusion of perfection.
But the truth is, nothing in this world is perfect. No matter how good we are, we can't be perfect.
We mess up, we make mistakes, we fall short. And so do our spouses.

When Shawn and I found out (very quickly) that marriage was hard work we had some decisions to make. We had to decide if we were going to take seriously the vows we spoke before God. We had to decide to ignore the criticism and shame and negative words hurled at us from others because of our imperfect beginning. We had to decide if we were willing to put forth the effort it would take to continue our journey together. We had to decide to forgive. Over and over and over again. And we had to decide daily to put God first.

We've crawled through valleys, slammed bedroom doors, trudged through wildernesses, screamed unkind words, climbed over mountains, cried our eyes out, and even turned our backs on God. But we always ended up on our knees, surrendered to the One whose strength is made perfect in our weaknesses...to the One whose blood washes our sins white as snow, to the One who knew us in our darkest places and loved us still.

The secret to our success? It's Him.

He gets all the credit and all the glory for our twenty-one years of marriage. We stand in awe of His mercy and grace. We stand amazed at His unconditional love. And we marvel at His forgiveness.

He never gives up on us, so we choose not to give up on each other.

I look forward to pouring out more of our story here on these pages in the future.

“Love is not self seeking, it’s not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong.” (1 Corinthians 13:5 )

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for each other.” (1 John 3:16)

Matthew 19:4-6 He answered, ”Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said,’Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

7 friends had this to say:

Stacey said...

Simply beautiful,heart felt and raw honesty!!! I love this post and I love you!!!!!
~tears~

All my love my sweet friend!!
Stacey

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

A really beautiful, heartfelt post. I wish you and your husband many more years of growing more in love with each other with each one. I just lost my dear husband of 43 years in Dec. and while my heart is broken it is also filled with lots of precious memories. We also had some rough times, but God saw us through them and our love grew stronger. God is seeing me through the next part of this journey and I look forward to a wonderful reunion one day, where we will live with Jesus forever and ever.

Love and hugs to you and your husband ~ FlowerLady

Shelly said...

Thank you, Stacey. Love you!

Shelly said...

Thank you, Lorraine! I am so sorry about the loss of your dear husband. I am saying a prayer for you that God would indeed sustain you and make this next part of your journey joyful and blessed!! Love and hugs to you, my friend!

Warren said...

Shelly,
Great article. Cheryl and I both enjoyed it. A lot of wisdom here, wisdom won from working hard together.

And thanks for the plug for the article on Family Fountain.

Warren

Shelly said...

Thank you, Warren. And thanks for YOUR words used in my article...always a blessing and inspiration to me.

Rachel Beran said...

Hi Shelly~

Like this open, honest post! I love how God uses all things for good...and blesses us as we follow and trust Him.

Last week I shared "My Perfect Marraige ~ A New Definition" on my Life In Beranville blog. Not that I'm trying to promote my blog on your blog (sorry). I just think it's so applicable to this post!

Here's a link if you're interested in reading it: http://beranville.blogspot.com/2013/02/my-perfect-marriage-new-definition.html

THANKS for sharing!
Rachel