The Dark Nights of Marriage + Having Hope

The Dark Nights of Marriage + Having Hope

I realized just today that my husband recently pieced his life back together.

He no longer is trapped in the cage that is Anxiety, he no longer sleeps quietly with Depression while the rest of the world (including me) moves along.

He no longer is stuck. He no longer is idle.

He recently came back to life. He recently crossed over into the real world, leaving behind the depression and panic that kept him in chains for so long.

My husband recently came alive.

And now, we are navigating new territories yet again.

First, we navigated through four years of him traveling as a drummer in a worship band. Gone for days at a time, leaving me with a baby and one on the way, to live out what he felt called to do. I loved that time of our life -- such whimsy and excitement that seemed to drown out the low funds and the little experience of parenting and marriage. We waded through the seas of long tours and coasted through the times of long breaks, snuggling with our daughter and each other. Soaking in the Lord's steady presence that was provided by my husband constantly being around worship, constantly being held accountable, constantly being around really holy men and women. It was a glorious time, this season of marriage.

Next, we navigated through his leaving the band, our having two daughters, and his sudden onset of an Anxiety Disorder. This unknown and unfamiliar place started to drown us. We were no longer coasting, living in whimsy, praying together, worshipping in the same ways. We were no longer the same people when we looked in the mirror. I soon became a mother to three daughters and went into a state of Postpartum Depression, while he was suffering panic attacks and feeling ashamed of this struggle.

We no longer looked like the people in our wedding album -- the two whimsical humans who danced in the sun and stayed up way too late at bonfires and had random nights of prayer with our wonderful group of friends.

We looked more like isolated roommates -- these two who passed each other in the hallway and didn't even look the other in the eye. These two, suffering apart, not knowing how to cross the chasm into each other's hearts.

In my selfishness, I wanted to leave the suffering of a depressed husband who turned into a disconnected partner and father to our girls. This ache to disengage and be gone ate away at me every. single. day.

I wanted to be anywhere but with the man I made a vow to on November 29, 2008, because the person that I saw every day for those three and a half years was dead inside, and I didn't know how to help him. I didn't know how to save him. I didn't know how to remedy this brokenness.

I didn't know how to be a wife to someone who couldn't be saved.

One day a good friend called me up on the phone, and she expressed her deep concern for our marriage. She loved both of us, deeply. She cared for both of us, deeply. And she knew we were in deep, scary troubling waters. And you know what she said to me?

She said You have to have hope.

You cannot let apathy take over. You cannot let anger take over. You cannot let despair take over. You cannot let the devil rip apart your marriage. 

Because you know why? This marriage is good. This marriage is holy. This marriage matters. It matters to your daughters and to the people you minister to and to your friends and to your family and to your souls.

The devil wants nothing more than to rip apart this good, holy marriage. He wants you disconnected so that nothing in your life feels connected.

You have to have hope, she said.

That the Lord will repair your marriage. 

She asked, Lord come repair this marriage, put life into into this marriage, put hope into these hearts, shower grace on these dry bones and bring life back to your son and your daughter.

She said, You have to have hope.

Because she knew this for sure: I had given up. A long time ago. I gave up after days and days and days of feeling empty that my husband was dead inside. I gave up after panic attacks stole my husband's fire. I gave up after anxiety tore apart his very insides, to his core, making him question everything about himself.

I had given up. And she knew it.

You have to have hope, she said.

And I cried. Tears screaming down my cheeks, grief coming apart at the seams, feelings coming out that I had stifled for three and a half years. I finally allowed myself to feel. I stopped being apathetic, I stifled the desire to give up.

And for the first time, I think, ever, I had hope. I had hope that our marriage would be reconciled. I had hope that our marriage would be united. I had hope that we would one day be those same whimsical kids who threw caution to the wind and gave our complete and utter trust in the Lord, instead of living in fear of the falling out.

For the first time, we hoped. We hoped that my husband would be healed. We hoped that the Lord would restore him and restore our marriage.

My friend gave me the gift of hope, that day, while I sat in my front driveway, paralyzed by the truth that came through on my cellphone.

So here we are, navigating these new waters. Finding our way into each other's arms and each other's hearts after years of spiritual and emotional separation.

Here we are, flipping through our wedding book and once again remembering what it was like to feel wild and free and full of trust and courage.

Here we are, again navigating ministerial life while teaching our daughters about love and laughter and family.

Here we are, in a state of wonder at what the Lord wants for us next, in a state of joy in knowing He is leading the way, in a state of trust that we thought we had lost forever.

Here we are, wading through these waters, finding our way to the Lord, together, restored.

Each and every day is a new one to live this marriage full of hope. And for the first time, I no longer want us to be those kids we see in our wedding album. I am grateful we aren't the whimsically naive couple in that book.

We are navigating peaceful seas after a heavy storm. We are side by side, working together in the quiet of a restful ocean. We are looking to the sun after the dark night. And I wouldn't want to be with any other man in the entire world, on any other boat, in any other time.

You have to have hope, she said.

And I finally do.

In between tweeting, reading books to my daughters, and [not] burning mac n cheese, I am the Founder + Creative Director of Blessed is She women's ministry + community.