As Stephen prepared to leave for his weekend retreat, God began doing some things in my heart. I had never felt love like I was beginning to feel and I truly believe it was because I had come to God so broken and contrite that He reached down and filled me with His love.
That is one thing that I have learned is that I cannot love Stephen in my own love. That love is selfish and prideful. I have to love him with the love that only God can give.
Two days before Stephen was to leave, I finally reached my breaking point. God had removed that huge wall that I had built around my heart and for the first time in many, many years, I allowed myself to love someone whole and completely. It was also at this time that I allowed Stephen to love me. Through him, I saw how the Savior loves me. God was using Stephen to show me how much He cared for me.
As the day drew closer for him to leave and be gone from me for three days, I did not want him to go. We had stayed up the night before and talked long into the night about our newfound love of each other. We had visited Charlie, the associate Pastor and friend who was teaching our bible study and told him about the changes that were happening in our marriage. He sat there and listened to us until we both could no longer talk and see because of the tears that were falling (tears of joy). Charlie looked at us and said, "This marriage will only work if you both decide to give one hundred percent of yourself and expect nothing in return."
I think for the first time in my whole life, that being selfless finally clicked in my head. I was to love and serve my husband like there would be no tomorrow, like this was the last time that we would ever be together again. It was then that I finally realized I need this man. . . I truly and deeply love this man with everything in me.
Stephen left that afternoon and I cried my eyes out. I would miss him so terribly over this weekend, but I knew it was something that he needed to do. Next weekend I would be gone to that very same retreat, and I knew I would miss him all over again.
While he was gone, I took great care in fixing myself up for the day that he would return. I colored my hair, went and got me a new dress (which is something I don't wear, but knew he liked to see me in them), I had my nails done and I was feeling very feminine and in love. Even though by this time we had already been married for seven years, I felt like a blushing bride and newlywed for the first time. This must be what true love feels like.
He came home on Sunday. All fifteen men were paraded into the church to share their experience while being gone over the weekend. I was totally on edge wanting so badly to hug my man and find out what he thought about the changes I had made in myself while he was gone. I did not have to wait long, because as soon as our eyes met, we both broke down in tears. I ran to him as if my life depended on it and I flung myself in his arms. We held each other like that for a long time as our church family cheered. They had all been praying fervently for our marriage to be restored, and God had truly and completely answered that prayer.
This moment happened ten years ago and still today we feel that way about each other. Each day I look at my husband, I am so grateful and thankful for the transformation that God did in both of us. We are more in love today than we were that day standing before our church family. But to get to this point, we both had to give. Every Single Day! This was not a one time occurance. I have to wake up every morning and ask the Lord to help me serve Stephen in some capacity today. I ask Him to help me not to be selfish when Stephen needs something done that interrupts my time.
If you have enjoyed this series of how God restored my marriage, leave me a comment letting me know. I have been sharing with Stephen how many of you have said this story has touched your heart. It has humbled us both to think that God allowed us to go through all that we went through in order to share with other couples who may be struggling through the same issues.
If you missed any of the other entries in this series, you can find them here, in order. Be sure and read them all so that you can grasp the complete and full understanding of where we were and where God has brought us to, and where HE will continue to take us.