What would you tell your younger self?

Me? I’d say, “Hold on! Life gets better. Way better.” In my last blog post, LOVING THE ONE YOU FEAR, June 2, 2020, I shared the story of Jill and Dan. Jill couldn’t stay with Dan. She had to leave because he was a danger to her life and that of her children. Before you decide to stay or go, pray for wisdom, and don’t stay without God.

However, if your life is not in danger, persevere in your marriage. Don’t quit. Be persistent in making it work.  Marriage is hard when you can’t see light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. You’re wounded and unhappy. You want a solution NOW! But hold on. God is working in the background. He is working through our struggles. Be patient. Be at peace. And have hope with confidence. Confidence in God, not your spouse. Trust me, it’s worth it.

For Bill and me, the later years have been the best. We’ve learned to trust in God more and have really learned a lot from the difficulties in our life—in our marriage.

My husband has been endearingly faithful, protective, kind, gentle, and generous. And he’s always been a hardworking, capable provider. So much so, that Bill became a workaholic. Everything he did was to provide for his family. He spent hours building customer relations and proving himself at his job to guarantee a good income. He felt that was the best way to show his love and care for his family. A lesson he’d learned from his father who worked two jobs so their family would have what they needed.

Bill’s long hours of entertaining customers all week weighed its toll on him. He was not a raging alcoholic but became what is called a problem drinker. The difference: he wasn’t dependent on alcohol, and it didn’t interfere with his job or his ability to function. Bill rarely drank at home, but still it effected our lives. Just as many of you may have experienced or know someone who suffers with an alcohol problem, it impacts everyone around you. Regardless of severity, drinking can lead to alcoholism. Seek help. Al-anon helped me.

Bill was hardly ever home during the week, but we had great weekends together. I loved him and believed he loved me too, yet my friends were saying, “You need to leave;” “You’re wasting your young years on a lost cause;” “He’ll never change.” I didn’t know what to do. Plagued with indecision and fraught with worry and sorrow about the future, I had turned to 1 Corinthians 13:7 where Apostle Paul says “Love bears all things. Believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Broken, I cried out to God. I wanted to have hope and endure, but how could I go on day after day? I needed a friend to say, “hang in there.” I felt no one cared, but I was wrong. God cared. Just when my twenty-eight-year-old self-reached the end of hope, God was the friend I needed. He said, “Hold on. Don’t give up.”

It isn’t often someone hears a clear word from God, but I know I heard Him plainly say, “Bill has a long way to go and a lot of things to go through, but he will be okay. You will be okay.” A strange peace washed over me. My sobs turned into laughter. Very nearly hysterical laughter. Everything would be okay! I trusted God and His promise helped me through many trials. He was right, of course. (Afterall He is God). Bill had a lot to go through and it took a while. I had to go through those trials too. But I was able to find hope in that promise when I would lay awake at two a.m. worried because Bill wasn’t home yet. Bill came home safely every time.

I’d cling to God’s words when we struggled through a crisis of debt, when our daughter ran away three times before she was fifteen, when our oldest son spent a year in the hospital, when Bill’s mother died, when my father died, and when we lost our daughter, (A SINGLE FLOWER April 18, 2019), and took on parenting her two girls. I feared Bill would go off the deep end, but with each event God reminded me of His promise.

God can see the path we are on and the paths of our loved ones. Trust Him, He’s at work behind the scenes. Be patient. Pray for wisdom and have hope. And if you hear God speak, be obedient. He told me to stay and I’m thankful I did.

You see, over time, things improved as Bill took small but important steps. First, he admitted he had a drinking problem. I watched him battle to overcome it. He’d make plans and promises to come home, then a client would derail him. But at least now, he called me to say he’d be late, and if he couldn’t drive home, he’d ask me to come get him. What a relief from my worry of his drinking and driving. He often found victory more than defeat. We began praying together and talking about the Lord. Then, one year on November 1st he decided to quit smoking cold turkey, not an easy task, (for either of us.) The next year, on November 1st, he determined to quit taking customers out and started coming home after work. This meant he quit drinking too. The following year, in November, he found out he was diabetic and gave up sugar. Each year, each step, brought us closer as he gave up weaknesses. (The next November I secretly wondered what he’d give up next, sex?)

It was amazing how God was with us through each phase of life. I often praise God as I marvel at the turns our lives have taken. For me, the pinnacle of Bill’s transformation came one night, as we were leaving Walmart and he pulled out a CD he had purchased.

“This is for you,” he said. “There’s a song on it for you.” he explained as we got into the car. Bill found the track he wanted and pressed play. Sitting in the Walmart parking lot we listened, and I cried as Aaron Neville sang, “I Owe You One.”

Especially these lyrics:

Walk me back down those streets again. Stop me right at the moment when you stood there talking to a stranger. Tell me how you looked at me and knew the very best that I could be. How did you see this happy ending? Standing by your side, I’m still surprised. I try to say it right, but I guess sometimes the words don’t come, and I wish I’d told you how you changed my life and saved me with your love. I hope when all is said and done, you know I owe you one. One for life and one for love and all you’ve given me. For the dreams you made me dream again, and all that we can be.

Years later looking back, I see the beauty of it all. The way God orchestrated our lives to make them better. These lyrics still bring tears to my eyes. And to think I almost missed out on this beautiful love story.  Almost listened to well-meaning friends. Almost gave up.

In those early years, I needed a friend to say, “Hang in there.” I didn’t feel I had one. But God was that friend I needed. He was there all along. Maybe today, you need a friend. I am here to tell you He is the best friend you will ever have. I’d like to be a friend for you too. I’d like to say, “Hold on. Persevere. The best is yet to come.”

Remember wherever you are you are at the right place when you come to my website and read my blog. Come on back and share a slice of life with me.

If you or someone in your family have a drinking problem, contact AA.org for help/listing of local meetings, or Al-anon.org for help/listing of local meetings (or call 1888-425-2666)

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