I love “before and after” stories. And so does the rest of the TV-watching world, apparently. Think of all the shows about the metamorphosis of a body, or a house, or a family – The Biggest Loser, Property Brothers, The Nanny, to name just a few. From my comfy sofa, change looks so doable. By the end of the show:
- that person has lost fifteen pounds – good for her!
- that home has gone from dump to show place – WOW!
- that child has gone from a screamer to a delight– amazing!
Then I turn off the TV and wonder why I can’t get my act together in sixty minutes or less. But when you take away the film crew, and the experts and editors, and the sponsors with their big budgets, the reality is change is hard and costly and takes time. And most of all, change requires commitment.
Our friend Carolyn, today’s guest blogger, has one of the best “before and after” marriage stories I’ve ever heard – and her incredible story is still unfolding. In fact, it’s so good that we are concluding our “Loving Well” series with her story in two parts. Here’s a teaser:
Their honeymoon ends in a tragic car accident, and 30 years later, she is joining her husband this month in Africa on the longest bike ride in the world.
When my husband Doug and I walked down the aisle almost 31 years ago I don’t think either of us imagined we’d be embarking on a cycling adventure–the Tour d’Afrique–which runs the length of Africa–Cairo to Cape Town. As over-the-top as this adventure might seem, the real miracle is that we are doing it together!
I’ve learned through the years that separateness can become a lifestyle. Doug and I met at church in St. Louis shortly before he was transferred to Kansas City to work at the phone company. We were married a year and a half later.
Due to a serious car accident on the way home from our honeymoon, we were separated again while I was hospitalized for three weeks with orthopedic injuries. With both legs in casts, I was totally dependent on others for my care and spent the next three months in St. Louis in my parents’ home (complete with hospital bed) across the state from my husband. We were thrilled when my recovery had progressed to the point that I could join Doug in Kansas City. I continued therapy five mornings a week for the next three months, but we were together.
Fast forward fifteen years: I had recovered from the accident and we settled back in St. Louis where we were raising our two grade school age children. Doug’s promising career in sales became his focus, and our children became mine, both to the extremes. I was doing the ‘right’ Christian things, looking like I had it all together, while inside I was hurting, lonely and worried about my husband and our marriage. We were in crisis, leading two separate lives. Despite that, by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s intervention, our marriage was not only saved, but also greatly improved!
For years I had heard about the Bible study, The Cry of the Hidden Heart, and when my sister, Susan, recommended I take the study, I FINALLY listened. I heard the Lord say, “It is TIME to participate!” It was so refreshing to learn about marriage from the beginning, as God had planned it. I learned that I didn’t have to compete with my husband, but that we could celebrate our own God-given uniqueness and still be joined in pursuing God’s greater purposes for our marriage. We have often said that it would have been the biggest mistake in our lives to take the easy or quick way out and end the marriage. While it has been very hard work requiring a great deal of time and energy, we are both so grateful for the Lord’s leading and healing!
My husband has been cycling for fifteen years and through the years, continued to ask me to ride with him, but I declined. He cycled and I played tennis; it worked fine for me. But taking The Cry of the Hidden Heart opened my eyes to my resistance. I was choosing separateness rather than getting in his boat and sharing his interests. Finally, I realized my husband wanted me to be with him. As a result, for the last four years, we have spent time together on our bikes. And, it has been fun!! I still have my fears, but Doug has been patient with me in so many ways. He is a good teacher and very concerned with my safety.
Stay tuned. In our next Hidden Heart blog I’ll be sharing more about the Tour d’Afrique adventure–the pain and the gain of sharing the biggest adventure of our lives.