Yesterday, John and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. After his cancer and heart attack five years ago, we appreciate every year that the Lord gives us together.
Even before John and I went through that trial, we savored our marriage more than most couples do. Since both of us grew up with severe physical disabilities, we struggled with the probability that marriage wouldn’t happen for either of us. I distinctly recall my emotional pain as a single woman who wanted nothing more than to marry a godly man, and my many psychological contortions to accept singleness as God’s will for me. So when Pastor Mike wheeled me down the aisle toward John a month before my 49th birthday, my heart flooded with gratitude. I cherished this marriage that had seemed so impossible for so many years.
When the cancer diagnoses came, followed by the heart attack (which delayed surgery for six weeks), I honestly thought the Lord was taking John away from me. Frankly, I believed that surgery would kill my precious husband. I returned home from the hospital after the surgery saying incredulously, “I’m still married!”
I understand that not all marriages are as happy as mine. Maybe a few of you read this post and pray desperately that I won’t tell you to cherish your marriage. You wish I knew about the physical and/or emotional abuse you suffer. You read this article just before going to bed alone, knowing your husband’s sleeping with someone else tonight. You worry that your children will hear yet another argument. Or you’d like an argument because the silence between you has become unbearable.
You’re right in accusing me of not understanding how you feel. And yet you’re wrong. Until I met John, I knew loneliness. I once sat through a particularly romantic wedding, directly across the aisle from a man who rejected me. I watched him dance with one of my closest friends at the reception. And, slumped over in a wheelchair that didn’t properly support my spine, I felt like a used Kleenix.
As I rejoice in the wonderful marriage that God has given me and John, please keep in mind that I don’t mean to throw my happiness in the faces of sisters who have unhappy marriages or no marriages at all.
Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart
is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day,
and like vinegar on soda. ~~Proverbs 25:20 (ESV)
But remember that I attended that romantic wedding in order to rejoice with a happy couple who stood in front of a packed church praising the Lord for bringing them together. In my sorrow, I could still share in their joy because I knew what God had done in their lives. As I weep with those of you who weep, I hope God will give you grace to rejoice with me and John.