Leading With Love

Weddings are a time of great celebration, excitement, and hope for a beautiful future—a fairy tale ending.  Brides often enter into marriage dreaming of living happily ever after.  However, the national divorce statistics tell us a different story.  If you are part of that statistic, or currently not romantically involved, I imagine you dread Valentine’s Day.

Broken marriage heartThe Reality of Marriage

Serving as a leader in a local Celebrate Recovery (CR) ministry, I get a chance to hear a lot of testimonies and people’s life stories—male and female.  Many of the women who come to CR are either divorced or have had a history of marital struggles.  But hey, don’t go thinking that I am getting a distorted view of society.  Marital heartache and misery are much more common than you think.

The people who show up at CR are choosing to take off their masks and come out of denial about it.  They are generally the fortunate ones.  Not because of their painful past, but because they are seeking help and healing.  In time, they generally become grateful for those struggles because it made them stronger.  Romans 8:28 becomes real to them, often for the first time:  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV)

These women (and men) are taking steps to get emotionally healthy, deal with their past baggage, learn to set healthy boundaries, take care of their needs, and live life more fully—regardless of their past.  They are on a journey of self-discovery, with or without a spouse or partner.

If they’ve been in recovery for a while, they can even laugh about the process—making light that their people picker is broken.  I’ve seen it over and over again as people attract the exact kind of romantic partner that will lead to the same negative relationship patterns.  They may decide they want a relationship, thinking they are ready again, or they may be willing to settle.

WARNING—more heartache ahead!

Children of divorceA Legacy of Divorce

Let’s face it relationships are hard work, and marriage is the hardest because we spend most of our time with our spouse.  If we come from a family background where divorce was part of our heritage, we may quickly look to that as an escape clause—thinking it is normal. In my case, my parents had a combined ten marriages between them.  They were on marriages #2 and #4 when my siblings and I were born.  I swore I wouldn’t do that to my kids.  Thankfully I didn’t.  It doesn’t have to be part of our legacy.

I understand the heartache of divorce.  I understand the devastation and painful wake that it leaves behind for the families.  I’ve felt the blame and shame of it.  I brought a lot of that same baggage into my marriage.  It has only been since I entered recovery a decade ago that I’ve seen how much it affected me—my behaviors and my underlying fear of rejection and abandonment.

Heart in handLeading with Love

I’ve had lots of restoration and healing in my marriage over the years.  I don’t lead from a place of having it all together.  I lead from a place of brokenness, knowing how hard it is, and continuing to struggle in the process.  I know God has given me kisses of love from Above, and in my marriage, so that I can impart hope to others who are seeking a Godly marriage.*  I lead with Love, because He first loved me. (1 John 4:19)

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to look for ways that you can appreciate your spouse, even in the midst of your struggles.  If you are not married, don’t let the Valentine blues get to you.  Have some fun with a friend or show someone else you care in a non-romantic way.

Who says Valentine’s Day is for lovers?  Make it for love!  You can lead the way!

*This post is dedicated to and inspired by my friends who are in the throes of a strained marital relationship.

This post is listed on Christian Mommy Blogger/Fellowship Fridays and Missional Women/Faith Filled Friday.

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9 Comments

  1. Lisa Mcfall

     /  February 13, 2014

    Great post. God’s love is definately leading me. Love you.

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  2. Gede Prama

     /  February 13, 2014

    Very interested, Have a wonderful day friend 🙂

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    Reply
  3. Dear Ardis,
    Oh, I think divorce is one of the most traumatic things for a child to experience and I am so glad to see that you are at the place where you can encourage others with the same encouragement you have received from our Heavenly Pappa. My oldest son is getting married in April with a sweet girl whose parents got divorced the year before last and it is so beautiful to see with the gentleness he treats her. It was a very traumatic experience for her.
    Blessings XX
    Mia

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    Reply
    • Yes, Mia, divorce is devastating on so many different levels. Keep an openness to your new daughter-in-law’s pain. It may take her a while to grieve the loss. Thanks for taking the time to comment here. Hope you’ll stop back again soon. Ardis

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  4. Excellent! Thanks Ardis for the great post and encouragement.

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    Reply
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    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

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