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The Tale of Three Marriages

I've had three marriages so far.

[Don't freak out just yet. Read until the end.]

My first marriage was characterized by HIDING.

It lasted about 10 years.

We so longed to be the perfect Christians, the right kind of wife and/or husband, the ones everyone would look at and say, “We wish we could be just like them. They have it all together.”

Needless to say, with this kind of pressure to perform, we hid from ourselves, our families, our church and mostly, from each other.

We had lots of manners, not a lot of meaning.

Lots of talk, not a lot of truth.

Lots of outer, not a lot of inner.

We actually did NOT have a lot of CONFLICT (which probably made my conflict-avoiding, peace-loving husband a happy camper), but we also did NOT have a lot of CLOSENESS.

To be honest, it felt good.

But it wasn't good.

Thankfully, one fateful day, that marriage came to an abrupt end.

One of us took a risk.

Secrets came pouring out.

But instead of grace, the other one of us lashed back with judgment and anger.

The "picture-perfect" image where we were godly people in a godly marriage was shattered.

In a million pieces.

We couldn't go back. It had to end.

Enter my second marriage.

This one was filled with HARD WORK.

It also lasted about 10 years, give-or-take.

I didn't want to end up in the same place, so this time around, my spouse and I put our noses to the grind.

We shared our flawed selves with trepidation and transparency.

We had lots of conflict.

We fought to show grace, compassion and forgiveness.

We opened up to trusted friends.

We went to counseling to learn how to truly accept and love another.

Gladly and sadly, it wasn't quite enough.

This marriage was better than the first, but it wasn't what we truly wanted.

It, too, came to an end.

But this time, it was slow and steady.

The mutual compassion we shared allowed for us to let it go and explore our true heart's desire.

After 20 years of HIDING and HARD WORK, I had no idea if another marriage, the one I so longed for, was something God would grant me.

He surprised me.

It started off so differently from the others.

Yet, it reaped the benefit from the others.

This third marriage brought HEALING.

At a snail's pace.

And this marriage wasn't about the other person.

Blaming them.

Fixing them.

Forgiving them.

This one was about our "selves."

Our personal discoveries.

Our core wounds of shame and abandonment that really were the root cause of the demises of our previous marriages.

Our self-acceptance.