Refining Love

Tidy. Most people like to live and show a tidy life as a trophy case on display. Behind a spotless glass the trophies are untouchable, unmoved and on display for all to admire. The proud accomplishments throughout life that have become memorials of achievement. However, the trophy case cannot share the stories that are more impressive than the piece of metal. And, most often, while interested eyes look through the glass case, they may not know the coach who carried the team to victory. They most certainly may  not know of all of the failed attempts. All of the pain. All of the tears. All of the efforts, injuries, shortcomings and practices in the storms, before the victory.

You see, the stories are actually worth more than the tangible object held over heads in celebration. The stories, are the life change. The stories are where one has the opportunity to share that the victory won was because of Christ alone. The stories are His glory. The trophy, the memorial, is to remember the story. But, we have to be brave enough to share them. Because, most often I find that the story is never just about the teller, it's about the person who is listening who needed to hear it, too.

I call myself a hot mess a lot. I am a hot mess filled with His message. Many people misinterpret me when I say it. It's not derogatory in anyway. It's me embracing the messiness of a beautiful life and the redemption of Christ in me. It's a public profession of His glory despite my natural tendency to get in His way.  Calling myself a hot mess is a way of expressing, that I chose the messiness that comes with deciding not to allow certain life experiences to define me, but rather, refine me. It's a messy painful process. But, what hurts even worse, is to decide not to be refined.

 Behind the trophy case that you may have assigned me, or that I display, this girl has had so much going on beyond what the eyes can see. I have shared many of my victory stories as God has stirred in me to do. But, God has started to help me understand that sometimes it is important to share the victory story before the trophy, before the championship, before the the battle has been completely won.  That His grace is not just in the outcome. His grace IS in the midst of it all.

Our struggles may be packaged differently but our God  is not. Today I have the courage to touch on a subject that many Christians, I find, are unwilling to talk about unless they've arrived at the other side. Marriage struggles.

To me, I've been behind the looking glass of so many marriages, looking in and wondering - wow- look at all of those trophies. Now, I know better than to assume, but if I don't check myself, it is easy to allow my thoughts to drift and wonder, is my marriage the only one that is so broken?

Years of not prioritizing each other and not putting God first in our marriage, left us in a place of brokenness, resentment, hurt and anger.  However, recently, by the grace of God alone, He has provided healing and hope. He has set the road ahead not as a champion's parade but as a path out of the woods, with unexpected twists and turns, from this day until eternity. A path, to walk, hand in hand, together, out of the cover of darkness and into the light. A path, that isn't perfect, but that says, come on and walk with us. We've been there. We are here. Let's walk towards healing together. Let's embrace our perfectly imperfect marriage just as God embraces our perfectly imperfect selves.

From the stand of faith, let's say, we're not afraid to tell the world what God is doing in us and we know that our struggle is for His glory.  I don't want others to see a trophy case when they look at us. I want them to see a canvas, messy and beautiful, covered with the blood of Christ and His redemption shinning through. When others look at our marriage, I want them to say, "Praise God. Look at what Christ is doing!"

When our children look to us, they will no longer see us as fighting with each other but, fighting for each other.

The legacy we will leave together is love and the painful refining process of walking in love. Day after day after day. I know the next ten years will be richer than the last. I know that He isn't finished with us yet. And, I know this story is so worth sharing instead of just keeping it to ourselves. What the enemy was trying to kill, to steal, to destroy, he has not and will not.  Christ, who is seated on the throne, didn't need to stand. He needed us too.  And, we have. Together. We will stand firm and say it hasn't always been pretty, it hasn't been easy but, it is worth it and by God, together we will continue to fight for each other.

Christ made a way. He moved mountains. He caused walls to fall. He broke chains. He set us free and called us one. Then, he painted the skies and showed me what our new life together would look like, like the dawning of a new day.

 He then showed me the cross and gently reminded us that He, God, is a master at using the wreckage of a storm and transforming it for His glory. To shout to the world, not look at what the storm did, but instead, LOOK AT WHAT  I  CAN DO!  Death to life. Beauty from ashes. Better than rebuilt, remade. He showed me the broken remains of a dock on Litchfield Beach from Hurricane Matthew that  someone used the broken pieces to make a cross, to remind me, that all things can be remade. And, he doesn't just rebuild. He transforms. He renews. He remakes a changed marriage, a new union as one together, in Christ alone.

Instead of a trophy to hold, I have my lover's hand and a story of redemption that Christ alone has allowed which is the process of refining love.