Beginning in April, there was a growing distance between my husband and I that I fought to erase. I chased and pulled and clung to him and did everything I could think of, in complete desperation. I was almost in a frenzy trying to win him back. In July we went to teen camp and I felt God asking me to surrender my all to Him. I went forward to the altar and told God I would surrender everything to Him, but please don't ask me to surrender my family- namely my husband. I knew that during this time of trying to win my husband's affections again that I had elevated him to a place that only God belonged. I wasn't quite willing to let go of that yet.
After camp things continued to deteriorate and I grew more and more desperate. I was clinging to God and begging Him to fix things, but I still hadn't come to the place where I had put Him back in the number one position. In August, my husband went on a missions trip, and was gone for 9 days. They were among the worst days of my life(up to that point). I missed him so much. I cried every day. I knew that the way I missed him seemed overly dramatic, but no one saw the fear I had inside that he would realize how much he enjoyed being away from me.
During this time, I decided to join in our church's challenge to read the New Testament during the month of August trying to find peace in God's Word. The first few days were uneventful, but then I came to the verses that changed my life.
“Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32I have read these verses before. More than once. But when I read them on August 8 they jumped right off the page at me. I began to study them. When Jesus said this to Simon, he was telling Simon that Satan wanted to sift the all of the apostles like wheat. The original Greek word for that first "you" was plural. But then Jesus told Simon that He had prayed for him specifically. I saw "Simon, Simon", but what I was hearing inside was "Jeannie, Jeannie, look out! Satan has asked to sift your family like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your family." That day I knew God was calling me to surrender everything to Him. Everything. And this time I was willing. I wrote by the verses in my Bible "I surrender all - 8/8/13"
I also felt called. To something... but to what I did not immediately know. Even not knowing exactly what I was agreeing to do, I felt that it would involve trying to encourage other people. In my small minded way of thinking, I thought maybe this blog was it, although the thought of sharing such intimate things about myself in trying to encourage others was quite intimidating. It wasn't very long afterward when God revealed what He had in mind for me. And suddenly a blog wasn't so intimidating!
During this time of extreme stress in my marriage, I had sought help from a Biblical counselor. During one of my conversations with her when I was sharing the feeling that God was calling me to something she asked me a question. She asked if I had ever considered counseling others. Ummm... yes! I had a major interest in psychology and had thought in the past that I would love to be a counselor. When she asked me that it was as if God was saying to me, "This is what I have planned for you. Not only are you going to strengthen your family, you are going to strengthen other families through marriage and family counseling."
But, as is typical when God asks me to do something, I begin to think of reasons why I can't. "Lord, my own marriage is falling apart. How in the world can I counsel anyone else? Who would want my advice?" Shortly after that, my husband ended up moving out. Naturally, that just furthered my idea that I was not qualified for this. Then I saw a quote that says "God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called". I think of Moses and his denials that he was the man for the job God called him to. I think of the fact that God created Moses so He certainly knew whether or not he was suited to the job. And the same can be said of me. God created me and He had a plan and a purpose for me long before I was ever born. If He calls you to do something, it is because He created you to do that very thing.
Although my husband still isn't back, I have faith that he will be back and our marriage will grow stronger than ever. And it will be out of what seemed to be the ashes of my marriage that I will have developed the empathy, sympathy, and compassion needed to counsel those that find themselves in similar situations. I will have been qualified by the very one that carried me through the days I didn't know if I could walk out the door and face the world without losing it.
I still don't have it all together and many days I fall victim to the lies of Satan and mourn my marriage as if it were over. There are still days I beg God to end this now, even though I know He will not let this last any longer than needed to prepare me for what He has prepared for me, and to refine me. But it is through the brokenness that He will be able to shine through. And that's what I want to come of all of this. I want people to see God through me. It's time to pull myself up by the bootstraps, and squeeze every possible lesson out of this trial, and begin to strengthen my family and sisters in Christ.