Almost seventeen years ago I wore that slip of a white dress and said: “I do.”
I might as well have been twelve and spending my parents’ savings on a new bike, with my little life experience. I was full of zeal and opinions and I’d found a man who liked that. I’d also found someone who would carry my secrets, tenderly.
We were young in heart, wearing big kids’ clothes at Christ Church on that day. We said our vows before a crowd of three hundred and whispered secrets to one another about our dreams, late into the night.
He felt safe.
As married life lost its carefulness alongside its newness, so did my filter. I unlocked not only the thoughts about me that I hadn’t realized were tucked away — but also my unfettered opinions of him.
Marriage was going to make us better. Stronger. And information, generously shared, about our flaws and weaknesses and “areas for growth” gave us the power to grow (so I thought).
Except he didn’t like that so much.
My haphazardly delivered thoughts about him weren’t often welcomed and I was unwilling to consider the delivery. It was a gift, after all, to give this man the input I had about his life.
The marriage-whispers began to peter, even in our newlywed days. I didn’t want to share the innermost parts of me with one who didn’t want to also hear my feedback about him.
I withheld — stubborn, but God was merciful.
We found ourselves stuck, stalled. God used this to show me another kind of marriage-whisper, another kind of secret. I ever-so-slowly started to talk to Him instead of carelessly sharing my life-suggestions with my husband.
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Dialogue with God
I had a hearing with God, the Father who saw me kindly, even in my immaturity. He fielded my in-the-middle-of-the-night whispers (that started mostly as fret) and turned them, over time, into trusted secrets. God strengthened the muscle required to lean into Him on my insides as I held my tongue in public but poured out myself in private before Him. I dialogued with God about my heart, my marriage, and my man.
God became safer to me than even the boy who gave me his name and his paycheck and his youthful-but-real promise. My marriage now involved three. Functionally. At times, the greatest love affair was my secret conversation with God about that boy.
I filled notebooks with God’s Word — verses to pray for my husband — and was interrupted when He nudged me with His secrets about Nate. Our conversation was not one-sided. Years of confiding in God, and quieting my otherwise running mouth, gave me an inroad to hear and not just to speak.
I was falling in love with Nate, and not just over late-night conversations and spontaneous dates and concerts. I was falling in love with Nate as I talked to God about him.
For the New Bride or Seasoned Wife
Hey you — new bride or wife celebrating a decade or woman just needing a jumpstart,
Have you started telling secrets to God about that one who has more-than-quirks you can’t quite get over? It’s never to late for a love affair.
If the horizontal seems to be stunted — or if you want more out of marriage than a shared bank account and a shared calendar or even shared missions trips — maybe it’s time to go vertical.
Could it be that marriage is your school of prayer?
We don’t need to stuff those things we see and feel and discern about our husbands so that our homes can be peaceable. Those thoughts are intended to be carried right back to God. He works out and in, in those conversations.
If dialogue with God seems laborious or merely like another task on your list, it’s possible your marriage is right there too. Remember that dress, fitted perfectly to your frame, and your ring on those manicured hands and the way he looked at you that day and remind yourself that you were made for fiery love.
That fire starts when no one is looking, not even your man. To last, the fire has to be vertical — just between you and God — first.
Let’s get alone and revive. It’s time to talk secrets with God.
And for the seasoned bride — the one who is counseling young ones and pulling her yellowed dress out of storage for her daughters,
Is it time to go to new places in prayer for your man? To ask things new things for his heart and his life and to be willing to unlock new closets of your own heart and his while you hold your hands open to field God’s secrets about that no-longer-youthful groom?
The end is better than the beginning when God is fueling the conversation. Advanced years can translate into advanced secrets, shared, with God.
Lead the rest of us into the heart of God by how you are unrelenting in asking for the fully-surrendered heart of your man. (We’re watching. We’re learning from you.)
Our dreams for our husbands are far too small.
Tapping into the currency of God — prayer — takes the ceiling off of who they can be in Him. (And who we can be as we pray.)
Sara Hagerty, SaraHagerty.net
Sara Hagerty masterfully draws from her own story of spiritual and physical barrenness to birth in readers a new longing for God. Whatever lost expectations readers are facing—in family, career, singleness, or marriage—Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet will bring them closer to a God who longs for them to know him more. What does it look like to know God’s nearness when life breaks? What does it mean to receive his life when earthly life remains barren? With exquisite storytelling and reflection, Hagerty brings readers back to hope, back to healing, back to a place that God is holding for them alone—a place where every bitter thing is sweet.