Did you seek counseling?
Yes, I'm a big believer in sound, godly counsel. So is my husband, Keith. You don't go through what I went through and not get counsel. I needed someone to talk me through it.
It was the worst season of my life. But God, in his goodness, brought such fruit out of my turmoil and despair. I like to translate 1 Peter 1:6-7 into layman's termsour fiery trials burn the fake out of us. For me, the fake was over. I didn't have the desire for it anymore.
What do you tell others struggling with grief or despair?
Grieve your loss, wrestle it out, throw a spiritual fit. But through those tears, allow the Word to reside in you.
Psalm 126:5-6 means the world to me: "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him." Even when we think, I'll never get over this as long as I live, if we stay faithful, God promises we'll reap a harvest of joy. He'll never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). That's why we've got to know his Wordso when our feelings don't match what we know to be true, we can still put one foot in front of the other.
You've admitted your marriage hasn't been perfect.
Keith and I came as close to divorcing as you can and not divorce. We married when I was only 21, and I discovered I was pregnant with Amanda only eight weeks after our wedding. We each entered marriage carrying a deluxe, five-piece set of emotional baggage. We used to fight like cats and dogs! We're an odd mix, but we've always been very attracted to each other. We've laughed repeatedly over how we saved the courts and us so much money, because we would have kept remarrying!
I'm a proponent of couples sticking things out. But I mean sticking it out and being in love. Fighting not with each other, but for each other. That should be our goal, unless we're being misused or abused. Then we need to fly as fast as we can to godly counsel, and get to a safe place.
What advice would you give those with troubled marriages?
Let me lay it out for you: Keith wasn't always a man of faith. In the past, he would go to church as often as he wouldn't. But God told me to treat Keith as though he were already the spiritual leader of our home. When I needed advice, I'd think, I don't even know if Keith has a prayer life. And I'm to ask him what to do? And God would say yes.
That feels risky.
Yes. But a mentor told me early on, "Beth, if you treat that man like he already is everything you want him to become, he'll become it." I could have cut Keith down with my tongue, but I didn't think that was wise. A man needs his woman's respect. So I asked God to raise Keith into a prayer warrior, for him to produce spiritual fruit through Keith's life. And slowly but surely, I began to see those things happen!