I Wouldn’t Choose You

Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I saw a title of a book called I Choose You and thought, aww, isn’t that sweet. Of course it’s a romance.

And I’ve seen men and women post on Facebook how they would do it all over again with the spouse they married. Or how about those that even renew their vows.

At this point in my  marriage I wouldn’t renew. Part of me starts thinking that maybe I should even shock my husband when he wants to do something I don’t like by saying, “Well, that’s something to consider for when we separate.”  After all, he’s the one who twice threatened to divorce me via a letter. I never gave him the satisfaction of a response and he never served me papers. It was a manipulation tactic.

But the fact is, right now if he asked me if I was happy in our marriage. I would say no.

If he asked me to marry him again. I would say no.

I don’t regret the past. I made the best decisions I could for who I was at the time.

But now, given all I’ve experienced, I would not choose the man whose last name I bear and who has fathered my children.

Why then, am I still married to him?

Because while I may not choose him at this point, I have chosen God and He wants me here and staying for the moment.

And even when I have failed to be all a Christ-follower should be, God has never abandoned me. So I stay because I choose God.

Why I love Dancing with the Stars

dancing with the starsYes, I admit, I watch Dancing with the Stars. There is something about watching a couple in synch moving about the floor, interacting with each other physically and emotionally, that is breathtaking. The man leading with care and grace and the woman following but very much her own person.

Every dance expresses emotion. It’s more than going through motions because when it is it’s not as beautiful to watch. There’s the much flaunted “musicality” where the dancers need to keep in step with the music and not get out of timing with it.

When it’s done right, it is beautiful. A well done dance can make you smile or cry.

I guess I see it as an illustration of marriage. First, it takes two partners equally committed to the steps of the dance. Second, it takes a listening to the music of the Holy Spirit as God guides the couple through the ups and downs, spins and turns of life. Third, it takes discipline. None of the dancers can do what they do if they are not committed and practice. The final dance seen on the show is only the result of the hard work done behind the scenes: sore muscles, fights and tears, trips and falls, but the couple completely committed to following through – together.

A dance is not beautiful when one partner fails to practice, or doesn’t care, refuses to listen to the music or doesn’t even show up to the floor. Those dancers don’t stay on the show long. The other partner can dance 100% but if the slacker is there it only highlights how poorly he or she is really doing. My heart often goes out to the professionals who had given it their all with a partner that just can’t get it—or won’t.

A marriage is the same. It looks “off” when one partner refuses to dance or even touch the other. Where there is only animosity. Life is not an unending pase doble.  Or when the partner walks off the floor but still calls them self part of the dancing team of two.

I’m not fond of all the skimpy costumes on the show, but I am fond of the romance of it, and the fun. I love the behind the scenes where you see how hard it is.  Winners though rarely complain, they just dig in and do the work and don’t waste time thinking about just how hard it is.  Losers however justify their failures with how hard it is. They become victims of the trial before them – a trial they chose.

I would love to dance in my marriage in time with a spouse to the beauty of the music of the Holy Spirit.  I dance alone and sometimes I resort to the whining about just how hard it is, especially without a partner to support and encourage and share the hardship and joy of the dance.

Yes, I’m still married, but my spouse has stepped off the dance floor and doesn’t care about how well I do. Still, I need to do my best, even if it’s a solo number, and give it as much dedication and passion as if I had that partner to share it with. I need to imagine that Jesus is that partner.

How about you? How are you doing in the dance of a difficult marriage?

Blessings,

Lilly Grace

I Still Believe in Romance

Sometimes I want to curse the fantasy of romance and happily-ever-after. Starry-eyed brides and flowers and first kisses and passionate sex between a husband and wife.

Is this stuff for real?

It’s not my reality. I wanted to be cherished and loved but my family of origin (FOO) led me to believe that no one would ever love me (guess that included them?) and that I was unworthy of such affection and care.

Don’t feel too sorry for me. I’m not stating that for pity.

When I was fifteen, after years of yearning for God and wondering if I should become a nun  so I could pursue that elusive deity (I was Catholic then), I found out that Jesus wanted a personal relationship with me. ME? The girl who was too heavy, wore glasses and whose hair was uncontrollably curly. The ugly one? The one boys only wanted as a “friend” but never to date? The one no-one would love?

Yup. Me. Jesus wanted a relationship with me – because HE loved me.

He may not open car doors or take me to dinner –but he opened up the door to heaven and intimacy with the Almighty Holy God.

The God who created a universe and makes flowers bloom. To show His beauty. To show His love – to me.

Me?

I still ended up getting the short end of the stick when it came to a human relationship with a man. I thought I was getting a godly man but I was deceived by accepting some of the behaviors that were “normal” in my FOO. Like insults and withholding love and emotional, financial and verbal abuse. I didn’t know it could be different or that I deserved better.

I know others who have good marriages. Love. A husband who pursues God and seeks to try to love their wives and serve them. It makes me want to cry. Cry because of the beauty of that kind of love. Cry because I don’t have that. Cry because my heart still so longs to be the recipient of a man’s adoration, affection, encouragement and partnership in this life. Cry because my successes get shared with friends who cannot be there daily. Cry because what I have is not what I was created for.

Men, if you read this, realize that for a woman like me, looks are not everything.  A man who has a heart for God is far more attractive than the buffest model. A man of godly character who treats a woman right – is worth gold.

At times I’ve blamed God my lack of human, romantic love. Yet I made choices, the best I could at the time. God has always been there, faithful and loving me through my good and bad days and somehow still uses me for HIS glory and plan here on earth.

I write under the name Lilly Grace Brown so I can be as brutally honest with you about my struggle so you can find someone who understands and “gets” how hard it is to be in a difficult marriage. To maybe be abused, lonely and wanting more. So much more. But denied that reality in the human realm.

Under another name I write inspirational romances because I still believe it exists and the only way I can experience that – is through my characters as they struggle and overcome their challenges by the grace of God. And find love.

I’ve not come to that kind of ending but someday I will. I will have eternity with Jesus. He did lay His life down for me. He inscribed me on the palm of his hand – better than a tattoo with my name somewhere on a man’s body! He woos me gently and never condemns me. He gives me flowers. He gave me children (a mixed blessing some days!).

I’ve gone through times where I could not read romances because I felt so bad with longing for what I couldn’t have. Now I find comfort in them knowing that God is the lover of my soul.

How about you? Do you still believe in romance?

Blessings,

LGB

The Anti-Love Story?

I chuckled when I discovered that my non-fiction book: “Lessons from the Trenches: Staying in a Difficult Marriage” did not make the cut in the Women of Faith/Westbow competition.

It looks like most of the finalists were romance. Yes, we all want romance. Who wants reality?

A few months back when I was working on the book, a bride-to-be and her mother were sitting down at a table next to me planning for a wedding. The irony of that struck me. She has stars in her eyes, dreams in her heart and confidence in the power of love that will sustain her till she is old and grey through whatever comes their way. It’s a dream we all buy into, isn’t it?

That’s why Disney has made so much money. Why my daughter loves to watch movies about Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid . . . we are raised from early on in the good ol’ US of A to believe that the pursuit of happiness means “happily ever after.”

And no one could tell us it’s a myth. Yet it’s as much a deception as the prosperity gospel that promises that God desires us all to be wealthy and healthy and anything less is an abomination to the faith.

Hosea was told to marry a prostitute and repeatedly take her back as an example to the Israel of how they were treating God. How Hosea’s heart must have been crushed over and over. Now maybe he was a less than stellar example of manhood. We really don’t know. But it had to be a blow to his pride to have his wife repeatedly seek her “entertainment” with other men.

Most women feel shamed and slighted even when a husband chooses to stimulate himself through pornography. It’s like they are not enough to hold his interest, to satisfy his needs. Actually it has nothing to do with that – but tell that to a woman’s hurting heart.

We women long to be the center of our husband’s love. After Jesus, we want to be important, secure, protected, cherished. And we crash inwardly when that is withheld from us for whatever reason.

The enemy is behind all these lies that we have bought into and we are gullible enough to keep pursuing the myth.

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner.  I remember one where I got a dozen red roses. I still have the vase. It’s in my bathroom with silk roses. A mockery of the promise of vibrant love that turned plastic. The diamond I had been given one year, I ended up giving back. I then got it as a necklace, I was too hurt and afraid to wear. Last year due to our financially difficulties I finally sold it to help buy groceries. I put it to better use than sitting in a drawer where it had been for 20+ years, another reminder of pain and sorrow. I still have my wedding ring, although it too feels like a mockery of promises made and unkept.

So reality sucks, doesn’t it? When we have been hurt, abandoned, criticized, abused. . . Valentine’s Day doesn’t seem like a nice holiday. It mocks us and reminds us of our loss and maybe even brings us to grieve again those childhood dreams.

I’m still married in spite of all that. I’m walking in obedience to my Lord in the midst of my pain and struggle. My girlfriend said that my book is not an “un-romance” but rather a look at the most important romance of all – of me and my Jesus. The God who pursued me and gave me more than diamonds. He gave His life to redeem mine. That is true love and it is eternal and far more secure than what any human on earth can give.

So, this Valentine’s Day, I do wish you love and joy. But I pray that you ultimately are finding that in the arms of a Savior who desires you more than any human ever could. He will never leave or forsake you and He will walk with you through the pain of the other disappointments that this life dishes out. This world is not my home. Someday I will have all the hearts and flowers and a place to live beyond compare that my Lord is building for me – and for you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Blessings

LGB