We all face obstacles, bumps in the road, crisis moments, major turning points in our lives. This could range from some form of personal tragedy –to a major medical issue– to a lurking skeleton in the closet coming to light, or any number of a million possibilities that I could never list. The commonality in all of this is how we can find strength and support to get through them. These things can seem so overwhelming and often we do not understand how we are going to continue, or comprehend what life will look like from now on. We have been facing obstacles as individuals for our entire lives, however once we are married we now have to face them with others.
While this ability to face them with others can be an amazing source of strength and support, it can also be overwhelming and feel like a crushing weight. We have not only our own obstacles, but those of the rest of our families as well. Things that on the surface seem to only affect one member of the family, can have dramatic effects on the entire family unit. Funny thing about families: something that affects one, affects the whole. We are suddenly in this together. As parents, when we simply want to put our heads in the sand and hide is when it feels like everyone needs something, there is a major school project to help with, dinner has to be made, parent teacher conferences to go to, major projects are due at work, there are no clean clothes left and the kid’s school says they have to be dressed, and the list could go on and on.
A little bit about our story: Courtney and I met a little over twelve years ago and were married seven months later. She was still attending SWT (now Texas State), and I had been invited by Howard Payne to take a semester off. While we were young and arguably dumb we did not have many major crisis moments of our own, but watched in the periphery as her brother struggled with depression.
Our first moment of true shock was driving in Austin buying Christmas presents when Courtney’s mother called in hysterics telling her that Joey had just killed himself. We simply pushed through that situation and then when Courtney gave birth to Levi, our youngest son, a few months later and began suffering with her most severe bout of Post Partum Depression, we just kept pushing through and kept thinking that this was a season and would eventually pass.
Then our real moment hit, and we wouldn’t be able to “push through” this one. In January of 2014, I received a phone call from a friend of Courtney’s while I was on my way home from church. She told me that she had been speaking with Courtney over the phone, and I needed to get home and get Courtney to a hospital right away. Her depression had been getting continually worse and warning signs were starting to pop up. We went to an emergency room and spoke with a counselor there, she was referred to an inpatient psychiatric hospital and we checked her in the next day. As I drove home from checking her in is when it really started to sink in that I had just left my wife in a place where they took away her shoe laces, and she didn’t get to choose when she left. Nothing would ever be the same.
So, what are we to do? How are we going to make it? Who is going to pull us through this? When will it ever be back to normal? Why did this happen in the first place?
I can’t even begin to tell you why. All I know is that we have a great, loving and sovereign God, and we live in a dark and broken world.
As for when will things be back to normal, you may never get back to your old normal. In the words of so many people that are much wiser than I: “Sometimes you just have to find a new normal.”
So what is the key? How do we get through this?
Be vulnerable. When we are vulnerable, an amazing thing happens: God’s strength is displayed. (2Cor. 12:9) When we are open and vulnerable, all of the power from whatever calamity has struck us has is taken away. You see, no crisis has any power over God, and so sometimes our only rest comes from God. When we open up to each other, we invite God to start working in our lives. God moves and works through His people. If you want to see God start doing crazy things in your life, then you need to start being real and honest with those around you. Be 100% open and honest with your spouse, find some prayer and accountability with other Christians, and be open and honest with them. When you own the the thing that haunts you, (mind you that I said you own it, not allow it to own you, or define you), then it is no longer some dark thing hiding in the corner that threatens you.
It’s perfectly okay to cry. It’s perfectly okay not to have all of the answers today. It’s perfectly okay to ask God why. It’s perfectly okay to get it wrong sometimes. It is perfectly okay to be weak sometimes. It’s perfectly okay to not be okay.
So what does this look like?
For us, that looked like adjusting what our income expectations were with Courtney staying home instead of working. It meant learning to ask for help, getting involved in a Celebrate Recovery program, and enabling Courtney to seeking regular counseling. Through that experience, we learned so much about being defined by our identity in Christ, not our struggles, but at the same time being real with each other and with others about the things that haunt us.
I don’t know what your obstacles are, but I do know that you will only overcome the obstacles of this world by finding your strength in God and your daily support in His people. I would highly recommend you find a faith based group that deals with whatever obstacle your family is facing.
This post was part of a talk given by my husband Robert at family camp. He was speaking about overcoming obstacles as a family during a session. He wrote it out, and I thought I would share it. I love hearing from him on this topic because he has been an amazing husband throughout our entire marriage.