I think most of us had some big illusions about what marriage would be like. That we entered our marriages likely knowing it was a serious commitment, without fully realizing that each person entered that marriage with a list of expectations (whether they knew it or not). I know that I entered my marriage with an understanding that Mark and I were extremely different from one another and that the marriages we had witnessed in our lifetimes had a variety of outcomes. I vowed to Mark that I would love and respect him, and that I was committed to the marriage until death would part us. I don't think either of us actually realized how much we would have to sacrifice to make a marriage work, and how much we would have to work to make our marriage abundant and God centered. We had moments where I know Mark didn't feel like I allowed him to lead, and moments where I felt like I took the brunt of the family and household responsibilities on. After a year long custody battle that was sometimes very ugly, I realized some of what Mark had been carrying on his shoulders. As the end of that battle arrived and I looked back I saw that Mark had conducted himself with such dignity despite unbelievable accusations, and true fears of losing his daughters forever. He never asked me to bear that burden for him, not even once. Now almost 4 years after the girls moved in with us I have learned how taxing his role of communicator was, how much he held in to keep the peace, and how many difficult conversations he had to have. I didn't know because he sacrificed himself for me. When we were struggling financially he would work as many hours as he could, he would take on side jobs he didn't have the energy or time for, and he would miss the moments at home. He sacrificed for me, for our children, to provide for us. Throughout our marriage I learned more and more about the burdens Mark bore, childhood trauma, abuse, neglect, abandonment, and I know that even the love he gave to the people around him was a sacrifice, because he had to first overcome the damage. Did I make sacrifices too? Of course I did, because that is what marriage is.
Recently, it has occurred to me that I am making a sacrifice now, even though this sacrifice was not my choice. There was a night that I was feeling so sorry for myself, sitting on the couch crying about how my husband left me here on earth to figure out this life on my own. How unfair it was that this new label of "widow" has been forced upon me. Then Aaliyah, sweet Aaliyah, spoke right to my soul. She said to me, "Megan, I know that its really hard to be here without Dad, but at least he is not hurting. Dad had such a hard life, he had so many bad things happen to him, and the world is really scary. Maybe God thought that Dad had enough pain and bad things happen and He just wanted to bring him to heaven where the streets are golden so he won't be in pain anymore." I can't speak on what God's intentions or reasons are, but in those words she reminded me of a promise God has made, the promise of restoration. I thought to myself about my husband Mark without his burdens, without the past pain, without the physical limitations, in his new restored heavenly body and I saw his smile, his beautiful smile. As much pain as I am in now, I can make this sacrifice on earth because it means that my Marky is freed of all of his burdens. What a site he has to be to behold, a child of the King, living out eternity without a worry, without pain. God called me to be Mark's wife, and part of my calling as Mark's wife is to sacrifice for him. Someday I will join him in heaven, and God will do the same for me. This journey of mine may not seem so long once I have arrived in my heavenly home.
"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." James 4:14