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It was hard to concentrate as I browsed Victoria’s Secrets. What should I wear when he stepped off the plane? My boyfriend was arriving after an extended time overseas. Hours of talking and texting were fine, but I wanted his arms tight around me.

My folks and friends were in a frenzy because I was still married. Technically speaking, they were right. But Matthew and I had been separated for a year. We had negotiated custody and property issues, paid obscene lawyer bills, and just needed the judge’s signature to finally be divorced.

The last two years had been hell. The marriage went from wonderful to bummer while we were still newlyweds. I was in love with the idea of being married, but all the red kitchen accessories couldn’t compensate for the conflict of daily living.

We were both selfish.
We were both stubborn.
We were both capable of inflicting great hurt.

Elijah was born. I loved my son and he loved me. It was simple, and yet deeply profound. I took refuge in Elijah’s milk breath and floppy feet after a feeding. Being a mom agreed with me.

A few months after Elijah’s birth, my baby brother was killed. My world went black. Matthew and I both felt unfathomable grief, but instead of drawing us together, mourning wedged us apart.

The tension reached an unbearable level; I took Elijah and moved out. Bewildered, Matthew begged me to come back. As he continued to plead for reconciliation, I saw signs of other women at his/our house. I felt stabs of betrayal and began divorce proceedings.
I wasn’t proud about getting divorced.

I had been raised in a Christian home.
I had planned to be married forever.
Yet I longed to be happy. I wanted to take care of myself.

A friend introduced me to my boyfriend. Emails, lengthy phone calls, and hourly texts flew across the ocean. He was ready to settle down; I was ready to settle in to a new chapter. The timing was too soon but emotions don’t submit to calendars.

That night I couldn’t sleep.

Through a mercy I can’t understand or explain, God opened my eyes to my role in the demise of our marriage.
I had spent two years focusing on Matthew’s wrongs, but, now I saw the top line on the eye chart:
my arrogance,
my pride,
my stubbornness.

God struck me with a thunderbolt of clarity.

I had to write or I would explode.

The sun came up before I had finished processing what God revealed to me. I broke up with my boyfriend and sent a text to Matthew. “We need to talk.”

Matthew and I met face to face. When I asked for another chance, he erupted in anger. It must have seemed like the ultimate manipulation. For three days I heard nothing from him.

We went out to dinner. Again, I apologized and asked for forgiveness. Matthew had questions.

“What about all the crap I’ve done?”

“You’ve forgiven me, but what if you can’t let it go?”
“Should we keep our lawyers just in case?”
“What will our friends say?”

Fear and hope hovered in the air. We stared at each other. Matthew shrugged, he smiled, he said,

“Let’s do this!”

He reached his hand across the table and introduced himself: “Hi. My name is Matthew.”

We went out on dates and began anew. We took small steps toward restoration. Our marriage had flat lined, but God breathed air into it and brought it back to life. All the glory and praise belongs to Him.

What was it like for Lazarus to live on earth after being resurrected? He still knew pain, death, disappointment and sin. Mine isn’t a happily-ever-after story. As we work on being friends and lovers—husband and wife— it still isn’t easy. We have forgiven each other and are focusing on (re)building our marriage on God’s truth.

We are trusting God to hold us together.

Katherine and Matthew (not their real names) are expecting their second child in February.

This beautifully written article is by Carol Bakker who was given permission to share this story by those who have lived it.