**This post is written by Brian**
Three weeks ago, I prayed that our Father would write a new narrative into our lives and give us stories to testify of His goodness. I had envisioned Him working externally so I was a bit off-guard when the early miracle occurred within my stubborn heart. I should have known; DTS is often called a ‘school of the heart.’ In lectures, we have discussed that “you only keep what you freely give away.” So I lay aside my personal pride and embrace God’s love and redemptive grace. I believe this story is not just for our family, may this new narrative also breath hope and encouragement into your life.
For 25 years of marriage, Jenn and I have lived in close proximity rather than in intimacy. We have lived parallel lives and Jenn has expressed that it felt as though we live on separate islands. Needless to say, this is not a recipe for intimacy, security, or comfort in marriage nor is it a legacy we desire our children to inherit. It is easy to attribute the distance to misplace priorities, business of life, and poor communication tools; however, more time with Jenn and secular counsel was not restoring our marriage. The wounds are real and the roots much deeper than I cared to admit.
Harbored within my soul is an independent spirit that fiercely battles any perceived manipulation by others. A coping mechanism from childhood that has outlived its usefulness and matured into pride. Jenn’s desire for love and affirmation (wearing a wedding ring or dates) has been met with resistance for years. In the first week of DTS, we were asked to pray what the Lord thought of our spouses. The word ‘valued’ came to mind; however, the Lord affirmed ‘valuable.’ I had never considered how different the two words are. God not only values Jenn, He treasures her. I recognized the problem, saw the hurt within Jenn, but felt defenseless to defuse the spirit.
Pride coupled with guilt is a winning combination for the enemy. I grew up in the Christian home and fully understood that premarital sex violated His design for marriage. In my sophomore year of college, I fell in love and compromised my convictions. Repeated sex before marriage created a powerful association between intimacy and guilt. My theology around Hebrew 10:26 condemned me and for most of our marriage I lived in a personal exile. I asked for forgiveness (faithlessly) but the consequences of sin and our intellect show no mercy. The exile was broken when I encountered God after Hannah’s death; however, the association between guilt and intimacy remained steadfast.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” - I John 1:9.
Last night, Brian and Sue (YWAM leaders), walked me though three prayers of repentance.
Repentance for premarital sex, restoration of affected marriages, and the replacement of guilt with joy in our marriage.
Removal of soul-ties and a new spirit of purity and single-mindedness within our marriage.
Repentance for pride and the replacement of independence with unity.
Open confessions and prayers created a feeling of liberation and hope but God had even more than just emotional relief planned. Brian mentioned that actions often precede emotions and the next few months may be awkward. Sue asked if I had my wedding ring in Mexico and Jenn laughed and answered "Umm no! It's probably buried in a drawer at home..who knows where!"
While considering how I would buy a ring in Ensenada, Brian rummaged through a yellow backpack near my feet. Out came old receipts and expired boarding passes; I was fully expecting an old plastic bottle cap ring as a temporary symbol of my commitment to Jenn. However, to my surprise, a rugged and beautiful ring appeared in his hand. Six months ago, Brian purchased a second wedding ring in Kona, Hawaii at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Neither Sue or his daughter understood why; it was too big for his finger and wearing two rings is awkward. As he handed me the ring, Brian realized it was not intended for him all along. The ring fit my left hand perfectly and the wood and shell inlay are personally meaningful to me.
This gift God had prepared months before was only five feet away during our three prayers. A gift that echoes the story Jesus Christ told in Luke 15:22. I pray that God imprints this story in my heart forever, that our marriage become more emotionally and physically intimate, and I never doubt the unmeasurable love of a Father for his children. God is so good and gracious that He provided a beautiful ring of remembrance from a distant island. So I lean into the hard work of restoring our marriage with hope and faith that God is for us.