On Tuesday I attended a funeral of a close family friend. My mom, a Reverend, had the challenging task of officiating and delivering the eulogy. She served in the same capacity three years ago when his wife passed away. She and the deceased had been friends for over 50 years. She is the godmother to their oldest daughter. He and his wife are family to us. Though her heart was heavy, my mom delivered a phenomenal message about family that stayed with me.
During the viewing, which preceded the actual Homegoing Service (that’s what us Jesus Followers say instead of funeral), a slide show of family pictures played continuously on a large screen. The pictures spanned the entire 50 years my mom had known him and his wife. I remembered some of the pictures from when their daughters, my sisters, and I were kids. As I looked at each picture I saw a beautiful life, well lived, full of love, laughter and I’m sure a lot of mountains to climb and valley experiences too. But, they made it to the destination that not many in my family ever have. They made it “until death do us part.” And as sad as I was that his daughters now had to face a life without either of their parents, I was just as happy that he and the love of his life were together again.
For the better part of this week I haven’t been able to get the images I saw out of my mind. In my family divorce is like a plague. My mother is one of six children, five girls and one boy. All of their marriages ended in divorce except one. My mom’s twin sister and her husband will be married 50 years next year. My dad was an only child. So, with the exception of one of us, all of my first cousins, my siblings, and me are all the product of divorce. And out of all of us that have been married, there is only one that remains married to his first and only wife. I believe I may be the winner of the bunch, having been divorced twice.
After attending the Homegoing Service on Tuesday, one of my daughters and I were talking about my aunt and uncle celebrating 50 years of marriage next year. She asked me if I thought it was possible to be married for 50 years without anyone cheating, abuse, separation or any of the dysfunctional things she has witnessed in the marriages in my family, including my own. I told her I believe no marriage is without its troubles. However, I definitely believe it is possible to remain married for 50 years or more without the types of things she has witnessed occurring.
That night, my heart was so heavy. I found myself in my own way repeating my daughter’s question to God. I thought about the heartbreak I felt when my husband of 15 years filed for divorce. For me, in my mind, it was my second failed attempt at marriage. My first attempt was at age 19 when I married my high school sweetheart. That marriage quickly imploded and ended after five years. I married my second husband when I was 25 and if I am honest with myself I would have to admit we probably should’ve always just been friends. Neither of us were equipped to be husband and wife. Still, like my daughter, I wanted to know if it was even possible for me to make it to “until death do us part” with someone.
As recently as the beginning of this year the thought of being in a relationship and most definitely being married again really creeped me out! I cringed at the thought of it. I told God I didn’t think I could ever give that much of myself to anyone again. But, when I posed my daughter’s question to Him from my heart He replied, “There are no impossibilities in Me. Your options are limitless. The brokenness you have witnessed and experienced in your past does not have to be your or your daughter’s future outcome. You take the lessons and leave the luggage. Allow Me to be the Gatekeeper of your heart. I will govern who enters in. When the right one, one who is willing to remain until death, and be the recipient of the well-spring of unconditional love that flows freely from your heart, presents himself, your heart will know.”
When I think of my marriages, I am finally at a place of peace. I wasn’t a perfect wife, but I loved as perfectly as I could and gave to both of those men the very best I had to give. I walked away from my first marriage with three beautiful daughters that raised me to be a pretty good mom. From my second marriage I walked away with a much closer relationship with Jesus and wisdom that is priceless!
Breast cancer has afforded me the opportunity to examine areas of my heart and mind that I probably would have left untouched for as long as I could, because the pain of working out my total healing has been far greater than I thought I could handle. But as always, God has remained faithful to His word: 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV) “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
For today, I don’t know what my future holds as far as a romantic relationship. Right now breast cancer is all I can handle. And if I were a guy, I definitely wouldn’t be scoping out the hot chick fighting breast cancer (Lol). But, seeing the timeline of pictures from the beautiful life our family friends shared together allowed me to see until death do us part is possible and sparked a hope and desire in my heart to have that not just for myself, but for all the generations of my family behind mine.
I discovered I have been married twice, but have yet to experience an actual marriage – two people who honor, love, and respect one another, joined in oneness, desiring to exemplify through their union how Christ loves His Body, the Church. Should the man that is willing to hang in there with me until death find his way to me and my heart recognizes him, he will have won the best version of me! Those other two were my practice husbands. The third time’s the charm! Lol.