By Maryanne Abbate
They lived happily ever after……
As a child, that was my favorite part of a fairy tale. With dreamy thoughts, I imagined my carefree self tightly holding on to my beloved, our hair playfully flowing in the wind as we rode on the back of a magnificent white stallion into the radiant sunset.
I carried this naive thinking into adulthood wanting to see the world through rose colored glasses, choosing to believe that marriage would be magical - blissful. This was an unrealistic perspective, an unfair setup for my future prince.
When I met him in college, I fell hard for those dark chestnut brown eyes and olive Italian skin. He captured my heart, and we married. However, our ride into the sunset was more like a roller coaster ride through the center of a tornado. Reality has a way of crushing the fairy tale ending. Our story got messy.
Within the first eighteen months of marriage, I gave birth to twins. I had been on bedrest for two months, yet our babies were still eight weeks premature. Their birth and neonatal stay left us with staggering medical bills and a painful diagnosis of cerebral palsy for our daughter. She needed extensive physical, occupational, and speech therapy. More money…. More time…. More anguish….
Our young marriage struggled to survive under the weight of our heavy circumstances. Hurt and pain abounded creating a crater-like chasm between us. We dealt with our hurt and disappointment in different ways making it hard to comfort one another..
We were both in survival mode.
He worked to pay the bills, and I took care of the twins and coordinated umpteen doctors appointments and therapy sessions. We were numb and drifting.
The image of the magical sunset in our fairy tale had certainly faded; our story was in desperate need of God’s grace to paint a new sunset of deeper sustaining colors as well as to infuse new life - new hope into our marriage.
Friend, God’s grace can always be found in abundance when we find ourselves in the threadbare places of life. His word says, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
God was gracious to us, and He extended His grace in a multitude of ways.
This grace came through wise counsel from surprising sources, the support of our church community, timely provision for bills and help, and most importantly by God’s presence and the balm of His word.
His grace sustained us giving us the supernatural capacity for empathy and a clearer perspective of each other’s hearts.
However, it was and is still a process.
Imperfectly, we learned to make allowances for each other’s pain. Grace allowed us the latitude to express hurt in our own unique healthy ways.
Imperfectly, we learned to forgive each other when overwhelming circumstances left us deficient, hindering us from meeting each other’s needs.
Years later, grace would literally carry our marriage in a dramatic way. In 2006, my husband and I buried our youngest son who died in a tragic car accident.
Without grace, we couldn’t have survived such devastation.
We still desperately need it.
We still fall short in the application of it, yet it still sustains us.
It is the anchor, the mainstay of our lives in ways I can’t explain.
Grace is life saving - life giving.
Word of the Day:
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8
Prayer: Father, I come before you with a heart filled with gratitude and awe for the gift of your grace. Its power carries, sustains, and breathes new life into my weary soul. Help me to clearly see where Your ribbons of grace and goodness have been woven through the chapters of my life. You always offer me security of heart, so I can face my unknowns with confidence. I ask these things in Jesus name, Amen.