Thursday, October 10, 2013

Our "Secret"

Nearly three weeks ago, my husband and I renewed our wedding vows.  It was a small, simple service right after the Sunday morning services in our church.  I've been told there wasn't a female there without tears in her eyes.  I don't know – my eyes never left my husband's face.  I do know that whatever was – and is – was all God.

After the service, someone called out to me, "Can you tell us your secret?"  I was on my way to grab something from my purse, but as I hurried away I yelled back over my shoulder, "Prayer!"  I wish now I'd taken the time to really answer.  The answer is still prayer, but I'm afraid it seemed a little glib as I said it over my shoulder that morning.  There was nothing glib about it.  It's honest truth... and so much more important than anyone would have believed from the way I tossed my answer out that morning.

Several months ago, during one of our counseling sessions, our psychologist asked me what my husband could do to help when I was experiencing the depressive side of my mood disorder.  I shrugged my shoulders – I really didn't know.  I didn't think there was anything he could really do for me in those moments.  It was just something I had to get through on my own.  Our psychologist then asked how it would be if my husband prayed for me.  Tears gathered unexpectedly in my eyes.  It touched me in a way that surprised me.  The thought of my husband praying over me was an intensely powerful one.

I think it was a few weeks later when our psychologist gave us an assignment – to pray together daily.    Those first few prayers stirred something within me.  To be honest, though, while the prayers continued fairly regularly... the stirrings inside didn't.  The prayers were stilted...  predictable...  a little like reading from a prayer book rather than talking from the heart.  I could almost hear my last pastor calling them "vending machine" prayers.

In late August, though, we found ourselves face to face with some tough things to work through.  In a hotel room, away from friends and family, with prayers from two pastors covering us, we began with prayer.  There were some hard questions that night... and some hard answers.  There were silent prayers as we grappled honestly and openly with the problems we faced.  And after everything was said, there were more prayers.  The seemingly rote type of prayer we had shared over the past few months was gone – replaced by prayers of true brokenness and openness between us.  Prayers of repentance.  Prayers for direction.  Prayers of thanksgiving.  After that last prayer, I leaned over to hug my husband.  As I drew back from the hug, I kissed his cheek and suddenly, as I tasted the saltiness of the tears coursing down his face (and mine), there was an inexplicable healing.  Those broken, humble, open, honest prayers had torn down something between us and allowed God in to stir things... renew things... heal things in a way that left us both with our jaws hanging open.  It was not the ending either of us had anticipated for the evening.  It was a new beginning with Jesus' fingerprints all over it – something only God could do.

We pray together daily now – sometimes several times.  Now, when I feel a mood swing coming on, I talk with my husband, let him hold me, and he prays over me. (Trust me, guys... if you do this for your wife with sincerity, she will turn to mush!).  When things are rough at the office or he's facing other personal struggles, I pray over him.  When he left town on business a couple of weeks ago, we called each other every night and prayed together over the phone.   It's my first thought now when trouble hits.  I was starting dinner preparations recently when I received a piece of disturbing news.  After just a moment's hesitation, I dropped everything and walked out the door – straight down the road to my husband's office... to pray together.  It was just too important to wait.  A couple of months ago I'm not sure we would have prayed together about it at all.  Last week, I couldn't wait.  Just this morning, I threw my arms around his neck and prayed with him outside the house as he left for work.  Yep, standing in the yard right out there in front of everyone.  It's that important.

I do have to say that prayer alone wasn't an immediate miracle cure for us.  Those "vending machine" or rote prayers didn't do it.  It took getting honest and real with each other and praying from the heart.  Praying openly and honestly with each other has brought us closer together and keeps us close – we're a team, in this together.  Praying openly and honestly for each other has also brought a new intimacy to our marriage.  Nothing makes you feel more cherished than having your spouse hold you and pray over you.  We've been extremely blessed to have a Christian psychologist who recognizes that spiritual intimacy is a vital part of the emotional intimacy that's required for a good marriage.  I just can't imagine successful marriage counseling with someone who never even brings God into it.  Prayer unites us; moves us; heals us.

Prayer.  Praying together; praying over each other; drawing closer to each other while drawing closer to God.  That's been our "secret" for the past few weeks. Yes, I know that a few weeks isn't long in the scheme of things, but I can only say that our marriage has changed in ways I can't begin to explain.  Honestly, we've been feeling a little bit like newlyweds!  My sister calls us "cute."   I call us blessed.  And each night as we fall asleep... we pray... and thank God for all He is doing in our lives.... 

We pray.