By Tara Blake Hatton
We don’t live there anymore.
There was a lot of noise in that house: boys running, jumping, leaping, yelling and screaming …. and a Mama and a Daddy who sometimes yelled and screamed at one another too.
But much louder than the noise in that house was the silence – the cold shoulders, silent tears, and time that would pass without a single word shared between Mama and Daddy.
Once, in the driveway of that house, my baby boy was in his infant carrier as his Daddy and I played tug-of-war, over our child.
I am not proud of this.
I told myself it was all his fault.
I told myself that as long as we weren’t yelling in front of our kids it was okay.
I told myself that most marriages, behind closed doors, weren’t all that different from ours.
But that life, the living that occurred in that house, was before I invited Christ into my heart.
It was not until giving my heart to Christ, almost three years ago now, that I began to have any concept of what Jesus said in John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
On that day, almost three years ago, sitting at my desk at school, my heart was changed. I came home that evening and, after years of silence, I began to speak to my husband.
I didn’t want to.
There was so much space, so much distance between the two of us and what had happened to me that day was so precious, so intimate – he was the last person I wanted to share any piece of my heart with.
But, I look back and see that Jesus was already whispering His words of love and obedience into my heart: “Share your story. Tell him what I have done in your heart.”
So that house is the home I came to, where I sat on the couch with my husband after years of silence, years of building and fortifying the walls around my heart, walls built with bricks of anger and resentment cemented together with bitterness and hurt.
I told my husband what had happened that day and I told him that I would now be attending church, with or without him.
As had been my habit, I had to make sure to let him know that I didn’t need him; that I didn’t really care what he did, and that I would be doing what I wanted.
We started attending church together, as a family. I started reading my Bible and I began to pray asking God to tear down the walls of my heart and to give me love; specifically, to give me love for my husband.
And slowly the anger, the bitterness, and the resentment that I had spent years storing up within my heart, with the power of His light within in me and the warmth of His love flowing through me, Jesus began to melt away the icy exterior than I had spent years constructing.
Our home became happier, lighter, more joyful, more full with the life that Jesus promises.
But, even with Christ, our stories don’t always end with “happily ever after.”
A little more than a year after I had given my life to Christ, one evening, when my husband went out for groceries and left his phone behind, I discovered things that no wife wants to find. I realized my husband had been leading a double life.
That house then became the place where I quietly and resolutely confronted my husband with the cold, hard evidence and he completely denied any wrongdoing.
That house became the place where I gathered friends and family and I asked my husband to leave.
That house became the place where at night, after I had tucked my boys into bed, I locked myself in the bathroom, put on my worship music and lay on the floor broken, crying out to God.
And God met me there every night on that bathroom floor in the house that had never really felt like my home.
God had made his home within me and in Him I found loving arms to support and to comfort, to hold me together as my world crumbled around me.
And my God, as He held me, He continued to work on and in my heart – to continue to tear down the walls and to melt away the ice that I hadn’t even realized still existed.
I considered divorce. I saw a lawyer. I would have had a “great case” for more than enough child support. It would have been so easy to walk away.
I had every right to.
But God ….
I knew, for myself and for my boys, I had to give my marriage one more chance. I could not trust my husband to remain faithful but I had to trust my God. I knew that if there were another betrayal I could not blame God and it would not mean I had been wrong to stay, but I had to give my marriage one more chance.
And the only way that I was able to stay, to allow my husband to come back home, was to offer him the grace, mercy and forgiveness that Christ had offered to me.
During the brief time we were apart, my husband also accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. If his secret had not been discovered, if I had not asked him to leave, he may still be lost today.
Like me, he had grown up in the church.
Like me, he had thought he was “saved” as a teenager.
But also like me, he had not been living his life for Christ.
Once my husband gave his heart to Christ, that was the moment our marriage truly began.
We are still so far from perfect.
But, as I come upon the three year anniversary of giving my life to Christ, and as I think back to that night almost two years ago, when I confronted my husband about the secret life I had discovered, when I think back to the nights lying and crying out to God from the bathroom floor …
I realize we don’t live there anymore – both literally and figuratively.
You see, we now have a new house, a home we are making our own.
A home that is full of abundant life with two wild and crazy boys, a little dog that we love dearly, a home littered with dirty clothes, dishes, and never-ending Legos.
But it’s our home.
A home where, in the past year and a half, we have sat down to eat together as a family more that we did in all the years of being in our previous house.
A home where we have roasted marshmallows over the fire pit and camped out in our backyard.
A home where we have hosted family gatherings, birthday parties, and Bible studies.
A home that, truly, the Lord has provided.
As I sit here this morning, writing at our new dining room table, with trees blooming and birds chirping in the backyard, with our weenie dog Chili dog, curled up at my feet, and my son playing beside me …..
I thank God for the way He provides.
I thank God that we don’t live there anymore.
Where do you live? Are things in your home different than they appear? If you’re going through a difficult time in your marriage right now and things seem hopeless, trust in God. Go to him and lay your marriage at his feet, letting him do a miracle in yours and your husband’s lives. He cares for you. He cares for your husband and your family. There’s hope for your marriage too.
We’d love to hear your marriage story if you feel like sharing in the comments below or send us a private message on Facebook and we would be honored to pray for your marriage.
Tara Blake Hatton is a wife, mama, and high school theatre teacher. While she spends her days “playing pretend” on stage or in her living room with her two wild boys, the desire of her heart is to be as real as possible. And the realest, most true thing she knows is Jesus. She first met Jesus not at the end of an aisle in church but at school sitting at her messy, disorganized desk. Jesus has made her heart new, set her heart free, and is rewriting the story of her heart. Tara writes and vlogs at Story of My Heart. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.