You go down a small flight of stairs. Bare bones stairs. No carpet. They built them and left them as is. The kind of thing that you find in an unfinished basement. At the bottom of the stairs is a landing. It is the landing pad for muddy old shoes, a vacuum that needs thrown away, socks that didn’t make it to the washer, and a pile of dog hair. Yeah, we have a black Labrador. His hair ends up everywhere. Someone probably swept upstairs and flung the hair down the basement stairs. Praise God!
Once you are on the landing you have two steps left and you land in our basement. It’s full of old toys, a treadmill, washer and dryer, and some poor shelves that are about to break because we have overloaded them with seasonal decorations. There is a trash pile of junk waiting to be taken to the dump. It’s been sitting there too long. Life has been full of transitions and trial. I am just glad it’s in a pile, and not strewn across the house. We will get to it someday.
Next to the washer and dryer is a cabinet on wheels. It’s where the miss-matched socks end up and other goodies I find in the dryer. The floor is bare. It’s dusty. It’s a basement floor. It’s also where I found myself 8 years ago.
We had been through a marriage trial. It was the most excruciating trial I have ever been through. I didn’t know people could hurt like that. I didn’t know I could cry like I did. I didn’t really know the power of prayer, God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit until I experienced a crucible of change, and of pain.
I just remember an overwhelming feeling of, I am done. I have fought the fight. Prayed the prayers, fasted, read God’s Word, sought counsel, and did all the things you are to do when you face trial and suffering, but on this day I was done.
I went to the basement where I sat and laid on the floor all day. I cried out to God physically and spiritually. I prayed that when I went upstairs my husband would hit me, and give me the excuse I needed to leave. If not that then maybe he would break some law and go to jail, or that he just wouldn’t come home anymore.
At the end of the day I made my way up those stairs. My husband didn’t hit me. He came home from work. I was empty. I somehow made it to my car and drove to visit my pastor. I am done. I have nothing left in me that can keep going on. This needs to be over.
My pastor helped me get through that day, and the following weeks. I stayed in the marriage and kept living my life. In time things got better. In time we began to slowly rebuild. There was never that aha moment though. My husband didn’t start attending church, ask me for forgiveness, announce how he was drastically changing his life, or admit to any sin he had committed. We just kept going.
During that time I kept thinking that the trial would kill me. I would wake up expecting God to make some drastic change that would signify He had heard my prayer. I longed for my story to look like other stories. Where the husband comes home, expresses his enduring love for me, we hug, and from then on are happy and adore each other. I wanted the story where we all go to church together, where we pray together, discuss Scripture, and enjoy this new life as a Christian couple. It hasn’t happened.
God did so something though. I didn’t always see it. The trial didn’t kill me. Our family had all the material comforts that we needed. We still managed to go to the movies, enjoy birthdays, and have fun on vacation. We had an underlying sadness and exhaustion from what we had been through, but we had what we needed to keep on going.
God grew me in amazing ways during that time. In fact He was preparing me to serve Him in full time ministry. I had no idea that day in the basement what was to come, but I would see later that the trial was needed to prepare me to lead a ministry that had been torn in two by division. What God was teaching me would help me minister to people in our community. I couldn’t see at the time what God was doing, but looking back now it makes sense.
When we are going through life we often can’t see what God is doing. It looks like He doesn’t care, that our prayers aren’t being answered, and that He is cruel. I mean why would He want me to hurt that much. Why did He not stop my crying? Why did He let my children experience the same pain?
We are on our own Joseph type of journey. When I worked with women in the community I used to take them through that story very slowly. I think it’s really important to grasp what Joseph went through. It’s so easy to read through that too quickly, and overlook the pain and suffering that were involved in his life, and in his families.
Joseph was thrown into a physical pit by his brothers. Let that sink in. How many times do we get upset because someone made a comment on Facebook that we didn’t like? Joseph was thrown into a pit and if that wasn’t bad enough he was handed over to strangers, and taken far from his family against his will. Ask yourself how that compares to the Facebook comment?
God is real, alive and working. It’s not a story. It’s real. He is working in our lives in real ways. One way we can see this is if we journal. We can write our own story. I guarantee when you look back at it you will see that God was answering prayer, working in your life, and providing what you need.
In the basement that day my desire was to leave the marriage, and God’s desire was to mold me.
In the basement that day I wanted the pain to stop, but God ordained that it would continue for a little longer. In fact I would experience more pain, but just in different ways, from different people and in different situations. I am thankful I didn’t know that, that day.
In the basement that day I surrendered and begged God to deliver me. God did. Not in the way that I had hoped, but in a better way. You see God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. God so loves my unsaved husband that He has done this amazing work in me so that I can show him Christ. God so loves me that He used that time to mold me and prepare me to lead a ministry through change.
The trials in my life continue. I suffer now because of many life transitions. Yet, I know that God is doing a mighty work and is answering every prayer. I know that this is good for me and His glory. I do not despair in the basement, but rejoice in the moment because my heavenly Father is doing a great work. A work I can’t yet see, but can feel in my heart. Praise God for His will is perfect.