The King's Gardeners Ministries
Reverend S. L. Gardner
Spokane Valley, Washington US
Articles used by permission or are public domain
On November 6, 1976 Ron and I were married. So yesterday was our 29th Wedding Anniversary. It is the 6th that I have celebrated without him. But I did celebrate it. Some how some way from the very first I made the decision to celebrate the day. The first set of divorce papers that Ron had sent me that August of 2000, had set an initial hearing date for November 6th. I remember how devastated I had been thinking that I would be in court possibly to end up legally divorced on the day of our 24th anniversary. But praise God that hearing was rescheduled and actually we did not end up having a hearing until nearly 2 years later. Our God is amazing.
Even so, I was in that really dark, devastated, desperate place that many of us are in the months following our spouses leaving. I had just moved away from Tennessee, where Ron and I had lived together, at the end of October, just a week before. Leaving him there with the other woman and feeling that I had been sent running with my tail between my legs, defeated and overwhelmed by all of the sudden changes, with the responsiblity of having our two youngest children to care for, with facing a life without my husband. Daily facing the battle of my mind and my heart, daily facing a battle for my very life because I just did not want to live any more. Daily allowing satan to win the day as I wallowed in a pit of defeat, despair and self pity. Daily engaged in a warfare that before this had been totally outside my realm of understanding. And I was losing ground in that battle as each day passed. Standing amidst the smoking ruins of life as I had known it, picking through the rubble of a marriage that had fallen and was destroyed. This is where I was as the first anniversarly without my husband approached. And it was here that the Lord chose to take the first of many coming triumphs. It was here that the Lord chose to take back what the the enemy had stolen and never let him have it again. And He chose to do it by simply bringing me to the decision that still perplexes those around me, the decision to celebrate. And by doing so, chose a day that satan could not have. No matter how many days satan might try to steal, no matter how many battles he be allowed, this day would not be his. Ever. And in doing so showed me that each day is this day and satan never needs to get this day. By His Grace I was shown that the triumph of each day is not in my circumstances but in my heart, in my mind and in my soul.
I was not looking to celebrate my anniversary, the day itself seemed too painful for me to even face. But I realized that I could not ignore the day. No matter what, on Novemember 6th I had been married, nobody could erase that event, it had happened and each year on that date would come an anniversary of an event that had truly been. I began to think that the more I tried to ignore it the more of an elephant in the room it would become. So the next choice would be to grieve and mourn. But I had been grieving and mourning for months and I really did not want to spend another day in tears. "Lord, what am I going to do because this is just too painful for me and really, all I want to do is curl up in a ball and die." "Celebrate it Vic, you are still married and 24 years is an accomplishment worth commemorating. Maybe your husband has not been married for 24 years but you have remained and you have every right to celebrate that fact."
So I went to my children and though I felt wierd and silly and knew they would think me crazy, I told them that I was going to celebrate the day and that, though I did not want to ask them to do anything that would make them uncomfortable, I was hoping that they would join me in celebrating. So we made plans to meet for dinner. Still there was the rest of the day to worry about. A day which if spent alone I knew would turn into me working myself up to a granddaddy of a depression. So I made plans with my sister who was a home school mother. It so happened that Mondays were her run around days. She
had several activities planned with her children so I asked if I could tag along, at least it would get me out of the house, would keep me occupied, and I would be less likely to cry in front of other people. So armed with a book of prayers that I had compiled (some of them from Stormie O'Martins book The Power of a Praying Wife), my bible and a knitting project I was working on I followed my sister around on her busy day. Can't say that I was the life of the party that day, but I wasn't under satan's thumb either. In the evening I had dinner with my children and they gave me gifts and cards and flowers. It felt wierd and surreal but we celebrated. That first time was bittersweet.
So each year after that I have celebrated my anniversary as if I were still married, because I am. Even after Ron obtained a legal divorce. Some years in big ways, other years more quietly. Just as Ron and I would have. A couple of years satan did try to stop the celebrating by creating huge conflicts among my family that nearly distracted me away from celebrating. But I caught on to that trick and celebrated anyway. And for now it seems that he leaves that day alone. Because that day has been taken from him in triumph and the memories of my wedding and each anniversary have been preserved and remain ones of celebration, of laughter and of joy. So the Lord turned the tables on satan and He did it with one word from His mouth and that word was CELEBRATE. In heeding that word, it was then spoken over each and every one of my anniversaries since Ron has been gone so that satan did not get a one of them, not one.
Yesterday started out looking like it was not going to be much
of a big deal. We all have had financial troubles lately and no one really had
any money. So much for the cards, flowers and gifts. That's ok. My children
and I really do have a heart for celebrating, a heart for laughter and for fun.
We can somehow turn one of the most mundane days into a real good time. But
in the beginning it looked like I might be celebrating alone. So I got up and
went to church by myself. I didn't even think DJ was home because he usually
spends Sundays with his girlfriend Melissa. Liz as sleeping because she worked
the night before. Dan was sleeping too. They are all adults now and I can't
make them go to church so I leave it to them and don't even get them up unless
I have been asked. Sometimes, though, I enjoy church by myself. The Psalm they
read was the first part of Psalm 63 and somehow it just fit for me.
O God, you are my God
For you I long!
For you my body yearns;
for you my sould thirsts,
Like a land parched, lifeless, and without water.
So I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory.
For your love is better than life:
my lips offer you worship!
I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands, calling on your name.
My soul shall savor the rich banquet of praise,
with joyous lips my mouth shall honor you!
When I think o you upon my bed,
through the night watches I will recall
That you indeed are my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.
My soul clings fast to you;
your right hand upholds me.
When I got home, Liz was awake and she told me Happy Anniversary. Then Cindy stopped by to take us all out to lunch to celebrate the anniversary so she, Liz, Dan, DJ and I went to a Mexican Resturant that we all like. We had such a good time and laughed about the most outlandish things. Later in the evening Jessica, Mick and the grandchildren stopped by. They brought a present and a card. The present was a statue of an angel holding a heart to it's chest and the card spoke a blessing upon my marriage. My daughter Linda could not come yesterday but it was a good day.
Over these years it has always been the prayer of my heart that I not spend another year without my husband, and on our anniversary it has always been my prayer that Ron would call me. Those things have yet to come to pass. But as I drove to work this morning I reminded myself not to overlook the things I have been given in wanting what I do not yet have. Because I am blessed exceedingly in my children and my grandchildren and I am blessed in a heart that celebrates. And I have been blessed with a victory over one day that satan cannot have.
This morning one of my regular customers came in and asked my how I was. I found myself sharing with him about my anniversary. He said to me. Your husband is coming home, I know it will happen, it happened to me and it will happen to you. And he shared with me how he and his wife got back together after 4 years of being apart and about how it happened suddenly, that one day she just showed up at his door and wanted to talk. He told me how he had prayed and then had just left his wife alone until she was ready.
My marriage has been placed into my safekeeping until the day my husband returns and he will return. In honoring my vows I have been given the ability to preserve the sanctity and fidelity of my marriage regardless of circumstance and regardless of the action of others. By heeding God's word it has been kept safe and preserved with none of it having been lost except for the passing of time. And I couldn't help making the comparison of how the kingdom of God and the gospel of Christ have also been given into our safekeeping until the day our Savior returns. And He will return. And by heeding God's Word His Kingdom is preserved and kept safe until that day comes regardless of circumstance or the action of others. This day and every day is His triumph in our hearts, in our minds and in our souls. Just as my anniversary is triumphant. Satan cannot have it nor can he have the kingdom of God. The tables are turned when God speaks His word over us and we heed it.
Anyway, I thought that I would share my day with you and some of my thoughts with you and hope that it brings hope to your hearts and blesses you.
PS from Rev Sandy
Some people would say this lady is in denial. Denial that her husband is gone and only some vague promise out of the Bible saying restoration is a possiblity. But as I was reading this I thought of a scripture. "Do this in rememberance of me". Our Lord has us celebrate a dinner to remember Him. I don't think it's out of line to have a celebratory dinner to remember a beloved spouse. We hold out hope of restoration with our spouses as we hold out hope for the return of our beloved Lord and Savior. No denial there. That's FAITH!!!
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