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Don’t Give up the Ship

It was a whole six days after our wedding that my husband and I knew we were going to start trying for a baby.

I was cleaning and praying in what ironically became his nursery when I received clear direction from the Ruach Hakodesh (the Holy Spirit). I knew he would be a boy and that his name would be Jack.

I spoke to my husband on his lunch break at work, having no restraint to reserve such a major conversation for the dinner table. Adam said what he often says to me during life’s pivotal moments: “When God tells you to do something, you do it.” So, he took me out that evening and purchased me my first bottle of prenatal vitamins. We were giddy with excitement: we had chosen to reserve sex for marriage, so after our wedding we felt like we carried this enormous responsibility and were finally equipped to steward it well.

Secure in the knowledge that my husband chose me

Watching my husband open the door for me at the vitamin store, browse the aisles, ask me questions, and pull his debit card out of his worn leather wallet made me fall in love with him all over again.

I was never picked first: I was awkwardly left-handed and had to work much harder to do well in sports in school. My mind was mostly in the clouds, or my attention was drawn to books rather than schoolwork as a kid. I had friends, but I could never be truly transparent with anyone, so my relationships lacked depth. I had a lot going on that I couldn’t talk about with anyone, and the symptoms of that often left me feeling isolated and cast aside. Of course, that all changed when I met my husband.

Adam has the gift of discernment. He will jokingly impersonate the voice of the sand tiger from Disney’s animated film Aladdin when he calls me his “diamond in the rough”. We laugh, but the title stuck: to Adam, I am truly worth the time, pressure, and energy it takes to mine a diamond out of the depths of the earth.

So, watching him buy me prenatal vitamins felt like I had been chosen first and foremost all over again. This man was trusting me with mothering his children. A diamond tiara could not have made me feel more like a queen that day.

Our first hurdle: an unsupportive family

A whole six weeks after our wedding, those two pink lines showed up on that little white stick. Jack was on his way, and we couldn’t wait to celebrate.

Unfortunately, our news was not well received by some people very close to us. Signs of them attempting to control our marriage had been looming over us in the months before our wedding, but we were not prepared for such a severe reaction. They cut off relationship with us, called our friends and made up lies about us, accused us of all sorts of unbecoming behavior, and often changed their story to fit their audience to garner support.

Several times during our pregnancy we were harassed by people we did not even know, all for choosing to start our family. The attacks became far more insidious than I care to describe here, but I will write that we are still healing from them as a family years later.

Lingering pain from hurtful attacks

We begged these people to meet with us and our pastor so we could resolve whatever it was that made them so upset that we were going to have a baby. We were met with refusal time and time again. When I was days away from delivering our son, they demanded a sit-down talk with us. As I was about to deliver a baby, we told them we could meet with them after the birth. Very shortly after the birth, the demands came again, and we complied.

Of course, it was a disastrous affair. I had a very difficult delivery that took months to heal from and I was trying to navigate being a first-time mother, breastfeeding, and recovery all while battling postpartum hormones. I was not in any condition to address such painful complexities of these severed relationships.

After the disastrous “talk”, my husband took me out for a slice of pie at our favorite pie place. I could barely taste the French silk chocolate through the saltiness of my tears. When I finally spoke, the voice coming out of me was not my own. Weak, barely audible, and defeated I told my husband, “I feel like a dead girl walking. Their words killed me tonight. I feel like I shouldn’t exist. Like I have no right to be here.”

We gave up too much ground

We had made a horrible mistake: we had allowed people who did not wish to increase us into our home, then we had to suffer from their attacks. We gave up too much ground in our home, and their accusations- as unfounded as they were- hurt us deeply. I held Jack close to me as I cried into his hair.

I kissed his sweet face and breathed him in. If God could put this life in me, if Yeshua (Jesus Christ) could raise Lazarus from the dead, if the tomb was really empty, He could do the same for me. I decided to trust in Him and to let my husband take me home and put me to bed.

Lessons learned

In the years since this painful time in our marriage, my husband and I have grown in many ways. There is a ruggedness to our marriage now that I quite frankly enjoy: we are battle tested. We are not overly sentimental about relationships anymore, and we allow ourselves to grapple with people and their actions, both good and bad. We have realized that our priority is not giving up the ship to pirates- you know, those people who seek to decrease your family’s character instead of increasing your values. Don’t let them aboard. Don’t invite them into your innermost circle. Don’t give up the ship.

We view our marriage as a foundation that we are obligated to protect.  At the center is our covenant; our wedding vows, our “two becoming one” transformation, and our most intimate place together with God.  We protect the foundation by layering over it choices that strengthen our marriage; fidelity, loyalty, ministering together, manageability, seeking God, community, choosing to have a family, and other choices that build protective barriers around our marriage. 

These choices keep the petty issues we face at surface level, so we can deal with them before forming lasting resentments against each other that threaten to reach the foundation of our marriage.  We try to keep those issues on the outer layers so that the foundation remains strong.  There are times in life when an issue strikes right to the core, and those are times we are grateful for God’s protection and guidance over us.  Overall, though, we find that the more we choose each other and listen to God’s guidance and follow His decrees, the stronger the protective barriers we have over our foundation.

The pirates will not take over the ship

Adam had chosen me first and foremost before these people, so our marriage actually blossomed in the wake of disaster. He chose to cherish me through loss, and I chose to respect him while he navigated us through troubled waters. We grew closer together, even through the pain.

Pirates- be careful when you invade the hill a family is willing to die on- do not try to overcome what is most precious to their foundation, for they have staked their lives on it. God, children, togetherness, hard work, sacrifice.

These are principles this family will not sacrifice on the altar of someone else’s pride. These are what we value, what we honor, and what we whisper as reminders to each other through tears on our toughest days. These are how we shape our hopes and dreams. They are the lenses through which we see our future. If our future is not covered in a relationship with God, filled with children, togetherness, hard work, and sacrifice- we don’t want it. This is what you cannot come into our family and take. These are our fighting words.

Many of us have been pirates, decreasing the people we should be edifying. If you are a pirate to someone else today, try edification instead. Increase their values. If the victim of your piracy is a religious person, honor their relationship with God, perhaps by not trying to control it. If they value physical fitness, join them at the gym instead of making fun of their dedication. Whatever good values you are currently destroying with your words or actions, become an increaser of good instead.

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