Thanks so much for joining us for our Encouragement for Imperfect Wives Series! We hope you’ll be blessed, encouraged, challenged and comforted all at once. Please let us know if you need prayer – we’d love to pray for you!
The beginning of my relationship with my husband was built on a shaky foundation. The relationships that were to serve as healthy models during our childhood had instead given light to what we didn’t want. Barely adults, we stood upon a threshold littered with tiny shards of hope. Taking a leap of faith, at the tender age of 21, we joined our love through holy matrimony, understanding that we were in it for the long run. We carved a plan that would include love, hope, and faith in each other.
Nearly a decade in, we were the modern “perfect family” with three kids, a minivan and lots of student debt. I reveled in being called Super Mom by friends and family. No matter what presented itself to us, we were always determined to maintain our commitment to love and hope. A hope that we could build something stronger for our family than what we were provided as children.
And then I lost it. I lost my hope.
In the summer of 2014, I came to a breaking point. Stress at home and work overwhelmed me to the point that I was no longer able to breathe. I set in the laundry room, amidst piles of dirty clothes, begging God to take away the pain of anxiety and depression. I was not the mother I wanted to be and my poor husband put up with so much, even though we both had no grasp on the seriousness of the situation.
One Sunday night in August, after drawing my husband into the emotional hurricane that was my mind, I decided that I needed to take things into my own hands. My family did not deserve to suffer, let alone at my own hands. I stormed out of the house, sobbing heavily. I drove to the aptly referred to “Shady Park” and sat in my mini-van counting and recounting dozen of pills in my lap. I think I cried as many tears as the clouds themselves shed that day.
In a brief moment of clarity, I looked up and found that I had parked in front of the merry-go-round; The most dangerous playground equipment that a mother’s eyes can view. Suddenly, thoughts of my children playing and me taking care of their playground battle wounds flood my tumultuous brain. How could I leave them behind? How could I miss out on kissing boo boos and giving comforting hugs?
How could I give up on that life I wanted my children to have? How could I leave my husband here on Earth to find his way out of our unending love? I had to stay for them, for him, for me. I quickly filled the prescription bottles with what was supposed to be my end and headed home. When I arrived at home, I practically threw the bottles at my husband telling him to hide them.
Two days later, my high school boyfriend, my puppy-love, my best-friend was walking beside me as I checked myself into a psychiatric unit of a local hospital.
We learned that I had been living for a decade with undiagnosed mental illness, although I had several times self-diagnosed myself with anxiety and depression. The shame, guilt and fear that flooded my body from my diagnosis and treatment nearly took me to a place of life-endangerment again. How could I be who I wanted to be if mental illness perpetually had a lasso around me? When I was released back into the loving arms of my husband I begged for forgiveness, guilty for putting my family through what was equally a terrible 10 days for them as well.
A saving grace for me was a series of verses from Peter 3. My mental illness made me feel like an ugly person. I had no peace, day or night. Then, I read this “Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” This word empowered me to work on that hidden person, who had been nearly demolished by mental illness for a decade. For my entire relationship with my husband. I am still a work in progress, but slowly I am allowing that “hidden person of the heart” to show love and compassion to my husband, just as he had done for me.
And for my husband, I understood why he had been so patient for me. As a Godly man he had followed this word “In the same way live with your wives in an understanding way… and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life.” I was worthy of the redemption and although I didn’t know it, my husband did.
Through this struggle, I once again found my faith and my hope. I was even surprised that I found love again too, although I wasn’t aware I had lost it. I had been viewing myself as a heavy burden to my husband, one that he carried so delicately. I realized that I was being held by him because of love, not obligation. Thanks be to God for the compassion and love that both the Lord and my husband have provided.
Sheri Little is a social worker, parent coach, and mother of three, living in North Carolina. She has been married to her senior prom date for 8 1/2 years. She can be found at her blog sheriklittle.com/blog and twitter.com/sheriklittle.