Thursday, July 5, 2018

Be the 1%

Guest Blogger: April Estes
April Estes attended Freed-Hardeman University and is a graduate of Mississippi State University.  She is wife to one (Jason Estes), Mom to four (16, 14, 10 & 7). She is the author of two books (Seeing the Father Through a Dad and The Pearl of Great Price, 2017) and enjoys writing christian & country songs in her free time.
The past 5 years were hell on us. Within that time our son had unexplainable tummy pains that stunted his growth & development, I (a mom of 13,11,6 & 3) got cancer that required 6 rounds of chemo & radiation across 6 months in a town we had just moved to with no family.  In addition to having a learning "disabled" child that I pulled out to homeschool....not to mention all the other "normal" life things... At one point my goal was to get the kids to their first day of school so I could sleep for three hours straight after my second round of chemo. After flopping down and sleeping for a solid 30 minutes I got a phone call. All four kids had lice (!!!) and I had to go pick them up. Trials, tribulations, disease and pestilence all at once (The only Silverlining being that was the week my hair fell out so at least momma's not getting lice). You know things are baddddd when your silverlining starts with "at least I'm bald now". I look back now, barely out of the storm, and ask with wide eyed wonder "how in the world did we ever make it?"
I'd like to pull out my Disney card and say we made it because we are best friends and soulmates and nothing can separate us. But that's not true. We made it by piggybacking off all the prayers of our friends, eliminating the fluff in our lives (did you know Europeans only bathe every other day? Just sayin...), my oldest two taking charge of the youngest two and going into "survival mode", the generosity of church family who provided meals, rides and playdates for my children, and God's grace and protective hand. It was longgggg silences because sometimes silence is better than screaming temporary truths that cause permanent wounds. (There WAS yelling sometimes because yelling IS at least communicating and long text responses because when your wife is drunk on chemo sometimes that's just the best way.) It was long separations from the house for mom because she was in danger of being a raging lunatic jacked up on so much steroids so dad had to cover everything after running a factory all day.

At one point I remember we had had a fight and later (still in the thick of it ) I told my husband I was ready for our date. He asked, surprised, if we were still doing that and I said "Yes! Because we are not going to come through cancer and all the other stuff we've come through to lose our marriage because of "lack of communicating" (this was said in yelling fashion with a pointy finger LOL). It was real and raw and ugly most the time - far from the feel-good stories we hear on Christian radio many times. 

I found the stats & my engineering husband did the math and found that the chance of our marriage surviving was literally 1%. If you factor in the fact that all of these things happened at once we are probably most definitely a walking miracle!

So what's the secret?  God's grace & grit. It's praying for continual protection because there is a whole spiritual realm we can't even see fighting for our families. It's listening when you're tired and making time to understand different points of view. It's not getting everything you want and finding contentment in the discontent. It's forgiving a person when you can't even understand their point of you and really just want to punch them in the throat. It's making comparisons to women in marriages 200 years ago and reminding yourself that if he doesn't beat you and has a job he's a great catch (and him reminding himself that A wife is a blessing from the Lord even if she has cancer and is out of her mind half the time lol). It is humbling yourself to talk to friends and ask for prayers for your embarrassing needs. It is choosing to stay when you want to run. It's bringing your spouse coffee in the morning without spitting in it. It's realizing that most of your "needs" are really just "wants" and being flexible enough to accept what "is" instead of what you "want things to be."  It is spending a sixth of your bring home pay on many months of counseling and learning new ways to communicate after 20 years. It is so very hard. It is not fun. 

But it is worth it. 

If you are in a season right now where your spouse is not only not your "best friend" but feels more like the enemy, dont. give. up. 

The devil wants us to believe that The trials will last forever but they don't. The Bible says God "sets an end to the darkness" and "hold us in his mighty right hand."  

It also says sometimes he chooses to build something new. Do you know what's involved in building something new? Thoroughly Demolishing the past "thing". When people are restoring a house they have to take it down to the brass tacks. If they are about to lay a floor, there can't even be a pebble in the way because it will mess up a whole new foundational structure and cause the tile to crack. Sometimes the master Restorer has to take US down to brass tacks to rebuild something NEW that is possibly better than we could ever imagine. 

Don't give up. Remember: God is not the God of statistics he is the God of the individual ! Grit and Grace!  Be the 1%!!!

 And coffee. Always bring your spouse coffee.
April Estes

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