Years ago Budd and I were in a really rough season of marriage. We were disconnected, unhappy, blame-ridden and unforgiving. It was a mess. We tried a bit of counseling but were unable to break free from very destructive patterns. Through a recommendation from a well respected friend we enrolled in a program at a church. It was…challenging. On our way to the 3rd session of what can only be called a hardcore program, Budd and I again found ourselves in an intense argument, about what I have no idea. As we sat in this large church with hundreds of other couples, listening to more ‘stuff,’ I gave up. “God, none of this is working. We’re reading the books, praying together, talking with our mentors and nothing is changing…nothing.”
God responded with a picture in my mind of a field that was covered with brambles, scrub and weeds. The gist of what I sensed is this: Kathy, you and others have spent years sowing seeds of pain, brokenness and bitterness into your life. What you see is the result of years of bad seeds coming to fullness and reproducing. But in the last months you and Budd have begun to sow seeds that bring life. You may not see the fruit of those seeds yet but they are taking root in the soil of your heart. Be patient and don’t give up.
Budd and I spent the first 10-15 years in total ignorance of the seeds that we were planting in our marriage. We didn’t speak honestly about everything, we pretended sometimes, we talked about when we should have talked to each other, and we kept an inner tally of the offenses we felt from the other. None of this was intentional. We simply used the tools we knew in order to cope and survive. Clearly these were not the right tools. So year after year we struggled to keep our individual heads above water and in the process continued to drown the other person in judgment, lack of trust, and isolation. This is the field we were living in that day when God showed up for me.
You may be wondering if I got this beautiful ‘Aha’ moment, shared it with Budd and we walked hand-in-hand down the garden path into our own personal sunset. Sorry. That’s a great made-for-TV movie or romance novel but its not real life. We still struggled, argued, doubted one another and wanted to give up. But the picture of the field gave us hope. We had to trust what we couldn’t see and believe what we couldn’t fathom – that there was good being formed in us and in our marriage.
It was a slow (for us) journey that required much time in counseling, prayer, apologies and forgiveness. Interesting, though, it didn’t take as long for the flowers and fruit to sprout and bloom as it had for the field to be inundated with weeds. Yes it took time but there were enough small wins along the way that we could keep going. The weeds didn’t win.
Galatians 6:9 And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up.
Don’t give up. Don’t get tired of doing the right thing, whether that means a relationship, a healthier lifestyle, developing character, better habits or a more God-focused life. Don’t get tired of doing the right thing because one day you will see the beautiful fruit of your commitment. For us it was totally worth it. Don’t quit on your best life. Don’t quit on God.
I’m sure we’ve all heard the simplest definition of insanity as “doing the same thing and expecting different results.” I decide to lose weight but don’t change what I eat or add exercise to my days and yet, because I decided to lose weight, I expect it to happen. Insanity. I have a gluten allergy that causes my sinuses to go haywire but I love bread and pasta so I cheat all the time. Are you surprised that my sinuses are a mess? Insanity.
Budd and I were married 39 years, raised two amazing kids who have given us four fabulous grandchildren. That is beautiful fruit that has grown from our field of weeds. And God’s abundance does not limit what we can be and do. I have been so changed because I didn’t bail on my marriage, nor did Budd. I have learned and am learning daily that God’s timing is perfect (and always too slow for me), and that He is powerful in His ability and desire to heal and restore.
We live in a microwave culture with fast food, drive-thru’s, mobile orders and Google at your fingertips. We are used to overnight deliveries and accommodating customer service, even if its our fault something went wrong. We expect to get what we want when we want it from work, shopping and people. These habits (seeds) produce fruit in our life that we may not anticipate and one day we find ourselves in the middle of a field of weeds that is lonely, sometimes bitter and without grace or kindness.
Whatever the field that is your life looks like today it does not have to define your tomorrows, too. Whatever is not healthy or good or loving, begin today to engage in new habits, attitudes and experiences. The good and the beautiful in your field? Nurture it. Don’t get tired of doing the right time. It will pay off greatly at the right time. Just don’t give up.
Make no mistake: God can’t be mocked. What you give is what you get. What you sow, you harvest…. 9 May we never tire of doing what is good and right before our Lord because in His season we shall bring in a great harvest if we can just persist. 10 So seize any opportunity the Lord gives you to do good things and be a blessing to everyone, especially those within our faithful family.
Since we have such a huge crowd of people of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.
2 Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards; and now he sits in the place of honor by the throne of God.
3 If you want to keep from becoming fainthearted and weary, think about his patience as sinful men did such terrible things to him.