Tuesday, September 16, 2014

You Have To Get Through The Messy To Find The Beautiful

I was 20 years old. I sat in the small, nondescript office clutching my purse in my lap. I listened to the attorney sitting at the desk across from me, but most of what he said didn't make sense. I waited for months until the final divorce decree came in the mail. I read every word. My eyes filled with tears that spilled down my cheeks when I read the line: This marriage has been forever and irretrievably broken. 

The divorce hadn't been a surprise. Obviously, I knew it was coming. I was already living my life like a single person, anyway, clueless to the gravity of what I had just gone through.

It was that one sentence...forever and irretrievably broken.
I was broken. I was barely out of my teens and already had a failed marriage under my belt.

Fast forward several years to another nondescript office, listening again to someone tell me things I only half understood. What I did understand? That I was about to sign a document that would end a 4-year marriage and veritably wipe away 8 years of memories. To put it in the words of my now second ex-husband, we were "undoing everything we took years to do." 

And oh it hurt. It hurt so bad. 

This time I swore it would be different. This time, I promised myself that I would go the long haul, I would see it through, I would honor my marriage vows of "till death do us part." 

But there I a scene from the movie Groundhog's Day...signing away my marriage. 
Irretrievably broken.  

I knew marriage was hard. I mean, I'd learned at least that much from the first marriage. But, I had no idea that even when you go into it realizing it's hard and knowing you'll have to give until you feel like you have nothing more left to give, it would feel at times like you're running a marathon with cinder blocks chained to your feet.

I had the desire, but not the tools or the know-how when it came to navigating marriage. I had no idea that marriage is a beautiful picture of Christ's love for the church. I was clueless to the fact that marriage goes far beyond joint bank accounts, picking out China, and dinner parties. 

It's work. And it's sometimes the hardest, gut-wrenching, most arduous work one will ever do. 
And God has to be at the center of it.

Many of you have heard me talk about Darlene Schacht from Time-Warp Wife before. She's this adorable Canadian woman whom I came to love when I stumbled across her blog a couple of years ago. I was smitten by her posts on marriage and impressed by her and her husband's longevity, but I was absolutely bowled over when I read the story of how her husband confronted her about an affair she'd had. 

I knew that feeling in the pit of the stomach and the heat rush that climbs up your face when you're "caught." I remember like yesterday confessing an affair of my own. I remember the humiliation, the regret, and the devastation of admitting that I had broken my marriage vows and betrayed my husband. I also remember another time of being on the receiving end of the news that I had been cheated on. I can instantly recall the deep sense of betrayal and hurt. Words can't express the pain or the depth of the wound. 

But as I sat reading this woman's testimony, wiping away tears and nodding my head, I knew she was telling me something different than I'd heard before and she was speaking from a vantage point that rang true to me and was one I understood well.

Only, she was victorious. Her marriage was succeeding and thriving despite the affair, despite the marital struggles. I wanted that. I was hungry for that. I needed to know her secret.

I've reviewed another of Darlene's books before (The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife). It was an amazing book. I loved it. I cried my way through it and learned so much about being a wife who supports and loves. Darlene's new book Messy Beautiful Love is out today. I am honored to be among those who received an advanced copy in exchange for writing a review. 

The easy part is reading and reviewing this book. The hard part? That's where I put into practice all the Godly, sound advice Darlene offers. One of the things I love about her is that she is a woman who speaks from the heart. She is real and honest and raw. She doesn't mince words when it comes to giving the truth, yet I never feel offended. 

Even when she speaks of some hard topics like "Give Up Your Right to Be Right," I never feel like Darlene is speaking down to me, but rather like she has her arm around my shoulder while we sit next to each other on the sofa with a hot mug of tea in our hands. 

I'm going on a decade of marriage with my third husband. We don't have it all figured out yet, but we have many things in our corner now, that neither of us had before. 

When I at down to read Darlene's book Messy Beautiful Love, I felt like I was peeking into her life. I love the way she begins most chapters with an anecdote or personal story. I feel a kinship with her. I laugh, I cry, and I feel like she gets me.

How can this be when I have met this lovely woman only once in person? How can I possibly feel like she's written a book entirely for me? I think it's because she has gone beyond the expected and conventional role of the Christian author. Refreshingly, she is more concerned with living a life that honors Christ than she is with procuring a following or selling books. Darlene is easily one of the most gracious people I've ever met. 

Is she perfect? Nope. And she's not afraid to tell you that. So you don't find yourself half-way through reading the book and wanting to throw it across the room, exasperated at yet another marriage book that tells you how the author has it all figured out and you're a mess. (I've been there.)

So, today I am telling you to RUN and order yourself a copy of Messy Beautiful Love by Darlene Schacht. This woman is the real deal. She's been there. She's stumbled. She's gotten back up and she's sharing the wisdom she's learned from God throughout her trials. 

You can order the book by clicking HERE

Click HERE to read an interview with Darlene on Deliberate Women.

I was sent an advanced copy of Darlene Schacht's book Messy Beautiful Love in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% genuine and completely my own. 

Here's YOUR chance to win a copy of this amazing book! Enter today for your chance to win! Must be 18 or older to enter. All entrants must reside in the US or Canada only. Winner will be notified via email and will have 24 hours to respond. If winner does not respond within 24 hours, another name will be selected using Rafflecopter. No purchase necessary. Contest ends Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 11:59 P.M. 

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