ten things our disabled marriage has taught us about God
3. God created a mystery inside of marriage between man and woman.
This is no surprise for any of us in this room. And we don’t know how to explain it other than it is truly a mystery that God has created for us:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”
I love being Ian’s wife so much better than being his girlfriend. Sometimes when I look back on the five years that we dated, I’m not really sure how I made it. There were so many boundaries. But when we got married, there was no place in his mind or heart or body that I could not go. There was no space that we could not occupy together. I don’t understand it, and it’s more than sexual freedom and it’s just so comforting. It’s so comforting to know that Ian is always on my side, even if I’m wrong, because God designed these roles that we might know the comfort of Jesus’ commitment to the church.
ten things our disabled marriage has taught us about God
2. God always wins. If what we just said is true, that God created marriage to reflect Jesus and the church, then we have every reason from scripture to believe that God will protect our marriage.
But that is a battle to believe. I especially have felt this battle in my heart too many times. Sometimes it seems as though every part of my brain is telling me that our marriage won’t last, or that Ian won’t be able to care for me in the way he wants, or that it was a mistake to get married in the first place. And those days are so hard because what’s in my mind seems like truth. Sometimes it’s so hard to distinguish between the thoughts in my head and the truths in scripture that God calls me to live by. It’s not always easy to believe that God will be faithful to our marriage because it doesn’t always feel that way.
From Ian – I’ve seen that to be true, that God always wins. God has been faithful in helping me overcome my brain injury. He’s faithful, and everyone can see that.
We are not theologians by any stretch of the imagination. Recently we were at a dinner party and our friends began laughing about some of the bizarre stories in the old testament. I quickly said “Does anyone else feel like they really don’t know anything about the Old Testament?” And Ian quickly said “Me!”
So we tread lightly when talking about things that we don’t completely understand ourselves, but over the past few months, I do believe that I specifically have been given a deeper understanding of how much Satan hates marriage.
As we wrote our book, the very truths I was proclaiming about God in my writing were the very same truths that were impossible to believe in the current day. As I would write about God’s faithfulness in allowing me to keep enjoying Ian through a coma, in present day I would become so ungrateful for Ian and mad at him for his brain injury. The truths I was writing about became direct areas of battle in my heart.
The same holds true for speaking at events or after sharing our story with someone. We do know from the Bible that Satan exists. BUT, what I tell myself over and over and over again is simply, “God always wins.” God always wins. I do not need to fear Satan or myself or my feelings and what they’ll do to my marriage because God always wins.
From Ian – He’s been faithful to us.
Last year we had the honor of sharing our story with Lifehouse Church in Hagerstown. We’re preparing to speak there again, and as we’ve been preparing, were reflecting on whatwe shared last year – 10 things our disabled marriage is teaching us about God.
we’d like to share them here too, beginning with number one:
1. God is the author of marriage God created man. Genesis 1:26-28 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on earth.So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and every other living thing that moves on the earth”
Then God created woman. And marriage. Genesis 2:23 “This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
But He didn’t just create marriage to exist without purpose or glory. He created it to reflect Christ and the church.
Ephesians 5:28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as CHrist does the church, because we are members of his body. THerefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Because of that, He will be true to it. He will value and protect it. He’ll treat it with tender compassion. He will not let your marriage story be undone and He will not leave you to keep it healthy on your own.
From Ian – He’s the author of this marriage, which means that we are living with His story. That means I’m leading my life like a screenplay. That idea of living through a screenplay shows me that my words matter. My words matter in marriage because Larissa, my wife, hears every word I say. He’s the author, so I have confidence in my marriage because He’s faithful.
God created this covenant, this promise, for us to enjoy. Why would we ever doubt the value or worth of fighting hard for something that in scripture is so clearly valued and worth fighting for? We couldn’t have made our lives come together like they did. I love thinking about how separate our lives were for 20 years, existing entirely without each other. And then our lives merge and we know we have a God that does not make mistakes and from that, we can deduce that he authored this. And since God authored this purpose for my life and for Ian’s life, I don’t have to fear during the days that I don’t think I like my husband any more – because God has ordained this relationship and God will sustain it. He has made this gift for me.
my aunt told me how important they were to her, the days when my uncle was still alive and they chose rest over work.
“you need to do that. we didn’t even do laundry. no cleaning. no cooking. we just did nothing together.”
it was a practice that needed to happen so his body could heal and their marriage could have rest.
it is a practice that we need to do, because sometimes life moves too quickly for a brain injury and a wifey is doing too many things that distract.
sometimes the do nothing days mean reading, listening to audio books, watching movies, and napping. sometimes, like yesterday, they mean sleeping late into the afternoon, letting tired bones rest.
and the guilt of doing nothing can’t be there because the bones are tired from the work. the work that makes the nothing so much sweeter.
his walking that is so hard and takes so much.
her walking to the work that takes focus and energy.
the waking and reminding ourselves that God is not done that takes courage.
it all adds up to work, making the beautiful practice of do nothing that much sweeter.
and really, he loves nothing more than just being with his wifey, doing nothing.
we love having chances to tell our story, because even though sitting on a stage is scary because brain injury’s are unpredictable, it’s also life-giving. God still moves in our story, eight years past, and when our voices drift into a microphone, we never know what God is going to do. we don’t know which of our words are the words that God ordained for someone to hear that day because maybe their sould was tired and weak. we don’t know who we will meet after, like the young mom with a diagnosis that meant a future life in a wheelchair, and knowing that we’re doing that now gives her hope.
in february we shared a stage with a dear friend, a church just miles down the road from where ian grew up. re-listening to it now, God teaches me through our own story.
please enjoy the first of two videos here.
they start on thursday afternoons at our table. heather comes with her inspiration and still life arrangements and well-worn brushes. they sit together and paint, talking their way through the layers of sky and making bodies on the beach and sunsets and flowers. she helps him find the places on the watercolor pages, talking him through what his vision can’t find on it’s own.
she gives her time and lets his paintings fill her heart, prouldy sharing photos of them with her family.
then i take their work to the printer, who still says, “i don’t know how many copies we made, just take them,” refusing to accept our dollars in exchange for prints. maybe he refuses because he knows what they’re doing in our life.
then they go to plum avenue, where a dear friend offers time to watch sales, package paintings, visit post offices and write notes to each sweet buyer. her plate is full but she wants our minds to be free from the process, and so she freely gives her time.
and then they arrive at the homes of people that we’ve never met, never known, and never will. they’ve seen our story online and have seen ian’s life from a distance and want to be part of his goal to walk by thirty because in it they see God.
for years, they’ve arrived in small brown envelopes to africa, germany, spain, and autralia, because people around the world see something about God in his work, and in his courage.
they show up in barcelona, when a man proposes to his girlfriend and on the restaurant table before he gives the ring, he gives one of them. a painting. he tells her that all he wants for them is to share the same love as the painter and his wifey.
and their deliveries mean that he has more days of therapy, more days of learning to walk again, more days with his personal trainer.
but God does not stop there. God never stops where we expect Him to.
God never lets it be about us. because it never has been about us.
it is so much bigger.
a video of his first independent steps, a 15 second video that is seen by more than twenty thousand people.
twenty thousand people.
it’s a video, it’s steps, that aren’t just steps. they’re living proof that God is real, and God is alive, and God has all of us captured in this story because He wants us to see Him.
He wants to give us faith. through the weakness of Ian’s thigh that is filled with metal and his hips that don’t work as they should and his back that so often hurts that God gives Himself to us.
because we hear this, when they watch the video:
“i had given up faith that you would walk by thirty. but this shows me that God is real.”
“look what the Lord has done”
“i’m crying. God is so very good”
“my heart is smiling and my hands are lifted up to praise our great God”
inside the weakness of his tired bones, God lets all of us move together inside the rhythm of His grand designs. he pulls us together, the community it takes to paint, to buy, to ship, to pay, to work, to share, to see Him more fully.
He builds us into each other, that our light may pierce the darkness.
“but you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into the marvelous light. once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 peter 2:9-10
thank you, for being God’s people with us.
“my happiness level is a 10,” he said, as we spread comfortably atop the snow, just looking at the blue sky.
my heart grew at his words. they were unprompted and were discovered while he was zippered into his father in law’s snowmobile suit from 1970. he wore them out to the property where we got married, the snow blanketing the field where our tent stood and our dance floor lay.
we were laying at the bottom of the hill that i walked down to get to the aisle. snowsuits hiding our skin from the wfet snow, i looked over at him as he said those six words that meant we were doing something that i would want to remember forever.
he was happy because we had just come down from the top, riding together on a little plastic sled that had no idea how much it was helping to make happiness.
the little plastic sled didn’t realize that a year ago, it couldn’t have held ian, because ian wasn’t healthy enough to get on and off a four wheeler, or get down on a sled, or sit in the sled.
“laris are you sure you guys can do this?” my mom asked. she was there with all of her kids, unexpectedly, because we had surprised her for her birthday.
“the worst that will happen is we fall into snow.”
i needed us to do this because we need to be willing to take risks in order for ian to feel that he’s alive.
and he spoke it as he lay at the bottom, listening to his nieces and nephews scream their way down.
again, he found those little big things, that mean the world to someone who’s world has become small. he found one of those things that make us feel little again, seeing excitement in the ride down the white trail.
he found a reminder of all that God has done.
tonight we’re grateful.
Ian walked on his own for the first time on Tuesday. He’d taken a few steps at therapy a few years ago before his surgery, but this is different. I could step away and record him walking. That’s huge. Much more in my heart to be shared once our minds comprehend.
happy 2015, a year that hopefully finds us writing on here more often, out of gratefulness to all of you who pray for us so faithfully.
holiday travels to the mountains and philadelphia have settled and the routines of life are back.
as for ians best christmas gift? February flights to arizona with two siblings and baby niece to visit two dear friends and actually see the sun. a repeat of our escape to Miami last year- each winter here needs one. and maybe a habit of free date nights throughout the year to make a winter getaway possible is needed, because we need breaks and sun and rest. and honestly, we need it because before it couldn’t have happened. before when he was too sick. and so it’s a celebration.
therapy is on pause for awhile but ian has a personal trainer and we’re praying that it is exactly what he needs right now.
and for me, the wifey, I’m thankful for my job that provides for my best friend and that this best friend loves me a ridiculous amount.
thank you, always.
sometimes we have chances to see the big picture.
last weekend was one of those times, as we found ourselves on planes to indianapolis. and we got to experience God’s love through people who had just before been strangers.
like the sweet life pictured above, who was brought to tears at seeing us, because she knows how hard life can be, but she also knows how good God is.
or like the young mom who dedicated her table to us, because changes in her health now mean doctors talk about wheelchairs in her future. she’s seeing now through ian’s life that God doesn’t leave when our abilities do and through the words in our book she’s given hope that she will not be led into her future in fear.
it was a weekend where i timidly stood on stage in front of a crowd with 300 unique stories of seeing God’s love in the messiness. we sat at a table after, markers ready to sign the pages that contain our heart, he making his “x” with a smile each time, and heard story after story of how God used those weak words.
it was a weekend well spent, and spent in ways that we hope to do so many more times in the future, because our lives and our story are so much bigger.