By Dawn Gentry
My husband, Harold, and I have been married 30 years. Some days are as boring as vanilla ice cream on white cake—sweet, but not memorable. Some days are breathtaking, like the shared first glimpse of our grandbaby. Most days are comfortable with a quiet joy, like the slippers and sweats we slide into at the end of a workday. Seasons of sameness, interrupted by occasional events of significance. Sometimes faithfulness is like what Eugene Peterson describes as “a long obedience in the same direction.”
Other seasons are not so quiet and comfortable. There are fights about money, jobs, friendships, and sex. Ridiculous arguments about how to fill the dishwasher; not so ridiculous ones about how we fill our time. Do we really need a television that big? Who has control of the volume remote? While we’ve had occasions to walk out of the room for air, we’ve never walked out of the house angry. I stubbornly press my way through conflict, even if it means we fight. Sometimes faithfulness shows up as stubbornness.
What Might Have Been
Years ago, there was a season of depression (for me) and of doubt (for him). I was fully vested in running a business and loved my kids and my husband, but I did not love being married. I was faithful in daily expectations and wifely duties, but I was tired of the lack of intimacy and a plethora of problems. I wasn’t going to tell God how to give me a second chance and wasn’t looking for a second husband. But I imagined a second chance at being single. Sometimes faithfulness is visible on the outside but debatable on the inside.
I was traveling for an advisors’ training with my sales company and got called out of a meeting. It was my sister-in-law who said, “There’s been an accident.” On an icy road, a driver lost control and crossed the yellow line, striking my husband’s car, driver’s side, head-on. In those days before air bags and backseat requirements for kids, my 7-year-old son’s forehead split open on the glove compartment. My 3-year-old daughter got a deep carpet burn on the bump between the seats. My husband, thankfully, walked away unscathed. Weeks later, when I saw photos of the totaled car and realized what might have been, I felt as if I’d been hit head-on myself. Sometimes you get a different second chance than you imagine.
God Is Faithful
Faithfulness winds through our lives in many forms. Sometimes it’s the willingness to have the same arguments again and again and not leave. Sometimes it’s surviving miscarriages, job losses, cross-country moves, and cancer. Sometimes it wrecks us with gut-wrenching shock and bone-deep pain. But the real lesson I learned through that hellish season was not about our faithfulness in marriage but God’s faithfulness to us.
I don’t know if God prevented tragedy that day, but I do know God was faithful. While I was still driving home and Harold was the only parent available to my kids, God was faithful. When I broke into thankful tears seeing my son’s stitches and my daughter’s scars, God was faithful. And as Harold and I commit to a “long obedience in the same direction,” with increased appreciation for second chances, God is faithful.
Dawn Gentry is a speaker, writer, and adjunct professor at Milligan College and Nebraska Christian College (@dgentry1905 on Twitter).