76: Hanging On for Dear Life

76: Hanging On for Dear Life

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Tough Times

Hanging On for Dear Life

By Teresa Cook

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

~Genesis 2:24

Despite nearly twenty years of marriage, I barely recognized the man I had married. My normally kind and gentle husband was sullen and snapped at the slightest provocation. He seemed to take everything I said the wrong way. While I knew every marriage goes through periods of stress, I always thought ours would weather the storms. Now, I wasn’t so sure.

One night, the hostility escalated. Angry words flew back and forth. At one point, Michael beat the bed as he spoke, accentuating each word with a punch. I had never feared my husband before that moment and silently prayed for protection. Instantly, an irrational and unspeakable calm came over me, allowing me to answer Michael in a non-threatening manner, yet still express what I needed to say.

The next morning, however, I fumed at the night’s events. Though fearful the night before, I knew I was in no danger. My husband’s outburst was not a pattern for him, not his typical way of responding. Rather, it was an indication of the strain Michael was under and an expression of the pain he felt because of our conflicts. Still, I was angry. The constant bickering exhausted me, and thoughts of divorce filled my mind. I was at the end of my proverbial rope.

Then God threw me a lifeline.

Michael didn’t do an about-face and fervently apologize for all the things he had done to hurt me. I had no stunning revelation about why our marriage was plummeting down the tubes. God simply told me to “hang on.” So I did.

I hung on through two years of marriage counseling, when we aired our grievances and reopened old wounds in front of a stranger. I hung on to the psalmist’s words to “be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:14). I hung on to the assurance that God can and does change lives. Each day, I hung on for one more day.

Gradually, things changed. A smile here, a shared laugh there. During the dark times, God sent the Holy Spirit to give me the same peace He imparted that angry night. Through prayer, He changed us each a little at a time. And all the while, I hung on.

When we married, Michael and I united as “one flesh.” You can’t divide one flesh and not leave lives ripped apart. So I hung on for dear life — our life together. Now, after thirty-five years of marriage, I’m so glad I did.

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