One of my favorite movies is the Princess Bride. At one point in this playful story, Westley, a.k.a. “Farm boy” and the “Dread Pirate Robert” looks the lovely Princess Buttercup in the eye and offers this sobering bit of insight: “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
Westley was right. Life on this side of the Garden of Eden is filled with pain. Anybody dealing with a terrible two-year-old knows this. Anybody suffering in a bad relationship knows this. Anybody – well, fill in the blank. We all know Westley hit the nail on the head with his observation.
The larger question, it seems, is how we respond to the pain when it comes our way. Will we be crushed by it? Or, will we get whatever help we need to overcome the struggle, the conflict, or the circumstances behind the pain?
Sometimes addressing the source of the problem means changing jobs, confronting a difficult neighbor, ending a dating relationship that’s headed in the wrong direction, or taking the huge risk of speaking the truth to a meddling parent, in-law, or family member. But when a marriage is in trouble, there are times when no solution sounds like a good one. The temptation is to concede defeat by throwing in the towel and then going your separate ways. If you happen to be in that situation, allow me to share one story of hope.
Our counseling department recently was approached by a married couple living in a different country. They’d been married for fifteen years, but saw no point in continuing in the relationship. While both indicated they were committed Christians well versed in the Bible, they lacked guidance in knowing how to apply the biblical principles to their union. Instead, theirs was a marriage in which they “endured nothing but pain from each other.” Even praying together was out of the question as neither felt safe enough to do so.
Normally, our team would refer them to a prescreened Christian counselor in their area. One problem. Our staff wasn’t able to locate someone in their part of the world. Sensing this step of contacting us was a last resort, the counseling team offered to personally meet with them – if they were able fly to America.
Rather than giving up, this couple took the bold step of buying plane tickets in order to get the help they needed. By all outward appearances, they were highly motivated to get to the bottom of their issues. But, when they arrived, they told our counselor there was little hope of working things out. In fact, when asked to rate their relationship on a scale of one to ten – one being the worst possible score – they gave all aspects of their marriage a “one.”
Talk about a bleak forecast.
And yet, God met them in the midst of their pain. Over several days of very intense counseling, the walls they had erected around their hearts began to come down. Through the tears this husband and wife took baby steps towards understanding each other, forgiving each other, and allowing God to do His work in their relationship. What happened was nothing short of a miracle. I’m told they returned home with new skills to resolve conflict and build their marriage, and a new sense of purpose and a renewed love for each other.
As I learned about their story, the thought crossed my mind that here was a couple who knew they had reached an impasse and yet, rather than give up without a fight, placed a premium on getting the help they needed. To what length might you go if you were in the same situation? Would you fly to another country for help if that’s what it took to save your marriage?
How about driving across town to receive godly counsel?
If your marriage is in trouble or you just sense that your communication could be better with some outside counsel, let us point you in the right direction. Contact us at 1-800-AFAMILY. Life is pain . . . but God still works miracles.