When I graduated college a few years back, it seemed like I had everything lined up for me. I was headed to Kansas City to finally be in the same city as my long-distance boyfriend of two years, I had a teaching job lined up, and would start classes for my Master’s degree in education soon after I arrived. That boyfriend soon became my fiancé, and after a whirlwind seven months of teaching, wedding planning, and night classes, we got married.
From the outside, everything was perfect. But from the inside? My heart was aching.
I went to work and classes and lived life with my new husband, but life felt routine and lacking purpose. I missed the ministry and friends I had in college and felt like I wasn’t making an impact anywhere. My marriage had its sweet moments and we loved each other deeply, but it was also much harder than we’d expected. Physical intimacy was confusing and impacted our hearts in ways that I could never have expected. It felt like we just kept having one hard conversation after another as we navigated the waters of our new oneness and how we could live that out in real life.
And in the midst of all that, the God who was once my refuge felt a million miles away. My quiet times felt dry and boring and distant, and I found myself turning to anything I could to avoid those awkward interactions with God. I was angry that He had “abandoned” me when I felt I needed him most, and so I stopped pursuing Him at all as a result.
My once joyful and optimistic heart started to feel heavy and overwhelmed, and I found myself crying uncontrollably in my car on my way to work. I felt overwhelmed with shame because I had a great family, a wonderful, loving, husband, a good job, and no visible reason to be depressed. That could only mean one thing: there was something wrong with ME, and even though everything else in my life was perfect, I just couldn’t be okay.
But even in all that shame and sadness and confusion, God still pursued me. I made the decision to see a counselor, and working with her started to unravel the tangled strands that comprised our marriage, my depression, and my relationship with God.
I started to see that God was good, even in the midst of my disappointment with my new “adult life” that didn’t leave me as happy and fulfilled as the movies made me think it would.
I started to see that His love for me was big enough to see through my demands for what I thought I needed to be happy, and that He instead offered me Himself: His love, His grace, His invitation into a life that could be full even in the midst of the routine.
It took a year of feeling sad, isolated, and numb for me to admit something was wrong and seek help. I was too overwhelmed by shame to believe that my story mattered, that my heart was worth the time and energy it would take to find healing and hope. Going through six months of counseling opened my eyes to God’s goodness in the midst of my pain, His grace in the midst of my shame, and His promises of hope even when things were hard in my marriage.
The last few years of being a “grownup” have stretched me, broken me, and reminded me over and over that God is always good. I’ve learned that my heart is worth fighting for, whether that fight looks like taking the time to sit down and express my feelings to God or choosing to meet with a counselor and work through where He is in my journey.
After a year in wandering in the darkness, God allured me into the quiet wilderness where I could finally hear His voice (Hosea 2:14). He spoke tenderly to me of His heart for me and He reminded me that in His kingdom, my heart is radiant and will never be covered with shame (Psalm 34:5).
I am so grateful.
Lauren English and her husband live in Kansas City, MO. They spend their days teaching Spanish and other life skills to teenagers, snuggling their puppy, Olive, and eagerly awaiting the arrival of their first little one in March 2016. Lauren blogs about faith, marriage, life, and all the things she and her hubby do to turn their house into a home over at Sobremesa Stories. To share life and connect with Lauren, follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.
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