Suffering Produces Endurance

Suffering Produces Endurance Hero Image Suffering Produces Endurance Hero Image

“My life was shaped by routines and achievements. I was the breadwinner in our family for almost twenty years. With five children and a demanding job, I never slowed down. As my family became busier and my work responsibilities grew, I ignored a lens of bitterness that began to cloud everything.

“When we moved to Dallas for my new job, I thought this would be a good place to move forward with a divorce – it felt like a ‘safe’ place for change because our kids would be closer to extended family.

“Surprisingly, after multiple invitations from friends, we ended up at re|engage, Watermark’s marriage ministry, on our twentieth wedding anniversary. At this point, I thought my marriage had only two choices: divorce or endure until the kids were out of the house.

“Through re|engage, I heard a much better third option for our marriage: walking in God’s design. This gave me hope.

“In our last re|engage meeting, I felt like the Spirit was telling me I needed to ask for my husband’s forgiveness for breaking our marriage covenant. When I did, it felt like a thousand pounds were released from me. For the first time in a decade or more, I didn’t feel bitter, angry, or disappointed. I felt joy and peace.

“The following year was a growing season for Steve and me as we joined a community group at Watermark, learned how to work on our marriage, and built new habits to honor the Lord (even in simple ways like setting phone reminders to pray, read God’s Word, or text my husband).

“This is not a story about how I began to pursue God’s best for my marriage and lay down my unhealthy habits, and then things started to get better. The reality is that my life and circumstances became drastically more complicated as I developed new and healthy habits.

“As my marriage became a safe place, it felt as if everything else in my life began to crumble. Grief, job loss, illness, and conflict began to wreak havoc on my tightly packed calendar. My habits and routines did not protect me. But while studying God’s Word daily and through Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry, re:generation, I was able to identify and eliminate some unhealthy coping habits in my life, like being a workaholic and drinking.

“God also took away the desire to do what I loved for 20 years: my career. He replaced it with a desire to know Him more and to be known. At first, I was so bitter and angry. I felt like I was throwing everything in the trash. During the grieving process of removing that idol from my life, I landed a new job at Watermark, where my family had already been growing in a loving community of believers. In God’s sovereignty, He knew what was ahead.

“After my daughter, Bryn, lost her voice one night in October of 2022, we went to the doctor. I assumed it was strep and that we’d be sent home quickly. We would later find out it was Hodgkins lymphoma cancer. I could feel the lens of bitterness beginning to come back into my heart. Why us?

“Over the last year, I’ve been able to watch my daughter learn that cancer isn’t a detour from God’s plan. She has grown in her own faith and persevered through this suffering. Today, we celebrate and praise God that Bryn has been cancer free since March.

“I have learned so much about God’s character. He indeed does go before, behind, and with us. Even though I could not see what was coming for our family, God knew. He provided healing and a safe community for our marriage. He graciously provided opportunities for me to learn more about His faithfulness, steadfastness, unwavering truth, and love for us before storms were raging around our family.

“And I’ve started to look at my role as a mom differently. I can beat myself up with guilt and shame for not being a present mom in the past and putting success ahead of my family. But the reality is that my only role as a mom is to point my kids to Christ. Sometimes that simply means showing them my brokenness and mistakes and reminding them that He is enough and He is faithful. As much as I love each one of my kids, God loves them infinitely more.

“Coming out of this cancer diagnosis, we’re still in the valley. It has been a season of suffering in many ways, but I don’t even feel like the same person. I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). I didn’t understand that before because I wanted all the trophies and all the success, and for God to fit into that. But as I reflect, I’ve learned that what suffering has brought into my life (closeness to God) far outweighs the gift of accomplishment. Now, my only choice is to wake up every day and say, ‘God, I know you are faithful. What is that going to look like today?’”