What I Thought Would Kill Me Actually Healed Me
I distinctly remember the day I came home, exhausted and overwhelmed, and said, “This is the last thing we need. Why would God do this to us now?”
It all started with a season of marriage challenges.
Unaddressed issues and chronic communication breakdown propelled my husband and I to a polarized point, so distant that any attempt to speak led to arguing. We were miserable, despite the outward appearance of a happy middle-class family. As our relationship spiraled, so did our finances, which added stress and anxiety to the existing misery.
In the heat of one argument I shouted at my husband “do you even want to be married to me?” Looking back, I was seeking an escape, and in my desperation had no preference for one direction over the other, as long as it led out. The question, and my disheartened apathy, shocked us both momentarily, then he gave me an answer. “Yes, I do,” he said. We spent a few silent minutes together and hugged for the first time in a long time, and a subtle shift began. The next morning at church we walked forward and prayed, with others standing over us praying as well.
I believe that is the moment we invited God back into the mess we had made.
God began to work, and we started to lean on him for reparation and restoration. During this time we found out my mother-in-law had cancer. Enter grief, anger, and heartbreak to add to the above misery, stress, and anxiety. We brought her to live with us and were happy to do so because we knew her time was limited. We wanted to be there for her and with her, and still treasure those memories. That time in our lives was a bit like childbirth: painful, exhausting, yet sprinkled with joy.
Our days were filled with raising children, working, caring for my mother-in-law, and trying to relish the time we had with her. My perspective of this experience was one of trying to meet the mounting needs of all those around me, and carrying the load for my husband when he wasn’t able to lift it any longer. My morning commutes were the only times I had with God alone, and I made good use of the solidarity with music, prayers, and abundant tears. And it was one of these long, exhausting days that I came home asking myself that question above.
Little did I know God would actually answer it, in time.
Through this season, I saw God’s distinct presence in our days. Needs were somehow always met and family and friends showed up at the right times to help. When my mother-in-law did leave this earth, my husband and I had the final responsibility of taking care of arrangements for her memorial. Exhausted and sad, we went to meet with the funeral home directors, only to be informed someone had paid the cost of her service. Our minds were blown, and we both cried tears of happy gratitude. It was another undeserved, unexpected, and much appreciated reminder of God’s presence in our lives and in our pain. This debt that we owed, someone else paid on our behalf, out of nothing but love for us. Jesus did that same thing—except he gave his actual life. This was one of many ways—using angels around us—that God showed his love for me and my family.
After that season, I had a newfound devotion to God. His love for me and my family became palpable, no longer an abstract idea I read about, but something I had lived. I felt closer to him after he carried me through the heartbreak, and I knew it was him who carried me because for the first time in my life I let him.
Daily I talked to him, cried to him, and he showed his goodness by giving me strength to endure each new challenge.
And his goodness didn’t end there. Remember my troubled marriage? After things settled down following my mother-in-law’s passing, things settled out for my husband and me as well. Our relationship began to heal, and though I didn’t know why, I was glad. Then one day, at a family event, God put all the pieces together. A relative of my husband’s got me alone for a minute and shared with me how he knew what we had been through had been hard for me, because years prior he and his wife had gone through something similar with his father. He said during that time his wife showed so much love to her father-in-law that he was still to this day grateful to her. He knew that, even though she loved her father-in-law, everything she did during that time was out of love for him, her husband.
At that moment, I realized God had used this heartbreaking experience to heal and strengthen my marriage.
Our marital discord was due to many factors, one being that my husband had become convinced I no longer loved him. When I realized my labor of love in caring for his mother was what God used to mend our relationship, I was awestruck. Remember, I thought adding the care of a dying mother-in-law to our already broken lives was the last thing we needed.
When we are at our worst or weakest, we don’t feel strong enough to take on more, but the truth is we are never capable without God. It’s only in his strength that we can do any of the things we do, because he is able.
God took a time in my life when I had no strength left, and He became my strength.
Not only that, he did “exceedingly abundantly” more in taking me from heartbreak to strength. God used what I thought might kill me, and used it to heal me.
Gena is a Jesus-lover, writer, and nurse practitioner who has a passion for helping others to be well through making daily choices that honor the life God has given them. She is the author of The Well Woman: A Journey to Wellness Through Loving Jesus and No Excuses: a Bible Study on the Book of James. She proudly holds the title of wife, mom, and the world’s most average CrossFitter. She loves writing, reading, traveling, and brownies. She’s working on that last one. She lives in Hutto, TX with her husband Michael and children Jocelyn and Luke. You can connect with her on website or IG @wellwoman.blog
To hear my conversation on the podcast with Gena, click on Depth Podcast Episode 68.