One of my goals for 2017 is to intentionally pursue writing and sharing our story, our testimony, and our ministry, so with Ethan’s permission, I’m sharing the hardest and most vulnerable post of our lives as our first “yes” of the year.
Many of you know that Ethan and I walked through a lot of hard moments in the past couple years - the death of my father, getting married, and both starting rigorous school programs all in less than six months left us reeling. What wasn’t public knowledge was that in late 2015, I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety, and I spent a lot of 2016 walking through what I felt was as close to hell on Earth as I could possibly get.
We thought we did a pretty good job of keeping our struggles behind closed doors and putting on the “newlywed” face that we felt we were supposed to have. Honestly: what newly married couple wants to admit they are struggling not only with marriage, but with life itself? Don’t get me wrong - we were deeply loved by our family and friends and we were happy. Our first year as The Greens was wonderful and we created and treasured so, SO many precious memories... But behind every cute moment that we shared on social media were many, many uncaptured moments of paralyzing grief, misplaced anger, irrational fear, stress, strain, and exhaustion. My sweet, sweet husband tried to be our emotional, spiritual, and mental rock, but as you might guess, trying to hold us both together quickly took a toll on him as well. We were broken people with broken hearts, trying to hide from ourselves, others, and Christ. What it took us the year to learn is that by trying to hide our brokenness from those around us - all in the name of “saving face” - we were only hiding the redemptive power of Christ.
I don’t share all of this for sympathy or pity, but to really give contrast to the darkness that surrounded us this past year and the light that we’re walking in today. By the grace of God alone, we were lifted from the hardest places of our short lives and set upon the rock that we stand on today. It took a year of being literally unable to hold ourselves up to realize that we needed Christ to hold us both.
We certainly don’t have it all worked out - somedays grief will still hit like a truck, anxiety will most likely be a lifelong battle, and we’ll forever be figuring out how to be married - but when we sat down to review our goals and vision for this new year (yes, we are THAT couple), we looked back at how God chipped and cut away at our very hearts to put us in this place. Much like a plant, He had to literally remove the damaged, diseased, and dead parts that had entangled our lives and our marriage. While 2016 was our year to be pruned, 2017 is our year to grow, and that is how we decided that our word for the year is YES, drawn from this verse:
“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding, “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for His glory.” - 2 Corinthians 1:20
It really took this past year of being driven to our weakest place to truly appreciate and know the weight of God saying “Yes!” in our lives. One of my favorite commentaries on this verse says: "We want to see love in operation if we are to be sure of it, and the only demonstration of the love of God is to witness the love of God in actual working. And you get it - where? On the Cross of Jesus Christ." (MacLaren's Expositions). In the darkness of our lives that we've endured and all that is to come, we are assured the love of God - fulfilled and forever ours through a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. Yes.
We’re not entirely sure how we’re giving back our own “Yes” yet, nor do we know the full extent of how this word will shape our walk this year - but for starters, we're saying an Earthly yes to a few things:
- Fostering - because we truly, truly understand what it’s like to fall apart and just need some help to get it all back together.
- Ethan switching to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering - our latest “out-of-left-field” decision, because when God gives you a desire that just won’t go away, you finally decide to go after it.
- Actively finding ways to intentionally pursue ministry and other broken people with broken hearts (with this space being the first of our practical ways to walk this out - eek!) - we believe it is okay to admit you’re walking through hell and back, but it is never okay to walk through that alone. Our hearts are to truly meet people exactly where they are and just walk through life with them.
So that’s the year that we’ve come from and the word that is carrying us into the next year. We are so honored and thankful that you - whoever you are - read this little sliver of our hearts, and we’re grateful we get to share our life and our testimony in 2017 (and I double pinky promise it won’t always be as heavy as this post - I’m going to cuddle our dogs and watch puppy videos after this).
Yes from God. Yes to God. For His glory.
Here’s to 2017 - Love, The Greens.