Happy 25th Anniversary Honey

Here’s Why I Wouldn’t Do It All Over Again

💞The Love Story

I nervously took my place next to my handsome groom. I was a twenty-year-old, ninety-pound bride struggling to manage elation, love, excitement and disappointment because none of my family members were present. I crossed my fingers hoping my husband-to-be wouldn't sense how lost and fragile I truly was. The murder of my older brother occurred just ten months before, leaving me empty and in search of a better life and identity. Danny was a protector, trusted counselor and my best friend. One bullet by an unknown assailant left him dead physically and me dead spiritually. My soul was torn and I needed the groom standing next to me to fix it all. He HAD to be the answer, my hero and my light in the darkness. Little did I know he carried within him a darkness all his own. One day it would come to light, shattering my misplaced identity. He was a human, not a Hero. I shouldn’t have given him the space deep within my soul meant only for God.

😧The Scary Part

The civil ceremony on Aug 5th of 1991 was efficient and brief. It took less than ten minutes to meld two broken, lost lives into one hot mess waiting to happen. After the JP pronounced us man and wife, I hugged the four people in attendance and thought “wow, I finally belong to someone.” That should have been the first sign I’d eventually face disaster. I wasn’t ready for marriage and despite all the red flags we went full speed ahead like a freight train without brakes.

🙀She Must’ve Been Nuts

I became a mother just two weeks shy of our one year anniversary. A beautiful baby girl melted my heart and introduced me to a new kind of love. Still, because I hadn’t yet surrendered all of my pain and brokenness to God, I selfishly relied on a child’s love to fill me. Three years later we welcomed another gorgeous baby girl and four years after that we had a sweet baby boy. My heart was full but my motives for desiring motherhood were wrong. I had kids for ME. They, along with my husband, formed the new identity and new life I longed for. I thought life was great and assumed my marriage and kids were a safe distance from the pain, loss and abuse tucked deep in my past. I was wrong.

🙈Two Messy Worlds Collide

I don’t think we ever officially discussed “a plan” for our lives or as a family. Nor did we admit we didn’t have one. We just lived. Kids, school, chores, work, pets, aging parents and social lives. We managed and juggled life’s ever changing demands as they came. As one year became eight, which became twelve then fifteen then twenty, not much changed inside us. We maintained a cordial and consist relationship with God. We told many of His power and grace. We simply didn’t know how to stop long enough to receive it for ourselves. We lost sight of priorities and couldn’t identify where so much of our pain and anger came from. How do you ask for help when you don’t understand or remember the origin of so much hurt? We didn’t know where to start, so we didn’t. We didn’t live a bad life, we just didn’t live a full one. Eventually conversations grew shorter and date nights became a luxury of the past. We had house payments, car payments, kid’s activities and school loans tugging at our finances every single day. We figured we’d get back to us eventually. Health crisis after health crisis hit and our poor coping and communication skills rose to the surface. The clock started ticking and a storm was brewing.

🌩Storm Hits

My husband slipped into a world all his own. I was tired of trying to pry him open. Our kids each sensed changes at different times and in their own way. Distance and division merged with hectic schedules and an indifferent family just looked busy. Getting my husband to lead was my next mission. My co-dependency and people-pleasing were at an all-time high. I wanted and needed everyone to like me; which meant taking on way too much all the time. My God-given passions and talents took a backseat to cooking, cleaning and doing laundry for my immediate family and anyone else within reach. We had relatives that took and took and took until my body caved. I began to resent Joe for not “protecting” me like he was supposed to. We hung by a thread but what kept Joe and I together was a love and friendship that will never fade. I’ve loved him since I was sixteen and I will go to the grave loving him. Which is why I was devastated when I found out he had been medicating the pain of past abuse with an addiction. Images of his abuser taunted him and almost drove him to the point of death. He hid it well but had a constant look of loss in his eyes. I wanted to help but didn’t know how -then I discovered his addiction. An emotional avalanche occurred within me that resembled the moment I heard my brother died. I fell to the floor and wanted to die. Not only because of my husband’s sin but because of my own. I had placed an idol deep in my soul, a place meant for God. I gave Joe my soul and didn’t know how to get it back. I cried out to God in anger and that’s when it occurred to me; He has no priority list when it comes to sin. I was just as guilty as Joe when it came to holding on to pain and not trusting God. My husband, people-pleasing, codependency and anger were my addictions. It was time to let go and let a real Savior do a new work in me. I released Joe because it wasn’t my job to fix him and relied on God to fully restore him. If Joe wanted to keep his family it would require a lot of hard, internal work and a thousand pounds of humility. I knew I would stay because I could never reject my best friend in his greatest time of need. Our love was tested like never before and it has paid off big-time!

💐Today

We are together and stronger than ever. I completed a year long program, regenerationrecovery.org and it changed me from the inside out. My husband was in a recovery ministry as well and received healing from all the past abuse he suffered. He is gentle, kind, genuine, humble and thankful for all God has done. Our priorities are in order and we are restored. I am still human and there are times I feel a sting in my heart but I have learned how to surrender those moments to God.

What Wouldn’t I do All Over Again⁉️

I wouldn’t place such heavy, emotional pressure on Joe. I wouldn’t have leaned on my kids for so much love and admiration. I would have forgiven my brother’s killer sooner and those that physically and emotionally abused me would have been given to God much sooner. No, I wouldn’t do any of THAT again but I WOULD still have married my best-friend and the love of my life. Happy 25th Anniversary Joe Lopez. The next 25 are going to be amazing!