BY LEANN DILBECK –
Ahhh… the season of love. That one day of the year that is completely commercialized to remind us to do or buy something for our special Valentines. One out of 365? Really?
I’m certainly glad that the love of my life doesn’t limit his random and sincere acts of kindness to just one day a year. I’m glad that he doesn’t need a national holiday to remember to say he loves me or to bring me fresh cut flowers. I’m glad that he loves me with my hair affright and no bondo (my slang for make-up) on or after I’m covered in mud after 4-wheeling. I’m even more glad that his unconditional love has seen us through our share of very broken and hard times, full of stubbornness, pride and selfish choices… because his love for me mirrors that of Christ’s love for His church… a forgiving, ceaseless, enduring and selfless love… it’s agape. And while I would like to think that no one could appreciate his love for me… more than me, I know without a doubt that both of our children do. And particularly one is still giving thanks to the Father for her family’s restoration.
You see, our story is full of all the fun and excitement of a new love… to the reality of marriage and a family with all of the obligations… to a very broken state. A broken state that was dark and incredibly painful for every single member of our family. But it was in our broken state and a few years spent apart that God was able to redeem what the Enemy meant for harm to author a restoration that has a far greater story… a story that became a testimony about forgiveness, a testimony about the love of family, a testimony about the power of God to heal all. Genesis 50:20 – You [the Enemy] intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
The family unit mirrors God’s relationship with His church and His children and is at the core of the Enemy’s target to seek, to kill, and to destroy. When he strikes at our families, he’s striking at the very fibers that make up this great nation. In the disposable culture we live in, the Enemy would like nothing more than for us to feel defeated and broken, vulnerable to his lies… “It’s not fun anymore… We’ve changed … It’s too far gone.” The Enemy wants us to be aimlessly chasing our “happily ever after perfect love” that isn’t realistic instead of standing on God’s truths. He wants to keep us chasing something trying to “have it all.” Never recognizing that with commitment, forgiveness, patience and a whole lot of love… we already do.
For us, it was through the faithful devotion of our very young children and the strong sense of family that we had instilled in them at young ages that their prayers never ceased … over three years … their prayers continued faithfully … and they were heard. God’s grace shined the brightest upon our family when two shattered hearts found healing in Him and became one again… living truth that what He has joined, no man, no amount of time, and no piece of paper could ever put asunder. We share our story openly, years later, hoping that it will expose the lies that are ripping apart families.
Our restored family is strong, close and solid because of our faith in the God of second chances, because of our love and respect for one another, because the leader of our family is a godly man that genuinely, courageously and boldly loves his family as Christ loved His church. He leads by example. He has a servant’s heart, always doing for each of us. He knows he is at his strongest when he is on his knees. He treasures his time spent with us far more than any lures of this world. The strength and depth of his love for his children and for me, literally brings me to my knees in thankfulness. The joy of raising our children and celebrating their successes and even their failures side by side… the security of knowing that nothing this world hurls at us can ever separate us again because of the strength we have found in each other and in God…. the butterfly flutters that can still be felt when gazing into those same eyes as I did on our first Valentines 24 years ago. Not a day goes by that I don’t think God for this love… my dream come true… my Valentine all year long. FAMILY, the secret to having it all… is realizing you already do!