It’s as if the heavens opened up and declared my destiny in a single name…at least that’s what I thought at the time. We had been surviving the first few months after I found out about Chris’s affair. Each day of our marriage was spent in the trenches, and each night brought both celebration for making it one more day and trepidation for what that night’s dreams would bring to life. I had started reading the Bible again, because what else could I do? I had grown up reading the Bible, and I was familiar enough with the stories to turn to a chapter that I could relate to. So I flipped through the pages until I landed in Hosea.
As I turned to the familiar story of Hosea and Gomer, Chris asked what I was reading. I felt equal parts vengeance and guilt as I tried to use the story to shame him. After I finished explaining the story, or at least the parts I wanted him to hear, he lowered his head and whispered, “That’s kinda ironic.”
Smugly I asked, “What is?”
“Her name is Gomer,” he said.
Confused I said, “So, what’s ironic about that?”
He looked up at me with tears in his eyes. I could tell he was trying to hold it together as he said, “You don’t remember?”
“No,” I said bluntly.
“That’s the nickname you gave me in eighth grade.”
And then my destiny flashed before me eyes. Chris was right. I had nicknamed him Gomer in eighth grade. It stood for Grumpy-Old-Man-er (remember, I was in EIGHTH grade!). He, like most junior high boys, was trying too hard to be cool. I was naive and sheltered with a flair for the dramatic. But in that moment I was convinced that this was a sign from God, a prophetic word if you will, that I was supposed to stay married to this man and forgive him just as Hosea forgave Gomer. Did I mention the flair for the dramatic?
In the storms of life, it’s natural for us to grasp for hope and to long for God to open up the heavens and directly speak His will for our life. Looking back, I have no idea if this was sheer coincidence or if there really was some foretelling of our future in my junior high nickname for my husband. I know that I was desperate for someone to tell me that I was making the best decision, and this name thing seemed to be the easiest way for me to have peace about staying married to someone who every ounce of logic told me to walk away from.
I also know that my faith was stretched and my character was deepened through that storm. I would not have gained the depth of faith, empathy, or understanding of love without having married my husband, for better or worse. In the darkest moments of our marriage, I clung to Jesus and prayed that the morning would bring new mercies just as the old hymn I had sung on Sunday mornings read.
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!
And they did, and He was. In those moments when I felt life was too heavy and I longed for release, He pulled me back. Each morning brought new hope that today would be better than yesterday. Some days, I saw that fulfilled. Others, I mourned the loss of my happiness and longed for what could have been. And then one morning I woke up, and five years had passed by.
Our family had grown. We had new jobs. We lived in a new city. We had a new church and a new community of friends. We were walking closer with the Lord than we ever had before. And somewhere in between the thousands of raging storms and clearing skies, our marriage had been restored. Chris had changed. I had changed. Our marriage had changed.
You may not end up staying with your spouse, and your spouse may not change the way Chris did. I’m thankful for the way our story turned out, but I also realize that not all stories will end the same way. If you’re in a storm of your own, I give you permission to reach for hope, even in the silliest of places. Sometimes that shred of hope is all you need to weather the storm. These hard times are opportunities to develop perseverance, character, and even more hope! That truth is universal.
Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – Romans 5:5
When I started this blog, I started to think about the name thing again. I knew that God changed the names of several people in the Bible to establish new identities that He wanted them to embody, and I thought that giving Chris a new nickname would be a nice symbol of our journey. As I started looking up names, I discovered that Chris’s name means Brave Carrier of Christ. I smiled at the irony in all of it.
His name, the one he was given when he was born…it suits him!