Honorable Mention: The Lighthouse Short Story Contest
|Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him Job 13:15a KJV
Two years after we emigrated from Britain to Germany, things started to fall apart. The panic attacks felt like a sickness deep inside me that disturbed my sense of well-being. I could no longer see the future. My restlessness disrupted my sleep, putting an edge on my conversations with my wife. Things got tense, and I often said the wrong thing. Working long hours out of fear of losing my job, I had not adjusted to my new country. My wife had lived most of her life in Germany, but she seemed more distant to me as she made new connections and built her own networks without me.
In England, I had managed most things, but now my wife was doing this.
Now the new job was slipping away, and I did not know what to do. They gave me impossible projects that no one could solve and did not solve after I left either, so I knew the end was coming before it did. Our new baby daughter was not sleeping, and my son was having tantrums in his new surroundings. We were perpetually tired all of the time, and my wife was snapping at me and detailing a long list of failures. I felt neglected by God, as it was He who had told me to come here, and when I prayed, I had many questions. My wife did not seem to pray at all, and I wondered, wrongly at the time, if she even believed in God. Why was this so difficult? Why was everything falling apart? My wife left me for six weeks to stay with new friends, and I received news that I had lost the job that had brought us to Germany. I was furious and restless and would walk for hours until exhausted and then return to an empty house only to sleep.
I remembered this verse from the book of Job and stoically decided that this was my motto for this trial and that all I had to do was trust God and persevere, that eventually, things would just work out.
That is what I did. I learned to ignore my wife's nagging, rediscovering instead the beautiful and unique person she is. I learned to listen to her heart's voice and needs, behind the anger and the criticism. Shortly afterward, she moved back into the house, insisting I sleep downstairs in our guest room. Though I had been a preacher in my wife's church, we started attending different churches, as she did not want me there. I was afraid that if I insisted on going there, she would stop attending altogether. Though she continually strove to put me down, I would choose to affirm her and build her up and lighten her load. Cleaning the house is something I hate, but I developed routines of hoovering and other chores to help my wife out.
I submitted to various marriage counselors of my wife's choosing yet ditched two secular ones who suggested we needed to break up. Instead, I found my new church pastor, who seemed to value my marriage and have a biblical outlook on it. He and his wife helped counsel us and rebuild my wife's vision for the marriage. As I searched for a new job, I took up triathlon, finding that it was a major stress relief for me. I attended two back-to-back church recovery courses in my new church and language courses and learned to master my fears for the future. I got a new job, and sometime later, my wife took me back into the bedroom also. Through this time, my experience of God was like that of an iron pillar, a strong tower that nothing can break. My wife started joining me at the new church with the children. A special moment, fixed in my brain forever, is my daughter worshipping God in that church, with her hands raised and her face shiny with joy. It was the whole reason we came to Germany so that she would be born and worship God. That one moment made sense of all the pains I suffered in that transition and brought me to tears. My family had been on the brink of destruction, and for all the wrong reasons, a well-paying job and a bigger house had proven hollow. However, we have both of these now. We attended the new church for a few years, and when we left later, we returned to my wife's church together.
Ten years later, I write this with my wife beside me, the cat gently purring on top of her while reading the news on her mobile. I preach now in my wife's church, as I did before all this began. All things work out for the good of those who love and trust God was the lesson looking back. However, what got me through those tough times was a simple decision to trust Him. Whatever got thrown at me, I would endure, striving to do as Jesus would do in every situation, with the firm belief that this time of suffering would pass in time. I had years of job instability when I first came to this country and was continually fired due to my poor language skills. I attended five different company Christmas parties in five years. Now I have been in the same job for eight years and life is good.
Job, in the bible, had it harder. He lost everything. I lost my country, jobs, wife, and children for a season, but God gave them back, and now I have two countries. Without God, I would not have made it through. He is trustworthy!!!