Five years ago I walked down the aisle with my arm inside my brother’s, stood next to my sisters, and was given away to Tim by five precious men.

I stood there in white, and made a promise in red.

I promised that I would be patient and kind, that I would bear all things, always trust, always hope, always persevere.

I promised that I would stay for better or for worse.

Until death.

But what if what you promised is the hardest thing you’ve ever had to keep?

If the worse wasn’t ugly and yelling and lonely and couch sleeping? If the worse didn’t mean throwing the rings and driving away because the pain drives us to anger?

If the worse didn’t mean we couldn’t communicate or forgive or give love at all?

When bearing and trusting and hoping didn’t mean that I will bear and I will trust and I will hope even this.

What is love to do when it’s always getting undone?

When the kids are crying and there is no sleep. When the door slams and the rings are thrown. When you’ve picked up his shirt a billion times just to do it a billion more. When forgiving is harder than forgetting and walking is easier than staying.

When promises are broken and tears spill and stain that promise back red. When graves call and your heart is torn and spread between heaven and earth. When life happens so fast and your kids grow and the next thing you know you’re older than you’ve ever been.

Because love can get lost in the bottom of laundry baskets.

It can get lost in our hurry and in the house and in the babies and in our jobs and when we want flowers and get nothing. It can get lost at the grave, and drown in the tears and mingle with fear.

It can get lost when we can’t bear and hope and trust any more.

And there is a grip of an enemy that will do it all to undo it all; that will hide any hope from us and bury it under the covers and make us believe that we’ve made a mistake. Tension rises and pain deepens and…

Love comes undone.

We forget that all of our days are numbered, and death will inevitably part us if we don’t kill each other first. We forget that all of the mess that we find ourselves in will be undone and forgotten and forgiven.

And then there’s Grace. This ability to forgive when you thought you never could; this growing and stregthening that happens when you aren’t looking; these days that go by and these kids you keep having… grace. And joy that comes simply because of the deep love of Jesus.

We bring the broken parts of us to Christ, who was broken for us, and we spill out our mess into his spilled blood. Because it’s by his wounds we are healed—we are sustained inside the broken body of Christ.

And He gives more Grace. (James 4:6)

And we win.

Sarah Pangburn

About Sarah Pangburn

Sarah is married to Tim, and has three little girls: Selah, Eden, and Sage. She serves on the team for The Gathering at Relevant, and is a part of the Care and Prayer Team at Relevant. You can read more of her writings at www.sarahpangburn.com

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