Monday, October 3, 2011

Marriage Mondays: Antoinette's Story

Since "two becoming one" takes divine work, we need to hear stories of victory. I want to give something precious to my Marriage Mondays readers in October. When a marriage relationship goes to the hardest of places, Survivor Stories give us hope that we, too, can experience the sweetness of being one. 

Each Monday in October (there are 5!) I'll share a "Survivor Story" to encourage you. Along with the beauty of the love you'll read in each one, our first Survivor, Antoinette, has donated a gift to be given as a giveaway with each story. She is a generous soul who loves to lavish by making jewelery, and so I have the joy of giving a weekly creation from One of a Kind Jewelery to someone who comments on that post or comments on the Come Have a Peace Facebook page that day. That makes it easy to enter. I'll announce the winner the Wednesday following.  If you want to catch a glimpse of today's necklace and matching earrings (Orange/white in honor of UT football season this week!), you can see the photo on the CHP Facebook page.

Antoinette's Story ~

When Clarence and Antoinette moved to our city for law school twenty years ago, she remembers that they "thrived on love, but had no idea of what was need to make marriage work." Her childhood was spent with a single mom, and Clarence was left to the foster care system when his mom died when he was just an 8 yr. old boy. Clarence remembers walking past a window as a boy, peering into a New Orleans restaurant, longing for the steak he saw on the plate inside. With little stability and no role models for a strong marriage, Antoinette admits it was a "recipe for disaster." 

Clarence was driven to save whatever money they made, and Antoinette was driven to spend for any momentary pleasure she might get to enjoy. Finances, conflicts over parenting their first child, and communication mysteries were complicated by an inability to conceive another child. After the first ten years of marriage, Antoinette knew her husband was "checking out." She explains with certainty that, "My marriage was dead."

Antoinette was 30 yrs old when they gave up on infertility treatments. A month later, she experienced new life as she began a relationship with Jesus Christ. Not long after, she and Clarence separated; their marriage needed a miracle. Antoinette never could've anticipated what Clarence would tell her soon after. In "checking out" of their marriage, he had an affair, and the woman was pregnant.

She wondered if her God had deserted her. It was almost too much for her new faith, but she believed they could work through it "by the grace of God." Her husband still didn't know Christ as his Savior, but she decided that "the most important thing to me was to be in God's will."

And then she realized her own menstrual cycle was a day late. After four years of trying for a baby and the shock of betrayal, her own pregnancy test showed that SHE was pregnant, too. The two women would carry the same man's children within days of each other. Antoinette's tender heart recognized that the other mother was experiencing pain, too, and would be a single parent. She decided to stay in her marriage and demonstrate Christ to the woman who was part of her pain. "If my Heavenly Father hates divorce, I should hate what He hates."  Even if oneness involves trials and tribulations, she was determined to obey. "The door was always open ... I would've been there waiting for him." She also knew that it was "too big a burden to bear without Christ." 

In God's kindness, Antoinette delivered her baby first;  Serena was born at the end of November, a month early and a month before her 1/2 sister Maya. Antoinette called to tell the "other woman" that she would love little Maya as her own.

She knew that the right attitude began with her. She reflects:
  • If you sow unforgiveness, you reap unforgiveness.
  • If you sow mercy, you reap mercy.
  • If you sow forgiveness, you reap forgiveness.
  • If you sow kindness, you reap kindness.

    And the "other woman?" She told Antoinette, "You are truly a woman of God."  There is no unkindness between them, and Maya spends every summer with her beloved "nearly twin" sister, Mommy Antoinette, her older sister, and her Daddy. They admit that it isn't always easy, but it is sweet.

    And the "hurtful husband?" When the baby sisters were just one, their Daddy went to a wedding and heard the marriage vows. It was as if "scales came off of his eyes," and he came to know Jesus as his Savior. To show that he was a totally new creation, Clarence shaved his head, and he'll keep it that way as a reminder of leaving the old man behind. Antoinette says, "He is a man after God's own heart. I see fruit in his life abundantly ... God was the only One who could save our marriage."  Now he asks his loving wife, "What can I do to make our marriage better?"  She just wants him to keep growing in his walk with Christ, alongside her. She says she never wants to see "that man" again!  She has a new marriage! She has a new husband, and she says the new one is an awesome husband! 

    Painful? Yes. She says, "My first marriage crashed, died, burned."  But she also knows, as only a triumphant and grateful Survivor can know, "To experience the fullness of all marriage has to offer, you have to have Christ." 

    Is your marriage dead? Is the burden too much to bear? Do you feel deserted by God? God doesn't want you to stay the "old wife" married to the "old husband." He wants to make your marriage new, and He can. Hold out for the fullness!

    Thank you to Antoinette who so lovingly made the 5 creative gifts I'm giving away in October.  Thank her also for her willingness to share their story, so others will be encouraged to let their old marriages die and experience the fullness of all marriage has to offer with Christ.

    To enter today's giveaway, share a comment here or on the CHP Facebook page.

    18 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

    Lora Lee Wilcher said...

    What an inspiring story to get the day off to a great start!  So many people forget about the children and the pain that their "adult" actions inflicts - this is the first time I've read a story that clearly shows God's love for all- especially the girls!

    Tiffany Johnson said...

    What a beautiful and inspiring testimony.  It is wonderful to hear real-life success stories regarding the trials and triumphs of marriage.  Thank you to all who have and will share their stories.  If more people would share their experiences and adhere to their vows, maybe divorce wouldn't be so rampant.

    Julie_Sanders said...

    That's very true. When we go through pain, we want to hold tight to it and keep it private, but sharing in a respectful way helps others persevere and see victory as something we can experience with God's help. I really appreciate how Antoinette was so honest, yet so respectful of her husband, even in the hard things. At the end of her story, I'm left with great respect for her, for her husband, and most of all ... for God! That makes an inspiring story!
    Julie Sanders


    Orosco99 said...

    Thank you Julie and Antoinette. What a beautiful example of a life yielded and obedient to the Lord, and His amazing power to do what seems impossible to us. Very encouraging! Jenny C.

    Bridgette Boudreaux said...

    What a beautiful story!  If only we all took time to love what God loves and hate what God hates.

    Julie_Sanders said...

    Yes, and it really means we have to do that ... "take time." I was so impressed as I heard her share her story at how she made conscious decisions to take God literally and do what He wants.
    Julie Sanders


    Julie_Sanders said...

    You're so right, Jenny. It's HIS amazing power that can do what is impossible for us alone. She made it clear that it was GOD's power that enabled her to respond this way.
    Julie Sanders


    Mary@The Calm of His Presence said...

    What an amazing & inspiring story. Thank you Antoinette for sharing your hurts & fear but most importantly the Love & Amazing Grace of our Lord and Savior. Praising God for your "new marriage".

    Anglovesrandy said...

    As I am four days away from my own wedding this story is inspired!  Just recently met this couple in ABF and I am speechless... wow!  What a beautiful story!

    Julie_Sanders said...

    Oh, I'm so glad you take their inspiring story into your wedding foundation. Antoinette shares wisdom that I know is from the Lord and forged in the fires of the hardest things. Just four days away ... from a beautiful beginning!!
    Julie Sanders


    TammyG said...

    What a sweet sweet story. God worked a similar miracle in my marriage as well. I came to know Jesus while living with my now husband. One night after a nasty horrible argument ( I admit I was not being very Christlike) my husband apologized. I didn't continue arguing with him. I said it was ok. It was as if a light when off in his head. I could literally see his face soften. The miracles God has worked over in over in my marriage are what I am so thankful for.

    Delia said...

    Wow. What an inspirational story. May God continue to bless them!

    Susan Smith said...

    A beautiful and inspiring story.

    Snowball1957 said...

    What an amazing end to a painful story.  wow...

    Katie Montgomery said...

    Wow.  Glory to God!  He is a pursuing, reconciling God!  How very encouraging.  Thank you Antoinette and Julie for sharing your stories!

    Sarah S. said...

    Thank you, Julie, for realizing the value in sharing survivor stories like Antoinette's and WOW -- how powerful is her message! Thank you, Antoinette, for modeling Christ-like behavior in your marriage and sharing it with the rest of us. I think of the legacy you have created for your children, and how you have changed the course of the future by these decisions. Glory to God!

    Julie_Sanders said...

    So true Sarah. Our decisions, especially about the hardest things, have a lifetime impact on those who come after us.
    Julie Sanders


    Nelda M said...

    What a wonderful testimony of God's mercy and faithfulness in healing and restoring this marriage.
    Thank you, Antoinette, for sharing and thank you, Julie, for creating this blog to encourage others in
    their marriages.