I am getting married in TWO weeks to the love of my life! We are so in love it is almost nauseating. Almost.
Still, I remember what it took to get here.
I remember the pain…
Of being a wife abandoned. Of the daggers of rejection and fear for my future. My dream of having a family was shattered.
I would place my daughter’s high chair at the dining table so we could share meals together like I had always envisioned I would do when I had a family of my own. Only there were no conversations. No one asking me about my day or telling me about theirs. Only occasional squeals from my daughter as she threw sweet potatoes at me from her high chair. Not exactly what I had pictured.
No joke, this is a pic I sent to my friends on a hard day after the separation.
I remember the weight…
The pressure of responsibility like an oil tanker on my shoulders. Being left alone with a mortgage, a child to raise, a ministry to run. Being reduced to one income, bills piling with no financial support.
And just because my life was falling apart didn’t mean that the world around me paused to consider my great burdens. The need was still there. The pain of those around me. The appointments and expectations.
I remember the questions…
If God is good, and His plans are good, then why is this happening? Did I do something to deserve this? If God is a Redeemer and a Restorer, why am I not seeing change in my (then) husband?
Will I ever be able to trust again? To love again?
I remember facing the reality…
“I am not the one with the problem, he is!” used to be my mantra.
While I was not responsible for my ex-husband’s addictions and affairs, I contributed to the dysfunction in our relationship with enabling and co-dependent behaviors. Too many times, I tolerated things I shouldn’t have and let things slide under the guise of forgiveness. I didn’t know that it wasn’t enough to simply complain about what was happening, and that a true healthy boundary has a consequence. I didn’t know that shaming and blaming without examining my own behaviors and motives was unproductive and would keep me stuck.
I remember how painful it was to come out of denial and begin my own recovery journey. Especially since it meant loading up my infant daughter in her car seat and driving in up to 3 hours of Los Angeles traffic every Friday for two years to get to a Celebrate Recovery group in Orange County for women in relationship with sexually addicted men.
I remember the revelations…
That my recovery didn’t have to depend on my ex-husband’s. That I could become healthier and whole, whether or not he made a choice to get better.
That God is, in fact, good. That His character can be trusted. His plans are good. The circumstances I was facing did not change these facts. I began to stand on these truths, even when I didn’t think I saw evidence of them.
I remember the promise He made to me…
“It didn’t turn out like I thought it would,” I cried to God.
The grief of this forced it’s way out of me in heavy sobs. I was his bride. His bride. We made a promise. No, a vow. It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way.
And then, He spoke to my heart.
I rescued you.
The absurdity of this statement was almost laughable. There was nothing about what I was going through that even remotely resembled rescuing.
Harmony, I rescued you.
I was perplexed. He had my attention.
I rescued you from your version of the dream….
I will redeem the dream.
This promise, that God would redeem the dream, that He would restore family to me carried me through. Most days, I held on to it. When the truth of it felt faint and distant, my friends would lovingly remind me of this promise…
“God will redeem the dream. He will restore family to you. This was His promise.”
There was a point when I accepted the fact that it might not come in the form of marriage. Perhaps He meant He would simply surround me with such incredible friends that they would become family to me. He has done that, and I am thankful.
I resolved that I would be okay with this and tried to tuck away that desire in my heart to sit at a dinner table with a family of my own. To partner in life with someone with whom I could share dreams and vision, responsibilities and challenges, laughter and tears.
I minimized my want for these things, just in case God didn’t come through in this way.
But He had a question for me.
Harmony, what do you want?
“God, why are you asking? Does it even matter? What is going to happen will happen, whether I want it or not. And isn’t it enough for me to just tell you I want your will? Isn’t that what you want to hear?” I reasoned, avoiding the question. Avoiding putting shape and words to these very vulnerable desires.
I am not asking you for passive obedience. What do you want?
I began to understand that God wanted me to engage with Him in sharing my wants and needs. That the practice of this is a part of intimacy.
I finally fessed up. I told God what I wanted… to be married again.
And not just any marriage…
I told Him that I want a marriage that is strong and growing and rooted in God. One where we delight in each other and laugh together and love each other passionately. A marriage where we are moving in the same direction (towards God and His purpose) and loving life together. Where we are satisfied and confident and sure in our marriage because we are confident in God as our foundation. Where we serve one another in love. Where we are living life abundantly together and honoring God in our relationship.
Where our home is filled with love. Where we enjoy spending time together as a family. Where we are growing as parents and finding balance in discipline and love. Where we are in the moment with our children and enjoying and celebrating life with them. Where they are secure and confident and building a strong relationship and foundation in God.
Where our work is purposeful. Where we will make an impact in our culture through books, movies, and TV. Where there is an anointing from God on the work of our hands and the words that flow out of our mouths. Where we are balanced in the time we spend working and our careers do not take away from our relationship with our God or each other.
And although I have known him for many years, the man I am marrying in 2 weeks (YES, TWO WEEKS!!!!) did not ask me on a date a minute sooner than I shared my wants with God.
I believe that God wanted me to be vulnerable enough to share my wants and needs with Him before I could be in a relationship with another human that requires this kind of vulnerability. I believe that God waited for me to clarify my desires before He gave them to me.
I am marrying a man that has surpassed my desires. He is a safe person who demonstrates respect and love for my daughter and me through all of his actions. We laugh together and dream together. He has wiped my tears when I am grieving and cooked me chicken noodle soup when I am sick… from scratch… no bouillon… he uses a dang chicken to make his own broth!
God has given him a heart for Treasures (And not just because he loves me! He has been volunteering with Treasures for YEARS!) He is the first to tear up when we receive a touching letter from a girl who has been helped.
Here is a video of this man of mine proposing to my 6-year old daughter. Melt my heart!
In two weeks, we are headed to the alter, to make a forever vow. God is redeeming the dream.
Maybe you feel like things are falling apart. Maybe you are in a season where there seems to be more pain than joy.
I want to encourage you…
Remain faithful through the hard times. Keep your trust in Him, not in your circumstances. When it comes to recovery, do the work, it is worth it in the end. Believe me!
As for God….
He is good. His character can be trusted. His plans are good. He will redeem. He will restore.
This is Who He is.
This is me crying again… only this time it was because my friends had just told me they were buying me my wedding dress!
Harmony (Dust) Grillo
Harmony Dust founded Treasures in 2003 while completing a Master’s in Social Welfare at UCLA. To date, she has trained outreach leaders that have gone on to establish more than 97 sex industry outreaches on 5 continents. She has been featured in various media sources, including Glamour Magazine, The Dr. Drew Show, and The Tyra Banks Show. She is a sought after speaker and her memoir, Scars & Stilettos, gives an account of the journey of going from working in strip clubs, to leading an organization that reaches women in the sex industry on a global scale.
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