Chris Neilsen is a wife and mother of four children and lives in the same house that she grew up in. Sheâ€™s been married to Jim for 28 years and knows firsthand how curve balls in life can sidetrack a marriage. At the age of 30 Chris came to know Jesus in a personal way and has been active in church ministries with worship, youth group, and leading women’s events.
While life is busy for Chris with 3 children still at home and taking care of her 91-year-old mother who suffers from dementia, she still finds time for Bible Study Fellowship and is taking a Perspectives in World View class at her church. There is never a dull moment and Chris looks forward to whatever God has planned for her life.
â€œUp until about 5 years ago I would have politely refused Aubreyâ€™s offer to expound on the topic of marriage. A God-honoring marriage was something I thought went deeper than what Jim (my husband) and I had. But, I believe itâ€™s something weâ€™ve started to reflect on within the past five years.
We started out in marriage with both of us having a past that we couldnâ€™t change. If you can relate to this, you also know the baggage that comes with this type of beginning. After about seven months of being married, we experienced an ectopic pregnancy, and that put a new strain on our marriage as I panicked that Iâ€™d never be able to have a child and it became all-consuming. But, we believed that God was in control and would either provide a child or take the desire away from us. I conceived three years later and had my first son in 1989.
On October 16, 1992, I started following Jesus, and life became markedly different for me. But for Jim, it became more stressful as he watched me change in both good and bad ways. I learned over the next 15 years that God is a personal God. He cherished me even though I felt undeserving of His love, and even when I felt that my husband did not cherish me. . .I also learned that Jim was equally as important to God and God wanted to transform his life as well. I also knew that God wanted us to have fullness of joy in our marriage.
But, I found myself measuring my marriage against others and even measuring my husband against the people I thought he should be more like, instead of respecting and prayerfully asking God to help me love Jim as I should.
On August 15, 2007, after a few weeks of being in a hospital for intestinal issues, I had surgery. When I woke up, I realized that they had to put a colostomy in for a time. I was 44 and still a passionate person and I wanted to be attractive for my husband. I was scared all that was going to change.
However, in the hospital Jim showed me his love in huge ways! This was life-changing as I faced the reality that my husband loved and cherished me through his actions. (I am a talker and I value words that are followed by action but I didnâ€™t marry a guy who talked a lot and it took me years to figure this out. Iâ€™m a little slow sometimes. )
He took care of the colostomy–sorry I have to share this because it can show you the depth of love he had for me–and he was there for my children and mom during this time. He faced having to say goodbye to me twice as complications from surgery caused me to have multiple system shut downs.
Jim was a rock and I realized that he never made me feel like I was disgusting or unworthy of his love. He continued to take care of me and pursue intimacy with me. I had â€œaha momentsâ€ from that time forward about who exactly I was married to. Thank you Jesus!
Marriage is a journey of ups and downs and sideways and forwards. Stay committed to each other. Keep working through the messy times where you need to forgive each other. A godly marriage can only happen when Jesus is at the center and helps you through each day. The good, the bad and the ugly are all worked out by the One who created us.
Remember, the deep abiding love of Christ can not only cement a marriage but fill it with peace and joy.
I know, some of you may be thinking Iâ€™m reaching for the stars on that last comment, but donâ€™t give up because God can and does bring joy into a dry and desert-like marriage.”