God Saves a Soldier's Marriage
By Tim Smith
The 700 Club
CBN.com -Darren and Heather Turner met at the University of Georgia, where he was a campus pastor. They married in 1999.
“We were young,” remembers Darren. “And we had a growing family, so we were excited. We were in the ministry.”
Darren earned his Masters degree in ministry from Regent University, and went on to become an Army chaplain.
“I was deployed three months after my very first day in the Army,” says Darren.
Darren left his wife and three children to serve in Iraq during the “surge” of 2007. Heather was in constant fear that something would happen to him.
“There are moments when you’re husband is gone, in a combat zone and men in his unit are being killed. That thought is constantly in your mind,” says Heather.
Darren lost many of his fellow soldiers in the war and had a hard time once he got back from deployment.
“The things that were going on my heart were pain, grief… trying to remember the guys that I had lost. It was a hard time, knowing that I was going to see their families, and their children. And at the same time, my kids want to go to the park and play. They don’t have a context of where I came from, and I don’t want them to have to carry that burden.
“So where did I take that burden? I didn’t take it anywhere. I kept it inside, and it quickly began to leak out with my relationship with my wife. I began to snap at little things. It didn’t matter if she were right or wrong. It wasn’t the point. It was an opportunity to let some of my anger and frustration out. And I didn’t handle that well.”
Heather also remembers how it affected their marriage. “We were not at all being intentional about our relationship. We were not fighting together for our relationship. I wasn’t really fighting for our marriage. I was fighting against him, for our marriage. And he was just running away.”
“She was just my wife,” says Darren, “and she wasn’t in the deployment. I didn’t think she understood who I was or where I was coming from.”
The animosity continued to get worse over the next six months. Heather told Darren he had to leave.
“I knew something deeper, something supernatural, that we could not manufacture, had to happen, or else this was going to go nowhere,” says Heather. “It was going to get worse. So that was my hope in the separation, that God would do something deeper in both of us.”
Four months into the separation, Darren met Heather to drop off the kids.
“That was the first time that we had a public exchange of the children, and that hit me like a ton of bricks when I let my kids go into the arms of their Mom, and that broke me. I was just devastated, crying out ‘God, what is going on? How can we ever survive this? Please, if you’ve ever done anything, heal us. Fix us.’”
The next day, Darren went to see Heather.
“She was in the kids’ room, packing up some toys, and I just went to her, grabbed her, and squeezed her. I was boohooing, she was boohooing, and I would not let her go.”
“That day,” says Heather, “I made a conscious decision in my heart, and I had to humble myself, and I just chose willfully, not in mind heart, not with my emotions, but willfully said to the Lord, ‘Your ways are higher than my ways. The only thing I know is that Your way is better, that I’m going to choose to stay married.”
“We started a new phase in our relationship because we forgave each other,” says Darren. “We both were broken at the same time. This was divine inspiration in our lives, and thank God that He interrupted our selfishness.”
“And it was as if a fog was lifted,” adds Heather. “As soon as I humbled myself, and agreed with the Lord, it was as if that’s all He required. He didn’t require for me to do it all right. He just wanted me to give up and allow Him to finish the work that he began in us.
Darren and Heather got back together and began to rebuild their marriage.
“For me, 90% of this work that has happened hasn’t been what’s changed between he and I,” says Heather. “It’s been what’s changed between the Lord and I. So I would say to women, focus on that relationship and find your needs met in that place and then these things will not carry the weight that defines who you are and makes you feel ok.”
Today, Darren still serves as a chaplain in the army, and Heather volunteers with other military families.
“And we’re still growing,” says Darren. “We’re still a work in progress. We haven’t arrived. I’m not sure where arriving is. But we are committed to the journey, as difficult as it may get sometimes, we’re going to fight through.”
“You really can wait on the Lord,” says Darren, “and you can trust in His promises that He will finish what He began.”
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