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A Marriage Meltdown Turns Out for the Best

When I got home from [a] mountaintop weekend [that had changed my life, drawing me closer to Christ], I was excited to share with Nancy what had happened. This was the very thing that for many years she had desperately wanted and prayed for. In the years since she had invited Christ into her life on the side of the canyon, she had been praying for me every day.

Proverbs 13:12 says, "Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick," and I believe that must have been what happened. I think Nancy was recovering form a sick heart after all those years of not having her prayers answered concerning me. For so long she had wanted me to become the spiritual leader of our home, and when it was about to happen, I think it was kind of a letdown for her. At first, she was elated, but her happiness soon turned to anger. She got mad and over the next couple of weeks, her anger became visible. I couldn't understand what was happening, and I remember wondering if receiving the Lord was such a good idea. I started to question everything about faith and this stimulated real and honest prayer—for the first time in my life.

It was during this time one Sunday after church that everything came to a head. Our younger daughter, Katie, had gone to the home of some friends. The rest of us headed home for lunch, and our three-year-old son, Brook, went down for a nap. We had just met a new older couple at church that morning and had invited them to drop by later that day. Everything seemed fine until something snapped, and a fight between Nancy and me began. I don't know what started it or even what it was about, but I do remember it escalating rapidly. All at once everything came out—all of Nancy's anger and all of my frustration erupted, causing Nancy to pick up a pottery mug and hurl it at me across the room. I was able to duck quickly, and the mug missed me and smashed through the window of the front door.

As only fate would have it, the couple we invited from church arrived and were walking up the front steps at that very moment. They ducked and evaded the flying mug but decided it was not the best time to visit the Robinsons. They turned on their heels and headed for their car.

I was embarrassed and humiliated, and I lost it like I have never lost it before or since. I started yelling and hitting walls and cupboards. Framed pictures and dishes fell to the floor. I went from room to room turning over furniture and shouting in complete frustration. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't make Nancy satisfied with our life, and I didn't know what I could do about it. In the wake of this realization, I fell apart.

All my life I had prided myself on being composed and put together; I always felt that showing emotion was a sign of weakness. That day God tore down everything I leaned on for strength. He was showing me that without him I would never be the person he created me to be. I needed him to be more than my Savior—I needed him to be the Lord of my life. That day I learned in my confession of weakness that he would make me strong (see 2 Cor. 12:10).

As I surveyed the aftermath of my rage, I saw my three-year-old son staring at me with huge, frightened eyes. I will never forget how he looked as he stood there in shock and disbelief. That's when it happened—that's when I finally broke. My deep frustration turned to tears, and the floodgates opened. I started to weep in a way I never had before. Tears welled up from the depths of my being, and my entire body started to convulse. I cried and cried and couldn't stop the tears. I cried for a whole life of pain and frustration, most of which Nancy had nothing to do with. I was broken in a way I can't fully express, but it was a brokenness that forever changed me. I held my son and Nancy held me, and together we cried and prayed. We repented for the way we had treated each other and together asked God to take control of our lives.

It was a divine moment in our marriage and a divine moment in our life with God. I believe it was the moment the seed of God's love and truth penetrated my life. It was a turning point, more powerful than any other I have ever experienced. My journey with God entered into the depths of good soil—to a place where my spiritual roots penetrated his provision for healing and wholeness. Not only did my relationship with God heal, my relationship with my wife changed as well. I could now love because I had come into the assurance that I was first loved.

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