The Overflow! where souls are filled and faith is spilled

How To Anchor A Worn and Wobbling Soul

Our coffee mugs sit empty, but we still cup them in our hands as if the warm porcelain between our fingers could somehow anchor our wobbling souls.

The clock pushes hard toward the end of the school day, and we know that we’ll soon part ways to collect kids and drive carpool, to sit at soccer games and oversee piano practice.

But for now, we linger in the back of the coffee shop, two women sharing the mess of life over a table dotted with crumbs.

My head hurts and my throat swells with an unsolicited lump of tears.

And I can’t think of anything to say.IMG_6511

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Words feel like a mere Bandaid for the open wound my friend has revealed.

Her marriage is flailing and her hope is, too.

I watch the drizzles of despair roll down her cheeks and into that empty coffee cup, and my stomach churns with empathy.

I know of chasms that grow wide over time and embers of love that grow dim.

I know the kind of pain that makes tears pool and hope wither, the ache of apathy that throbs loud at night and the pangs of disappointment that hover somewhere just beneath the heart in the waking hours.

And more than anything, I want to fix those lifeless eyes.

But there are no words for a quick fix, no instant solutions for rebuilding the shards of a shattered marriage.

And the only thing I know to do is the only thing that has saved my marriage dozens of times from landing in the give-up-and-walk-away-grave.

So, I reach across the table and tangle my fingers with hers.

“Could we just pray before we go?”

She sighs and pulls her hand from my grasp, drops her gaze and fiddles with the humble diamond ring on her finger.

When she finally answers my question, she chokes on her own words, her voice cracking with doubt. “Do you really think prayer will change anything?”

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The weight of her honesty steals my breath.

And a long-forgotten memory pushes through the years and surfaces in my mind as the whirr of the expresso machine echoes off the old plaster walls of that small town java joint….

I am a nine-year-old girl curled up in a ball beneath my blankets.  My mom perches on the edge of my bed next to my thread-bare teddy bear.

Sad and frustrated, I am too young to put words to my pain, but I know I feel a little broken inside because of that girl in the third grade who teases me shamelessly every day.

I’m tired of trying to battle the bully with kindness, tired of hiding behind a plastic smile in the hallways and on the playground.

My mom has been an advocate and a listener, a protector and a advisor, but we are both growing weary of the invisible target on my back.

“I don’t want to go to school anymore,” I cry, the quitter in me pleading for an AMEN.

My mom nods in understanding but doesn’t endorse my plan to flee.

Finally, she wipes my tears and wraps her arms around my bony frame.

And as a yellow shaft of moonlight dances across my Holly Hobby bedspread, my mom murmurs,  “Let’s pray for her…”

I lift my head off my soggy pillow and prop myself up on my elbows. “Do you really think prayer will change her?”I ask my mom.

I wait for the good Sunday School answer, for a confident assurance that prayer will, indeed, transform my four-and -a-half-foot foe into a friend.

But my mom just rubs the palm of my hand with her thumb and sits long in the silence.

Finally, she exhales a jagged sigh and says, “Honey, I can’t guarantee that prayer will change her heart, but I know for sure that it will change ours.”

And with that, she closes her eyes and begins to pray…

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My friend is shuffling in her seat, her question still dangling between us in awkward silence.

And as a barista clatters dishes behind the counter, I stare at that diamond ring on the hand across from mine, and I battle my own weary cynicism.

But then I picture a nine-year-old girl beneath her green quilted covers and I remember her mama’s wise words.

And I flash my friend a small smile.

“Prayer always changes something…” I say with a quiet confidence. 

My friend wipes her leaky eyes with the back of her hand and nods slowly. She bites her lip and reaches across the table for my hand.

“Will you say the words?” she asks.  “I don’t think I have any left.”

I close my eyes to hide the tears burning behind the lids, and I give her fingers a gentle squeeze.

Then, with an aching heart, I begin to pray in faith. Broken, faulty, desperate faith.

“Dear Jesus,” I whisper as I hold my friends’ trembling hand. “We don’t know what to do with this mess, but we know you are in it with us…”

My words are bumbled and unpolished, raw and real.

I don’t know what to say, but the Spirit inside of me does. And as I turn the eyes of my heart to the One who is faithful and true, His unfaltering promises begin to rise from somewhere deep inside. Words read from the worn pages of my Bible in the early morning light spill from my lips–

“We know you are able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine. We know you are in the business of making beauty from ashes. We know we can trust your heart. We know you will never leave us or forsake us...”

IMG_6527We offer Jesus every last drop of our wavering faith.

And as we bow our heads over those empty coffee cups, we are suddenly aware of the One who can fill the depths of our need with the riches of His grace.

And slowly, silently, hope swells.

The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]. -James 5:16, Amplified Bible

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     Dearest friends, 

Earlier this month, I wrote about battling for our marriages in prayer-–wielding the Word instead of flinging around our pride; calling on Jesus instead of calling out our husband’s      flaws and failures. And I invited you to share the number one thing you’re praying over your own marriage right now. And, dear sisters, you shared —hundreds upon hundreds of you. And your prayer requests were filled with heartbreak and hope, with desperation and determination. And I want you to know that since that day you entrusted me with your heart’s cry, I have been praying for you. Each of you, by name. I have prayed scripture over your pleas, and I’ve shed too many tears to count over your stories. And I’ve battled on my face before the Lord, wielding the Sword of the Spirit and believing with you in faith that our prayers are not in vain. And today, I just want to encourage you to keep praying, sweet sister. Keep fighting the good fight. And may the God of all hope fill your empty spaces with the fulness of His presence, and give you strength for this battle in all the days to come. Because prayer always change things…beginning with us. 

     All my love–

alicia

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9 thoughts on “How To Anchor A Worn and Wobbling Soul

  1. Erica

    Thank you for sharing your heart and words. For the last several months I have been in a constant battle for my marriage. My husband has told me that he is done and that’s his final answer. He said those exact words to me the week of Christmas and I didn’t take it very well but God spoke to me and told me to pray harder and I have but there are days when I feel weak and weary, when I question if I’m doing enough or if I’m doing it right. Then I find something like your post to reassure me that I’m not alone and God is with me.
    Thank you, bless you.

    Erica

    February 27, 2016 at 6:33 pm
    1. Alicia Bruxvoort

      Oh, Erica, I am so sorry for your pain. And my heart hurts just reading your words. Sweet sister, I will join you in battle. I am praying RIGHT NOW for God to strengthen you, to lead you step by step through this HARD HARD place and to grant you discernment as you battle for your marriage. And, I’m boldly asking that God will resurrect the love that’s died in your marriage and restore your union for His glory. Thank you for sharing so honestly. You ARE not alone.

      February 27, 2016 at 11:16 pm
  2. Nandie

    What an awesome and reassurance of Gods presence! I’ve stumbled on this website and was at the point of feeling like my prayers weren’t working. You story reminded me that the prayers are truly about changing my heart and developing a closer relationship with God. As much as I want my marriage to be restored, I can’t change my spouse and any changing there will be God. Thanks for encouragement and strength just as I was getting ready to walk away.

    February 28, 2016 at 7:09 pm
    1. Alicia Bruxvoort

      Nandie, I love how God speaks to us in creative ways… thankful He chose to use my words to bring hope today. I am praying for you right now as I sit here… asking God to strengthen you with His love and to meet you in such a special way today as you pray.

      February 29, 2016 at 9:04 am
  3. Melinda

    A dear friend forwarded me your article on being a prayer warrior for our husbands. She knows that my marriage is stretched so thin right now. I’m so thankful that she did because it shows me what I haven’t been doing. I’ve made changes for the better in other areas but haven’t been intentionally praying life and love over my husband. Thank you so much for sharing your personal struggles. We’re 5 years in with an amazing and trying 3-year-old, and I’ve been desperately toying with the once unspeakable idea of giving up. Will you please recommend a book of prayers that you like? Embarrassingly, I don’t have the words already in my heart–I need to begin by reading them from a page. Please pray for new life and love for us in this dead winter. Thank you!!

    March 3, 2016 at 1:33 am
  4. Ann

    I’ve had this post sitting in my inbox for the week, trying to make time to read it. Wow. I can’t even tell you how inspiring you are. I’ve read tons of your posts and I always feel like you are someone who just gets me! Please know that you are a blessing. ❤️

    March 4, 2016 at 10:39 am
    1. Alicia Bruxvoort

      Thank you, Ann. Truly. Your words are such an encouragement to me. I always pray as I put my words to the keyboard that God will speak exactly what my sisters in Christ need to hear. So thankful He is faithful to answer that prayer. And thankful that you took time to bless me today!

      March 6, 2016 at 9:26 pm
  5. Insuk(Angie Barton

    Dearest Alicia,
    How I thank God for your heart to serve our Lord Jesus Christ with such pure and a beautiful heart. So thankful for you ever since I read your devotional on “wife can fight like a warrior for her husband” or something like that. But God has used that day’s devotional and completely and totally is changing me. You see in the beginning of this year God apparently had a dream to have dreamed for me and decided to give me a total transformation of myself as a Christian women, wife, mother to three grown children who are all married and blessed us to be grand parents at this time of our lives.
    When you talked of using Stormie Omartian’s book entitled “The power of a praying wife”
    I’ve seen her books at various Christian bookstores over the last 30 years and even was given one of her books called “The power of a praying women” that had been set on the backside of my toilet for years. I went straight to the bathroom and started reading it and couldn’, and I was floored and couldn’t wait to get “the power of a praying wife”. The same friend who gave me the book years ago brought me the other book when I told her what God has been doing on my heart. I couldn’t help but grieve so many wasted years of my Christian life so very ineffectual and powerless because I believed the enemy’s lies instead of trusting and depending on His promises. But going forward and only looking back to be at the place of the fountain of the blood of Our Blessed Savior Jesus Christ where I have been washed totally if and when the enemy throws me with lies to make me think I’m too horrible really to b totally forgiven as he’s been done for most of my married life to a kind hearted man to whom I was mostly unbearable too often even to b able to count how many times of disheartening treatment of him. Over the last 2months I’ve been through the ocean of repentance and I don’t believe I can ever stop crying in my prayers and in my devotional times morning and night! To think to have lived as a Born again Christian women, wife, mother all these years and so have been blinded and tuned deaf to the word of God to be imprisoned by the enemy’s lies to allow myself to be deprived of the Father’s love utterly shamed me. So I have been asking God who has been my only living, spiritual, physical parent to give my husband a new wife and let it be me as Stormie Omartian’s prayer guide suggest for all of her readers. I try to read her prayer guides for my husband everyday.
    I only pray and hope all Christian wives don’t take 38 years to yield and surrender completely to The lover of our souls
    As I’m doing at my age of 60 something b/s not every man would have the kind of patience and endurance like my husband has to long suffer these long years! Thank you so much.

    March 11, 2016 at 1:59 pm
    1. Alicia Bruxvoort

      Angie, Thank you for taking time to share your story here! I’m just joining you in praising God for His continued work… for loving you too much to leave you in bondage, for wooing your heart even closer to His, for doing something fresh and new in you and in your marriage! WOW! We have a BIG BIG God who is NEVER finished with us, don’t we? May God bless your marriage with unprecedented joy from this day forward! May your “husband’s new wife” enjoy this amazing journey of redemption and renewal. Thanks again for sharing your story as an encouragement to all of us!

      March 14, 2016 at 4:37 pm

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