September 13, 2012

Our story: Part Four... renewal.

{Read the stories about how we met, our engagement, and our wedding}

This is the hardest post I have ever written
...and also the most joyful.

In the spirit of the decision we made a year ago today, we are choosing to share this part of our lives in this way. I know that no matter how much or how little I share, what words I choose, or how I may feel about it all, I'll never be able to fully reflect, or express, the truth in its entirety. While we are afraid of disappointing those who love us, it's a glimpse into a part of our lives that we would not be where, or who, we are today without and we hope that others with similar stories know they aren't alone.

So here it is...

Our first year of marriage was the absolute most challenging, most miserable, most painful time of our lives. Following the wedding of our dreams, we quickly realized we were not at all prepared for marriage. We could plan a perfect party alright... making it through married life was a very different game. 

We fought.yelled. cried. cursed. hated. hurt. attacked. insulted. threatened. and literally broke each other down, until neither of us believed it was worth it anymore. We had practically given up. 
What we had was not the marriage we hoped for...
 wantedexpected...... thought we deserved. 

Ultimately, our relationship entered what we believed was the point of no return. The unthinkable happened, the  bottom had literally dropped out beneath us, and our whole world as we knew it came crashing down around us. 
lies. betrayal. pain. disbelief. emptiness.

But in the midst of it all, I called a counselor and set an appointment. Dan agreed to go with me.
And so we went...and went... and went.

We went to counseling once (sometimes twice) a week, every week for over a year. Six months were spent trying to understand Dan and his darkness. Six months were spent digging through mine.
It was a painful process.

 We would take two steps forward, one step back.
For that year, we tread carefully, unsure whether or not we could trust our new relationship with all of our weight. We both believed the other would simply walk out one day. We didn't.
It did not always feel like progress. It did not always feel like healing. It did not always feel like love... 
but for the first time ever, we felt safe.

In spite of the devastation, betrayal, vulnerability and chaos, we slowly began to feel secure in each other, and in our marriage.

 For almost half of our young marriage, we fought to rebuild something we never truly had.  We began to lay a new foundation of trust, security, honesty, and love that had never existed before.

September 13th, 2010 was the day our marriage began it's renewal. It was the day we confronted everything we had been struggling with, laid it all out on the ( microscopically-thin) line, and faced the culmination of so many months of hurt...  but it is also the day that Love was victorious in our relationship. Our lives, as we knew them ended that day, and we are so incredibly grateful that they did. For too long, for the sake of selfish pride, we had sacrificed the life, the love, and the marriage we now know God designed for us. If we had continued building walls of betrayal and bitterness, we would not have been able to experience the joy of our Heavenly Father's redemption and grace.

God's grace comes through confessing our sins, turning from our evil ways, and seeking His face. When we do this, he promises to hear from Heaven, forgive our sins, and restore our land. 
(2 Chronicles 7:14).

This was one of the verses I  read  to Dan during our ceremony, as we renewed our vows on September 13th 2011...beside a flowing river, isolated from the outside world...alone, except for our officiant (our counselor) and a dear friend who captured the moments in photographs.

We had both felt God tugging on our hearts to do this, but we had never experienced anything like a "vow renewal" before... except in images of happy couples celebrating milestone anniversaries, wearing flower leis in Hawaii, and joking about fitting into their original wedding attire. 

We just knew it was something we were being called to do. So that morning, we got dressed and drove together, to the little spot we had picked out the week before. We had written our vows, selected our most significant verses from the past year, brought bread and wine for communion, I made a little bouquet and boutonierre, and had flowers in my hair. It was not a wedding, but in some ways it was? It didn't compare to our wedding, but in some ways it seemed more... real? It was a day we both wished had not come, but were so excited that it had... 

Our counselor began the ceremony with a prayer. We read our verses.
We exchanged our vows. I surprised Dan with thin silver rings (hammered all the way around with tiny grooves marking the "bumpy road" we've traveled together). We washed each other's feet in the river. 
We took communion. We prayed for each other and our marriage.

We tearfully, joyfully began a new chapter of our lives together.

{We didn't even have to wait until the end to kiss.}

{Thank you to our sweet and talented friend, Meghann for her amazing photos from our day.}

~Thank you for reading our story. For most of our friends and family this is the first you're hearing of this. We have struggled with wanting to both share and hide this part of our lives for so long; wanting both to deny it's existence and to stop being so vague about our "hard times"... but that is not the gospel of grace and redemption, healing, forgiveness, and renewal that God has written in our lives. Our story is not for our glory but His. While we certainly wish we could go back and change so much about who we are-  broken beings- we believe that God can use us to bring light to others in this world.  In our weakest moments we felt so alone in our suffering and shame, we ultimately want others to know they are not, and that while our experiences and lives may differ, the God who created and loves us is the same. He is a God of grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness and this world will do anything in it's power to keep us from truly believing it. ~


  1. Hailey - this is so beyond beautiful. Words don't express my gratitude and joy for you two and having the courage to share this. It's a beautiful testimony of how to fight for our marriages and allow our Father to be glorified in our weaknesses. I've still got tears in my eyes!

  2. Stephanie~ Thank you so much for your sweet comments! It means so much to me that you read this chapter of our crazy story. I am so grateful for you and the community of women I have connected with in this way. Thank you so much again! xoxo Hailey

  3. Thank you so much for sharing something so painful, yet so beautiful. Redemption is beautiful, which is why I too vowed to live as an open book, otherwise no one would benefit from my misfortune - what a waste that would be.
    Marriage is hard. It brings out the most selfish in us, if we let it. Mike and I went through most of our hard times before we got married (nine years is a long time to date someone ;), but that doesn't mean we don't have them anymore. Thank you for not pretending to be perfect, as so many do in Christian communities - myself included for a long time. The appearance of perfection is a heavy, heavy cross to bear.

    1. You are so right Natalie, we carry so much unnecessary shame with us because we don't live up to the picture of "perfection" or expectations. I always joke that if you want to find out just how selfish and shallow you can be, get married- but it's also amazing to see yourself and your heart grow so much with love for another person. I am so happy for you and Mike and your vow to live openly and express yourself through your writing. You are touching so many.

  4. Hailey this is inspiring! Thank you for the beautiful reminder to continually offer grace because we first received grace from above :) Proud of you!

    1. Thank you Amy! Thank you for all the ways you were there for us during those hard times. Love you, friend!

  5. Man. Hailey. This is gorgeous. I can't even imagine the lives you will touch, being such a testament to "for better or for worse." Seriously beautiful. Thanks to you guys for having the courage to share.

    1. Thank you Maddie! It has been a wild ride to get to this place where we are able to share but opening this part of ourselves up has opened so many doors to deeper relationships than we could have imagined. We are so grateful for His amazing grace and our community.

  6. This made me sob. Thank you for baring your soul and sharing this piece of your story. God is so, so good. Jon and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary this year, and while we have had many, many happy days, weeks, months, even whole years together, we have also had our share of dark and terrifying ones. It is so hard to talk about, but if we don't share the darkness then we rob God of the glory for his victory over it. Blessings to you both!

  7. Congratulations on your ten years! That is truly incredible, what a beautiful reflection of devotion and love. You are so right- as terrifying as it is to admit weakness or failure, we realized our reasons for not sharing were completely selfish and it isn't our story to tell but God's. Thank you for your blessings! I love reading your poetry and blog too and how honest and beautiful they are. xoxo


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