The Unexpected Gift of Marriage

Michelle McKinney is the founder of Dreams Unleashed where she helps women discover, define, and confidently live out their God-given dreams. She creates strategies that push past fear, lack of resources and time so women can live their most authentic life. Michelle and her husband, Tony, reside in Maryland and have 4 children.

guest post by Michelle McKinney

When I think back to my high school and college years, I wasn’t really that chick looking for the doting husband, two kids, a picket fence and a dog—okay, well maybe the dog. No, my dream, my vision involved a husband who traveled extensively, a shared condo where we’d see each other now and then, and, yes, the cute little pup who doted on me.

My mind relentlessly pursued the corporate track and nurturing a family just wasn’t in the cards I laid out for myself. I guess my version of what family would look like, cultivated from growing up with an absentee father. I knew my dad loved me, though thousands of miles away, but his absence from my life affected my view of a man’s love.

Don’t count on it, because it’s just not reliable.

The absence of my daddy’s love fashioned ‘daddy scars’ deep in my heart, but I learned to “deal with it” by not really dealing with the pain and the void.

Fast forward to meeting my husband, Anthony. I, a bustling 20-year-old and he, 10 years my senior. Something about him really attracted me. We had a whirlwind dating relationship, and 12 months later, we were husband and wife. At the time, I still didn’t understand what the whole marriage thing was about, much less my role as a wife. I later found, through major self-examination during some of our worse moments, the “something about him” was he was older, and doted on me. I also felt safe and protected with him.

Ahhh, I saw him as my “daddy,” filling that dark hole in my heart I kept safely covered with the artificial, so nobody would “poke that bear” in my life.

But you know what? God has a way of making us face the secret spaces we try to keep tucked safely away. We offer Him the pieces that aren’t “as wounded” and for a while, He’ll settle for that. But He patiently says, “No, I want that part of your life. Let’s walk through that door back there you’ve kept under lock and key.”

I vividly remember that day in our two-bedroom apartment. All kinds of thoughts flew through my mind. “I” already tried everything. But suddenly, I heard God speaking so small, yet big in my soul.

“Michelle, let me work on you.”

Say what? Then I remembered this book I started, but put down, called The Power of a Praying Wife. I purchased it with the hope that somehow through my prayers, the Lord would drop His “special sauce” and change my husband. Instead, while I pointed the finger at my husband during my prayers, the Holy Spirit would gently say, “What about you? Let’s talk about what’s been going on with you.”

The Lord used my marital challenges to expose abandonment issues from my childhood. It was scary, but as I walked down that road with Him, the Lord lovingly started the healing process. He uncovered the pain of that 5-year-old girl who needed to know that while she felt abandoned by her earthly father, her heavenly Father intimately loved her. He’d been protecting and doting on her all those lonely years.

This healing set our marriage up to win in a way I would never have guessed. We began exchanging our will for God’s and have grown together in the most beautiful ways. In fact, this month we celebrate our 19th anniversary.

So, you remember that girl for whom family just wasn’t in the cards? LOL. God’s humor is always on point because we have 4 beautiful children. Our family embodies it all: we’re blended, have two birth sons, and a fiercely independent adopted 5-year-old daughter, who loves her daddy so much.

Hmmm, fiercely independent—sounds like me, but as I raise her, I know her need. I’m teaching her early to embrace her “Daddy’s Love,” the earthly and the heavenly.

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