Melissa’s Testimony/Vows I met Brian Schulz when I was 21 years old. We worked together and I remember looking at him from across a crowded room and thinking that he was very attractive. When I overheard him listening to a Supertones song playing on his ipod in his office (The OC Supertones are a Christian ska band that I loved in high school), I was hooked. As I got to know Brian better, I quickly fell in love with his sense of humor, his caring heart, and how great he was with children. Brian and I were married right before my 23rd birthday, and at first it felt like the happily ever after in the movies. We were warned many times that the first years of marriage are the hardest, but that wasn’t the case for us. We adjusted easily to marriage and were very happy newlyweds for several years. Then, in 2011, Brian was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, and the diagnosis was later changed to Bipolar Disorder characterized by Severe Depression. He received intensive therapy and tried a variety of medications to treat the depression. There were long periods where the depression was so severe that he was unable to work or function. Several times, the doctors found a medication that was effective in treating the depression, and my normal Brian would be back! However, Brian suffered many awful side effects and several effective medications began to damage his organs, which meant we would have to start all over in finding the right treatment. During two good periods, I got pregnant with our two beautiful children, Owen and Ella, which was a huge blessing, but also made the times when Brian was depressed even more challenging. In June of last year I came home from work to find Brian acting strangely. I was scared of another medication reaction so I rushed him to the Emergency Room. Testing revealed a high level of alcohol in Brian’s blood, and after an initial denial, he finally admitted to the drinking. But worse, it was later determined that he was also using Marijuana, something he was hiding and then continued to deny several times after the truth came out. I was crushed by the continual lying, and feeling completely broken and betrayed, I asked Brian to leave. It seemed to me at the time that the marriage was broken beyond repair. I remember praying, “God, I don’t deserve this! This isn’t what I signed up for! Please heal me and take away this pain- it’s too much for me to bear!” I cried out to God from the very depths of my smashed heart. And He heard me. And He healed me! I’ve never experienced a miracle like this. I literally felt the crushing weight of the pain and hurt being lifted from me. Jesus took my heavy burden, and in its place, gave me a love and compassion that I’ve never known. And it changed me forever! And equally, as Brian came back to Christ, he has been clean and sober since that day in the Emergency Room. He completed an intensive outpatient chemical dependency program while living with his parents, and wrote me letters every day asking my forgiveness and promising a better future. He called the kids each morning and came to visit them every weekend. He moved back home in September, and we’ve been letting God continue to heal and strengthen our marriage. It’s not perfect, and there is still more healing to be done, but I know that God will use what we have gone through for a great purpose. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose.” I’m so thankful to have my Brian back, the man I fell in love with so many years ago, and I know that it is only by the undeserved grace and mercy of God that we
have this fresh start. Owen and Ella now have their amazing, attentive, and loving daddy back and I am so thankful for that gift! Jesus is so much more real to me now than he ever was before. Hitting rock bottom forced me to let go of a lot of idols that I was holding on to and to cling to Him for dear life. Jesus is my everything. We are all sinners, every one of us, and yet the creator of the entire universe knows us intimately and loves us passionately. I don’t deserve this great love, and it fills me with a deep joy that is untouched by my circumstances. Psalms 46: 1-3 says “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with the surging.” I have experienced this first hand- my life was completely turned upside down and I was devastated, and yet God was always with me, giving me strength and peace and courage and love. There is no hurt that God can’t heal, no problem God can’t solve, and no brokenness that is beyond repair. I’d like to share lyrics of a song by Matthew West called Mended. It puts into words much better than I can how God sees all of us and how much he wants to heal our hurts, how it’s never too late and we’re never too broken for God to love and heal us. I changed the words and the perspective a little to have it be from my perspective praying to God. We all have hurts and brokenness and pain in our lives, and God knows each tear we cry and every hurt and pain and wants to heal us and comfort us.
"Mended" Lyrics by Matthew West | from the album Live Forever
How many times can one heart break? It was never supposed to be this way Look in the mirror, but I find someone I never thought I'd be Oh, but You can still recognize The one You love in my tear stained eyes You know I might not see her now, so I lift my eyes to you When I see broken beyond repair You see healing beyond belief When I see too far gone You see one step away from home When I see nothing but damaged goods You see something good in the making You’re not finished yet When I see wounded, You see mended I see my worst mistake But you see the price Jesus paid There's nothing I could ever do, to lose what grace has won
So hold on, it's not the end No, this is where love's work begins You’re making all things new And You will make a miracle of me When I see broken beyond repair You see healing beyond belief When I see too far gone You see one step away from home When I see nothing but damaged goods You see something good in the making You’re not finished yet When I see wounded, You see mended You see your child, your beloved The new creation I’m becoming I see the scars from when I fell But you see the stories they will tell I see worthless, You see priceless I see pain, but you see a purpose I see unworthy, undeserving But You see me through eyes of mercy When I see broken beyond repair You see healing beyond belief I’m not too far gone I’m one step away from home When I see broken beyond repair You see healing beyond belief When I see too far gone You see one step away from home When I see nothing but damaged goods You see something good in the making You’re not finished yet When I see wounded, You see mended
Brian, I want to renew my vows to you today. On my own, I am weak and unable to be the wife that you need. But with Jesus’s help I can promise to love you, support you, and forgive you no matter what, just as Jesus has loved and supported and forgiven me no matter what. I love you and promise to keep loving you as long as we both shall live.