It’s guest week here at Facets of Faith and I’m (Kim) excited to share with you two of my dear friends, Cathy and Kevin Woodside. I’ve known Cathy for several years now and when the topic of how God helps us bloom through our marriages, I knew you needed to hear their story. My husband and I recently had dinner with them so we could learn more and share it with you. And if you missed our previous stories, check out Tracy‘s, Jen’s, and my posts by clicking on our names. Enjoy!
I sat across from the couple eager for their story. There was an air about them, a comfortableness and camaraderie that could only be birthed through adversity and rooted in hope.
Married for almost 22 years, I knew Cathy and Kevin Woodside had a story to share, I just didn’t know all the details. Listening to them settle in, it’d be easy to assume their lives have always been this way: encouraging, uplifting, respectful, and just downright fun.
But apparently what I saw as my husband and I enjoyed dinner with them recently wasn’t always descriptive of their marriage. In fact, when they first met Cathy was already married and Kevin was a self-described punk.
“I couldn’t stand him,” Cathy laughed, now clearly adoring her husband. Kevin and her first husband met on the job and became fast friends. Years passed, Kevin married, and it wasn’t unusual for the two couples to hang out and socialize.
But over time, each marriage ended though their friendship continued. The need for playdates kept them in touch. Eventually, they started dating.
Cathy set the stage for that season of their relationship. “I wanted to be rescued. I was tired of taking care of problems. I looked at Kevin, not fully sure of how I felt about him. But I knew he was strong and could take care of things.”
Kevin saw that. He knew she longed to be rescued but he didn’t want to do the saving. He didn’t believe that was the right way to begin a second marriage. The two ended their relationship and a year passed before they spoke.
Reflecting on that year Cathy said, “God gave me that time to decide not that I needed Kevin, but that I wanted him.” They eventually started talking again.
I asked Kevin what changed. “What changed? I was crazy about her. And I recognized that she didn’t need to be rescued anymore.”
A search for a new home for Cathy and her kids led them to buying a bigger house, one suitable to blend their families. But after the wedding, something flipped in Cathy. Afraid to be vulnerable and with deep wounds still festering from her first marriage, she began to push Kevin away. She became controlling and argumentative until one day Kevin told her, “I just feel like you don’t love me.”
Even years later, the residual pain from Kevin’s observation was evident as she shared. “That’s when God really started to take over. He helped me realize if there was an obstacle, I would need to behave like a good godly wife even if the feelings weren’t there.”
About that same time, God was speaking to Kevin. “I just needed to give her the benefit of the doubt,” he said. “The Holy Spirit was at work, giving me discernment to see that her anger came from a place of pain and the crap of her first marriage. I knew it wasn’t her, but I didn’t have an answer.”
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19, NLT
This was the moment I waited for – that moment of . . . “but yet God”. That moment when the destruction and devastation turns something ugly into something beautiful because that is the work of God. Redemption. Healing. Restoration. I already saw the beauty in their marriage and in them individually, and this was the turning point. The surrender. The release. The trust.
See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.” Isaiah 12:2, NLT
Through the gift of their youngest son, the community they experienced through a christian youth theater, and the wooing of the Holy Spirit, Kevin and Cathy were stirred awake through the gift of transformational faith. As Cathy watched Kevin be a dad and experienced his unconditional love, her feelings began to change as her heart softened toward her husband. She fell in love with him. Not the Hollywood, stars-in-the-eyes kind of love, though I saw her eyes twinkle every time she looked at him. No, this was a love rooted in truth and hope, grounded in Jesus, the kind that stands firm in the face of adversity.
But while things had begun to change, there was still one crucial element needed for their marriage to bloom. While serving at their church, Kevin was approached by the leadership to see if they’d be interested in leading a marriage ministry. He chuckled. “Did they really know what our marriage was like?” After spending time in prayer and not wanting to disappoint his wife, they said yes. “This was the first time I felt that God really needed to show up, otherwise everything would fail. It was beyond me.” And God did show up, just as He always had. And it was good, Kevin said, from the very beginning.
Cathy believes that “God honored our commitment to be obedient without any expectations in return. He did his part and I did mine. It felt like we got in God’s boat and were resolved to see it through. God is such a redeemer that everything that has happened – all of the brokenness – has been used for good. Those thoughts were not us. Stick it out, behave like a godly wife. . . who does that?”
Only God takes two broken people and creates not only a beautiful flower, but transforms brokenness into a beautiful garden as He uses their love story to encourage others.
“We get it. There’s hope for you. I love him more every single day. If you would’ve asked me during those first years of marriage if I’d ever feel this way, I’d say no. But God redeems everything.”
But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.” Hosea 2:14-15a, NLT
Have you experienced God’s transformational power in your marriage? Join the conversation by sharing a comment below or over on our Facebook page.