Submitted by Dexter and Quianna Culbreath

October 20, 2010, marked the fifth year anniversary of our marriage and God put it on our hearts that it was time to share our testimony.  We met at a Home Depot store where we both worked back in 2004.  While it was far from love at first sight, the quirkiness in each of us that we initially found irritating quickly drew us together in a friendship that would end up in LOVE.  And just ten months after we met for the first time, we were engaged.  And just four short months after that we were married.

We began attending Victory World Church in November 2008, becoming members that following January.  So during the first years of our marriage, we were faithful members of a different church.  And while there was so much we got out of that experience, what we didn’t get was exposure to the essentials of courtship and the proper preparation for marriage.

The first four years of our marriage had its ups and downs – the kind of stuff you would expect newlyweds to deal with.  The merging of two lives, two totally different worlds into one, is harder than one might imagine.  And for us, the reality was that communication – lack of it, misunderstandings around it, too much of the wrong kind…were at the center of a lot of our issues.  Looking back, we can see that so often, we spent time talking to each other yet not really hearing what the other had to say.  Now don’t get us wrong, these years were also filled with great memories and huge accomplishments and milestones from family vacations, to on-the-job promotions, to the purchase of our first home, to simply enjoying being in love.  We also built a great network of relationships, were very active in the youth ministry at our former church home, and encouraged each other in the areas of our gifts from writing to massage therapy.  But four years in, three days after our anniversary to be exact, something came to a head.

For months leading up to that pivotal day, it seemed that every few days we would have some disagreement.  What would start out as a small issue or misunderstanding would escalate, leaving us often wondering what we were fighting about in the first place.  Nonetheless it continued and the miscommunication turned to less communication and being on the defense led to offense in both of our hearts, ultimately inviting the enemy into our lives.  And on that day, October 23, 2009, the enemy accepted our invitation once and for all.

On that Friday, after a week of petty fights, we were ready to throw in the towel for good.  At that point, it seemed so much easier to abandon our marriage and just be friends instead.  We wanted to celebrate what we loved in one another, but saw no other way to make that happen.  It is amazing how when God heals a situation, you can see so clearly how the enemy can use you when you are in your most vulnerable state.  Because at the end of the day, while in the grand scheme of things, our arguments were small and misguided, in that moment they seemed like mountains.

For hours we went back and forth discussing how we would go about our separation.

However, in the early hours of the following day, something happened.  God’s voice began to whisper that there would be no divorce, no separation – that He had brought us together and had too much left for us to do.  At that point we made the decision to spend one full week apart, each of us alone with God.  And that turned out to be exactly what we needed.  Later, we would call it our “surprise vacation”.  During that time, each of us grew by spiritual leaps and bounds and, day by day, God turned our hearts back toward one another.

At the end of our experience, we emerged more in love than when we first met, amazed at God’s work and abilities.  What took us years to mess up, took God but a moment to fix.  And less than three months later, after our new beginning, we found out the wonderful news that we were pregnant with a child we had been trying for four years to have.  And in that, it was made clear to us, that our delay was never denial, only God allowing us the necessary time to get to where we needed to be before bringing a child into this world.  And though we understand that God doesn’t do it that way for everyone, we know that for His own reasons, He did it that way with us.  We know that this whole experience was but preparation for our ministry as a couple.

God has brought us through so much in such a short period of time, further proving that ‘His thoughts are not our thoughts’, that ‘His ways are not our ways’.  What He has also revealed to us is the importance of giving glory to His name.  Because while the thought of a perfect marriage is wonderful, it is simply that- a thought.   After all, we got to learn first-hand, that without God we have nothing, are nothing, and can do nothing. And so, whether you are married or single, having gone through something before or going through something now, remember to praise God in the process.  He really does work ALL things for our good.  We know that without this experience, we would not be who we are together or as individuals and that our pain then, is now a platform for the joy and love of life that we have today, and for our ability to thus speak life into others.  So this year, as we celebrate five years of marriage in which we wouldn’t change a thing, we feel blessed that God chose us to carry out such an experience, resulting in a testimony that might one day bless someone else.