A guest post from a reader – I so appreciate her allowing me to share her story:
I just want to encourage everyone here on this journey to stick with it. I started on this whole journey about three years ago and I recognize all these feelings and the days of hard-heartedness and times of being in a black cloud.
God is not after your exterior, or your acting respectful by following rules of behavior (although it is a good place to begin to learn self-control), He is after total transformation and that takes more time than we imagine it could.
After a few years of this I FINALLY am beginning to experience freedom from the bitterness and cynicism that I had allowed to dominate me. I have read all the posts on this blog many, many times! I LOVE how I was nurtured and mentored here through such loving and patient wisdom. I had to learn how to give my heart to Christ first and examine myself first and extend Jesus’ love without expecting return.
One story sticks out for me when I knew I had turned the corner:
This was just over the Christmas holiday a few months ago. My husband had painted our walls three years ago but I came home and noticed that spots were thin, showing the old color through, and the trim was messy, including color on the corners of the white ceiling. For these two years I have had the “ugh” factor when I look at my walls, it interrupted my enjoyment of my home, I stopped having friends over, etc etc. I demanded. I pointed out the flaws. I asked politely. I stayed quiet for long periods of time hoping he would get around to fixing it, but of course he felt criticized by my pointing out the flaws and never did it.
Well, this Christmas I was going to have time off and I asked him to get out all the paints for me and the ladder. I painted all the trim and fixed the thin spots over about three days – morning till night.
The amazing thing was that the whole thing became a prayer.
I was motivated to do it from love, because my prayers had led me to release my resentment and think about my husband as a little boy being criticized by his mother. I had gone through my own process of repentance and I was so clear-headed and light-hearted that it was easy to start the work.
While I painted, I noticed that different times of day made the light change and it was really hard to tell whether I had really painted enough layers over the old color. It kept changing. My husband had painted while he was in his busy season of work before (while I was out of town for six weeks). I realized that it was not so easy to see what you had done while you were painting. I forgave him more deeply. While I worked I had fun! I sang, carefully moved the ladder, kept a good spirit, because my work had become a prayer of healing for my family.
When I worked on the trim, I realized that it was the perfect thing for me to do and that my husband was the type of person who was not cut out for the detail work. But I was so thankful that I didn’t have to do the big strokes of the whole wall, which would have exhausted me totally. So God showed me we were a perfect team — man to do the big muscle work and woman to fill in details and make the whole thing more pretty.
I allowed myself to receive my husband’s gifts even if they weren’t my fantasy picture — to see what was in his heart.
He was pretty defensive the whole time expecting me to fall into resentment and complaining, but God kept my heart lifted up as He showed me so many ways I had to look at myself and repent. This was a test and I was thankful for it, because it showed me that I had actually found transformation. I wasn’t just boiling inside and keeping my mouth shut. I was joyful and thankful that my husband had done what he could and that I could step in and help (even though it took a very long while). I was so thankful to be working on our home together (which I always wanted) but in this different way (him first then me following). I have always had an idolatrous fantasy of us working side by side on our home, but he needed space for his work and I for mine.
I felt we were working together as one, though, more than any other time in our marriage except for the births of our children.
I was so happy to share this with my husband and I could tell it was a milestone for him, too. Since that time he has been so much more open and calm, we have been able to talk more freely without falling into old patterns. We are still working on it all, but there was some kind of a shift. The shift happened in my heart, and its fruit was my being able to paint and learn more amazing things God showed me. The shift came first. During these other years it definitely started as me learning to be quiet, say things in different ways, etc,etc, but now I see with new eyes, which is a gift of that outside-in time I had to go through first.
I would never have known how this felt unless I had a guide, a Titus woman I could trust. Thank you April for what you do here. Christ is saving families through you. Bless you and your family.