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The Painting "Test"

 

 

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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:

painting-a-wall-1142076-639x425This 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.

 

brush-2-1564428-639x449When 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.

24 thoughts on “The Painting "Test"

  1. I love this post. So often, as the author of this story did here, I realise that the job I am criticising my husband over was not actually as easy as I had thought. I need to trust him to do his best in any situation.

    Here’s an example. I asked my husband a few months ago to help me paint our living room. It was my idea and, although he said it didn’t need doing (after 8 years and having a small child in that time with greasy fingers – duh!), he agreed to help me. I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to housework and getting things in the home to look nice, so I assumed I would be tolerating his paintwork rather than admiring it. In our case, he told me to do the roller work and he would do the edges. I thought he would make a total mess of it, but he didn’t. It wasn’t perfect, but I decided to compliment him on it as he went along, telling him what good job he was doing rather than pointing out the flaws.

    I kept doing this and we actually had a good time together, listening to music while we worked. The end result? Fabulous! He actually did a great job, better than I could have done and we had a good evening together afterwards. I need to translate this to other aspects of our lives i.e. trust him to do a good job, tell him he is doing one, and stand back and see how the work of someone who feels appreciated is so much better than that of someone who feels looked down upon. It’s so obvious really!

  2. April,
    I absolutely love this post. It couldn’t be said better. My own transformation is taking time. I ask God to not waste a single tear and pain. I pray He use it to His glory in my life! Yes, His glory. I will never trust another like I do Jesus. I did sadly. Jesus is on the throne of my heart. My husband is not right with God. I know God has “a Hope and a future” for him and us. There is so much I want to learn. It’s saving my marriage and my precious family. Your prayers have sustained a broken hurting woman.

    Pray for me as I continue my journey with Jesus holding my hand.

    1. Lord,

      You know the suffering and the struggles Vickie has endured. You know the sin in her husband’s life and the suffering he is enduring. You know how broken this family is. I know that Satan wants to steal, kill, and destroy. But we lift up this family to Your throne room in the highest heavens and appeal to Your goodness, Your sovereignty, and the glory of Your Name that You might make something beautiful for Your Kingdom from this family. Thank You that You are an Expert and healing broken people and relationships. We pray for individual healing for Vickie, her husband, and children, and healing for their marriage, and for the family.

      Use what Satan has intended for harm to bring praises to Your Name and to increase the faith of all who hear about this family’s story in the future, Lord!

      In the Name and power of Christ,
      Amen!

  3. I appreciate this post, April, especially the author’s insight and correlation of her criticism to what her husband received (?) as a child. Sometimes, I forget to connect those dots relative to my hubby too. As per teamwork between us, we also do well with the lead/follow dynamic the author described. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to sit back and wait, lol.

    1. Joanna Aislinn,

      Ha! Had to smile about the part “Sometimes, though, it’s hard to sit back and wait…” I had to be one of the most impatient people ever when I started this journey. But God has given me so many times of waiting that now, I actually can enjoy and savor that time with Him and I don’t even mind waiting for Greg.

      I know that my tendency is to rush into something too quickly. I know God uses Greg to help me be more wise and careful and to think through things first. It does end up better, even on house projects, when I wait patiently on Greg than when I try to take over and do things myself!

      So glad this was a blessing to you, my dear sister. 🙂

  4. “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.”

    This is so beautiful and so true, April.

    1. Dragonfly,

      I am so honored that God allows me to do this. It is an unspeakable joy to me to get to walk with so many women on this journey and to get to watch God work and do miracles. That never ever gets old! And then to see them blessing other women and how God causes a ripple effect around the world… WOW!

      God is very good. Anything that is good in me is obviously from Him. I thank and praise Him that He did not leave me in my sin but woke me up and was willing to completely change me and that He is still allowing me to learn and grow.

      I love what He is doing in your heart, too, my dear friend. 🙂
      Much love!

  5. I like this post. I found this story very encouraging.

    As for household projects, for us it’s kind of the opposite. My husband is very talented. He’s in construction, does carpentry, and has a great eye for color, too! I stink at any kind of remodeling, decorating, etc. There are times he has let me try, or let me pick the color, and it always turns out hideous.

    Now that we are working more on our relationship, he wants me to help him with household projects. I tell him, “No thanks.” Too many memories of me messing things up, doing it the wrong way, taking too long, etc. His way is always better, faster, and has better results. So I don’t want to work together. I just slow him down and mess things up. He has this newfound idea that working together will be something we can do together. No. Thank. You. He has a very hard time separating me from a coworker. Maybe someday. But we are working on so much – baby steps! I try to be thankful for his talent rather than sad that I’m not good at remodeling and decorating like a normal woman.

    I just don’t have a good eye. I’m not good at makeup or dressing myself, either! 😛 Is it any wonder I don’t feel like a “normal woman?”

    BUT, I am very good at math, and very musical, and pretty good at cooking and baking, so – that’ll have to do!

    Anyhow, this story is very encouraging. So, thanks!

    1. My husband is better at everything too!! It’s ok 🙂 Baby steps yes. We don’t have to be good at those things – we have our guys! So glad you can see things you are good at. And so thankful for encouraging testimonies in the Body!

    2. Becca, this resonates with me a lot.

      Can you please help me with something? I’m pretty confident that my wife feels very much the same as you in a lot of ways but in different areas.

      How would you like your husband to approach the household projects, decorating etc? What approach could he take that would make you feel understood and that he appreciated you for who you are?

      Thank you in advance

    3. Becca,

      Choosing colors can be tricky. I don’t feel particularly great at decorating and I do not have the talent Greg does with renovating the house, although I can paint and trim pretty well. 🙂 I have gotten better at picking colors with practice. Sometimes, you pick a color and you put it on the wall and it just isn’t right. That is why they make sample size paints so you can try a few before committing. 🙂

      I pray you might be able to enjoy working together a bit in time. Maybe something small to start – when you are ready.

      No one is a “normal woman”! You have some amazing talents. I used to believe the like that I was not a “normal woman” and not “woman enough” in some areas and that was crippling. Not curvy enough, too small on top, not good enough with makeup, not good with decorating, not good with baking, not a good hostess, not interested in crafts, etc… But I am a writer, sometimes a runner, I love getting rid of things to make more space, I like simple things that are not fussy, I am flexible (now), I love walks, I love the zoo, I love going on trips with my family whenever that works out. Now, I seek to find my beauty and femininity in Jesus and in the gifts He has given me. I don’t compare myself to the world or to other women any more. I can just be me and that is wonderful.

      Glad this story was a blessing. 🙂

      Much love!

  6. “Boiling inside and keeping my mouth shut”….I’m at this stage. Of course the journey has just begun, and the steps are challenging. I’m constantly living in fear of stumbling emotionally. I’ve noticed that, the more space I’m giving him, the more aloof he is becoming. I understand that I should be doing this for God, and not to please my husband. But, really, I’m doing it to get my marriage back on track….to restore the affection he had for me until barely 4 months ago! Where has it disappeared?

    1. Mitali,

      That is where we all start. It is painful and frustrating particularly in the beginning. Greg did not respond to my changes right away – God used that time to refine my motives. I’m so thankful for that time or I would not have grown spiritually the way I did.

      How is your time with God going? What are you praying for and seeking?

      Much love to you!

      1. Hello April,
        My answer to your questions
        01. How is my time with God going – well, I pray to God to give me the emotional strength and wisdom to be able to give him his much needed space, without resenting his need. For the most part, these past two weeks, I’ve not”nagged” him. However, things fo get frustrating at tines, when he shows no signs of reciprocating. I know I have to do these things without expecting anything in return. I’m also praying to God to give me the strength to not have any expectations, but that’s where I’m not succeeding.

        02. I’m praying for restoration of the love, happiness, peace, joy and companionship that our marriage was until Oct last year. I’m praying to earn back his love and my dignity in this house. Things were great but it hurts to hear him reveal after 17 years that, as far he is concerned, things were no great. I know that’s not true. I know he has been happy with me, but because of my insulting him in public (a sin I am highly repentant of), he is saying this.

        1. Mitali,

          Thank you so much for sharing. These are good things to pray for.

          In what time frame are you expecting change to take place with your husband?

          What are you praying for in your walk with Christ, my dear sister? What do you desire spiritually with Jesus yourself?

          Are you praying for anything other than for your husband and marriage? If so, what?

          Do you believe that you may still be looking to your husband to meet some of your deepest needs? Does it make sense about how to allow God to meet those needs? I know that can be a bit confusing, especially at first.

          Much love to you! Thank you for starting this journey with me. I know things are so painful right now. But I also know that Jesus is able to heal you as you allow Him full control in your life and you seek Him wholeheartedly!

          Much love! I am praying for you both!

          1. April,
            01. As far as the time frame goes, I know that being respectful towards my husband is an ongoing process and I’m more than happy to pursue my efforts for the rest of my life. But, to sustain these efforts, I need some assurance now. Whom do I need this assurance from? I need it from God, through my husband’s love. Well, does it sound like a “precondition”? God, make my husband love me, or else I may not be able to continue in my Godly journey? Does it sound like blackmail? Maybe it does, but this is one forum, April, where I can be brutally honest…and this is where I am right now – desperately needing things to be good and pleasant in my marriage.

            02. What do I desire spiritually with God? I desire to reach a stage where I look to Him for all I need, and rest in the assurance that IT WILL HAPPEN….a place where I no longer feel hurt by my husband’s occasional coldness, aloofness etc. but understand better what he may be going through, because of which he is aloof or rude or whatever.

            03. As of now, my focus is my marriage and our teenaged daughter’s bright future. She has seen a lot of unpleasantness and I pray these things turn out to be a blessing in disguise for her and that she grows into an emotionally resilient and happy person.
            Although my immediate family and our marriage is my FIRST priority, I’m also praying for improved relations within wider family – our improved relations with our in-laws respectively (my relations with his side, and his with mine).
            I also pray for my husband’s career, which is very important to him, and so to me as well. With God’s grace, we heard some great news on that front this Tuesday. So all is well there.

            04. Yes, I’m still looking towards my husband to fulfill a lot of my deepest needs, mostly my need to feel loved. I don’t know how to allow God to do that. I pray that’s all. What else must I do to allow God to take control?

  7. This is a sweet post. Although I must admit, I was waiting for some kind of admonishment or rebuke because the post-er did the project herself instead of waiting indefinitely for him to get to it.

    I would love, April, for you to talk about the difference between what this poster did (that seems very peaceful) and “running ahead” of our husbands?

    Thanks!

    1. Amber,

      This wife did wait 3 years. She asked a few times about the paint. If a wife waits 6 months or a year or something on a project like this, I believe there can be times when we can bring something up again. I don’t think once or twice a year or something would classify as “nagging.” Then she had her heart in the right place and asked her husband to get the things out for her – and he was fine with it. Now, if he had gotten upset and said he was going to do it and he didn’t want her to do the painting, that would be different.

      The key is always that we are sensitive to God’s Spirit and His prompting – because each situation will be a bit different. There isn’t a specific formula that always works. There are general suggestions that may be helpful – but ultimately we will need to be in tune with God’s wisdom and His direction for us at a particular moment.

      I don’t believe a wife must wait “indefinitely” on things necessarily. There can be times that may be the case. But if it is something she can do and is willing to do and he is not upset by that – I have no problem with a wife volunteering to do this respectfully. 🙂

      Much love!

      1. Thank you for your reply, April.

        This is in line with what I was thinking, too. The heart attitude has a great deal to do with whether one action (painting the wall) was disrespectful or not.

        Very applicable for other situations as well.

        Warmly,

        Amber

  8. Ahh, what a sweet story. I love the idea of just receiving a hubby’s love, even though it may be imperfect and messy. A little boy once gave me an earth worm, very romantic, ha! But back in those days I understood the intent of his heart, the gift in it. That same childish spirit of just receiving whatever comes your way is something I now try to cultivate in my marriage and it really does become very romantic. I look at everything with different eyes.

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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