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Dying to Self

 

This process of learning to become godly women is a VERY painful process – especially at first. There are no short cuts!!

It is all about our relationship with Christ. It is about our willingness to reverence and submit to Jesus and to desire Him FAR ABOVE all other things of this world. That is the entire crux of the matter! My motives matter here! If I am trying to obey God just to get the feelings I want or the “stuff” I want (my husband’s full attention, romance, happiness, a lovely house, children, etc…), I have missed the entire point!

I have to have pure motives – desiring to obey God’s Word out of reverence for and love for Christ alone.

What I am advocating is to completely expose your deepest soul to God and allow Him to search the darkest recesses with the blazing light of His Word. And then to allow God’s Spirit TOTAL access and grant Him complete Lordship and the ability to decide what stays and what goes. And anything He finds offensive – well, it simply has to go. No question.
God is Lord now, NOT ME! This means facing your deepest fears, challenging your definition of God, your understanding of His sovereignty, your true beliefs that govern your decisions and priorities, seeing the mountains of sin that you may not have even known were there, and being willing to part with all of that humbly before our mighty God. It means wrestling with God over those most painful issues and deciding whether you actually can trust Him or not.

Is He REALLY BIG enough?

This is DEEP, LIFE-CHANGING, PARADIGM SHIFTING stuff.

This is where you tear out everything from your heart but Christ and are willing to give up all that is dear to you – laying it on the altar to God. You die to your dreams, your desires, your wants, your goals and your plans. You embrace His will, His desires, His dreams, His goals, His plans and His life for you – even if that means not getting what you really wanted, and even if that means going through the “worst case scenario” in your mind.

You will have to personally wrestle with these questions and decide –

  • Can I really trust God – the God of the Bible as He has revealed Himself, not as I want Him to be?
  • Is He who He says He is?
  • Is His Word true or not?
  • Will I build my life on the Rock of Christ, His Word and His promises, or on the sinking sand of trusting SELF?

Let us be willing to die to ourselves! Let us joyfully give up our rights, our goals of happiness and all that we hold dear and cling only to Christ, out of thankfulness and profound gratitude for ALL He has done for us (paying our incalculable sin debt to God”)!

The thing is, you can’t be a godly woman on your own. You can’t just be quiet and smile and hold the raging ocean of sinful thoughts, emotions and negativity inside while you pretend to be “nice” on the outside. This journey requires a total heart change – regeneration that is only possible through God’s Spirit. Eventually, we don’t even THINK the sinful thoughts – because He has so transformed us.
It is a total heart change. By God’s power working in us and through Jesus’ work for us on the cross, we nail the old sinful self to the cross and recognize that it is crucified and buried with Christ. Then we put on the new man in Christ and receive all that Jesus has done for us. He gives us a new heart and transforms our thinking.

Ultimately, Jesus did ALL of the work for us on the cross to make us right with God. And ultimately, it is His power that gives us the ability to walk in obedience to Him moment by moment. It is ALL about Him working for us and living in us.

Lord, help us to lay down our desires and let us desire only what YOU desire in our lives and in this world. Let us desire NOTHING in heaven or earth besides You! If we do NOT have His Spirit – it is IMPOSSIBLE to be the women Jesus calls us to be. God’s Spirit alone is our power source!
Some women think that I am saying THEY alone are fully responsible for all the problems in their relationships and that I am expecting them to take 100% of the blame. This is NOT at all what I am saying. Men are all sinners, and so are women. Men have their own accountability and responsibility before God and will stand before Him one day – just as we will.
I am asking us to focus on our own responsibilities, our own sins and our side of our relationships because God holds us responsible for ourselves. We can’t control other people. We have to trust God to deal with them. And really, we can’t even change ourselves – but we can allow God the freedom and permission to change us and we can respond as He opens our spiritual eyes. So that is where we have to put our focus. That is where our power is! When we are cherishing sin in our hearts – we grieve and alienate the Spirit of God. We cannot have God’s power flowing full strength in us when we are embracing sin and getting cozy with it.

FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN ABUSED:

Please check out this post about how “dying to self” can be dangerously misunderstood.

NOTE:
I do want to mention – this is something we each choose to do ourselves. It is not appropriate for me to demand that another believer needs to “die to self” to do what I want him/her to do. I can’t force others to obey God. I can set a godly example. I can ask for what I need and desire. I can share my insights and perspective. But I don’t get to control other people or dictate to them what they should do.

My husband should be living wholeheartedly for Christ and leading and loving as Jesus did, laying down his life for me to portray the love of Christ. But it is not my place to say, “You need to die to yourself and do X, Y, and Z to lead me properly.” It is possible for me to try to manipulate my husband, or other believers, in this way, for my own selfish purposes.

 

QUOTES FROM E.M. Bounds – “The Necessity of Prayer”

  • If you desire to pray to God, you must first have a consuming desire to obey Him.
  • If you want free access to God in prayer, then every obstacle of sin or disobedience must be removed.
  • Those who have never wept concerning their sins, have never really prayed over their sins.
  • Until (the step of unquestioning obedience) is taken, prayer for blessing and continued sustenance will be of no use.
  • Praying that does not result in right thinking and right living, is a farce.
  • We must quit praying or our bad conduct.

– I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” – Galatians 2:20-21
– So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. – Galatians 5:16-24

107 thoughts on “Dying to Self

  1. I just read the beautiful blog about Dying to Self and as I apply it to this particular situation I am left feeling confused because that was what I was thinking. I was thinking that for 20 years in order to appease my husband with visits and smiles I was dying to self for my spouse’s sake. And it hurt because she’d be MEAN. Even if we argued about visiting every few months because of her overbearing and offensive personality we would STILL go because I didn’t want him angry with me.

    The fact that I still held resentment while being nice (not pretending, I was and am genuinely nice to her) was something I prayed about for YEARS and ultimately still stayed, while my actions of continuing respect and visits and her inaction after being told many times to please communicate more with us and her grandchildren went largely ignored.

    I don’t want to embrace or get cozy with sin, I just want to know if it is sin to avoid these heartaches by finally detaching ourselves from this person who has caused much harm in our marriage. She has over the years continually displayed these acts of the flesh to both myself and her grandhchildren “hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy”.

    For years I’m the one who felt bad for not wanting to accept this all the while with her I display in our visits in a genuine way out of respect to her as a human being fruits of“ love (I listen to her with interest, I ask about her family), joy (we’ve had many laughs together!), peace (unfortunately she wants us to dote on her, it’s not realistic), forbearance (I’m all about patience when I see her), kindness (at every visit), goodness (at every visit), gentleness and self-control (always displayed these at every visit).” I’m not trying to make it seem like I’m perfect but I promise you that my honest worry is that we have to continue accepting her angry demeanor, her ignoring our grandchildren, her abandonment of me as a mother in law. She loves and dotes on her other grandchildren. Her pride told us she’s the oldest and we have to call her first and my husband told her this is wrong and to please show more interest in us but she never did, she only called him and sent him sweet text messages.

    When we visited after my daughter’s birthday she found something in the house and said “I don’t really use this anymore” and gave it to her as a gift (she’s done this before) but she has money to travel when she’s ready. Oh, I’ve forgiven 70×7 over the decades of my genuine smiles hoping for some warmth and love from her to me but she doesn’t change and she’s making our marriage spiritually sick.

    1. SisterinChrist,

      That is AWESOME that you have sought to do what is best for her and treat her with respect and godliness. I’m very proud of you! 🙂

      But I believe it is time to go to a much deeper step now – and that is getting rid of the bitterness in your heart. Thankfully, you can do that whether she changes or not. This is entirely something inside of you and between yourself and God.

      If you are willing to look at some of the steps I have laid out for you and wrestle – and it will be painful, I am very well-aware – in prayer over these things… Jesus has already provided victory and healing for you.

      My first priority is to get you in top spiritual shape and health. THEN we will be able to look at how to approach her with God’s wisdom and perspective. Are you still with me? 🙂 From what you have described, your MIL is spiritually and emotionally very unwell. It helps me to think about someone being in a physical ICU laying there in a bed with a respirator and IV drips. I don’t expect a woman in the ICU at the hospital to get up and go for a walk with me outside. I don’t expect her to help me with the dishes. I don’t expect her to call me or to extend love and compassion to my children. I don’t expect her to be focused on my needs and desires. She is unconscious and on the brink of death. My expectations change because of the physical condition of a person.

      My expectations also have to change because of the spiritual condition of a person. Your MIL’s greatest need is Christ. She is either, apparently, spiritually unconscious or spiritually dead. A corpse doesn’t get up and call people or love people. A corpse is dead. It is not a matter of that a dead woman should want to love me more. She can’t love me. She is dead! I can try to get her to sit up and force spaghetti in her mouth to give her nourishment, but it won’t matter one bit – she can’t receive it. Spiritually dead people can’t receive spiritual nourishment either. They are dead! They can’t hear it. They can’t see it. They can’t understand it. They can’t act like spiritually healthy people. They can’t love with God’s love. They are dead!

      As you are able to see her more through the eyes of God, you will realize that she probably doesn’t know how to do anything else right now. She is without Christ and His Spirit. In the flesh, all we can do is the kinds of things she is doing. She is hurting deeply and suffering greatly in this prison. She has no idea how to get out. You can explain it to her over and over, but right now she can’t hear. But God can open her eyes and heal her. I don’t have to be bitter at a dead person who doesn’t love me the way I want to be loved. But I can take them to the feet of Jesus and ask Him to raise them from death to new Life in Him. 🙂

      Much love to you!

      1. SisterinChrist,

        Our battle is not against people, but against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms…

        Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

        18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Eph. 6:11-18

      2. SisterinChrist,

        My point about your husband having that dysfunctional relationship with his mom for his whole life is – he has probably been quite affected by the dynamics of that relationship. He may not know how to have a healthy relationship with his mom. It is difficult to break free from people pleasing – but as you read some of the posts I shared, I talk about how it is possible. 🙂

        Another resource that may be helpful for you both, other than the Leslie Vernick site is “Boundaries” by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend.

        Also, this post, “healthy vs unhealthy relationships” may be helpful, as well. Not sure if your husband would be willing to read some things with you – but I think if he is, it would be awesome. 🙂

    2. Hey April, this is a long comment for SisterinChrist’s rather difficult situation, if you deem it appropriate, perhaps it may be of help to her.

      SisterinChrist, I hear your pain and frustration and your struggle with various ideas about what it means to be a Christian while dealing with an inlaw who sounds as if she is not a very emotionally healthy person. Sorting the truth from the religion and tradition that sounds like truth can be very difficult in in law situations. Esp. if you are dealing with someone who is an abusive, controlling and demanding person who will not recognize that their way of living is dysfunctional and who continues to behave like a spoiled child who feels entitled to hit and to bite.

      I have had to deal with abusive and difficult inlaws who feel entitled to whatever they want and who see healthy boundaries and basic respect as a challenge to be overcome in order to prove their own importance. Such inlaws often create a false link between respecting your elders and capitulating to whatever they want of you so there is no middle ground where you can feel right about saying no. There is a difference between someone who is just difficult, perhaps a bit crusty with a no nonsense serious manner who expects the grandchildren to practice good manners and has strict rules about climbing on the furniture, sliding on the bannister and having shoes on in the house, not pulling the cat’s tail, not touching the fine china and ornaments, from one who is selfish, mean spirited, manipulative embittered, has a victim mentality, is a martyr who uses guilt and sadness to have everyone jumping to do their will, and is forcing everyone to behave in a way that accords them maximum honor and caters to their intense need for worship, etc. It sounds from your description, that you are dealing with the latter one.

      What I learned about things like this, is that it does no good to coddle them or give in to their demands. It only makes the situation worse, because you are catering to a sin problem and perhaps some wounds as well. It has nothing to do with what you do or don’t do for them and in fact the more you cater to it, the worse it will get. I made numerous attempts at getting along, extending kindness to people who were treating me like dirt and trampling over me to get their way at all costs, inviting them back into my life after an intentionally chosen absence, where they had been given fair warning years in advance that if they continued with their control and creating uproar when they didn’t get control, this would happen; we would separate ourselves from them. They behaved well briefly and once they thought the “crisis” was past, went back to their usual ways. What made all this difficult was the unreality I encountered from most Christians who seemed unwilling to believe that some people are not poor wounded souls who just need love and so are behaving in a mistaken way. I asked my pastor’s wife if it was okay to set boundaries with these people and she replied to me ” Oh, I don’t think God wants us to have walls against people and family is sacred”. I had also once talked to her about how my sister was being hurt by a gossip problem in the church and she replied ” Oh, I don’t think we have THAT problem in THIS church”.

      That was my first encounter with the problem in the church. The problem, as I see it and have experienced it, is that even though Christians say they believe the bible and say they believe in the utter depravity of man, when they are confronted with people who are behaving in a directly controlling and evil way, they don’t want to believe that some people are doing it deliberately and know full well what they are doing, how much hurt they are causing etc and don’t care. They want to believe that it’s just because they have been wounded and need love, or its a misunderstanding and if you just talked it out it would be fine, etc.You don’t find this kind of pollyanna denail of the reality and nature of evil in the NT church. No such pollyanna cultural christianity there. Many fail to realize that if these folks were reasonable in the first place, they would not be doing the things they are doing, because they would be capable and willing to recognize the rights of others. Often such people have indeed been badly hurt, but they are not seeking healing. They are focused on control and will use any tactic to get it. Until repentance occurs they are dangerous people and can be quite destructive. They need tough love, not coddling. So the standard Christian advice to just love on them falls short, because it is often one sided and clueless. lacking in an understanding of dealing with the reality of sin, evil and the flesh, not to mention strongholds of evil that give place to the demonic.Love includes mercifully spoken but firm truthfulness as to the reality of the relationship and how the parties in it feel and are impacted by unkind behaviour.

      So, just being nice is not always the same thing as practing truth and love; it is actually a very weak response when it comes to people engaged in active, willfully chosen sin. They need both truth and love and firm boundaries. So if you are there and they become abusive, pack up your children and go, but tell them frist WHY you are leaving. Say that you love them and want a good relationship with them but are no longer willing to tolerate hurtful, unkind behaviour and that this is actually sinning.Give specific examples of what you mean. Let them know ou are willing to listen to a real grievance if its done reasonably and respectfully but you will not sit there and tolerate having vicious chunks taken out of you or tolerate cruelty to your kids. At one point, I refused to go to my inlaws because my former husband would not stand with me and would look the other way and deny there was a problem or blame me for it. So I refused to go. This was after few years of trying to deal with these people and being treated horr ibly, being on edge all the time wondering when the next attack was going to come, and suffering religious guilt trips that somehow linked being willing to go somewhere that I was not liked or loved and take abuse, with being a good Christian.

      If you read scripture, you might notice some interesting things. In the OT, there is the example of David, who continued to treat Saul with respect and honor him, because he was God’s anointed, but who did not take leave of his senses or reality and pretend that being godly meant handing himself over to people with evil motives. When Saul called David to come out to him, David stayed at a safe distance. God did not condemn this action as disrespectful or ungodly. In the NT, we have Paul directing the believers to put out of the church someone who is a reviler (verbally abusive ) or someone who is divisive ( a trouble maker, gossip, etc). Paul records for all to hear that Alexander the coppersmith did him great harm and asks that the Lord repay him according to his deeds! Paul withstood Peter to his face for hypocrisy. Jesus came to a town and when they did not receive Him he continued on His way. Notice that He did not stand there begging them to like or love Him, leaving them little presents with notes attached, saying ” see, I really am a GOOD messiah”. No make nice cultural Christianity here. The thing is, eternity must be kept in mind at all times. You are dealing with sin and sin takes people to hell. Not to put too fine a point on it but you need to up your game a bit and reframe the situation; it is MORE serious not less serious. This person has the power of choice to receive help if they want it. This person is choosing to nurture and coddle sin their hearts and cherish evil ways of relating and being. This person is guilty of rejecting God and practicing sinful idolatry. It will destroy them too. Sometimes we don’t confront because we fear it will make things worse. This is actually how many churches behave; they are too worried about things becoming unpleasnant and how people will view them if they put their foot down and call sin sin and refuse to tolerate it. They do not obey the bible and so allow sinful and hurtful situations to go on and on and on when God has provided direct counsel on how to deal with such things. You can swap weak love for biblical love which involves speaking the truth in love out of concern for her eternal welfare and not just temporal happiness, although certainly it is okay to have healthy boundaries and protect your children from the normalization of dysfunction.

      Eventually in my case, my ex husband had such an idolatry problem with his parents that when it became obvious they would not come around and begin to come out of their dysfunction, he realized that this meant they could go to hell and so he abandoned his commitment to Christ, being unwilling to accept this and unwilling to deal with or acknowledge his own serious issues.. Eventually this led to him justifying an inappropriate relationship with a woman I think he was involved with for some time and whom he is now married to. I was not without sin in the situation myself. I was very angry, bitter and resentful and deeply hurt. I had been manipulated into marrying him through coercion ( long story, suffice to say my life was a mess and I was easily controlled and bullied) and then suffered years of controlling and manipualtve behaviour and just outright disrespectful behavour that was beyond insensitive from my ex husband and his family. At the time, I honestly didn’t give a rat’s behind about my inlaws eternal destiny or my ex husband’s although I was trying to follow Christ, albeit from a very immature needy and weak place myself. I was quite self centered. If I had to do it over again, I would have found myself a group of serious intercessors and engaged in regular prayer over all involved and sought counselling from someone who understood abuse related issues but who could also speak clear scriptural truth and not just feel good pyschology. No one at church really took the matter of people’s souls or eternal destinies seriously enough to give more than dismissive easy believeism type answers that deny the reality of evil . If I had made this charge, they would all have give hearty affirmation that they upheld God’s word and fully believed it. The problem as I see it is that the world has invaded the church with the permission of Christians and so the church is now weak and watered down and not practicing the truth, being in need of repentance from idolatry. Had I gotten good counsel and some real solid help grounded in truth and reality early on, it is possible that things may have turned out differently. I hope something in this is of help and that you and your hubby get some help dealing with this together. You need a united front .

      1. Just a Little Sheep,

        Thanks so much for sharing with SisterinChrist!

        I think that a lot of the kinds of things you are talking about are spelled out in detail on http://www.leslievernick.com.

        Thank you for sharing what you WISH you had done as you look back now. Yes, sin is serious. And ignoring it will not work.

        My hope is to get SisterinChrist in a place of spiritual strength and the power of the Holy Spirit – and then, I believe she will be ready to hash through the issues and see exactly how God may want her to approach her husband and her MIL.

        Much love!
        April

        1. Yes, you are quite right, about needing to get her to a place of spiritual strength and the power of the Spirit. I was trying to condense what I learned in years of going through a very difficult and ugly situation that few wanted to acknowledge; the result was being terribly alone without much support and not being able to have anyone who really understood and could give good counsel. However I totally forgot that the transition between where I was then and how I think now, took some serious time apart and dealing with some very bad ideas about boundaries. People would tell me just do this or just do that without realizing that I was at that point, not solid enough myself to stand against repeated attacks of evil. My own being was in tatters and I was hardly in any shape to stand strong for Christ, until I got a real grasp OF Christ. My apologies for very nearly doing the same thing to you, SisterinChrist, sending you out to the battle without providing some time in a MASH unit to heal the wounds sustained, so to speak.

          1. Just a Little Sheep,

            I hope that SisterinChrist might hang onto your comment – I think it would be something she may want to read over every so often. There is a lot of wisdom there! I greatly appreciate your willingness to share, dear sister.

            Yes, many times, we have to stop and really focus on our own spiritual healing first – THEN we have the spiritual strength we need to discern whether people are giving godly advice and we actually have the power to follow through as we listen to God’s voice. 🙂

            Much love!

          2. Just a Little Sheep-

            Thank you so much. It is so kind of you to respond in such a manner. I meant to post in the “Healing for Destructive Jealousy” post where I gave a bit of raw history with MIL dating back 20 years.

            I really appreciate your insight as well as Aprils wonderful and constant healing advice. Thank you for sharing your story too. For 20 years, even until today, I’ve carried this burden that this bad relationship was all my fault because I just couldn’t accept her for all of her loud and overbearingly offensive manner. My husband would say things like “She’s my mother!” and only just a few days ago I realized that no matter what she does unless God Himself opens my husband’s eyes to this terrible malfunction of affection on their part he will always long for her calls on his birthday without a thought that she neglected to call her grandchildren, his children!, on their birthday. (as an example)Whereas, that would have been the FIRST thing on my mind if it were my parent.

            In all honesty, I’m a bit hurt and confused because I don’t understand how after battling my resentment towards her and STILL visiting and STILL smiling and laughing and going places with her, I am hearing that I am the one that needs to focus on my spiritual healing. I thought that doing those things came from the years of prayer and faith I had and is a result of God’s work in me. It sounds like I’M still doing something wrong when it comes to her horrid behavior. We were firm, we warned her, we gave in sometimes and now we want to try to have her out of our lives for a bit. Unless I’m misunderstanding, this is not the right thing to do?

          3. SisterinChrist,

            You WILL need to deal with your MIL – especially your husband will need to deal with her. But if there is bitterness in your heart – that ball is in your court. Read the posts I shared – and THEN let’s hash through things together about the next steps. Does that sound okay?

            You have the power to get rid of bitterness in Christ. Whether she changes or not. What she has done is wrong. You may have to have strong boundaries and consequences with her. But bitterness is toxic to US. It has to go. That is why I want to focus on that first – THEN you will see clearly to know what to do after you are willing to tear out the bitterness from your own life first. I speak from much experience on this issue, my precious sister.

            Much love!

          4. SisterinChrist,

            I am hoping to take things one step at a time – there are many steps. But you can’t take them all at once. This is a lot like “eating an elephant.” Take a bite and digest it. And then another bite. This will take time. It is a process. I know it is tempting to want to rush on to the part where you deal with her issues – but if you try to do that before you are whole spiritually in Christ, it is REALLY hard to hear God’s voice and it is almost impossible to do this in the power of God’s Spirit. Or – are you already living in God’s peace and joy and are you already free from all of the bitterness? Perhaps I am misunderstanding?

          5. April, this makes perfect sense. I’m so grateful to have so much meat to print and read tonight from you. (Thank you so much from my heart).

            Also, your analogy of her spiritual state compared to someone physically in ICU is so perfect it really should be on a plaque. I’m a visual person so that was VERY helpful. I was surprised at how much that sunk in and I see myself applying that in other relationships.

            She is the elephant in our marriage, I will chew her out of our lives slowly. Sorry! Bad joke there!!, couldn’t resist. I do have bitterness yes, but I also love God so much and He’s done wonders in my heart and life that is why my heart stays pained, beva use I know this is yet another opportunity that i cold exteND (even more) grace.

            I’m just afraid she’ll control my husband again and we’ve made so much progress. But I will read everything and trust God to give me the wisdom offered to me. Thank you.

          6. SisterinChrist,

            You are most welcome. 🙂 I know I have some posts about this from long ago – but maybe I should run something about this again. Perhaps even about a difficult mother-in-law relationship?

            It is understandable that you have bitterness. When you are sinned against, it hurts!!!!! And sin is wrong. There is a good desire to see sin taken care of and justice accomplished. But I am so thankful that God can help us tear out every little root of bitterness and set us free.

            Ha! 🙂 Funny – “chew her out.”

            When you are fully trusting Christ, you don’t have to be afraid. If your husband messes up, you can pray for him, and you can influence him in a godly way. But you can also trust God and His sovereignty to work all things ultimately for your good and His glory. So you don’t have to freak out and try to control your husband – which is exactly the same thing his mom is doing. You can see how awful it is to be on the receiving end of that.

            It is helpful for me to think about how I feel when a woman in my life tries to control me – how much it repels me. And when I see a woman being controlling like that toward me, it is a BIG FLASHING reminder that I don’t EVER want to be like that to anyone else.

            Much love to you! Take your time. Dig deeply. Go slowly. We’re here to talk some more as you process things and wrestle in prayer.

            🙂

          7. Thank you April, I will read them most certainly. He has however said to me that he will have a conversation with her to discuss avoiding contact with her for a few months as a sort of strong stance against her last phone call in which her tearful victim tactic left him with a bad taste. I will honor this and hopefully he means it.

          8. SisterinChrist,

            That sounds awesome! I’m sure that as you support him and assure him that you respect and honor his leadership – it will help give him more confidence to do what he needs to do. Thankfully, we don’t have to try to control our husbands for them to do what is best. Often, as we stop trying to control them and they see our genuine respect and faith, it draws them to us – and makes the difference a lot more clear between our respectful behavior and a mom’s controlling, disrespectful, codependent behavior. If a man grew up with a controlling mom, being with a controlling woman may feel “normal.” But it is still soul-crushing. As you continue to work on your end of things and release trying to control him, he will feel so much more free with you and like he can breathe when he is around you – and he will most likely be able to see more clearly what he needs to do with his mom.

            Praying for God’s healing and wisdom for ALL of you!

      2. PS, you can continue to show her love in many ways and still have healthy boundaries against behaviour that is sinful and abusive. Ask God to show you what would actually reach her heart. Hugs to you.

        1. Hmm SisterinChrist,

          I understand your confusion and hurt; these are tough situations and they create tough questions.. By needing spiritual healing I don’t mean that you didn’t obey God and so somehow need healing from having sinned or that you have failed in not being able to endlessly remain this woman’s captive and love it. Not at all. I see that you have gone the extra mile in attempting to love her.

          I mean that you need healing from having been kept on the receiving end of awful and abusive behaviour that is destructive and possibly from wrong beliefs that sound biblical but maybe aren’t, that kept you believing you were somehow responsible for her behaviour, for carrying the whole relationship and for whether or not she came to Christ. There is a lot of that floating around in Christendom and it is very challenging to sort it out.

          Also in using the analogy of a MASH unit, I meant to acknowledge that you’ve been in spiritual battle and have sustained some injury through that. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the goal of getting healed and whole is so you can go back out and be more effective at enduring being shot up, as if you are some crash test dummy! I think that your life has more value to God. I think that God allows us to have limits. He can supply you with the grace to endure something if that is what He wants of you but I also think He can let you know that is the case.

          I don’t see anything wrong with not cooperating with evil or with needing to put yourself out of reach of someone who won’t stop being destructive. And since your husband is to leave his family and cleave to you, if MIL is harming your marriage intentionally then that makes it necessary if she cannot respect reasonable boundaries and make an effort to have abuse free relationships. I found that feeling I had to endlessly endure evil and hateful behaviour from folks who weren’t really interesting in knowing me as a person or having a real relationship nearly destroyed me.

          I think if I was more solid in the Lord, and was free via being dependent on Him and not on people for how I felt about myself, I probably not only could have loved more but would have been much stronger at boundary setting and done so earlier. It was a shock to me when I experienced God’s love for the first time, that had I been healthier I would have removed myself sooner, not later. I had thought it was the opposite; I thought had I loved more and been a better Christian, I could have stuck around and endured longer. I had felt guilty for not being able to endure more abuse. I didn’t realize my thinking on that one was wrong and also conditioned by some very religious teachings that had no balance to them. Love at all times, be full of love at all times, yes. Endure evil endlessly no. Hope that helps clarify what I meant.

      3. Many times when someone is very controlling toward others – and when they use manipulation, guilt, etc… it is often a matter of that the person has SELF on the throne of his/her heart. I know that was true for me! I seriously believed everyone should submit to me and bow down to me. 🙁 That sounds awful to say it out loud. But I had SELF as god in my life and expected other people to, as well.

        It is not a gift to anyone to cooperate with that kind of sin – or any sin!

        Thankfully, God can empower us to respond in godly ways even when we are being sinned against. And God may use us to pray for those who need deliverance from this kind of serious, deep-rooted sin.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. Knowing that change is always a process is a reminder I need everyday. When God began to reveal to me what I needed to change, I was so eager to pick it up, hand my sinful behavior to Him, and tell Him to take it away. But that isn’t exactly how it worked and the process has been very uncomfortable. It was as if God was telling me, “let’s take a look at your behaviors and really examine them, and let me teach you why they are hurtful, first”. It was after I became so repulsed by my own behaviors and recognized my helplessness to change them, that God slowly and gently gave me graces in each moment to make small changes and it was as If at that moment he began to take them from me one piece at a time. If God had not allowed me to become very uncomfortable with my sin, and he would have just magically changed my behavior in an instant, I would have learned nothing and have zero appreciation for the realization that He has created me to be a beautiful daughter in His kingdom who carries herself with dignity, respect and love.

    1. Julie,

      Oh wow!!!!! This is such a powerful, wonderful insight. 🙂 I LOVE IT!!!!! Would you please consider allowing me to share this on my Peaceful Wife Blog FB page anonymously? What a blessing!

  3. Sorry, I meant to place this comment under the other blog where I spoke of my mother in law. Sorry to distract with inadvertently placing it here April.

  4. This is so gloriously true and I appreciate this April! Thank you for sharing the truth in the most loving way. Hugs to you!

  5. This was a good blog post, though I think the quotes by E.M Bound are confusing. We may come boldly to the throne of grace in prayer because Jesus paid for our sins. We don’t have to quit praying until we overcome our “bad conduct”- in fact, it is prayer itself that helps us to overcome it.
    I don’t think we should quit praying and wait around until we have a burning desire to obey Him in all, and have overcome bad conduct, etc… but prayer is a very important tool IN developing these heart changes. Eg, “Lord, I don’t have an overwhelming desire to obey you- help me!” “Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief.”

    Jenny

    1. Jenny,

      Thanks for sharing! I’m so sorry that the quotes are confusing… here is my understanding:

      EM Bounds is not suggesting that we quit praying. He is saying we need to walk in obedience which is what Jesus said, too.

      Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. John 14:23-24

      So if we realize we have “bad conduct” the remedy is – we repent of it and take it immediately to Christ to get rid of it and to ask Him to give us victory over our sin.

      And yes! Absolutely if we are struggling with not wanting to obey, we can pray for God’s help! 🙂

      And yes! Absolutely – we can come boldly to the throne of grace in prayer because of Jesus’ work on the cross on our behalf. 🙂

      Much love!

      1. Jenny,

        I do think it is important to keep in mind, that even though we can come to the throne of grace boldly because of Jesus’ work on the cross on our behalf, we cannot cherish sin in our hearts and have fellowship with God. Eph. 4:29-30. And if we do cherish sin in our hearts, God will not hear our prayers – Ps. 66:18.

        So YES! We have access to the Holy of Holies because of what Jesus did for us. We also, therefore, have a responsibility to seek to live obedient lives out of love and gratitude. Our obedience does not get us to the throne of grace, but because Jesus lives in us and we now have His Spirit, He can and will empower us to live in victory over sin as we seek Him and allow His Spirit to have control.

        If there is known sin in our lives, we must repent of that before we attempt to pray about anything else. Great example is in the Lord’s prayer.

  6. Dear Sister April,

    Another excellent post.

    Another perspective: a Godly man gives his life to Jesus Christ, his example for man as opposed to woman is of sacrifice, sacrifice to allow his family to be surrounded by protection.

    A beautiful song:
    https://youtu.be/jNNzpitUD_0

    This song is based on this verse from Psalms:
    As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever. (Psalm 125:2 KJV)

    Thank you all my brothers and sisters,
    Jesuscentreoflife

      1. Very inspiring song. Thank you for sharing it ! The post really spoke to me as well. It is my heart’s cry to trust Jesus so much that even when hard times come I will die to what comes naturally …. fear, anxiety, panic …. and just completely rest in his care knowing he will take care of it all. Just like the song said To know that he surrounds us. He is so good!

        1. Yes, that is truly the thing: in my bible study today, I came across this wonderful verse:
          But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God (Galatians 5:16 AMP)
          We are in this world, to grow stronger in Christ and to learn to walk more nearly with and by Him. But truly this is not our world.
          I love this expression: lean in to Jesus. It is what children do when they feel insecure with the world. They lean into a trusted adult they wish to be wrapped inside them. When dear brothers and sisters, we can perceive our own insecurity as some dark or disturbing and force rises up to confront us, and then lean in to the comfort and strength, knowing that we will be given power to overcome, then we have made a step.
          Just as the manna came down from Heaven every day for the Israelites, so grace is given when we ask for it.

          Dear Lord, give me strength for this long day and hard meeting ahead,
          That can be enough, then we know that there is a hand on our shoulder.

          Thank you Jesus, for bringing me all these friends,
          Jesuscentreoflife

          1. I really really like this idea of leaning in… As I’ve processed some of my own issues I’ve often thought of how, as a child, I wanted to get that big bear hug from my dad that seemed to make the scary thing just disappear, or at least let me feel safe from the world for a little while.

            I’m confused about the part you wrote about us leading in to God, I think there was a typo that made hard for me to decipher. Were you suggesting that our own insecurity is something of the evil one? That’s interesting to think if it like that. Or maybe it’s just a straightforward analogy to lean in to our Heavenly Father in a similar way. I like it. Reminds me of my current memory verse: palm 46:1, “God is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.” And other verses about being wrapped in the father’s wing, or idea that he’s got me in the palm of his hand.

          2. Hello broken but growing,

            That is a really good question. I believe it to be something like when one’s personal healthcare.
            If your immune system is healthy,
            If your body is strong from rest and good nutrition,
            If you have an immunization shot,
            It is much harder for the sickness to get in.

            In the same way, is your spiritual health strong?
            Is there that time each day, put aside for praying, meditating, studying?
            Then the evil one doesn’t get a look-in.

            Before we make sandwiches for lunch, we wash our hands,
            Before we get out of bed even, do we ask Our Savior to help us through the day?

            When we lean in to Our Lord, He is able to give us that strength. Just as your dad’s bear hug gave you the security and feeling of safety.

            That is why I pray for all the people whose home is insecure. As followers of Jesus Christ, we can know that whatever turmoil is going on, here presently, our True Home is not here.

            Wishing you much strength in your walk with Our Lord Jesus,
            Jesuscentreoflife

  7. Seriously…you have hit the mark here….! Again.

    I just went thru a week of this soul searching with God. I realized thru the Holy Spirit that I was over worrying. Over worrying about family, debts, children, life in general. It got to point it controlled my emotions at times and my attitude even. I finally realized I was not Trusting God as my LORD…!!!! I say I do, but my heart says different. My lord is my worries, cares of this life.

    As a woman, mom, wife…we worry…! It’s in our nature….BUT when you take it to another level where it controls your mind 24/7 or thoughts, it becomes a weakness, a distraction with your relationship to God.

    So I sat down and read every verse about worry…..listened to hundreds of sermons and came to found out Jesus said NOT to worry, not to fear not to fret more than anything else. Like He knew….. 😊 then I wrote down a list..one by one of my deepest darkest secrets within. Whether it be something from my childhood that affected my worrying, my not trusting God, my not letting go of my attitude of having to be in control all the time over my life, my failure to let Jesus be Lord over everything, etc, etc. I wrote down every detail, every sin, every secret. Exposing myself to God.

    Then I fasted for that morning and read through my list out loud and surrendered it over to God. I imagined myself putting it at the foot of the cross and saying, Jesus..you promised to take my heavy burdens and carry them Yourself. You promised that You would take care of me, that I needed to Trust You and hand it over. So here it is…!!! I am handing it over to You. My worries will no longer consume me, I choose joy, contentment and trust now. And I left all my worries there at His feet. It was truly a freeing event of my life…!! Every now and then when Satan tries to creep worry in….I just remind myself of the verses I read over like 100 times and say to myself, I am not going to fail God…! I gave Him my worries and I trust Him. Jesus is truly Lord…..amen.

    1. Roseey,

      LOVE this! I went through a very similar process – and still do hash through a similar process whenever necessary – to overcome fear and worry by deciding to trust in God completely.

      How I long for all of us to get to experience the blessing, joy, and peace of resting in God’s love, provision, and sovereignty and giving up worry! WOOHOO! 🙂

    2. This is such a great idea, thank you Roseey, a truly beautiful and biblical way to go through the process.
      Guys may not “worry” in the same way but things certainly sit on our minds and it is important for men to feel we are doing something about it.
      For men, the doing is often the most important part.
      Thank you,
      Jesuscentreoflife

  8. This is such a great post. How do you practically live it out? Tonight I’m sitting at home alone, putting kids to bed, while hubby has been out three nights in a row watching sports. Do I seek Jesus and trust Him that He will reward me? When I don’t feel like I’m getting help, I work even harder and get it done, and don’t say anything. If I do, it causes conflict. I am able to do it, but I’m tired and wish I was cherished and he loved me enough to want to meet my needs. Do I literally just keep dying to self? Sometimes that’s fine because I really do want Jesus!!!! But sometimes it feels unfair….and like I’m unnoticed.

    1. Dying to Self,

      I’m so sorry that you are feeling unloved and neglected. That is an awful way to feel. I wish no spouse ever felt ignored and unimportant in a marriage. Thankfully, there are often things we can do on our end that can pour healing and life into a marriage. Sometimes, it is a matter of us looking at our own expectations or changing our thinking to line up more with God’s. Other times, there may be toxic thought patterns we hold onto that need to go because they are sabotaging the intimacy we want in our marriages. Sometimes, there are things on our husband’s side of the marriage that he will need to work on, too.

      Would you be interested in doing a spiritual check up with me, so I can get a better sense of where you are spiritually at this point and what is going on?

      Much love and a huge hug to you!

      1. Dying to Self,

        So glad to hear about your morning perspective. 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

        I’d also like to get a bit more of a sense of the dynamics in your marriage. What is your husband’s general personality and your general personality? Are things tense right now? How do you generally get along when you are both home?

        Spiritual Check Up (the more honestly you can answer, the better!):

        1. What do you believe you need most to be happy in life?

        2. What are your greatest fears?

        3. What do you want most in your marriage?

        4. What do you desire most in your relationship with Christ?

        5. How is your walk with Christ going recently? How much time do you usually have with Him each day? What do you read? What do you pray for? What is He showing you lately?

        6. Is there anything you are holding back from God?

        Much love to you!

        1. Sorry I missed these questions yesterday. I answered some of them unknowingly in another reply. I’m classic type A, introvert. Organized, driver, clean, hard worker, …I love the outdoors, reading, beaches, coffee.
          He is more of a laid back extrovert. He has fun first and works if there is time. He balances my desire for a schedule.
          We both like to communicate and see eye to eye on most things. We don’t have a lot of great ideas for date nights since we are so opposite even in entertainment/recreation.
          I’m very content with small things– really to be happy I would like to fulfill His purpose for me. I’d love a healthy family and marriage where God is first place.
          Greatest fears– wasting my life, something happening to one of my kids
          Marriage– ease and fun! I’d like to mentor other couples some day
          Christ– more of Him, less of me
          Walk with Christ– I do spend each morning reading the Bible, praying, and journaling. I’m currently going through Ephesians. I make prayer a part of my all day, everyday life– praying for whatever/whoever comes to mind. He is currently showing me the cross! He’s showing me not to focus on my hubby or marriage, but to keep my gaze on him.
          Holding back– not sure. I try to live by the Holy Spirit and let Him lead my schedule/time/priorities….but don’t always carry that out. I’ve often used the excuse of my husband’s treatment of me to lash out snd dis-respect him. I see that no matter how he treats me or how I feel, I love Jesus and obey Him above that! I think I’ve believed that if I do that I’m showing him it’s okay or I don’t have any needs.

          1. Dying to self,

            Thank you for sharing this, that is helpful. I love what God is showing you! 🙂

            Would you be interested in sharing a typical conflict that you might have – in general – and we can hash through it together?

            Have you read any of my posts or my book about how to ask for things respectfully?

            Much love to you!

          2. April, I am responding to your post to me. Yes, I have been reading your posts for maybe 6 months.
            So we have agreed we want to use quieter tones in our home with eachother and kids. Last week he told me I was speaking loud to one of our kids and that was damaging. I asked for 5 minutes to cool down and then apologized to my son and hubby.
            Later that day, I felt like my husband was really going over board, toe to toe, with our oldest. I asked if we could lower the tone and invite Jesus into the conflict. He addressed me harshly and loud. My son was mad and hurt that night. I felt like my hubby exasperated him. I didn’t say anything, but fasted and prayed the next morning. He was leavin for a business trip and I softly asked if things were made right between him/son. He was very upset and intense and told me he just disciplined him. I encouraged him to make sure things were good in the event something happened while he was a way. He loudly climbed th stairs and loudly asked my son if they were okay. I knew my son felt like I do. You just agree to avoid further conflict.
            After his trip he took my son for wings and a game and told him he over disciplined.
            He never apologized to me.
            This repeated itself a few days later.
            Another conflict would be me feeling overwhelmed and asking if we can “talk through the weekend” or “talk through what needs to be done”. I feel frustrated because it feels like if I don’t lead, things won’t get done. I’ve tried letting things slide and letting him handle/not handle.
            He lets things go for a long time. I get frustrated with jobs not getting completed. I shut my mouth. But if conflict arises, I’ll go ahead and speak my mind at that point.
            For two days, I’ve lived in a place of surrender and realizing I’m responsible for my response!!! I don’t want to sin! Things have improved already. He was getting things done. I’m lowering my expectations. I’ve loved generously and not engaged in conflict.

          3. Dying to self,

            I’m so proud of you both for working on tone of voice and not raising your voices! That is awesome! And I am really proud of you for listening when your husband saw you were being really loud and that you took the time you needed to calm down and that you apologized. That was wonderful!

            If you feel like you need to address this kind of thing with your husband- if he is being too loud – is it possible to have a prearranged signal or to speak to him in private about it? That may help him be more receptive.

            I’m SO thankful that you fasted and prayed. I also love how you tried to approach him softly before his trip. And I am very proud of your husband for later apologizing to your son and for taking him out. That is great!

            What is your husband’s general personality?

            What was his relationship like with his dad?

            What was his parents’ relationship like?

            What kinds of things does he let go? Projects around the house? Chores? How do you approach him about these things?

            So you only tell him about your frustrations during tension and heated conflict?

            I love what you are seeing so far in such a short time already. That is awesome!

            Much love!
            April

  9. This discussion on what dying to self means and does not mean is very good. I mentioned earlier how coming from a background with a lot of out of control sin from adult authorties meant having very distorted meanings on things. And then coming to church and hearing blanket statements made as if everyone had the same lexicon made it even more confusing for me. Dying to self was one of those things that really frightened and terrorized me a bit. When you live with abuse, your very self is being attacked as if its somehow wrong for you to live and exist and as if there is nothing good about you. You are being told all the time that you are bad, worthless, etc. Then I get to church and hear the self being talked about as if its a bad thing too. It was years before my reasoning skills and theological understanding developed enough for me to even understand what was being talked about, so I couldn’t even articulate my difficulties for a long time! I thought God agreed with the abuse I suffered because of that and that my feelings about it were irrelevant to Him because they were part of self! Worse I met Christians who actually thought that way. Now, hoping I indeed have gotten it , lol, here is what I think it means.

    How I understand this now is that when Jesus asks us to deny ourselves, He is not talking about systematically trying to annihilate anything that is us. He is more likely talking about the self that is part of the sinful nature, the flesh. It can also include our will when what we want is contrary to what God wants. But it does not mean that the person you are as far as your unique identity or personality equipment as God designed it,is what needs to die. I like animals and art and living in the country. That is not bad, its part of who I am as a person. There is no sin in it, of itself. However, if God was calling me to move to an inner city neighborhood where he wanted me to reach out to homeless youth, and I said to him ” No, I don’t want to leave my farm and my wholesome environment, then that would be an example of denying myself for His sake. If I have a tendency to gossip or am bitter and unforgiving towards someone that would be an aspect of my flesh that God wants me to deal with by putting it to death on the cross.

    April, love some nuts and bolts mechanics of exactly how we successfully use the cross to deal with a sin or bondage problem, just to make sure I am getting this right. Thanks for humoring me 🙂

    1. Just a Little Sheep,

      I think this is such an important point! For those who have been in abusive relationships, “Dying to Self” can sound like, “I just need to let people hit me and mistreat me and I need to be quiet and take it.” But that is NOT what Jesus is referring to.

      Yes, He is referring to that we are dead and we count ourselves dead to our sinful old nature, our flesh, and to this world. But we are alive to God in Christ. We have a new self that is glorious, blessed, beloved, cherished, valuable, precious, and beautiful in Christ. It is so important that we know what “self” we are to die to and what it means to take up our cross.

      I like the way Amanda put it about laying down my will and taking up God’s will. And this process is also about laying down any sinful motives. So I would allow God to search my heart for things like selfishness, greed, bitterness, idolatry, resentment, hatred, unforgiveness, malice, gossip, addictions, etc… things that are spiritually toxic to my soul, my relationships, and my walk with Christ – and I would reject those things and allow God’s Spirit to completely fill me with His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

      I put aside all of my old sinful self and put on all that Jesus provides for me on the cross. I receive all that He is and His goodness into my life.

      There are some who have been severely abused and mistreated who do not believe they are worthy to receive God’s love. Truthfully, none of us are “worthy” to receive God’s love. But God loves us because that is who He is and His love is available to each of us. We CAN receive His love, not because we deserve to, but because He freely gives it! For those who have a hard time receiving good things from God, I invite you to check out this post by Radiant about Cinderella and the Gospel. I also encourage wives who have been abused and who are confused about dying to self to search and read some of these posts as well:

      Do I Condone Abuse?
      25 ways to respect myself
      I Can’t Ask for Things or Have Feelings, Needs, or Desires”
      Should You Strive to Please Your Husband or Marriage at Any Cost?
      When Would I Not Submit to My Husband?
      Approaching My Husband’s Sin Issues by LMSdaily
      I Must Avoid Conflict at All Costs
      Healthy VS Unhealthy Relationships
      Should I Stay or Should I Go?
      To Trust or Not to Trust? – video
      What Does God Say about Me?
      My Identity in Christ is My Only Source of Security

      And, http://www.leslievernick.com and Boundaries by Dr. Cloud and Townsend may be helpful in this kind of situation.

      I believe wives must find spiritual healing and wholeness in Christ FIRST before they learn to die to self in a healthy way. If a wife is very broken and has lived with a lot of abuse, and she tries to “die to self” before understanding her identity in Christ, I think there can be serious and dangerous misunderstandings.

      1. Just a Little Sheep,

        Another resource for wives who have been too passive or “too submissive” to their husbands and who are confused and spiritually very wounded is Nina Roesner’s ecourse “Becoming a Woman of Strength and Dignity.”

        1. When we are completely filled up with Christ and we are whole in Him, looking to Him for all of our purpose, contentment, joy, strength, peace, and for our acceptance, love, and security – THEN we can approach our other relationships from a position of great strength in Christ. Then we have the power of Jesus to help us pour out our own will and hold on to His will and we have the clear vision we need to discern exactly what it means to obey Him and we hear His voice clearly.

      2. April,
        I think you are right on in what you shared about this. And something else hit me as I read this comment. In my experience, because I was mistreated for so long, and suffered in that sense for getting involved with the wrong kinds of men, and not having a strong father figure in my life, I became completely self-reliant and independent, with a heart hardened to the harsh realities of life. And in being mistreated and developing that independent spirit, looking back I see actually how selfish I became. That sounds wrong, but hear me out if you can 🙂

        Because I was mistreated and grew up mistreated, and did not develop a healthy self-worth, and developed that desire in my heart to be loved and wanted and all those idols that are attached to that desire—-it actually made me self-centered. All I cared about was what I wanted, what I needed, what I wasn’t getting from this guy or my father or whoever. My husband pointed this out to me a long time ago, really right after we got married, he saw how selfish I was and how focused I was on having my needs met in the marriage. And because my needs and expectations weren’t getting met the way I wanted them (with the never ending black hole heart), I was disrespectful, complaining, negative, argumentative, controlling, etc.

        That’s what happens when we are mistreated in life, as a young woman, we become fearful and controlling because we feel the need to protect ourselves because we have not been treated right. We become independent and self-reliant.

        So when God led me to Himself, and revealed Christ in my heart—— that was one of the first things He showed me. He led me to read the book “Not a Fan”, and it was all about dying to self and following Christ. I remember how eye-opening that was for me, because my selfishness was exposed.

        And as the years have gone by, He has continued to lead me to the true meaning of dying to self and following Christ, by leading me to your blog, and to the book captivating— and now I see all the pieces put together to this puzzle for me.

        He has shown me that in reaction to the way I was mistreated by my own father and men in my life, my heart grew very cold and I became even more selfish. I was living in self-protection mode which entails controlling and fear for my whole life really. All I cared about was myself, honestly. I wanted what I wanted.

        I’m not saying it’s ok for anyone to treat someone wrongly. But what I am saying is that, I had an even more challenging time learning how to die to self because of being mistreated and having developed a very independent self-reliant spirit that was highly selfish. I looked at everything my husband did through the lens of my wounded, selfish heart, instead of through Christ and the Cross. I had no idea that my wounded heart was behind all of the control, fear, and disrespect. I didn’t realize that wounded heart was behind a lot of the conflicts in marriage. It was harder for me to “let go” of control and all the fear and self-protection and it was hard to learn to truly trust God and surrender all to Christ. But once He opened my eyes, holding onto those things seemed like garbage compared to surrendering all to Him as Lord and having His peace and rest in my heart!

        Now that I know who I am in Christ, and who my husband is in Christ, I have a hard time focusing on the things he does wrong. Letting go of myself and my own personal interests has been the way of finding true Life!

        I hope this makes sense?

        Love,
        Amanda

          1. April,
            Lol as I wrote it, I remembered I told you I’d write something about this for PSG and was thinking the same thing! That is fine! I’ll send you the rest I worked on too! Thanks!

            Love,
            Amanda

        1. Wow. I really needed to read this today. I think this provides some explanation for what I’m dealing with with my husband. I mean I’ve thought about this stuff before, but you said it so succinctly. Totally makes sense….when you’re mistreated, which he was for so much of his life, you go into self-preservation mode and naturally become selfish and focused on your own needs and desires. So glad you posted this. Doesn’t make things any easier in my situation, but does provide a possible explanation.

    2. Just a Little Sheep,

      Dealing with a sin/bondage problem looks a lot like this (brief summary):

      1. We have to see the problem.
      2. We identify the sin and the lies we may believe about God, ourselves, or something else.
      3. We consciously and purposely choose to reject the sin and lies and replace them with God’s truth. We take our thoughts captive.
      4. We purposely seek God wholeheartedly and submit ourselves completely to Him.
      5. We allow His Spirit to heal us and transform our thinking as we study His Word and memorize passages that speak to our situation.
      6. We invite His Spirit to completely fill us.
      7. We worship Him, praise and thank Him all throughout each day and focus on Phil. 4:8 kinds of things.
      8. We desire to know Him more and more and to allow Him to continue to show us anything He wants to change.

    3. just a little sheep,

      Would you permit me to use some of this post anonymously in a post talking about ways dying to self can be misunderstood? I would be honored!

      Much love, my dear sister!

      April

      1. Sure, that would be fine. There are many ideas like that in Christian circles that not correctly understood, can be very damaging so by all means 😉 I’ve noticed when I talk to my husband that he has also picked up some of these ideas. For instance, if I want it, it is automatically wrong, not God’s will, of the flesh, etc, as if every desire, feeling or ambition is automatically sinful. Like some folks who think that whatever God’s will is for them, it will be something that they just hate and are sure will make them miserable. Looking forward to whatever you write on this .

        1. just a little sheep,

          Honestly, I think that almost every Christian concept, when misunderstood, can be dangerous. There is always a delicate balance needed. If we veer too far one way or the other, we get in a mess.

          That is another great point. Every desire is not wrong. For example, the desire to be married, the desire to eat food, the desire to have children, or the desire to have friends. These are good desires. It is how we approach these desires and whether we put them above Christ in our hearts that determines whether we handle them in a healthy, godly way or not.

          And the awesome thing about God is, as we yield to Him, He changes the desires of our hearts to match His own. So – if His will for me is ministry to wives, for example – He gives me His heart for wives. So – it is an incredible JOY to minister, not a drudgery or torture.

          Do you feel that the discussion we have had has gone deep enough – or do you feel we need to dig deeper?

          Much love!

  10. Fresh morning perspective–I definitely have places to surrender and dreams I’ve held on to. I’ve even had hopes of my husband changing in certain areas. I realize I have to let that all go….and let God change me, regardless. In times of conflict, I’ve yelled. I’ve name called. I’ve had selfish ambition. I’ve been easily angered. But, I’ve also been patient, long suffering, overlooked offenses, prayed, fasted, encouraged, and had hope!
    Practically, this morning, what does this look like in my marriage. My heart is right. But do I say “good morning” or let him pursue me and follow his leading. Can I ask him to help with house/kids/etc. or does denying self mean I close my mouth, put my head down, and do it all? Do I lead in family prayer/Bible or let those things drop until he picks them up?
    The other day, I put my hand on his hand, and he pulled it away. I am not bitter about it or unforgiving, but it seems he needs space. I do feel rejected.
    I want Jesus to be Lord of me and my marriage/home. But practically I am unsure what this looks like. I am scared of “serving to death” and being taken advantage of. Is this where I just trust that the Lord will meet my own needs no matter how much I lay down for my spouse/kids?

    1. Dying to Self,

      This is such a great start. I spent about 6 weeks once God showed me my sin in December of 2008 – repenting. God kept bringing more and more things to mind and I would write down a page or two single spaced each day, I think, of sins He revealed to me as I continued to ask Him to show me my sin. I felt like I needed the spiritual equivalent of a monster dump truck to carry all of my sin away each day.

      Seeing our sin is the first step. Then we can see how filthy and repulsive it is in God’s eyes and we can choose to turn from it and turn fully to Jesus.

      I’ so glad you have faith in Christ! And that you have been seeking Him. That is awesome!

      As far as whether to say good morning – it depends on how things are going in your marriage. It sounds like things may be tense. Do you know why your husband pulled away? Do you tend to try to make him talk? Do you tend to want to try to fix things and the relationship or do you stay super quiet and not speak up? Is he really introverted and passive or is he more of a “command man”? Is one or both of you dealing with major unrepentant sin, uncontrolled mental health issues, any kind of addiction, or any kind of history of abuse?

      These posts could be helpful possibly. I don’t know your situation at all yet. So I don’t know what is happening. But these things could be a good place to start…

      What Is Disrespectful to Husbands
      What Is Respect in Marriage?
      Signs Your Husband May Be Feeling Disrespected

      Is your husband receptive to you speaking to him at this time? Have you apologized from any sin you have committed against him? (If not, please read “Apologizing Stories” first.)

      What were the dynamics in your parents’ marriage? And in his parents’ marriage?

      What do you do to try to avoid being taken advantage of?

      What is your definition of being taken advantage of?

      What would happen if you were taken advantage of? Why does that idea bring so much fear? Is there something that happened in the past that has created a lot of anxiety about this?

      Much love to you! 🙂

      1. Thank you for your reply.
        My husband and I were both saved as young children and raised in Christian homes. We met on a ministry team during college and have been in ministry. Our marriage is great except when there is conflict. We’ve never dealt with conflict well. But, over 17 years we have less conflict and things are great then. We love Jesus, share our faith, and are active in church. But when we have conflict, we have no tools– tense, loud, intense, ugly– not abuse. Even though we say we are going to handle it differently, we don’t know how. I can see that I’ve sinned by thinking I had an excuse to hurt him or dis-respect him because he did this or that.
        His parents had a good marriage. My dad left my mom and divorced her. I watched my mom pray/submit/obey my dad who abused her. She had no voice. I’m afraid I won’t have a voice. My husband and I communicate well, except in conflict. So if an issue could cause conflict, I don’t feel safe in bringing it up. I usually pray and fast and shut my mouth UNTIL I’ve had enough and don’t care anymore and let it out.
        I am the go-getter, work hard, disciplined, goals…..my hubby is the care-free, people person, and spontaneous. I am the intellectual, book reader, and handle the bills and schedule. I’m an introvert. He is an extrovert. I homeschool. I often already feel like I’m doing 90 percent of life and I’m afraid serving more would only encourage him to do less.
        I guess it would be a bit like Mary and Martha. I’m afraid I’ll get left with all the chores….and it would be overwhelming. My love language is definitely acts of service, but what he is least likely to speak.

        I don’t think I avoid being taken advantage of, especially when things are good. But, perhaps inside I feel resentful if he is playing video games or watching sports while I’m working away. When things are tense, I try and remain neutral– not being rude, but not bending over backwards.

        Truly, I want to die to self, and plunge, and love wholeheartedly. But the other part of me screams, “It’s not fair!! He should be modeling this for you!”

        1. Dying to self,

          I have a chapter on conflict in my book that may be helpful. Also, you are welcome to search my home page for things like:

          – conflict
          – lose my voice
          – fake
          – share my needs
          – can’t have needs

          Do you believe you are allowed to ask for help if you need it? How do you approach your husband when you are feeling resentful? What do you do with your resentment?

          Have you read any of my posts on expectations? Those may also be helpful.

          Much love to you!

  11. DYING TO SELF,
    I am so glad that this post has spoken to you! This post was one of the first posts I read from April that the Lord used to truly open my eyes!

    I hope to send you a word of encouragement as I see you are wondering how this is practically played out in our daily lives 🙂

    In my experience, the Lord is opening my eyes to the true meaning of His Cross and how is applies to my life on a daily basis, and what He has been showing me lately is that it is a matter of surrendering fully and absolutely to Jesus Christ as Lord of my life. When Christ is truly Lord over my life, I no longer say,do,think,want anything for my own personal interests to be satisfied. It is no longer, “What am I going to get out of this?”, now it is all about “What is the LORD going to get out of this?”—-it switches over from being all about ME, to all about THE LORD and what HE wants to do. This is not a list of rules or regulations.

    In order to truly follow Christ as LORD, we must be full of His Spirit and walking in the Spirit in order to have fellowship with Christ inwardly, and to know what He wants us to do in any situation. That is how Christ lived on the earth, abiding in the Father–never doing something because HE wanted to do it—-it was the Father doing the works THROUGH Jesus. In the same way, we are called to abide in Christ, so that it is “no longer I, but Christ”—– it is no longer us trying to do a million things “right”, but it is CHRIST, living through us by His Spirit which dwells in us!

    One of the principles of the Cross that the Lord has shown me is that The Cross means a selfless concern for what is of God alone. That means that my interests are no longer about myself—they are for the Name of the Lord and His Honor and Glory— my interests are what His interests are—– His interest is to have a dwelling place among men—- He wants to Presence this world in and by His Church, made up of individual believers having Christ dwelling in their hearts by His Spirit.

    The Cross working out in our lives can be practically expressed in the power we have been given by Christ to let go to God and surrender all things to His Lordship and His sovereign rule—-even our marriages! This HAS to touch home! The Testimony that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD MUST BEGIN IN OUR MARRIAGES AND HOMES!

    What the Lord is showing me lately is that if I want to be filled with Him, I have to “die daily”, as the Apostle Paul says! I must let go of my own rights! My own personal interests for my marriage, my child, my life—– My marriage, my child, my life— must all be for His interests—-for His purposes—- For His rights as Lord! It is no longer about what I want, it is about what HE wants in my life!

    It sounds to me like the Lord is already speaking to your heart sister 🙂 If you are sensing that your husband needs space, then perhaps that is what the Lord is showing you to do in this time. I know April has a lot of great posts about giving our men space that have helped me tremendously!

    And just one more thing—- the fact that you are worried about being taken advantage of shows that you still have personal interests here. You are “counting the cost” here by thinking about how letting go and truly letting Christ be LORD, will effect you. When we are focused on how things are going to effect us, instead of what the LORD wants to do in the situation—–we are still on natural ground of the flesh, and until the Cross is accepted and applied, we will not move forward in His plans and purposes!

    We have to let go of our own personal interests—-and allow the Cross to work out in our hearts and marriages! When I let go, and stopped counting the cost and how it would effect me to let my husband be who he is, things got SO MUCH BETTER! Not worse at all!!!! When we are so focused on the LORD’S INTERESTS over our own—— we are full of His Spirit and Life—– and it no longer matters what we are losing—— all that matters is that the LORD’S NAME IS BEING HONORED AND GLORIFIED!!! 🙂

    God bless you sister!

    Love,
    Amanda

    1. Amanda… I agree whole heartedly! We do have to have our eyes 100% on Christ and in obeying him. I know in some of our hard times when I felt unloved , I felt the Lord leading me just to pour out love anyways regardless if I got anything back. I still feel like that the Lord would have us to love our husbands unconditionally, and love is in deed and truth. ( after all Bible tells us to love our enemies, and do good to them who hurt us …. and our husband are definitely not our enemies ;). So I would look for ways that he would feel loved and do them. I worked extra hard on my respect and really I try to guard my Tongue.

      I have to say it is really amazing how the Lord is restoring our relationship. I can tell now that my husband loves me more than he ever has… thank you Lord!!

      Blessings! Mendy

      1. Mendy,
        Yes! Amen! That is beautiful! I agree, and I also believe that when we are focused on Christ alone, that we really won’t be occupied with other people and what they are doing. If a husband was blatantly just mean or was an alcoholic with anger problems and things were seriously out of control for no reason, then I’d have to say something about that type of thing, but if my husband is stressed from work, introverted, or just not doing what I want him to do at a particular time, then I need to lower my expectations and be honest about the situation and if I need something, ask him respectfully, and just let him be who is, and I have experienced this being the best thing for my marriage so far! 🙂 There are times I need his extra grace, too. It is a process, and when we are both focusing on standing together and pleasing God, we have that extra grace to give when one of us loses sight for a moment! It is so much better this way! Praise God!

        Love,
        Amanda

        1. satisfiedwife, that’s so true! How can we be preoccupied with Christ and someone else at the same time? It is very easy for me to become solely focused on dh since we have gone through many trials and I have a tendency to want to control him and our environment . But when that slide happens and I slip into fear, control and anxiety, then my mind is not occupied on Christ.

          I agree with you also that if there is a major thing going on , then the most loving thing to do for Dh might be to confront or do some sort of boundary. IT just takes wisdom from God and to be walking in the Spirit.

          Blessings!
          Mendy

        2. This is so good! I am just beginning my journey and i am in the same space as the lady u are addressing. The “counting the cost” phase. Wondering if i submerge myself into this what i like to call “super submissive southern belle betty crocker” type mode or in short godly wife role, what benefits and dangers are there? Ive been told the same thing that we shouldn’t be looking at what we get out of it however i feel the need to be motivated by something good. Cmon this is some hard stuff!

          The the big reveal…

          FEAR!

          I fear so much being like women i know that give their all submissively to their man IN THE NAME OF THE LORD to not even be with that dude in the end. They gave all and trusted God to end up broken bitter and unsure if they were doing God’s will in the end. Of course there are positives that come out of any situation and usually all they end up grateful for is usually the kids and the many lessons of what not to do. Seems like the short end of the stick to me. Worst is the YEARS they will never get back…i get upset juat trying to fathom….lol

          I also fear extremes. This topic of dying to self is actually the last thing that caused my walk to stagger a bit or rather my misunderstanding of it to be exact. Dying to self translated into self hatred and caused me to feel that i had no value to God unless i was zealous about his ways. I was also upset because i craved so badly to see the supernatural like others i was surrounded by who claimed to have visions and could see angels. My brother in Christ at the time told me to just focus on Christ as you have said. But i couldn’t because i was more focused on what i wasnt getting which leads to my next point…

          I could not see my reward or rest in Christ. I still struggle and am being prayerful about it. If i had to wait 20+ years to see what i wish or what God promises would i be content in just having Christ? Truthfully my answer is no alot of times or i just get an anxiety attack just thinking about things.

          I also fear being walked over. With us being constantly exhorted to put others first, im in question like who is going to look out for my interest? What about fairness and justice for me? Hypothetical situation..i endure my husband talking any kind of way to me for a whole year and then maybe it takes one day for God to speak to him and all he has to do is repent then its juat all good. No pay for his wrong nothing.. Sometimes i feel like i am jonah. Im more concerned about justice how i see it instead of rejoicing in Gods grace for the other party.

          I feel that way about my husbands church too. Ms April is aware of my husband and i denominational difference. Im non denominational and he is from Church of Christ. We have been battling about which church to be at. I feel his group is a cult so i have no desire to join but i am required to respect and love them while learning to submit to him in other ways. Some say i am unsubmissive because i wont go. I do attend when we visit but often times i am cold and on defense due to their legalistic doctrine. It been hard separating the people from the dogma. I know i must love them but i want them to be corrected yet God wants me to show grace. Like jonah im like foreal THOSE ppl though?! You cant really support this?!

          I know that i have alot of mind renewing to get to and i have been trying to put in to practice taking my thoughts captive as i learn the truth. Its been kind of challenging. Sometimes i go days without speaking to God or reading my word. But it doesn’t go to long without me feeling convicted

  12. Good morning! Today something REALLY CREEPY happened. I had to share.

    My husband and I were at church this morning and about 10 or 15 minutes into the mass this woman with a tight dress walked in, directly in front of us, but to the right.

    IMMEDIATELY, I thought, “Ok, enemy, I see how you want to start my day”.

    Before this blogs blessed help and before I came to the end of my rope seeking change, my heart would have sunk deeply and I would have felt a literal crushing sting inside and I truly would not have paid attention in church. My worship would have been over. This morning, I felt it, but no where near as severe. Someone before said something about getting to the point where there are no internal hysterics but instead while still feeling uncomfortable, even very much so, you are strong enough to realize you have a choice to make and your will is working overtime.

    When it was time to receive communion my husband gestured for me to go ahead of him as he always does and I politely insisted he go ahead. (So I can keep my eyes on his eyes….ContentinChrist, I thought of you afterwards in the restaurant setting asking your husband to change seats)

    To make a long story short, even though I shouldn’t have politely insisted he go ahead and use trust instead even though I would have surely felt a bit of the sting of thoughts of ‘is he sneaking a convenient peek’ and while I’m glad I didn’t give him an opportunity because the question may have stayed with me throughout the morning, I feel as though my goal (is this your goal too CIC?) is to get to the place where I would have graciously gone ahead when he gestured and if he looked, oh well, he fell for it and I can leave it in God’s hands and not dwell on hurtful ‘what if’ thoughts that can pervade the mind.

    Now get what happened next!

    As we are exiting the church I purposely don’t rush out as I would normally do so he sees that I’m collected and in control. Why did I do this, because, without words, we both knew this was a test and neither of us made it obvious. (except when I told him to go ahead)

    As we walk out of the chapel into to the church that leads to the stairs towards the parking lot it was completely empty and then, guys I kid you not, she is directly behind us clicketing her heels and when my husband opened the car door I saw her in the rearview mirror in the car behind us!!!!! (While my husband walked around the car to go to the drivers side there is no way he could have missed not seeing her!) Unless she rushed ahead, there is no way she could have been so close to us because by the time we left and passed the church, it was empty! All of a sudden she’s right behind us? Creepy.

    April, please tell me what just happened. Because THAT, was eerie. Lol.

    As we sat in the car, my mind was trying to adjust to what just happened, how’d she get behind us so fast and how she happened to be right behind us in the parking lot.

    I believe in evil and I believe this was an evil plan to get me to destroy the peace at the start of our day because we are a union trying to be united in Christ in church. A threat.

    So what did I do? By the way, my husband was acting nonchalant in a genuine way so that made it easier, maybe he didn’t see her or if he did he wasn’t as affected (us wives are clued in to these details, like if they’re quiet or look uncomfortable…that wouldn’t have stopped me in the past anyway)

    But there was a funny named restaurant across the street and what did I do? I said the name out loud in a funny way as we were pulling out of the parking lot and he joined in and we had a good laugh.

    In my mind I truly said “You lost this one”, the moment I said it I felt a twinge of fear because I know the next one is on the way and it may be worse (she may be drop dead gorgeous…Lord please NO! lol) but at least for today, I kept the peace.

    It felt powerful. I felt graceful, like I kept my dignity April.

    April, I have to admit, because of the, what I feel , is the bitterness and lack of grace of how I feel I’m reciprocating with my mother in law. I kind of felt that that’s why this challenged happened. Because I’m not merciful towards her, this woman appeared to test me.

    Is that crazy? Is that the enemy’s thought. Is it biblical? I’m not forgiving (I think) so I don’t get granted mercies (?).

    I also thought that if that’s true than why did I have a small victory?

    Anyhow, does anyone else think that was crazy? I hope CIC reads this, I think she’ll appreciate it. I’m just glad because I feel that one of these days, if not today, my husband is going to think “She handled that well” but because he’s not my idol I’m more happy that our precious Lord would turn his eye towards my action of self-control and peace a grant the most lovely divine smile of approval and Love of His daughters action.

    1. SisterinChrist,

      Yes, there are tests, for sure. For us and for our husbands – for all of us, as believers in Christ. I’m so glad that you focused much more on Jesus and on staying calm. And I am glad that you were able to experience victory over this temptation in the power of God’s Spirit! WOOHOO! That is AWESOME!!!!!!

      Isn’t it wonderful to walk in God’s power, in grace, in godliness, and dignity? That is what I long for for all of us. 🙂

      There will always be tests and temptations – even Jesus was tempted, and He was perfect and sinless. The temptations aren’t necessarily because of sin in your life. But when we are cherishing sin in our lives in one area, it becomes more difficult to have victory over other temptations, sometimes, because we have grieved God’s Spirit.

      Keep hashing through the bitterness and forgiveness issues with your MIL. God will empower you to have victory over those things, too, my precious sister!

      I love that you are seeking God’s “most lovely divine smile of approval” – so beautiful!

      Much love to you! 🙂

      1. Thank you April, I think you had the wrong name but I do try to die to my sinful nature daily. Ephesians tells us to lay aside our old selves and put on the new self. This idea is all over the New Testament and is what heals my spirit.

        1. SisterinChrist,

          Oops! I’ll correct that. 🙂

          Such a powerful concept, that we are no longer slaves to sin and our old nature but that we can lay that aside because of what Jesus did for us, and we can live as new creations in Christ. He gives us a new Spirit, His Spirit! We are temples of God now. 🙂

          Much love!

  13. April, I did it again, I meant to post in the other blog. Ugh. I’ll post it there because I’d like CIC to read it. Sorry and thank you.

      1. April,

        Yes she is. She has tired to love the two girls but she is so jealous of his love for his daughters. She always talks about it. and she doesn’t know how to change her evil thoughts towards these kids and their moms even though she would love to change he evil thoughts haunt her. She does not treat them badly but in her heart she doesn’t love them. and they always talk about their mothers she hates it. I’ve really never met anyone who cared for their step kids as their own.

    1. Thank you April for sharing this favorite resource of mine , Focus on The Family. They’ve helped me tremendously in the past. I understand Shy’s friends predicament because I’ve asked God to give me compassion towards my MIL as the kindness I’ve shown her all these years was out of respect for my husband only. I know as I grow closer to Christ’s heart it will become more genuine.

      1. SisterinChrist,

        It’s great to hear from you! Yes, when we are sinned against – as Gary Thomas says – we are most tempted to sin. It is hard to love someone who is unkind or even hateful to us. That does not come naturally – not without the Holy Spirit. I know God will continue to transform your heart and I pray for her healing, too. She is living in a very miserable dungeon. But Jesus can set her free!

  14. So I’m on day 7 of asking the Lord to help me die to self. He’s shown me I’ve excused my sins toward my husband because I felt like I was justified. The Lord has helped me see that when I serve my husband, I’m serving the Lord. So I really can happily do those things. He has shown me that surrender/dying is actually a place of freedom/rest. Striving is out of the equation. I’ve made a list of my own sins as the Lord convicts me. I’m so grateful for His love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy. I’m more confident than ever that the Lord has my back and will take care of me ultimately. He meets my needs– not my husband or not myself. When I’m not looking out for myself, I have time/effort to meet needs around me.
    As a result, I feel like my hubby is actually following my lead….and looking out for me. He has listened to me from the heart and heard me! My kids are more peaceful because the tension in the air is gone.
    It’s only been a week.
    His word is powerful.
    I was stuck in a lie for so long thinking my hubby had to “die first” and I’d follow.
    Thankful!!

    1. DyingtoSElf,

      This is awesome!!!! WOOHOO! I think a lot of us as wives think we have to wait to grow spiritually until our husbands do. Not so!!!! I’m so glad that you were willing to go first and that you are seeing fruit already.

  15. NOTE:
    I do want to mention – this is something we each choose to do ourselves. It is not appropriate for me to demand that another believer needs to “die to self” to do what I want him/her to do. I can’t force others to obey God. I can set a godly example. I can ask for what I need and desire. I can share my insights and perspective. But I don’t get to control other people or dictate to them what they should do.

    My husband should be living wholeheartedly for Christ and leading and loving as Jesus did, laying down his life for me to portray the love of Christ. But it is not my place to say, “You need to die to yourself and do X, Y, and Z to lead me properly.” It is possible for me to try to manipulate my husband, or other believers, in this way, for my own selfish purposes.

  16. How do I die to self when it comes to feelings of resentment, that I try so hard to believe the best in my husband, I work to learn how to be a godly wife, I try to be quiet and meek and respectful – but at times he makes evil assumptions about me, accusing me of wrong intentions when my heart is pure (and expecting me to understand why my actions would cause him to have those thoughts – actions like trying to take better care of my health, or treating myself to a make-up splurge one time), or he goes to bars alone just to de-stress (I trust him, but I still don’t think that’s an appropriate thing for a married man to do alone), or he gets angry and yells at me, or curses, or is harsh with my daughter?

    I don’t want to be prideful, but sometimes I just feel so resentful and bitter that I try so hard to be better, and he doesn’t see any of his actions as wrong, he blames me and considers his responses justified.

    He is, more often than not, a wonderful man, who provides and loves and cares for us. He is a Christian, goes to church with us every week. I am just not used to the accusations and feeling like I have to walk on eggshells and having my motives questioned or assumed evil, and I’m not used to the yelling and the tension and the moodiness. I respond as quietly and calmly as possible, I always show him love and respect as best I know how, but inside I can’t help feeling bitter and resentful. How do I get rid of this?

    My relationship with Christ has grown exponentially. I am in the Word daily, studying, learning, reading Christian authors and teachers, listening to worship music, trying to keep my mind and heart focused on Christ. I don’t know if I am doing something wrong, or deceiving myself into believing I’m being obedient.

    I realize there are some factors here that might require additional outside help. I realize only God can open my husband’s eyes to show him any sin in him. But in the meantime, I need to know how to get rid of my bitterness and resentment.

    1. Victorious Wife,

      I think you are dealing with some extra difficult issues. If you have a husband who may not be thinking clearly and who may not always be totally in touch with reality – that is a very different thing. Someone who is reasonable can be reasoned with.

      I think it is helpful to remember that ultimately your goal has to be to live for an Audience of One. Seek to please God and do what is right in His eyes. Sometimes your husband may wrongly assume evil motives of you – that doesn’t mean you have necessarily done anything wrong.

      You can be a godly wife on your end and you can find freedom from bitterness even, on your end. But that doesn’t mean your husband will necessarily change or be the man he should be or that you want him to be. I don’t know his heart and mind. I’m not sure what all is going on with him mentally and spiritually right now. It is enough to make a wife feel like she is going crazy when she is constantly being falsely accused of evil and when there is such a double standard.

      Has http://www.leslievernick.com been much of a help? Are you seeing a godly counselor who understands the situation and can walk beside you and help support you? Or do you have some godly mentoring wives or godly women to pray with you?

      You don’t have to absorb anything that he says that is not of God. Have you seen the posts that I haven’t yet posted but that I shared with a wife last week about dealing with a really critical, harsh husband?

      It is possible that you are doing fine on your end and that your husband has the bulk of the issues – as I remember your situation pretty well. Do you feel like you are hearing God’s voice clearly and able to discern what is truth and what is not and what is reality and what is not when your husband makes these accusations?

      Is it possible he is very, very emotionally and/or spiritually sick?

      Have you ever read my description of dealing with people who are extremely spiritually wounded or sick?
      Much love to you!

  17. My husband can be reasonable much of the time…except when he is very angry. And yes, my whole heart and intent is to please God alone. But then I wonder, is it pleasing to God for me to buy make-up? Maybe I shouldn’t have done that (I mean expensive make-up, just as a one-time splurge; I realize God does want us to try and look our best for our husbands and make-up in general is not sinful). So maybe my husband was right to be upset about that? I don’t know.

    The Leslie Vernick site has been okay. I read her posts, but to be entirely honest, it seems like some of her advice borders a “self-empowerment” mindset rather than a humble, God-seeking, deny-yourself-and-take-up-your-cross mindset, does that make sense? I feel like I already can be too self-absorbed, so I don’t want to go further into that. I want to ensure that whatever approach I take, my goal is to love my husband the way God wants me to, and not necessarily seek just to make my life easier.

    I’m not seeing a godly counselor. I can’t afford one on my own, and my husband didn’t believe the last one we saw was any help so he is against paying to see one. I don’t really have any “real life” godly mentoring wives or women to pray for me. I’m on some online prayer lists, but that’s the extend of it.

    I don’t think I’ve seen the posts you mentioned, about dealing with a really critical, harsh husband.

    When my husband makes certain accusations, most of the time I can clearly distinguish truth from the lies that he is believing. Other times I fall into the trap of self-deprecation, I think I try to use that to manipulate my husband into feeling bad for making me feel so horrible. That is something I have GOT to stop, but in the heat of the moment, when my heart is torn to shreds, I succumb to it. Most of the time it doesn’t work, but it makes me feel better to know that I expressed how awful he makes me feel about myself.

    The times when I am able to remain calm, and peaceful, and detached from his behavior, are such SWEET times with the Lord for me! I can feel Him wrap His arms around me and hold me and the joy in those moments is indescribable! I wish I could understand why I am able to harness the Holy Spirit’s power in those moments but not in the others. I think a lot of it is because sometimes I truly am not sure if I messed up or not, inadvertently. I’ll wonder if maybe my behavior really was as stupid as I feel. Actually – the times when I can remain detached are the times when he outright accuses me of something I didn’t do, or when I KNOW I didn’t do anything wrong. The times when I succumb to self-deprecation are the times when I wonder if I really did mess up, or I know I messed up (like if I accepted a birthday party invitation without checking with him first). That’s when I get all depressed. And that’s when I get bitter, and angry, and just so mad that he can’t be patient with me the way I strive to be patient and understanding with him.

    I do believe he is either emotionally or spiritually sick, or perhaps both. I know he holds a LOT of resentment towards people in his past. He has admitted to holding some of their behavior against me at times and says he knows it’s wrong.

    I think he may be spiritually sick when he makes outrageous accusations. I think he may be emotionally sick when he gets angry about things like the make-up or when he blows up at my daughter.

    I have come such a long way, and our marriage has come such a long way. He is going to be living in a different state for about 7-8 months for work for a while, and I am just so scared that he is going to come up with paranoid accusations while he’s there and the distance is going to make it difficult, if not impossible, for him to see the truth and for us to reconcile. This is when I truly need to lean on God, and trust Him, knowing that HE can make my husband see truth, and HE can reconcile our differences, and HE can keep our marriage afloat. My efforts are futile, but He alone has the power. I just need to be patient as far as when He chooses to wield that power.

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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