The Dirty Garage Epiphany

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From a wife who has experienced great difficulties in her marriage and has continued to abide in Christ:

You know, I was cleaning out our garage today (part of me working on my own habits), and it taught me some lessons. One was on that question that always pops up…

“How do I respect my husband if he doesn’t deserve it?”

So my husband likes his stuff. He has boxes of stuff that he never touches and won’t part with. Much of it sits in our garage, but he is often aggravated by the messy state of our garage, as am I. God has been speaking to my heart about the appearance of my home and my physical appearance. That it would convey respect to my husband if I kept up with these things. And, we’d all be happier.

So I cleaned and organized and donated for 5 hours today. And in the end, the garage looked 100x better. But – a good 30-40% of the floor space is still covered with his stuff, stacked and arranged as it may now be. Old books, DVDs, exercise equipment, etc.

It’s not as good as it could be. And, it’s his stuff to clean up. Only he can do it.

And so goes respect. You can and should clean that up and keep it up the best you can. It’s 100x better than a disrespectful relationship. But. If he still has junk (sin) to get rid of, it will prevent both of you from enjoying the beauty and freedom of a truly working, effective environment. One that is in order–as it should be.

But I’d say the chances of him cleaning up his stuff now that I’ve cleaned the rest of the garage are much much greater! I mean, it’s not all scattered around and mixed in with all the other stuff. It’s a clean, neat garage with a big pile of stuff in the middle!

And that is just what happened to us as I tried to respect him. After about a year and a half, he really hit his bottom, and really was not able to blame anyone for his poor choices.

Respecting a man in sin is quite, quite difficult. Kind of like cleaning a garage around a big pile of junk you know will still be there for an indeterminate amount of time afterward.
But, I’m still so very glad I did it. The respect and the garage. 🙂 It was the right thing to do.

 

RELATED:

Why Do I Have to Change First?

My Husband Doesn’t Deserve My Respect! – VIDEO

My Level of Respect Has Nothing to Do with My Husband – it is about my character and God working in me

Godly Femininity

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“I’ll Show Him!” – Why Revenge Kills Relationships

Greg circa 1996
Greg circa 1996

ADMIN NOTE:

I appear to have the flu or something similar. My temperature was 103.1 yesterday. I will get to the comments when I am feeling up to it. 🙂

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Some wives decide that when nagging, attempts to control, criticizing, lecturing, demanding, negativity, disrespect, etc… don’t work – that it is time to resort to punishing their husbands in order for the wives to get their way about an issue. Some punishments I have seen wives use include:

  • withholding sex
  • withholding affection
  • withholding attention (cold shoulder treatment)
  • refusing to cooperate with anything their husbands want to do
  • poisoning the children against their dad
  • withholding all respect
  • withholding praise
  • withholding any encouragement or admiration
  • being very negative, harsh, critical, cold, hateful, and mean
  • doing something to try to hurt her husband and make him as miserable as possible

For a bigger list of examples of ways wives sometimes try to punish their husbands, and for a more detailed discussion about God’s instructions to us please see the post from earlier this week. (Of course, sometimes husbands resort to similar tactics that are equally destructive, as well.)

Proverbs 14:1

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands, the foolish one tears hers down.

I used to think, “I am hurting so much. I feel unloved. If only I can show Greg how much I hurt, then he will love me again!” Of course, he always did love me, he was just not responding the way I wanted him to. He was showing love in his own way, that I didn’t even see for a long time. He was also a man – not a woman – and I misunderstood him SO MUCH!!! I thought he would think, talk, and act just like me. He is very different from me. Turns out, that is a good thing!

I thought that Greg didn’t understand that I was hurting, so I needed to up the volume and emotional intensity. I didn’t realize he could best receive my message at a very low volume and low emotional intensity. All I have to do is say, “That hurts,” “Ouch,” “I am feeling lonely right now,” “I would love to spend some time with you,” “I wish we could have some time to talk/emotionally connect,” “what I heard when you said X was this…” I also had no idea that Greg always felt connected to me, and that words we shared had nothing to do with how bonded he thought we were. I had no idea that some people bond without words!

I thought, “If only he knew how much I am hurting and how unloved I feel, Greg would feel horrible and he would fix everything immediately, right?” I made him responsible for my happiness. The crazy thing is, I truly convinced myself somehow that if I lashed out at Greg, that he would suddenly be convicted, see my pain, see how unhappy I was, fall to his knees at my feet, beg for my mercy and forgiveness, and promise to do anything I wanted in order to make me happy.

I also thought that Greg was so strong that it was impossible for me to hurt him. He didn’t express and emote like I did, so I assumed that meant he was invincible. I was so very wrong! I wounded him deeply. He never said a word about it. He just shut down and pulled away. Then I labeled him as the bad guy who was being “unloving.”

What I expected to happen was a story line for a fictional Hallmark movie. My expectations  were NOT reality, my precious sisters! This is not how real men respond to their wives’ attempts to punish them or lash out at them.

Do we even realize that it would be a total  disaster for a husband to give a wife what she wants if she is using a destructive, sinful approach? If a husband gives in to poor behavior like this, he will help to create a selfish, prideful, hateful, manipulative, controlling, disrespectful monster. And even worse, his wife will lose respect for him if he allows her to mistreat him like this. Really, no wife would want her husband to use this approach on her, either. If we purposely try to hurt someone, that never builds intimacy.

If we sin in response to feeling unloved, all we can do is trigger a downward spiral in the marriage. All we can do is cause more damage and destruction. Sin always hurts others, God, and ourselves. Always. My sin will only widen the chasm between my husband and myself. Adding more wrong and pain never brings healing. Hatred and unforgiveness never bring love. Sin never brings peace, joy, and harmony. God is very clear about the results of sin – death. Sin will destroy our relationships and our lives.

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ON THE RECEIVING END OF THIS?

Think about a woman in your life who has been controlling, critical, bossy, and negative. Maybe it was your mom, your mother-in-law, your older sister, a coworker, your boss, a woman at church, or a neighbor. Think about a time that you did something this woman did not want you to do and she let you have it and tried to make your life miserable. Think about the negative comments, the glares, the hateful tone of voice, the gossip against you, the disdain, the contempt, the pride, the arrogance, the hatred, the bitterness, and the resentment you experienced from her every time you saw her. Maybe she even shunned you, unfriended you, and refused to speak to you in true Hatfield and McCoy style.

Maybe for months or years this is how things were and she was a constant source of friction, tension, aggravation, and pain in your life. Now think about how you felt about this woman after she treated you this way for awhile. Did you spend a lot of time thinking about all the ways you wanted to show your love for her? Did you spend hours every week trying to figure out how you could spend more time with her and get to know her heart better? Or did you dread hearing her name and dread seeing her phone number on the caller ID? Did her hatred draw you to her and create greater closeness, or did her hatred and attempts to punish you repel you and make you wish you never had to see her again?

If you caved in to this controlling woman’s demands and gave her what she wanted after this awful behavior, what kind of relationship would that be? And if you caved in to her and did things she wanted you to do, would you be doing them because you truly loved her, or just because you felt guilted and pressured? Is that real love? Is this real intimacy? Will she suddenly be kind to you for real for the rest of her life from that point on? No. You know all too well that it is just a matter of time before there is another thing she will want you to do that you don’t want to do – and the crazy cycle starts all over again – until you eventually decide you can’t take it anymore and break off contact with her, most likely. We put our husbands (and ourselves)  in a total no-win situation when we try to punish them or take revenge.

HATRED REPELS – LOVE AND HONOR ATTRACT

Now, think about a time when someone truly loved you even when you didn’t deserve it. Maybe you were a rebellious teenager, and yet, your parents continued to love you even when you screamed, “I HATE YOU!” to them. If you were mistreating your parents, but they continued to do the right thing and to extend, love, mercy, and grace to you, even as they sought to lovingly correct you, didn’t that eventually draw you to them? Of course, they may have had to set up some boundaries wtih you.

It is human nature that we feel repulsed by those who mistreat, abuse, sin against, and hate us. How could we ever think that our hatred and revenge would heal our relationships? It is also human nature that we feel drawn toward godly love, honor, genuine respect, acceptance, blessing, friendliness, real smiles, and pleasant people.

God is love. God is peace. God is the Lord of harmony, unity, reconciliation, beauty, love, and honor. When we love as He loves by His power, we don’t lose power. Thankfully, God’s Spirit can give us the power to respond with His love even in the face of sin, hatred, criticism, negativity, bitterness, and malice.  The only power we lose when we do things God’s way is the power to destroy ourselves, our husbands, and our marriages. But we gain the power of heaven to breathe healing, life, love, and hope into our lives, our marriages, and our husbands’ lives.

April around 1997
April around 1997ish

“Do I Have the Right to Punish My Husband?”

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First, let’s define “punish” so that we are all on the same page.

Merriam Webster defines “punish” as:

transitive verb
1
a : to impose a penalty on for a fault, offense, or violation
b : to inflict a penalty for the commission of (an offense) in retribution or retaliation
2
a : to deal with roughly or harshly
b : to inflict injury on : hurt

I think we can all agree that God does not give believers  the “right” to  “deal with roughly or harshly,” “to inflict injury on,” or to “hurt” someone else. The two greatest commandments in Matthew 22:37-40 are to love God with all our hearts and to love others the way God does.

Love does no harm to others (I Corinthians 13:4-8a, Romans 13:10).

What about imposing penalties? Do I have the right to impose or inflict penalties on my husband or to seek retaliation if I am hurt by him in some way?

WHO HAS AUTHORITY TO DISCIPLINE OR TO PUNISH OTHERS? (There is a discussion about the difference between discipline and punishment at the bottom of the post.)

According to God’s Word, God has the ultimate authority to punish or discipline people. God alone has the right to decide what is right and wrong. God decides what punishment a person, city, or nation deserves. God also delegates certain human authorities who have the authority to punish, discipline, and/or lead certain people according to His design for order. (For more detail on this, please check out Spiritual Authority.)

Note. For more about husbands’ responsibilities, please see the section at the bottom of the post (for some of you, this is a trigger, so please don’t read the very last section). For more about wives’ authority, please check out “A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage.” Wives do have authority to address their husbands’ sin, please see below. However, the farther a husband is from God, the less he can hear his wife’s words about spiritual things. If my husband is far from God, God’s command for me is I Peter 3:1-6.

“SHOULDN’T MY HUSBAND TRY TO MAKE ME HAPPY MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE?”

A husband’s primary responsibility is to honor, please, and obey God – that is every believer’s primary responsibility. A wife’s primary responsibility is also to honor, please, and obey God. Ideally, we can please God and please our spouses, but if we must choose, we must choose to please God. 

Most husbands truly want their wives to be happy whenever possible. Many husbands measure their success as men by their wives’ happiness. (This is not always an accurate measurement – by the way – of a man’s success. God is the only one who can accurately measure a man’s “success.”) A wife’s happiness can be wonderful when she is happy about godly things. But a wife’s happiness must NEVER come before a husband’s obedience to God, God’s will, the Spirit’s leadership, and His Word.

A wife (or any believer) who is walking in the power of God’s Spirit can and will have joy, peace, and a thankful heart no matter what her circumstances may be at the time.

“I KNOW GOD’S WILL BEST!”

Sometimes, we think we know what is best for us and we think if we had our way that everything would be great. We may think we have more wisdom than our husbands and more wisdom than God. Sometimes God will lead our husbands another way, give them wisdom we cannot see at the time, or prompt them in ways we don’t understand until later. I pray we will not attempt to insert ourselves between our husbands and God and attempt to derail our husbands from doing what they truly believe is best, right, and most honoring to Christ. We can do incalculable damage if we do this! And, please keep in mind, that God can and does lead believing wives through unbelieving husbands. God is sovereign. We can rest in that. 🙂

Human happiness does not come first. God MUST come first. Always. We are no longer seeking to please people, but to please God! (Galatians 1:10)

WHAT DOES GOD SAY WE SHOULD DO WHEN SOMEONE SINS AGAINST US?

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse… Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:14, 17-21

We, as followers of Christ, can trust God with vengeance and retribution for those who sin against us. Ultimately, all sin is against God. Revenge belongs to Him alone. And we must trust the government to act on God’s behalf to carry out punishment for criminals.

Verses about God taking vengeance

If I assign myself authority to judge someone, to take vengeance, and to execute punishment – I am putting myself in God’s place in a sinful, prideful way.

I DO NOT HAVE AUTHORITY FROM GOD TO PUNISH MY HUSBAND

God does NOT impart to me the right or authority to punish anyone – including my husband. As a believer, I am not the judge or executioner for anyone (unless that is my job with the government and I determine or administer punishment for criminals who have been convicted by a court of law – and even then, I would be disqualified from judging or punishing my own husband in our society, at least).

IF MY HUSBAND WON’T DO WHAT I WANT HIM TO DO

If my husband is not asking me to clearly sin or to condone sin, God commands me as a wife to honor my husband’s leadership, to respect him, and to biblically submit to his decisions – even if I disagree with him. This does not mean my husband is “always right.” It means I am submitting myself to God and obeying Him because I love, respect, and reverence Him and because He is worthy of my obedience.

My recourse is to take this issue to God in prayer. It is my responsibility to share my heart, my desires, my perspective, my needs, my wisdom, and my emotions with my husband respectfully. If he decides not to do what I think is best, and he is not asking me to clearly sin, I cooperate with his decision because I want to walk in obedience to the Lordship of Christ in my life.

God can change my husband’s heart if a change is necessary. God is sovereign, and He has the power to lead me through my husband in ways I cannot begin to imagine. Will I hold my will loosely and seek God’s will above my own? Will I trust God? Will I submit to Him as LORD? Am I willing to die to myself?

I AM NOT QUALIFIED TO JUDGE MY HUSBAND’S GODLINESS

If my husband doesn’t do what I want him to do right now, I may be tempted to think “he is ungodly,” “he needs to change,” or “he is unloving.” I can sometimes see fruit in his life accurately – but I am not God and I am not privy to all of my husband’s motivations or to God’s view of my husband’s heart. I may be tempted to think I am the only one who can rightly interpret Scripture and that I know so much better what God’s will is than my husband does. How I must guard against such pride and self-righteousness! I may not be able to judge properly. Only God can truly know and accurately judge my husband’s heart and His will in a given situation – unless something is clearly explained in God’s Word. If I want something that goes against God’s Word, I do not have to wonder if that thing is God’s will. It is not.

I used to judge and condemn my husband constantly. 🙁 I know now that I was very wrong so many times. May we not judge our husband’s “godliness” by measuring whether our husbands will submit to us or do what we want them to do. Let us allow our husbands the freedom to seek to do what God calls them to do and let us place our happiness and our will on the altar before Christ. This is what it means to die to self and to take up our cross daily and follow Christ.

CHECKING MY MOTIVES

If I am doing something with the purpose of:

  • hating my husband
  • desiring to hurt my husband and cause him pain – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually
  • desiring to punish my husband or take revenge
  • acting out of unforgiveness, bitterness, or resentment
  • holding a grudge
  • being jealous
  • turning others against my husband
  • causing division, contention, arguments, strife, and factions in my home, marriage, or family

… I have major sin in my heart. These are the fruit of the flesh God describes in Galatians 5:18-21.

WHAT A WIFE MAY DO IF HER HUSBAND IS SINNING AGAINST HER (A husband would have the right to do these things, as well, if his wife is sinning against him.)

A wife attempting to punish her husband is very different from a wife handling her husband’s sin according to God’s Word in such a way that her motives, words, and actions honor Christ, honor her husband, honor her marriage, honor her children, and honor herself:

1. A wife may respectfully ask her husband not to sin against her. (Matthew 7:1-5, Matthew 18:15-17)

2. A wife may confront her husband humbly, gently, respectfully, and firmly about his sin with godly, loving motives, desiring to see him restored to fellowship with God and with herself (a husband may do this, as well).  (Matthew 18:15-17) She may need to involve church leaders if he doesn’t respond to her approaching him privately about her concerns first.

3. A wife may need to remove herself from a dangerous, blatantly sinful, truly abusive situation or a wife may need to remove herself from a situation where a husband is an active drug/alcohol/sex addict or is involved in unrepentant infidelity. (Matthew 18:15-17, I Corinthians 7, “Do I Condone Marital Rape and Abuse?“)

RELATED:

“I’ll Show Him!” Why Revenge Kills Relationships

What Does It Mean to Be an Ungodly Woman?

Godly Femininity

When My Spouse Is Wrong

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

Are We Responsible for Our Spouse’s Happiness?

Why Should I Have to Submit to My Husband in the Little Things?

If your husband is asking you to sin, please check out Spiritual Authority.

Greg and I don’t find Scriptural justification for a husband to punish his wife physically. We do not ever condone “domestic discipline.” In our view, it is warped, abusive, and unbiblical.

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Extras…

PUNISHMENT IS DIFFERENT FROM DISCIPLINE:

www.biblestudytools.com defines “discipline” in detail here and how this concept is used in Scripture in the Old and New Testaments

Let’s talk about discipline from a biblical standpoint because God does chastise and discipline those who belong to Him. He also punishes sin and sinners.

God punishes sinners –

His motives are to execute holy, fair, perfect, and righteous justice. He is the Judge. God is love, but God is also completely just. He will not tolerate sin. He does not make excuses for sin. He does not ignore sin. All sin offends God and is primarily against God. As Creator, God, and Judge He has the authority to correctly and rightly judge each person against His Laws and His standards and He alone has the right to execute punishment against sin.

And the Lord God commanded the man (Adam), “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:16-17

The wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23a)

This death that we eventually earn with our sin (our wrong doing) is both physical (we are separated from our body) and spiritual (we are separated from God now and after this life in hell).

Thankfully, Jesus suffered the punishment that we deserved for our sins. Jesus took God’s punishment for our sins on Himself. If we receive the gift of His death in our place and we give our lives to Him to be our Savior and also our LORD (the One in charge of our lives from this point on), we do not face or experience God’s punishment for our sins. (We may still experience earthly consequences or discipline, but not punishment.) THIS IS GOOD NEWS!

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

God disciplines His children –

His motives are His incredible love for that child and the child’s greatest good. God makes a distinction between those people who belong to Him and those who do not. As a parent, I have the responsibility to discipline my children, but not to discipline someone else’s children. God disciplines us to help us mature in our faith (Hebrews 12, James 1, I Peter). Just like a loving father disciplines his children and does not allow them to destroy themselves with poor choices, God disciplines us. Discipline is about God training and teaching us His righteousness and holiness. Discipline is about correcting our mindset, our motives, and our behavior. It is about sparing us from death and disaster. God’s discipline of us is designed for our ultimate good and God’s ultimate glory. His Spirit has the power to convict us of sin, to bring us to genuine repentance, and to give us victory over sin.

Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death. Proverbs 19:18

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SOME WAYS WIVES MAY ATTEMPT TO PUNISH THEIR HUSBANDS TO TRY TO HURT THEM IN SOME WAY

  • withholding sex
  • shaming them on Facebook
  • telling other people things that their husbands desire to be kept private
  • withholding affection
  • refusing to cook
  • thinking, “I’ll show him!” or “I’ll teach him not to mess with me!”
  • refusing to clean
  • refusing to work
  • complaining
  • arguing and being contentious
  • purposely making a mess for him to clean up
  • spending more money than the couple can afford to spend, willfully driving her husband into deeper debt
  • humiliating him in front of other people
  • attempting to turn other people against their husbands (in the family, the extended family, at church, at work, in the neighborhood, etc…)
  • refusing to take care of the children
  • refusing to eat together
  • refusing to talk
  • refusing to cooperate with their husbands’ God-given leadership when their husbands are clearly NOT asking their wives to sin or to condone sin
  • disrespecting their husbands
  • trying to control their husbands
  • attempting to get their husbands fired
  • yelling, screaming, cussing
  • violence (throwing things, hitting, pushing, slapping, etc…)
  • threatening divorce
  • leaving (with the purpose of causing pain)
  • throwing all of his belongings out the window or putting them by the road
  • having an affair in retaliation

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  • I cannot love God and hate my husband.

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 1 John 4:20-21

  • I cannot cling to a desire to hurt my husband and obey God’s greatest commandments.

Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

  • I cannot cherish unforgiveness in my heart and follow and love Jesus and be forgiven by God.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:12-15

  • I am not my husband’s judge or executioner.

You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister ? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:“ ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ ” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. Romans 14:10-13

As the head of the home and marriage, a husband (for more, please see “Spiritual Authority“):

– may give directives as long as he is not asking his wife to condone sin or participate in sin (“Please do this/Please do not do that…”)

– may give consequences within limits of Scripture (i.e.: “because you cannot control your spending, I don’t want you to use your credit cards anymore”)

– has the final say in decisions (I know that you really want to do X. I have taken your feelings, desires, and needs into account. But I believe that it would be most honoring to God for us to do Y right now.”).

– may lovingly correct, confront, or rebuke his wife if he sees sin in her life – as believers, we do this for each other humbly, graciously, gently, respectfully and only after we examine our own hearts for sin first – Matthew 7:1-5. (I am concerned that there may be some bitterness in your heart toward your mom. Let’s talk about what’s going on, Honey. Bitterness is so toxic, I don’t want to see you consumed by that poison.)

– has the responsibility to love his wife as Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for her – this does not mean a husband must love a wife in the way she wants to be loved or that a wife must always “feel loved” the way she wants to feel, but that the husband seeks to truly love his wife the way Jesus loves His people by the power of God’s Spirit (I Corinthians 13:4-8a).

Screaming on the Inside

From a precious sister in Christ, Terrie:
This picture was in my newsfeed this morning, intended as humor, but it struck a chord with me. Maybe it strikes a chord with you, too. As believers, we are expected to react to the tragedies and trials in our lives according to the Word of our God, and of course, that’s exactly what we should be doing.
Sometimes, though, it’s not that easy, is it? Sometimes, those Living Words can feel just like typed words on paper. Sometimes, our spirit does not absorb what our eyes are reading, and what our mind already knows. Sometimes, we are too ashamed to admit to those closest to us in our faith walk that we are stumbling on two broken ankles. We may even find ourselves beginning to just go through the motions, so no one knows how frail our faith has become. We are smiling and praising on the outside, but inwardly, we are screaming.
I know, because recently, it happened to me…
Just before my ninth year of walking on the narrow path, “The Event” happened in my life that knocked me so far back, I began to wonder if I had ever been on the path at all, or if I had just been deceiving myself. I turned to my wiser sisters, who encouraged me, prayed for me, and directed me to the Scriptures that held the answers to my dilemma. At that time, I couldn’t find the words to tell them how disconnected I felt, no matter how much encouragement was coming my way.  I spent almost two months saying “HalleluYah!” and “Amein!” to my brethren, using only my mouth, and dying inside a little more each day.  I was smiling, but still screaming on the inside.
  • I backed into a dark corner, where my enemy and my pride wallowed together in a pity party, each feeding the other, while my spirit was starving. It got harder and harder to smile through the internal screaming, and so I gave in to the isolation instead….
I was ready to chuck everything, from my Bible to my marriage, right in the river. But I have come through the fiery furnace, most of the way, at least, and am already beginning to give thanks for this core-shaking event.

Day after day, I awoke to a feeling of desperation and to the wetness of tears rolling down my face. “The Event” was my first conscience thought in the morning. Even in my despair, I knew that my God was the answer, and I cried out to Him often, even if the only words I could form were “I need You!”.  I hung Scriptures all over my house, and spoke them aloud often. For a while, I would feel the strength and peace to get the day started. Without fail, though, “The Event” would seep past the guard on my thoughts, and I’d find myself weeping again. Or fearing. Or playing the “what if” game. Little by little, shame would creep up on me.

  • I was ashamed that my faith was shaken.
  • I was ashamed that even though “The Event” happened to me, my reaction to it was every bit as sinful as “The Event” had been toward me.
It was not unlike being caught in a whirlwind. I was spinning out of control, and more scared than I have ever been in my life. My days ended much like they’d started, with tears on my face, wrong thoughts in my head, and my enemy laughing…
I knew that my Father hadn’t let go of me, but was unsure of exactly what was happening. And so, I cried out some more. Finally, in a fit of tears, I told God everything I was feeling. I even confessed my anger toward Him for allowing “The Event” to happen to His own daughter! He patiently waited for my tantrum to be over, and whispered one Word into my spirit…Pride. I understood then that in order to give “The Event” to Him to work for my good, I had to let go of it. Pride kept it clutched in my hands…
  • ~Pride is the most common crack in our armor, a place for our enemy to take a foothold (See Eve’s story). Whether his foothold becomes a stronghold or not is up to us!~
With this new understanding came the beginning of my journey back to the Narrow Path. I began to see how “The Event” could be used by both my Father and my enemy.
  • My Father could use  it for me to bear fruit in the future. That is HIS will for my life.
  • My enemy (who is really YHWH’s enemy) could use it to tarnish my testimony. That is his will for my life.

The choice as to what role “The Event” will ultimately play in my life, which is truly a choice between life and death, is mine to make…

Like I did nine years ago, I will choose life. Every day. This time, with a plan to combat the wiles of my enemy and those of my second enemy, my own pride…
  • I will choose the Narrow Path, which is lit by the Word of my God.
  • I will forgive freely, as I have been forgiven.
  • I will think on the things that are praise-worthy.
  • I will repair my armor by keeping my pride in check. No stronghold can be taken without first having a place to take a foothold.
  • I will remember that when I pray for “Whatever it Takes” sometimes whatever it takes will hurt.
  • I’m going to let any hurt propel me closer to my Father, who will reveal what the hurt can teach me about Him.
This time, if  I start to hear the screaming on the inside, I will seek wise counsel in honesty, and be accountable for my own faith. I will not be backed into a corner, alone, ever again!
Has this new knowledge instantly changed my every emotion connected to “The Event”? Oh, if it were only that easy, who would need a Savior? This new knowledge has, however, instantly changed how I will REACT to those emotions. YHWH’s way, or the enemy’s and my own ways?
I share this private “Event” from my own life because I see so many prayers requests on a regular basis. Reading between the lines, I see that many of you have had “An Event” in your own faith walk that has shaken you, too. Oh, it may be different than mine, but the side-effects on you and the pressure on your faith has been the same. I share because I know how hard it is to admit that we’re sliding down a slippery slope, and that we can’t see how Abba could bring good from “The Event”. That would be to admit that we don’t trust Him!
I beseech you, friends, if you are screaming on the inside
  • RUN to the throne…Yell, kick, cry, shake those fists if you have to, He already knows what you’re feeling!
  • When you’re spent, ask Him to change you, through and through. He is so faithful!
  • Next, connect with a believer or two whom you trust, and be brutally honest with them. Ask them for support in prayer and to hold you accountable as you wander through the briars on your way back to the Narrow Path. Stay connected!
Every day, life and death are set before us. Making the choice is an action, not a feeling. The “Events” and our reactions to them are  going to show us where we are truly standing, on the Solid Rock, or in Sinking Sand…
FOLLOW UP POST:

“What On Earth Do I Do Now???”

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Sometimes we encounter problems in marriage.  That is inevitable.  At times:

  • We will be sinned against
  • We will be hurt
  • We will feel unloved
  • We will feel lonely
  • We will feel overwhelmed
  • We will face DIFFICULT circumstances
  • We will feel misunderstood
  • We will be exhausted, sleep-deprived, physically/emotionally/spiritually drained
  • Things will seem impossible to fix
  • It will be tempting to view our husband as the enemy
  • He will be wrong
  • We will make mistakes
  • We will sin
  • Our husbands will mess up
  • We will have bad days, so will our husbands

***  If you have VERY serious problems in your marriage, please seek godly help ASAP!  If there are mental disorders, addictions, infidelity, physical abuse, extreme control and mind games going on in your marriage – PLEASE, PLEASE talk to a trusted pastor or Christian counselor or find appropriate help.  These things go beyond the scope of my blog.

In these moments, how incredibly important it is for us to abide in Christ, to feast on His Word, to be willing to die to self, to extend grace, mercy and forgiveness and to be super sensitive to what God’s Spirit is speaking to us.  

 

These times can be times of tremendous spiritual growth and opportunities for us to see God do HUGE things in our lives.  They are also times of testing  – where God refines our faith and reveals our true character so that we might allow Him to change us and make us more and more like Jesus.

How I pray that we will remember to keep Christ the center and focus of everything we think, say and do.  I pray we will remember that this is ALL about Him.  I pray we will respond to our husbands in His power and strength alone.  I pray we will seek to please Christ alone.  I pray we will find our contentment in Christ alone.  I pray we will do what He commands us to do and prompts us to do because HE IS WORTHY of our obedience, worship, praise, reverence and devotion.  And I pray we will remember that Jesus counts the way we talk to and treat our husbands as if we were doing those things to and for Him.  May we be able to look past our husbands’ shoulders and see Jesus standing there in all His glory – face shining brighter than the sun, eyes blazing with love for us, arms wide open to us, feet ready to help us and the power of heaven ready to move mountains and do miracles as we trust in Him completely.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit may inspire us to:

  • Stay quiet and wait
  • Bless and  not curse
  • Acknowledge when our husbands have a hard day, too – and empathize with them
  • Just stop what we are doing and really listen to them
  • Spend a LOT of time in fervent prayer, maybe even with fasting, seeking God’s will and His glory in our life and our husbands’ lives and God’s protection, provision and wisdom for our husbands and our marriages
  • Focus on meeting their needs for respect
  • Just sit beside them and cuddle with them quietly – if they would appreciate that
  • Pray about how we could honor their leadership in this difficult time
  • Think about how we could use our words to give life and build up and encourage our men and show our faith in them
  • Gently, respectfully, calmly, humbly bring up our husbands’ sin to him when the timing is right – only after a careful and thorough search of our own sin and sincere, godly sorrow and repentance of our own sin first (Matthew 7:1-5).  If we do this, it must be in a spirit of teamwork, humility and without anger, self-righteousness or pride – sincerely desiring the best for our husbands.
  • Overlook an insult
  • Say, “I WANT to be able to trust you.  What has happened has forced me not to be able to trust you right now.  But I want to be able to trust you again. This is what I need in order to be able to rebuild trust… X, Y and Z.”
  • Apologize for something we have done that wounded our husbands (without explaining or justifying our behavior)
  • Repay evil with good
  • Seek to bless our husbands and only do them good all the days of our lives
  • Respond to sin against us without sinning in return
  • Ask for a separation in very serious situations with the goal of reconciliation and seeking God
  • Say, “It deeply wounds me when you look at porn.  I feel betrayed and violated.  Please don’t use it anymore.  How can we fight this thing together?  I’m on your team.  Tell me how I can help.  I will do whatever I can to support you so that we can overcome this.”
  • Say calmly, “I am feeling really overwhelmed.  I can’t do all of this.”
  • Say softly, “I have a problem, would you please help me?”
  • Realize that our husbands are far from God and that only a I Peter 3:1-6 approach will be effective, so, for now, no talking about spiritual things, church, the Bible, etc… but just being empowered by God’s Spirit to live out a life of respect, honor, grace, mercy and love to partner with God to draw our husbands to God and make it easier for them to hear His voice
  • Realize that we are hormonal and can’t trust our feelings and say, “Honey, maybe I am hormonal right now?  I choose to trust you more than my emotions.  If you think everything is ok between us, I believe you and I choose to rest in that and trust that I will feel better in a few days.”
  • Prayerfully involve a trusted godly male mentor or pastor when our husbands have serious, unrepentant sin and do not respond to us.  (Use caution in this.  I would reserve this approach only for very serious situations.)
  • Realize that we are exhausted or have low blood sugar or need some time with God and go take care of ourselves so that we have reserves to be able to give of ourselves to our families.
  • Lovingly, respectfully, gently come alongside our husbands and express concern for an addiction they have that is destroying them, letting them know we are on their team, that we want what is best for them, that we can’t sit by and allow them to continue on this path, that we want to look for help together.
  • Lovingly, humbly, respectfully refuse to enable an addiction and contact Al-Anon or the Salvation Army or Celebrate Recovery for help!
  • Say, “This is not ok” “please don’t do this” or maybe, “You are a better man than this.  I know you are” if our husband sins against us
  • Recognize that our husbands are grumpy sometimes if they are sexually frustrated and carve out time to give our men the attention they need.
  • Share our emotions calmly, briefly without blame.
  • Say what we want and desire in an unemotional, friendly, pleasant, concise way without manipulation, guilt or strings.
  • Really listen to our husbands and be willing to accept constructive criticism graciously and to prayerfully consider what our husbands bring to our attention
  • To say “That really hurt me.”
  • To softly say, “Please don’t yell at me.”
  • To say, “I want so much to trust you and to feel safe with you, but right now, I don’t feel safe.”
  • Calmly, briefly say what we need when our needs are not being met – but then not pressure our husbands about doing what we want, but leave them room and be gracious
  • Respond to our husbands with humor to lighten the heavy mood
  • Put our hands on our husbands and pray for them (silently if they are far from God, but maybe out loud if they are receptive to that)
  • Focus on the good things in our husbands.
  • Focus on the things God wants to change in us and allow God to work in our husbands, realizing we are NOT the Holy Spirit
  • Say, “I always want to honor and respect your leadership.  What you are asking me to do is a very clear violation of God’s Word.  I can’t do this.  Please don’t ask me to do this.” (Going against our husbands’ God-given authority is a VERY SERIOUS thing that I do not take lightly at all.  We will be held accountable for our biblical submission and respect for our husbands as leaders.  For me, it would have to be something extremely blatant for me to refuse to follow my husband – murder, being an accomplice to a crime,  immorality, adultery, idolatry, stealing, abortion, joining a cult, etc…  Greg and I believe a husband’s authority (or any God-given human authority) is not absolute, that God’s authority and the authority of God’s Word is absolute and trumps a husband’s authority.  We would also have to refuse if the government told us we had to renounce Jesus or worship an idol or if our boss told us to cover up her embezzling company money.  We must obey God rather than men!  No one answers to me for going against your husband’s authority.  We all answer to God.  I am not an authority on deciding when it would be appropriate to resist your husband.  This would require great sensitivity to God’s Spirit and possibly godly counsel.  Please be extremely careful and be VERY, VERY sure you are honoring God and acting in a spirit of respect toward your husband, not acting in a rebellious spirit or out of pride or contempt if you decide to not submit to something your husband asks you to do.  That should hopefully be an extremely rare occurrence and only to be able to obey God’s Word.  I am not saying that with every little disagreement about disputable matters we can just do what we want and ignore our husbands’ leadership.  If it is a minor thing in scripture, if there are a variety of ways to interpret something, let’s honor our husband’s approach.  If it is a matter of thinking we know God’s will and our husbands don’t, let’s say what we want and pray for God’s will and trust God to lead us through our husbands.  Most things do NOT fall in this category – only very serious sin against God, in my view, would be a valid reason for me to respectfully refuse to do what my husband asked me to do. I hope to have a much more detailed post about this in the coming months.  Such an important topic!)

Or, God’s Spirit may direct you to do something not even on this list.  I don’t know what God may desire you to do in a particular situation.

What is most important is that we are so close to God and so filled with His Spirit that we clearly hear and willingly obey His voice and God’s Word and that we are seeking His glory above all else every moment – no matter what the personal cost to ourselves.

Much love to each of  you!

For wives in very difficult marriages, please check out Nina Roesner’s eCourse Becoming a Woman of Strength and Dignity.