Am I His Prosecuting Attorney?

Me in 2003 – 5 years before the Lord opened my eyes

MY OLD WAYS

Ugh. This describes me for so long in our marriage. I would often decide we had an issue. I would think nonstop about it all day – determining all the questions I would ask Greg so I could verbally nail him to the wall. I was completely sure I knew all kinds of evil motives he must have had toward me. I spent hours carefully gathering my evidence against him so I  could prove to him how wrong he was with all of my strong arguments.

When he would get home – there was no happy welcome or smile from me on those days. I lit right into him. I was in “prosecuting attorney mode”  – determined to get him to admit how wrong he was and how right I was about any and every little issue as I cross-examined him under a microscope. That was all that mattered to me at the time – being right. I had no idea what I was doing to Greg or our relationship.

Of course, if he dared to address an issue in my life, even the smallest thing, I would all-out viciously verbally attack him. I was the only one allowed to do the questioning. I was the only one allowed to confront. Not him. I could disagree with him. But he best not disagree with me or he would suffer my wrath.

I was dumbfounded that I would ask all of my carefully crafted questions and he refused to say anything. Oh, that made me so mad! Fighting mad. I escalated my volume and vitriol when that happened, thinking he would surely answer me if I increased the intensity of my attack. I would make him answer! I thought he didn’t say anything because he knew I was right and he had no ability to defend himself against my superior reasoning abilities and character. I thought he was quiet because he was guilty of all of my accusations against him.

Many years later, after God opened my eyes to all of the sin to which I had been so blind for over 14 years in our marriage – I was able to finally see. Almost nothing about my husband matched up with what I had wrongly assumed for so many years.

Greg didn’t answer me because I put him in a no-win situation.

I had misunderstood his heart, thoughts, words, and actions completely. I was determined that I knew the truth and was right and that he was wrong. That was the only paradigm I would accept all of those years. And how could he even have started trying to explain anything – even if he wanted to – when my vision of him was so distorted?

It turns out, I didn’t know his heart at all. I didn’t know his motives. I was completely in another book – not just on another page.

What I thought was true all that time – really wasn’t. I had deceived myself. I was emotionally and spiritually completely exhausting to be around. I was verbally abusive. I didn’t call him names, generally. And I never cussed at all. I just took many verbal shots at him to undermine him, to label him, to condemn him, to blame him, to attack him, to show him how everything was his fault, etc… Then I resented him for being emotionally unavailable to me. He should love me more!

God! You need to change this man and change him RIGHT NOW! He is hurting me by not loving me the way I want him to. How could he be so cruel to me to unplug from me like this?

I don’t know if I could have understood back then if Greg did try to explain even if I had been willing to try to listen. I had no idea how different Greg’s perspective and mindset was. Usually, if he started saying something, I cut him off. I was convinced I completely understood the situation without ever hearing his side of things. I thought I already knew what he was thinking and what he would say. How I wish I had stopped attacking him and tried to listen.

To answer before listening– that is folly and shame. Prov. 18:13

GREG’S DILEMMA

So his choices at the time were:

  1. Try to explain himself, knowing I would refute anything he said that didn’t match my pre-conceived (and extremely inaccurate) notions.
  2. Fight me verbally.
  3. Say nothing to defend himself and just let me rant on by myself and continue thinking and assuming the absolute worst lies about him.

He knew it was futile to explain himself to me. He didn’t want to fight me. So he often chose #3 – which seemed like the lesser of all of the evils. He withdrew from me. He shut down. He became a shell of the man he was when we got married.

Turns out – husbands don’t really like to feel like they are coming home to a verbal firing squad or to an interrogation. Really, no remotely emotionally healthy person enjoys that. No one revels in the stress of feeling like a criminal defendant who is being cross-examined by a prosecuting attorney who has already judged him/her to be guilty. Most husbands want to have peace, harmony, joy, and contentment at home. They want to feel safe with their wives emotionally. Isn’t that honestly what we all want in our relationships?

WHOSE INSTRUMENT AM I?

How might we come across as if we are cross-examining a witness at a trial?

It is often our tone, our facial expressions, our emotional intensity, and our constant barrage of pointed, accusing questions.

It is extremely hurtful and frustrating to be utterly misunderstood, vilified, falsely accused, and wrongly condemned by someone who doesn’t actually know your heart and who isn’t even interested in trying to understand the truth or in trying to heal the relationship.

Ultimately, we long most for our husbands to share their hearts with us, to emotionally connect with us, to cherish us, love us, and adore us. So – let me just mention, my precious sisters – this “prosecutor” approach repels our men (and anyone else). It causes them to shut down their hearts to us. It does not make them want to open up to us and be vulnerable. They know they are not safe with us when we act like this because they are not safe.

It was sobering for me to realize that I was not acting in the power of God’s Spirit when I acted like a prosecuting attorney, like an accuser. In fact, I was acting like Satan and cooperating with him. “The accuser of the brethren.” I had actually allowed the devil to get a huge stronghold in my life. I didn’t realize it. I was blind to my sin back then.

I unwittingly invited him to set up a base camp in my heart and mind by holding on to pride, resentment, unforgiveness, etc… And I gave him free access to my thoughts, heart, mind, mouth, and body. I thought I was living for Jesus. My words often said I was. But the Holy Spirit was not in control. The fruit of my life was the fruit of the flesh not the fruit of the Spirit. I had allowed myself and my mouth to be an instrument in the hands of the devil to try to destroy my husband.

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own
hands the foolish one tears hers down. Prov. 14:1

How I NEVER want to go back to that awful place again! I had a lot of repenting to do – to the Lord, to Greg, and to other people in my life, too.

 

Thankfully, there is so much hope for all of us in Jesus! We don’t have to stay in this awful toxic place where we destroy ourselves and our husbands and other people. Jesus can set us free from this snare. We can turn away from our sin and turn to Him to let Him cleanse and heal us by His work on our behalf on the cross! The Lord graciously healed me, and in time, He eventually also healed Greg and our marriage. How can I ever thank Him enough?

That same healing is available to you. You can have peace with God and you can live in peace, as far as it depends on you, in your relationships with people. The key is to know the Prince of Peace and to allow Him to be the Lord and Savior of your life. He has to power to change us as we yield to Him in faith, trust, humility, and obedience.

I have so many posts that may be a blessing to you if you find yourself in this place where I was years ago. If you are ready to stop cooperating with Satan’s plans to steal, kill, and destroy in your marriage and you are ready to cooperate with God’s good plans for your life and marriage, check out some of these resources. He can set you free from Satan’s prison just like He set me free almost 9 years ago.

RELATED VERSES:

A constant dripping on a day of steady rain and a contentious woman are alike; he who would restrain her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand. Prov. 27:15-16

Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife. Prov. 21:19

 

NOTE – This post is not designed for women who are truly in danger with abusive husbands.

RESOURCES:

How to Have a Saving Relationship with Christ

Posts about husbands being our idols – being enmeshed with them, expecting them to meet our deepest spiritual needs that only Jesus can really meet.

Posts about being enmeshed

Posts about being a controlling wife

A Fellow Wife’s posts

23 Signs Your Husband Is Beginning to Trust You Again

Posts about fear – which is often the real motive behind my control

Posts about bitterness

Healthy VS Unhealthy Relationships

25 Ways to Be a Safe Place for Your Husband Emotionally

What Is Disrespectful to Husbands?

What Is Respect in Marriage?

How to Stay Filled with the Holy Spirit

If you have a very difficult husband, please check out Nina Roesner’s Strength and Dignity eCourse, or seek one-on-one private counseling with a trusted, godly counselor.

 

The Painting "Test"

 

 

blue-strokes-1164640-640x480

 

 

A guest post from a reader – I so appreciate her allowing me to share her story:

I just want to encourage everyone here on this journey to stick with it.  I started on this whole journey about three years ago and I recognize all these feelings and the days of hard-heartedness and times of being in a black cloud.

God is not after your exterior, or your acting respectful by following rules of behavior (although it is a good place to begin to learn self-control), He is after total transformation and that takes more time than we imagine it could.

After a few years of this I FINALLY am beginning to experience freedom from the bitterness and cynicism that I had allowed to dominate me. I have read all the posts on this blog many, many times! I LOVE how I was nurtured and mentored here through such loving and patient wisdom. I had to learn how to give my heart to Christ first and examine myself first and extend Jesus’ love without expecting return.

One story sticks out for me when I knew I had turned the corner:

painting-a-wall-1142076-639x425This was just over the Christmas holiday a few months ago. My husband had painted our walls three years ago but I came home and noticed that spots were thin, showing the old color through, and the trim was messy, including color on the corners of the white ceiling. For these two years I have had the “ugh” factor when I look at my walls, it interrupted my enjoyment of my home, I stopped having friends over, etc etc. I demanded. I pointed out the flaws. I asked politely. I stayed quiet for long periods of time hoping he would get around to fixing it, but of course he felt criticized by my pointing out the flaws and never did it.

Well, this Christmas I was going to have time off and I asked him to get out all the paints for me and the ladder. I painted all the trim and fixed the thin spots over about three days – morning till night.

The amazing thing was that the whole thing became a prayer.

I was motivated to do it from love, because my prayers had led me to release my resentment and think about my husband as a little boy being criticized by his mother. I had gone through my own process of repentance and I was so clear-headed and light-hearted that it was easy to start the work.

While I painted, I noticed that different times of day made the light change and it was really hard to tell whether I had really painted enough layers over the old color. It kept changing. My husband had painted while he was in his busy season of work before (while I was out of town for six weeks). I realized that it was not so easy to see what you had done while you were painting. I forgave him more deeply. While I worked I had fun! I sang, carefully moved the ladder, kept a good spirit, because my work had become a prayer of healing for my family.

 

brush-2-1564428-639x449When I worked on the trim, I realized that it was the perfect thing for me to do and that my husband was the type of person who was not cut out for the detail work. But I was so thankful that I didn’t have to do the big strokes of the whole wall, which would have exhausted me totally. So God showed me we were a perfect team — man to do the big muscle work and woman to fill in details and make the whole thing more pretty.

I allowed myself to receive my husband’s gifts even if they weren’t my fantasy picture — to see what was in his heart.

He was pretty defensive the whole time expecting me to fall into resentment and complaining, but God kept my heart lifted up as He showed me so many ways I had to look at myself and repent. This was a test and I was thankful for it, because it showed me that I had actually found transformation. I wasn’t just boiling inside and keeping my mouth shut. I was joyful and thankful that my husband had done what he could and that I could step in and help (even though it took a very long while). I was so thankful to be working on our home together (which I always wanted) but in this different way (him first then me following). I have always had an idolatrous fantasy of us working side by side on our home, but he needed space for his work and I for mine.

I felt we were working together as one, though, more than any other time in our marriage except for the births of our children.

I was so happy to share this with my husband and I could tell it was a milestone for him, too. Since that time he has been so much more open and calm, we have been able to talk more freely without falling into old patterns. We are still working on it all, but there was some kind of a shift. The shift happened in my heart, and its fruit was my being able to paint and learn more amazing things God showed me. The shift came first. During these other years it definitely started as me learning to be quiet, say things in different ways, etc,etc, but now I see with new eyes, which is a gift of that outside-in time I had to go through first.

I would never have known how this felt unless I had a guide, a Titus woman I could trust. Thank you April for what you do here. Christ is saving families through you. Bless you and your family.

“I Won’t Give up My Bitterness!”

angry-woman-1567229

We Have All Been Hurt by Others:

Sin against us HURTS. Deeply.  Sin is always wrong. God always hates sin. He hates every sin people commit against us – whether it is in thought, motive, word, or deed. He hates the sin people commit against Him. He hates our sin, too – even the ones we think are “trivial” or that we justify to ourselves. God is absolutely holy and cannot tolerate any sin at all. (Verses about God’s holiness)

We all have reasons to be bitter – reasons not to forgive – that the world would say are “justified.” The more mistreatment we have endured, the more “right” we have to cherish our bitterness. We may even (wrongly) think we have the right to be bitter against God if He allowed something awful to happen and didn’t stop it, or He didn’t answer our prayers the way we thought He should have.

  • The problem with this worldly wisdom is that our bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness is major sin against God. 

God Commands Us to Let Go of Our Bitterness:

If you want to see where bitterness leads – observe someone who has been holding on to bitterness for many decades. Unrestrained bitterness leads to hatred, contempt, malice, a desire for revenge, and a desire to hurt or even kill another person. It completely consumes a person’s life and becomes their sole idol, many times.

There are few things that can kill a relationship as effectively as bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. In fact, God can and does often heal marriages from infidelity, pornography addictions, alcoholism, and drug addictions when people repent from these sins and allow Him to change their lives. But unrepentant bitterness causes a marriage to be unable to be healed. I held on to bitterness myself for many years, until God showed me that I had to choose – Jesus or my bitterness. I could not have both.

We may think that if we forsake our bitterness, we are saying that another person’s sins were okay, or that it didn’t hurt us. But that is a lie! God never glosses over sin – and yet He forgives, though He is perfect. We are certainly not above God. We can affirm that someone’s sin against us was very wrong, hurtful, and destructive and that it was not at all okay. And then, in God’s power, we can forgive. If we don’t forgive, we open a door for the enemy to enter and conquer our souls.

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 6:14-15

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-27

A wife wrote to me a few years ago, “Don’t take away my bitterness! It’s all I have left!”

Bitterness Is a Deadly Poison to Us:

Bitterness must be quickly tended to as soon as it sprouts. It is evil – and it grows rapidly. The longer we allow it to grow and the longer we water, feed, and nurture it – the more painful it is to tear it out later.

Bitterness is a terrible trap, my dear sisters (and brothers)! It is a device of our enemy to attempt steal the gifts Jesus has provided for us through His death. Bitterness grieves the very Spirit of God and we lose His power in our lives – then our sinful nature has more and more control, not God. Bitterness hardens our hearts until we can no longer even hear God’s still small voice.

God commands us to forgive and to let go of bitterness – not because the person who sinned against us deserves to be let off the hook, but to bless US so that we can stay in close fellowship with Him and experience all the fruit of His Spirit and abundant spiritual life (Gal. 5:22-23).

We forgive because God forgives us. It is a decision of the will – not the emotions. We forgive because we love God and want to obey Him in everything. We forgive because we need to be forgiven by God. We forgive because forgiveness sets us free from Satan’s snare! Our goal MUST be to get rid of every trace of bitterness so that we can experience the power of God’s Spirit working in and through us to enable us to live holy, godly lives.

In releasing those who have hurt us and what they have done, and in deciding not to make them pay us for their sin – we can have God’s peace in our hearts. God says that it is His place to take revenge, not ours. (This doesn’t mean we trust unrepentant sinners or stay if we are not safe or the other person is not willing to rebuild trust.)

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

  • Either those who sin against us will turn to Christ and Jesus will pay for their sins against us with His innocent, perfect, holy blood – and He will change their hearts and they will grieve over their sin.
  • Or those who sin against us will pay for their sins themselves in hell forever.

There will be justice, ultimately, for the wrongs we have suffered. And there will be justice for the wrongs others have suffered at our hands, as well. God never ignores sin or sweeps it under the rug. He is just. He is righteous. He is holy. 

Replacing Bitter Thoughts with Godly, Holy Thoughts

We must take each thought captive for Christ. Every time I realize I am thinking a bitter thought, I must repent, turn away from it, confess it to God, and replace it with the truth of the Bible.

ie:

Bitter thoughts: “My husband doesn’t really love me. He hasn’t done X for me in years! If he loved me, he would know I want him to do X. I’ll show him! I’m going to give him the cold shoulder for the next 3 months. Let’s see how he likes that!”

Holy thoughts: “Let me write down the ways my husband has shown love to me lately. (If he is in unrepentant sin and has truly not been loving, I may need to write down that he is ensnared in sin and that he needs deliverance and needs me to pray for him. I may need to pray about confronting my husband about his sin if he has not repented. It is not a godly thing to pretend that sin doesn’t exist.) I can also write down what God says about me and my identity in Jesus. I can focus on all of the good things God has done for me. I can sing praises to God. I can write about my pain. I can pray about my pain and ask God for healing. I can ask God to show me how He might want me to bless my husband and how He might give me the power to overcome evil with good. I can ask God to help me better understand my husband if I am misunderstanding his masculine perspective. And I can seek ways to do good to him just to please Christ.”

When we realize just how much God has forgiven us and the great price for which He paid for our sins – Jesus’ death – we cannot help but respond with humility, true repentance, and gratitude. And when we have received the mercy, grace, and forgiveness of God for our billions of dollars worth of sin debt – we cannot help but respond with mercy, grace, and forgiveness toward those who sin against us (Matthew 18:21-35 – the Parable of the Wicked Servant).

God Uses a Believer’s Forgiveness for His Glory!

What an incredible witness for Christ it is when believers extend mercy, grace, and forgiveness, rather than hatred and bitterness. Think about the example of the church in Charleston, SC a few months ago. What a glorious testimony to Jesus that these believers forgave the man who murdered their loved ones. That didn’t mean that what he did was okay with them at all. What he did was awful – the very epitome of evil! But what they did was supernatural. Because of their beautiful example, the gospel was proclaimed and exalted around the world on secular news stations!!??!? Are we ready to allow God to use us to shine for Him, too?

What miracles might God have in store in our lives and for His kingdom and to bring the lost to Himself if we are willing to obey Him and not hold on to bitterness?

SHARE:

Is bitterness ever attractive to others?

How have you been tempted by the enemy to cling to bitterness, hatred, resentment, or unforgiveness?

Was it worth it?

Can we possibly bless others with the Gospel and love of Christ if we are consumed by bitterness?

How has God empowered you to experience His victory over bitterness, if you have experienced His deliverance? We’d love to hear your story!

RELATED:

Christian quotes about bitterness

Bible verses about bitterness

Forgiveness

Forgiveness Stories

A Daughter’s Incredible Story of Forgiveness

Righteous Jealousy and Anger