Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Hope for a Struggling Marriage

Oh, if only life could be simple.  If adult children really did listen to your sage advice and if husbands never wearied and complained.  I operated for a very long time thinking all the other blogs out there held 'perfect' families to which I couldn't hold a flame.  My past year of sabbatical, however, reminded me that everyone has their trials... and yes, there are some near-perfect families out there, but there are also many like mine... trying as they might, still falling far short of that wonderful Glory every Christian strives for. 

It gives me peace. 

Not a sadistic or satiric sort... no, a comfort in knowing I am not alone... I am in good company.  Last night, after another weary day where I was reminded that the war is not yet won and battles still must be fought, I sulked into an article where one wife wouldn't take "no" for an answer.  When her husband packed to leave, she refused him to go and instead, opted for peace and grace and allowing him time to sort.

No, my husband is not packing to go... far from it!  But he is struggling right now.  Wow.  I admitted that on the worldwide web!  I prayed 10 years for my man to know Jesus as his savior and when God answered my prayers, my husband didn't walk... he ran into His arms.  It was wonderful.  The years since have been full of finding ways and learning the ropes.  Many successes... but in recent years... many failures. Too many details for a little blog post.  Hubby still loves Jesus, but he is also being beat-down by the world. 

He wants to be strong.  He wants to get it right every time.  He wants to see others get it right too.  I know this.  But in his struggles and fights, it gets messy.  And in the mess, people can be taken for granted.  We all do it, he is no exception.

In his years since salvation I have taken for granted that I didn't have to work as hard anymore.  Where I use to be mindful of my reactions and actions so as to measure them carefully against the Word of God in hopes of not just growing in Christ myself but also drawing the man I loved.... now I could relax my walk and know he already saw Christ. 

Perhaps relaxed is the worst place to be.  Perhaps there was a great and Holy purpose to those years of trials... a purpose I lost site of in the years of Goodness.  A purpose I am needing to rediscover... to remind my love of God's goodness again.  To reflect grace and peace inside of a graceless and peaceless world.  Yet, so out of practice am I, it is like holding wild horses or trying to move a stubborn donkey.  He bucks, I buck.  He brays, I bray.

It's petty, really.  And truth be told, it is an approach so polluted by the world and a mindset of entitlement that says; because I am a woman I deserve.  Because I feel, I shouldn't have to put-up.    But truth be told, if we all got what we really deserved, it would be a pretty bleak outlook.  We didn't deserve for a man to be ridiculed, beaten and nailed to a cross... humiliated... and why?  For us, so we could have a perfect eternity after muddying up the temporal! 

Then I think of the hormones of 4 pregnancies and the wailing of those deliveries... I think of the clinical depression that set in after loosing my mom and my entire reproductive system unexpectedly in the same year and under the age of 30.  I think of menopause and control issues and ALL that the good Lord has helped me overcome... and all my husband endured out of love and devotion... even when I was unlovable... so that I could be here today, more confident, healed and at peace than any other time in my life.

And I think of that late-night article.  The strength of a woman to say "NO" and see through the bucking to tame the beast.  To realize his lashing and running wasn't her, it was struggles and hurt that our poor men are often ill-equipped to maneuver.  Hopes and expectations which drop to the floor when work isn't well or job is lost.  Our men know we depend on them and they are at a loss and scared when they fall short.

So they growl and grumble and skulk.  They wander and wonder and forget.

But we... we wives who may not like those burly men very much at the moment... we get the honor of praying for and loving them... not because they are lovable, but because God loves them anyway.  In a world that says 'run from the hardships' Christ says 'stay for the hope'.  He stayed, up there, nailed to a chunk of wood.  He could have climbed down.  He could have called upon a legion of angels.  He could have been like the world and 'run from the hardships' but he didn't.  He 'stayed for the hope'.  And we all, who believes and follows, has a place at the Table as a result.

Reading Psalm 119:25-32 in my devo today, really put all this into perspective.  In part (with my emphasis added):

My soul clings to the dust;
give me life according to your word!
My soul melts away for sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word!
I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your rules before me.
I cling to your testimonies, O Lord;
let me not be put to shame!
I will run in the way of your commandments
when you enlarge my heart
[or for you set my heart free]
- Psalm 119: 25, 28, 30-32

Oh, how my heart clung to this passage today.  Clinging to the dust, melting away for sorrow, yet such hope.... God's Word can give me strength and life.... I can choose His way and clinging to God's Word I will gain that strength and endurance to run in the way He shows me.  I am set free.  But the world binds me to expectations...

... expect perfection in relationships
... expect others to justify me
... expect people to do what I expect of them
... expect  

Yet, the more I expect the more tethered I feel.  Waiting and hoping expectations will be met.  Psalm 119 doesn't say, 'focus on people' to fulfill.... no.  It says to focus on God and His Word.  It doesn't say walk according to what the world says (leave, fight, be entitled)... nope.  It says to walk according to God's Word.  It goes one farther.. it says to RUN!  (stay, make peace, serve and sacrifice).

In all these months, when the bucking and braying made their rounds, I have felt so stifled, so tied-down.  Not because of the hardship... but because of my worldly mindset inside of the hardship.  But now, being reminded of those years of prayer and Devotion to God and the magnified peace and relational prosperity in my marriage as a result, I feel so free!  I can breathe again.  I can HOPE.

Perhaps you have one of those 'life is wonderful' marriages... praise be to God for such a blessing!  I celebrate with you ♥️  But, just maybe, you are like me... on a roller coaster... battling the messages of the world which pull you into hopelessness while God is holding out a hand and encouraging you to be strong and hope again.  I pray you will grab a hold of Him.  That, like I have found, you can find the true freedom of letting go of expectations and clinging to God.  Remembering; we are not in a sprint... we are running a marathon with perseverance and purpose to reflect Christ to those around us and the world at large.  We aren't entitled... yet we are amazingly blessed and given a Promise far greater than this world.

If you are interested in a Psalm 119 study guide, scroll down to the end of this article to see how you can get a FREE copy!  Though I have poured over the beautiful words of this Psalm many times before, I am still finding new and wonderful messages to grow my Walk with Christ.


Post Note: I wrote this article on October 7, 2018.  It is being published on Wednesday, October 10, 2018, my 20th Wedding Anniversary!  My husband and I were not saved when we got married and I had been divorced with a 3 year old when we first met.  Even in my secular days, I knew I didn't want to jump marriages, it hurt too much.  Then, becoming a Christian early in our marriage, I learned how much God hates divorce.  I repented and renewed and, for the 10 years I waited for my husband to know Christ the way I did, I was committed to make it work because God made salvation work for me.  It is this journey which keeps me plugging forward and keeps me devoted and inspires me to encourage other woman... no matter how difficult the road is, Hope always finds a way♥️

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