God, why doesn’t Don want to study this marriage book with me, or lead daily prayer?
Doesn’t he want to have a godly marriage?
In any marriage, one person can be more mature in their faith than their spouse. Or, maybe one of the two just thinks they’re more mature. Either way, the more mature person doesn’t have the right to demand that the other one measure up to any standards except God’s.
This is the fifth in a six-part series (posting every Wednesday) about the “worse” times Don and I have experienced and how God led us through. Click here for series introduction.
This week’s topic: Super-Spiritual
As a single person, I prepared for marriage by reading books about it, and observing married couples. I invested daily in my relationship with the Lord, and felt strong in Him when we married. Since Don only knew the Lord for eight months compared to my eight years, I felt very qualified to help him become the spiritual leader God intended.
My husband needed guidance, and who better to provide it than his spiritually mature wife and helpmate?
I quickly discovered two things.
One, I wasn’t as mature as I thought. Instead of hearing and following God, I put my time and energy into following a “make marriage work” formula I compiled from the books I read. If we could just follow it, we’d have a great marriage. I also focused on Don’s relationship with God, and on a “checklist for a good marriage”, at the expense of my own relationship with God. I quickly became frustrated and worn out.
Two, the more I suggested ways for Don to grow and our marriage to thrive, the more frustrated and confused he became. My words became static on the God channel he tried to listen to, but could never quite hear clearly over my loud and persistent directions.
We were a mess!
Over the next several years, God began to change my heart and build my faith as I prayed for help and sought counsel from others.
Some said, “You’re right, Don needs to change. How can you follow his lead if he does or doesn’t _________? He needs to listen to you!”
Others said, “It’s not your job to change Don, it’s God’s job. He’ll do it much better than you ever could. Your job is to focus on your relationship with God above all else. Love Don, respect him, and be the best wife you can be.”
When I looked at the marriages of my advisors, and how they treated each other and their children, the right counsel was crystal clear.
As I repented for trying to be God in Don’s life, and chose to do things God’s way instead of mine, I experienced true spiritual growth. The more I grew, the more I appreciated the husband God gave me. Instead of trying to teach Don, I began to learn from him about God’s love, generosity, and grace.
And much to my delight, Don began to change in ways I never could have imagined.
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (1 Peter 3:1-2, NIV)
1. Look for the fruit of your words and actions toward your spouse. Are you sowing love and peace, or frustration and confusion?
2. When seeking counsel, first observe the lives and marriages of those around you. Seek out those who bear godly fruit, and enjoy healthy marriages and families.
3. Pray, daily if needed, to give your spouse to God. Declare by faith that it’s God’s job to change them, and trust that He will.
4. Never neglect daily time with God to keep your relationship with Him healthy and thriving. When you don’t, everyone around you pays the price.
5. You can’t control or change anyone else. Change what you can about yourself, obey what God tells you, and leave everything else in His hands.
6. Be thankful for your spouse, and that he/she is exactly how God created him/her.
7. Books and godly counsel are wonderful as supplements, but nothing read or said should ever become a formula for your marriage. Seek God first, about everything.
Our marriage is still becoming, still growing, still changing. It will be until one or both of us goes home to Jesus. I learned – and I’m still learning – that the more you lay down your life and your rights, the more Jesus can shine through you and enable you to love with His love.
It’s not about me, or about how super-spiritual I am.
Life, and marriage, is about me becoming less so God can become more, and Don can be all God called him to be.
And it's about being thankful.
Thank you, Jesus, that you’re God and I’m not…and never will be!
Next up: Expectations
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: Are you worn out from trying to change your spouse? Repent for trying to do God's job in your spouses life, and thank Him for the wonderful gift He gave to you.
Also, if you know someone else who may be blessed by this series, please share the link with them.