I have rolled this thought around for a while wanting to write and encourage some very special people out there. Whether you are the girl struggling to keep it all together, or the guy who has fought change, you are that special one. If you have endured through the lonely, hard days, you are that special one. If you know there's got to be more than what you've been living, you are that special one. And if none of this applies to you, but you see lots of dysfunctional people around, you are that special one. This post originated while thinking about the society we live in today. Families are under attack. Marriage seems to be an option some throw around lightly. Children are bombarded with media and entertainment unlike any other time in history. Our very identity and purpose for being alive have been skewed and the scales covering our eyes make things blurry and gray. This is all opposite of the goodness of God. There is absolute Truth (without this deception of it being relevant to the time and place we live.) God does not change.
With this being said, I want to share how God got my attention, saved my life, my husband's life, and restored our marriage to something more beautiful than I ever thought possible. I grew up going to church most Sunday mornings. It was a comfortable place, and I liked routine. Even with good intentions, there was always some shame associated with going. I inevitably made my mother late every week and she likes to be early everywhere. Still, it always made me feel good when we would go out to eat Sunday dinner after church, knowing I had been that morning. I always heard the Christian life was about a personal decision we make. Yet I had blinders on for years because I equated "personal" with things we don't talk about--things we keep private (kind of like your social security number and other personal information.) The thing I realize now is church and religion were only about information to me...it had not yet become revelation to me.
I had up's and down's like any person alive. I tried to make sense of life and purpose by searching for identity...in all the wrong places. As a child, I was ok for a while in my family's identity. But somehow, I always felt a little odd or out of place. I searched for fulfillment in friendships, education, boyfriends, cars, clothes, shacking up, drinking, and eventually drugs. I share those details at times, but what I was living in was sin. There's no need to justify any of the things I chose to do; I was separated from God and in a slow, downhill spiral. The devil didn't care that my first wine coolers at 15 took another 15 years to escalate to much more alcohol, drugs, and a suicide attempt. Each one of us has God Potential, so satan will try to destroy our souls to keep us from re-connecting to our heavenly Father.
Even after divorce, even after addiction, even after cycles of anti-depressants, even after years of wanting what I wanted, God still had a good plan--a God Plan--for me. When my husband and I had been married for a year, we found out I was going to have a baby. There was a shift in my purpose, my identity. Having our precious daughter is how God spoke to my heart and wooed me to Himself. It's really a fabulous story. My new love between parent and child mirrored the love between Father and me. Regardless of how I had run from Him, denied Him, argued with Him, broke His heart with my rebellious, calloused heart...He pursued me.
I chose Jesus. I actively choose Him every day. It took a while for His love and fruit to start popping out in my life, but they blossomed because I was so hungry to know Him and His Word. In those early days, my husband did good for a while, then went on selfish tangents of whatever he wanted to do. I was angry in the beginning. Not because of some spiritual holiness, but because he could go out and get drunk and high "with no responsibilities", and "I had a baby to protect." (Of course, that was not accurate on either of our parts.) Kelly had a battle raging inside I didn't understand until a few years later; I needed to get myself right before I was really a protector for our child.
Much later I heard my husband say that I was a constant reminder of the failure he felt he was. I was quick to point out his mistakes from the past month when he'd walk through the front door. It usually happened after he had been doing good that day. He felt like I would tear him apart whether he was doing right or wrong, so what was the point?! Meanwhile, I had started back to church and took our daughter to the nursery there. I needed some grown up time and a break from constant baby stuff. I was coming out of a pit of self-isolation. I was becoming so hungry for change--and for the Word-- that I began to focus more on what God needed to do in me than in my husband. I remember the week God dealt with me about being consumed with changing Kelly, and I needed to leave that in God's hands and trust Him. I asked God to make me pleasant. (I actually begged Him, because I was really obsessed with my own thoughts and feelings.) My dear husband describes that as the week I stopped nagging him. Whatever words you put to it, God was dealing with both of us...appealing to our hearts as a man and woman. God did draw us closer to Himself. He did restore our marriage. The thing is, we each had to choose God first--completely and foremost.
My strong desire to change, to love God, and to seek His will for my life has bloomed into a divine love affair. An exciting, new Life abounds through the mercy, love, and grace of our Almighty God. There's no denying that marriage is one of the most difficult relationships we have. There's also no denying it is one of the most fulfilling. To trust on this level, to commit yourself to the other, to shower mercy when you both know it's undeserved--what a beautiful picture of marriage, and our Lord Jesus and Father God.
So as the title of this shows, my man did step up. He did choose to put God first. (I do want to say that I realized early on I was accountable to God; I had to do what was right regardless of what my husband chose to do.) I did become more pleasant, with God's help. I let the Word of God fill me up and transform my thinking. I began to see the Fruit of the Spirit abounding in my life and in our home. I was addicted! [You know what I mean if you've experienced this peace after living in chaos, and this joy after living in hopelessness.] My husband was drawn to this new hope I had found, this new Life I had encountered with Jesus. I quit making him feel so bad about himself on purpose and allowed God to have His way with me, and with my husband. When my focus changed, everything else got clear.
If you can relate to any of this, God may be dealing with you about change in your life. To you sweet girls out there praying for your man to step up and be the leader in your home, that is a God-given desire. I say pray with all the fervency you can, because you are possibly fighting for his soul and the souls of your children and family and anyone he has influence on. I also want to say prepare yourself for when your man changes. Study now how to be the best wife to him. Put it into practice today, even if he is still in the same old deadly cycle. Don't be caught off guard like I was when your man is ready to step up and you must take your place. Not as a second-rate member in your union, but as the great helper God has created you to be! We are divinely created, uniquely different. Don't fall into a power struggle. When your man steps into who God has called him to be, you will be taken care of. And remember to continually pray for him; he is under assault with a vengeance from our great adversary. You can pray for your man like no other person on the planet. Wherever you are on this journey, let God be your Source of strength. He will never disappoint. You will become so passionate about your walk with Him that others will be drawn to what you've discovered. Enjoy your journey, and each gift of today.