Foolishness and Faith

Some people look on a woman who chooses to stay married to a man who is “difficult,. as a fool. Some will argue and advise.

Leave. You need to leave to be free to be all God has created you to be. 

Leave. You don’t deserve to be treated like this. 

Leave. I did and now have a wonderful marriage with a different man. You could have that too. 

Get a job so you are not so dependant on your spouse. 

As a side note, they might even say, “but, of course you should do what God tells you to do.”

Isn’t that just the kicker? Out of one side of the mouth being told that an intentional choice to stay married is wrong but at the same time told to follow the very God who has led us to that choice.

They often don’t see that they are inextricably linked. Staying has to be a choice of faith and obedience to God as much as leaving. If every step of our lives is to be in obedience to God then we don’t look for the “out” or excuse to leave. We stay in spite of excuses and cling, not to the opinion of men (or women) but instead to the leading of God through his Word and the Holy Spirit.

And should God open that door to leave, we will also pray that we have the courage to follow Him there as well.

Have courage and stand firm, clinging to the God who loves you dearly.

Blessings, Lilly Grace

Advertisements

Do I Have to Respect my Spouse in a Difficult Marriage?

I, by no means, have managed to master this concept.

I used to belive that respect was something a person earned, like trust. They really are connected in many ways. But when trust is broken, respect is hard to summon.

So when a woman is in a difficult marriage and it says in Scripture that she is to respect her husband, it is like kicking someone who is already writhing on the ground in agony. You just can’t see it because as a “good Christian woman” we have to pretend to the world that everything is fine.

Even when we are at church.

Especially when we are at church.

After all, it is right there in Ephesians 5:33. Verses 23-33 are pretty strong commands for men to love their wives. Yup. It’s a command.  No negotiations. No paltry love. We wives are to be charished, protected, provided for and LOVED.

Then Paul writes this little addendum:

” . . . and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.”

I’ve heard that “see to it” is more of a “might.” It is not a command. It really is a suggestion. A strong one from Paul.

The fact is, if a man is really living out verses 23-33 (you can go look them up), a woman is going to naturally fulfill the last part of 33. She’s going to want to.

So does that mean women who are in difficult marriages don’t have to respect their spouse who fails to in any way fulfill the ten verses before that?

No. We still need to respect our husbands.

I’ll be honest.  Struggle daily with the resentment and hurt over the fact that I don’t have an Ephesians 5:23-33 kind of guy. I long for that. Is it wrong for me to want what I can’t have? No. But I can’t need it. That’s a tough one.

So how does one respect a spouse that does nothing to earn it?

We respect him as an image bearer of God instead. He may be a horrible spouse. But he is still an image bearer of Christ as much as any murderer, rapist, child-molester is.

Ooooh. Ouch. But it’s true. All sin is equal in G0d’s eyes. And I am not exempt either. I don’t always act as Christ would want me to although most of my sins are ones of thinking. Still, it’s sin. Pure and simple.

So while we may struggle to love and respect our husbands because of their words and actions that are the oppositive of what a God-fearing man should be doing, we have to remember that we are all fallen and all sin.

Because Jesus loves our husbands more than we ever could, we need to respect the person and yes, even the position. God  holds our husband’s responsible for the words and actions he expresses towards a wife. And the ones he doesn’t but should.

Just as he holds us responsible for our own actions.

So maybe Valentine’s day isn’t a lovey-dovey holiday for many of us. We can still be respectful of the person God holds in the palm of His hand just like He holds us. No one is more important than the other. Equally loved in spite of our sin.

And for that reason alone, we should respect our husband in spite of the pain he causes.

Blessings, Lilly Grace

What do you mean by “Difficult”?

My book, Lessons from the Trenches, is due out in January of 2014, through Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. I wrote it to help women in difficult marriages.

But what do I mean by that word: difficult?

I’m not writing to the woman whose husband snores or drops the clothes on the floor in the bathroom for visitors to see when they stop by. I’m not talking about a man who has bad breath or perhaps can’t balance a checkbook to save his life.

I’m talking about men who may have a mental illness, including but not limited to personality disorders. I’m talking about men who might even be emotionally, verbally, and financially abusive. I’m talking about men who are controlling. Maybe they have a physical disability that interferes with their ability to be a husband. Maybe they are just he victims of bad family relationships but refuse to get help? Maybe they are not believers. Maybe they charmed you into thinking they were a Christian but now that you’re married you find that there is no evidence (fruit) to testify to their faith. Maybe they charm the pants off of everyone else and neglects and ignores you (another form of verbal/emotional abuse). Maybe they struggle with addictions: alcohol, drugs, pornography, or perhaps gambling.  Maybe they have even had an affair.

Now we could go round and around about which of these justifies seeking a divorce. But Jesus said that permission to divorce was due to hardened hearts.

I want to encourage you not to harden your heart towards God, no matter how much you just long to be free of the pain you are experiencing in your marriage. All relationships can be hard. Difficult conversations can leave scars. Trust has to be earned.

How do you respect a man who does nothing worthy of that? How do you stay married to him? And why would you even try?

I’m raising a lot of questions here and not giving many answers. Most of the marriage books out there don’t give much help to those of use who struggle in marriages like these.  It is exactly to women in these kinds of marriages to whom I am writing this book to.

I wrote it to remind myself of the good God has done in the midst of my pain and struggle.  I was encouraged to publish it to help others who desperately need that help from someone who is walking that same path, not knowing what the future will hold.

I  can’t promise you God will fix your marriage or that if you do X, Y & Z your marriage will be changed. I can promise you that God will walk with you through the struggle and grow you and change you and use you in ways you might ever expect.

When I’m in pain that’s not always enough to comfort me. But knowing that there are others who are walking that same path, trying to honor God, is comforting.

If you want to join me o that journey. Keep coming back here and follow my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lillygracebrown.

Blessings,
Lilly Grace

Love Isn’t Supposed to Hurt (Book Review)

love isn't supposed to hurtI don’t often review books here but this one captured my interest.

I’m not even sure just how Christi Paul was able to write this book, Love Isn’t Supposed to Hurt,  using her real name. In it she tells the story of emotional and verbal abuse and alcoholism of her first husband and gives him a different name. While that is nice, both are in work in television news. It didn’t take much to figure out his real name and find him on-line. What is sad is that he  lost his job because he felt she had lied in this book and obviously hadn’t resolved his alcohol issues. Not sure where he is now but I kind of feel bad for him. Sure, it’s years later, but who wants their dirt publicized for all to see?

Christi tells her story and she sought counseling. She didn’t go through the church for help and healing although she claims faith. She did divorce her husband although to her credit, as the book gives evidence, she did try hard to save the marriage.

So far I haven’t said a ton of positive about the book. It’s a story and a common one, but here is where the really good stuff comes. At the back of her book she has questions that she journaled through and some of them I think are beneficial for anyone in a challenging marriage and may make the price of the book worthwhile for you (hint: I got it free on kindle). The questions are not your typical assignments but a bit more challenging.

For instance:

  • How did verbal abuse serve me?
  • What is the benefit of being alone?
  • How has feeling betrayed helped me?
  • If the painful situation had never happened, what would have been the disadvantage, or what wouldn’t have happened that I now value?

There are many more like these with some examples of her own answers. The rest is her story and I’m glad she had the platform and confidence to share it and spread more awareness of just how even the most accomplished appearing woman can feel trapped in abuse. It raises awareness. Christi Paul is happily re-married and has children and is living a better life. Not everyone gets that kind of outcome. Still, I found the questions at the back of her book compelling to getting me to think about my challenges in a fresh way. Maybe you’ll find them beneficial too.

Blessings,

Lilly Grace

Procovery

As life deals us those brutal blows and we struggle with the reality of here and now, it’s tempting to long for what we used to have, whether it be health, a happy home, that lost loved one. But sometimes our “plan A” is just not ever going to be reality. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

Many years ago I attended a conference on mental health and heard Kathleen Crowley tell her story. As a result of a medical mishap, she was forced to live with permanent intense pain. Pain medication made her mentally unstable. But medication for depression intensified her pain. She ended up in a mental ward at the hospital and she writes about her experience in a book called The Day Room.

Out of her tragic story (she still experiences intense pain) she developed a concept called procovery. It’s not even a “plan B” for life. Instead of seeking to get back to prior health (physical or mental), she purports that we need to come to a new concept of recovery. That where we are now IS where we are supposed to be and to live successfully within that.

This is difficult. Does that mean we give in and simply state that “this is who I am and it’s not going to change?” How does one do that in the face of health challenges. Is it every totally hopeless that you can recover what you lost? When do we give up and give in?

I’ve been struggling with this as I fight my own health battles. My chiropractor was telling me “This may just be the way you ARE, and you may need to live with that.” When it comes to weight loss, or chronic back issues or depression – is there every really a point where you just give in and accept instead of frustratingly fight?

How does one live in the reality of “this may be all the better it may get” and yet the hope that God in His infinite mercy could possibly change things – if HE chose?

Michael J Fox tries all kinds of treatments to halt the progression of Parkinson’s. I’m not saying that’s bad, but to what point will he accept that this disease will eventually win the battle? Christopher Reeve did all kinds of therapy to help him regain the use of his body, paralyzed due to a fall from horseback. In the end pneumonia claimed his life.

Sometimes I wonder if our modern day treatments and our western mentality that wants what we want and we want it NOW raises the standard too high for our expectations that lives can be saved and improved with the miracle of modern medicine.  We rail against God when we don’t get the answer WE want. This wasn’t as big of an issue 100 yrs ago when the reality of death, while hard, was more easily accepted as a natural part of life. Life is terminal.

What do we lose when we put all our energies into our recovery instead of seeking what God wants to teach us in the midst of our pain?

Mentally I’m not a peace with living forever with my various health challenges. I struggle to find contentment in the present while at the same time doing what is good and healthy that could hopefully turn things around. Because of this cognitive dissonance, I often sabotage my efforts in the latter category. I want to lose weight – but then I eat too much. I work out but don’t know to what degree that triggers the inflammation issues of my Hashimoto’s disease and will backfire causing me to gain weight rather than lose it.

On the flip side, I have a broken marriage. I’m still with my husband.  But I’ve emotionally given up hope of restoration of the marriage relationship. Have I then given up on the fact that God COULD do that? I beat myself up for my lack of faith and giving in to reality.

Procovery is a good goal – but it’s a hard one. Hard because if we believe in Jesus Christ and that God is sovereign over it all , we don’t know when He may choose to act to change things. IF we want it to be His will, then we have to stop praying for healing, and simply start seeking His face and trusting Him for today and focus more on glorifying Him in THIS moment – rather than focusing on our own future dream.

I sure wish I was better at this.  Do you struggle as well? May you find God to be faithful to you in the process.

Blessings,

LGB

Dream Bigger

I often ask God for things that I want or think I need. New house, new husband (hahaha!), healed son, health, financial security. The list could go on. Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly stressed my prayers simply become requests for help or rescue.

But for twenty years rescue hasn’t come.

What if my dreams and prayers are too small? Maybe a house, which could burn down, would not ultimately satisfy me. Or if my husband were Brad Pitt or better yet Gilles Marini! Still, he may not satisfy (looks ain’t everything, gals!).

What if my kids were perfect angels, obeying everything, picked up after themselves and helped around the house? Okay, wait. I cannot find anything wrong with that!

I struggle with this verse in Scripture:

“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Mat 21:22 ESV)

Whatever? Really? But when? So I can ask for riches – and for my debts to be cleared away. Anything goes right? Does that mean that I can sin with abandon and ask God to clean up after me so I don’t have to face the consequences? See what I mean? It seems like there might be a limit to “whatever” even though even in the Greek it seems to mean exactly what it says. Oh, how easy to believe a false prosperity gospel based on that one verse!

Maybe the clincher is “if you have faith.” Maybe part of me doubts God’s willingness to rescue me in my difficult circumstances. That would be a sin of unbelief. Maybe my faith is misplaced in asking for things that are not in line with what God desires for me? That is probably the key. Faith means believing in what we don’t see. That God has some greater purpose and plan beyond my ability to know or understand. Even Abraham did not see the Promised Land and his descendants as innumerable as the sands on the shore or the stars in the sky. God promised and did it – but Abraham never saw it while he walked on this earth.

So maybe I simply don’t dream big enough. A house will burn or decay. My health doesn’t matter once I’m dead (and we all achieve that end at some point). Consider the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11 which ends thus:

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. “ (Heb 11:39-40 ESV)

So we get whatever we ask – when we ask in faith – but even those who did, didn’t see the fulfillment of what God had promised. They got something better!

Maybe I need to pray bigger prayers. Maybe prayers that my children will overcome the generations of sin and spiritual bondage that have held our families back from impacting the world for the glory of God. Prayers that the work I do today, even in writing a blog, or a book, will in the long run, impact women, save marriages and strengthen the church in ways I might never see or fully understand. Maybe even one life will come to know Jesus in a real, powerful, life changing way and embrace Him as not only their Savior, but Lord, and in bending their knee and wholeheartedly following Him, they will have a great impact on people I will never meet this side of heaven.

Maybe instead of temporal things I need to dream of a bigger legacy of a way that God, right now, today, would reach down and through this blog and other words I might speak, or hugs I might give, extend His message of grace to a hurting world.

My circumstances might stink. Sometimes I truly do want to quit the fight. But then I think of things like this and feel emboldened to stretch a little further. To take just one more step today in faith, knowing that in heaven, I will see the fruit of my labor and rejoice because I will have received the commendation of God. That joy will far outweigh my sorrows here. Some days I need to be reminded of that, don’t you?

As I typed this, Chris Rice’s song “Deep Enough to Dream” kept going through my head. Maybe it will inspire you to dream bigger as well. Blessings,

LGB