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

Staying or Going: The Example of Job’s Wife

The biggest struggle I sometimes face is that of well-intended people telling me to leave. As I pitched my book on lessons God has taught me by staying married, I have found that any woman who has made the choice to leave will fight me on staying.

I think they truly do, in their heart, believe they are speaking love to me. Maybe unconsciously they are justifying their own journey. Sometimes I think it is more the latter.

I would never disparage someone who has made a choice to leave or been forced out of her marriage when she has tried to take the high road. That’s not my place and I haven’t walked their path.

My human nature wants out of the pain and loneliness of my marriage.

God tells me to stay.

People who tell me to leave, as well meaning as they are, are not that much unlike Satan tempting Jesus to eat after 40 days of fasting.

But Jesus stayed true to His calling and didn’t fall into the temptation and lies Satan offered.

Maybe the woman who left has found a new love. A man who treats her well. I am glad for them. But one person’s experience on their journey is not a predictor of what God will or will not do for me . . . especially if I disobey Him by leaving when He has not given me permission to.

Sometimes I think I have more grace for those that have left than they do for me who stays.

Kinder words are: “My heart aches for what you are suffering because I know that pain. Just know that if God leads you to stay – or go, you will have my love, support and prayers.”

I get it though. It is hard to support someone in a difficult marriage becuase their issue is often chronic. Unchanging. But prayers and encouragement and reminders of God’s faithfulness to them when the pain is particularly intense, help.

Job’s wife could have walked out on him. Think of it. She lost everything: Her kids, home, wealth, status, and her husband was afflicted with illness and depression. She got angry, expressed her views to be chided by her husband (and reminded of truth) and then she is not heard of again except that after God restored Job, he had even more kids. It didn’t say he had to get a new wife. Life got tough for Mrs. Job and she did not abandon her marriage. Scripture doesn’t speak to her journey or pain, but she suffered as well.

Now, Lilly Grace, you may say. That’s different. Job wasn’t abusive. But abuse can include neglect. I’m not saying Job intentionally slighted and abandonded his wife, but you hear none of his devotion or care for her in their difficulties. Neglect can be as much abuse as anything else. Emotionally it appears that Job left the marriage. From what we can tell though, he didn’t.

I’m not writing to disparage Job or his journey but to highlight that a difficult marriage encompasses more than situations of abuse: emotional, verbal, financial, physical. Somtimes it involves physical or mental illness. Or financial distress. Addictions. Adultery.

Are there good reasons to leave? Certainly. And a woman needs to take that before God and with wise counsel follow what He leads her to do.

He hasn’t given me that option at this time.

Blessings to you as you lean on God in your marriage. He is faithful. Always. And He sees what you are going through.

Lilly Grace 

 

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

Buried Alive

Sometimes, being in a difficult marriage, I feel like I’ve been buried alive. For my own safety (emotionally), I can’t speak my mind on things. I suffer more when I do. So at home I don’t always recognize the woman I’ve become and burying my emotions kills something else in my . . .

motivation.

dignity.

peace.

happiness.

Where I live, winter has hit with a vengeance. Not so much with the snow, although I’m sure more of that is coming. Take away sunshine and add it to more confined times where I have to interact with my spouse and depression can rear it’s head with more force than usual.

Image courtesy of winnond / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of winnond / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s like more dirt being shoveled on the grave of my personhood.

Wow. Isn’t that a cheerful thought?

Many years ago, my toddler son drew a picture of me. I wore a frown. The picture made me sad because that was how my child saw me. I realized then that I needed to work harder to claw my way out of the grave my spouse had dug for me and had pushed me into emotionally. So I worked to be more the mom I wanted to be regardless of how I felt. It wasn’t easy. I shed my tears in private and poured out my pain to my journal, my therapist and a few trusted and safe friends who would remind me again of God’s faithfulness and provision for my needs and that yes, he sees my agony.

By the time my daughter came to join our family, the pictures showed me smiling. My kids are all older now and do not hesitate to call me silly. My teenage son now has to fight to keep from smiling some times (because that would not be cool) as I tease him.  I am honest with them when I’m not feeling well (emotionally or physically) without going into the why. I’m honest about what is wrong because now they can see it. I do not confide in them the depth of my struggle because I don’t want my kids to be buried either.

When my husband leaves town, it’s like the dead come even more to life and there is greater calm in my house. We are learning to laugh a lot when my husband is not around. His behavior is now burying him alive in all that he loses in the light and love of a family. I’m not shoveling the dirt on him though. He is doing it himself.

And I find it sad that his choices have done that to him even though it’s a natural consequence. See, he has a do not resuscitate order on his heart and on our marriage. I can pray, but now the only one who can dig him out, is himself. All he has to do is reach his hand up to God in repentance and I’m sure it would happen.

In the meantime, I will keep shoveling the dirt he tries to toss at me, back  to him. I will reach up and hold on to the God who rescues time and time again.

I waited patiently for the Lord;

And He inclined to me, and heard my cry.

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay;

And he set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.

And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise of our God;

Many will see and fear, and will trust in the LORD.

(Psalm 40:1-3 NASB)

Blessings to you,

Lilly Grace

 

 

The Temptation of a Better Love(r)

So many times over the years, I have had people express this kind of sentiment to me. “You are a delightful woman, if you would just leave your husband, you could then find a man who will love you like you deserve.”

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve written on this before, but time to write on it again.

There is no location in Scripture that promises that a divorced woman will find a man who will love her like he should be loved. It’s not there. Some would argue that Scripture says that a divorced woman should never remarry. Ouch. Are you willing to go there?

Now, if my husband chose to leave me, then I would not feel constricted from pursuing another marriage in my future to hopefully the “ideal” man. Oh, wait. He would probably want the ideal woman and that would most certainly not be me.

If someone listened to my husband’s real version of our marriage–not the edited one he presents to people to make himself look good–they might encourage him to leave me too, and get the wife he deserves:

  • The one who will encourage him to pursue his dreams–even if it means not being able to provide for his family.
  • The one will let him control all the money. She’ll probably need a full-time job so as not be dependent on him.
  • The one who is model thin and beautiful. Oh, well, we are talking fantasy right. She’d need to be blonde too. Hey, he’s told me these things.
  • Oh, and she’ll love to have sex no matter how poorly he treats her.
  • She might need to be blind because my husband is not a model.

The fact is, I’m a sinner. Yup. I’m not perfect. I screw up. I’m not perfect or blameless in the demise of my marriage. However, I have sought to honor God and respect my husband even if he fails to love, cherish and provide for me, much less treat me as an equal heir to the throne of grace.

And even if I were a widow, there would be no guarantee of a better marriage for me down the line.

Some people get that dream. I’ve heard the stories and met them and I am so glad for them that they were free of a difficult marriage and found a spouse who loves and adores them through the good and the bad. A man who is worthy of respect, even when she disagrees with him. A man who is easy to follow because he first follows God and loves his wife out of that. It is a beautiful thing to behold.

*sigh*

I do find these guys in the romance novels I write (under a different name). I may not have it in real life, but my characters get a man to admire, who loves them in a Christ-like manner. They get great sex too (implied). Hey, I don’t get any in real life. I give my characters what I cannot have. At least at this point in time.

So ladies, leaving my husband to find the perfect man is a dream and a nice fantasy. It is not a valid argument or even a fair one to dangle in front of a woman struggling in a hard marriage. Oh, it would be so nice to have a man who, as one  quote says “will hug you so tight that all of your broken pieces will fit back together.” Until then, and even after (if it ever comes to that day), I’ll cling to Jesus.

I Wouldn’t Choose You

Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I saw a title of a book called I Choose You and thought, aww, isn’t that sweet. Of course it’s a romance.

And I’ve seen men and women post on Facebook how they would do it all over again with the spouse they married. Or how about those that even renew their vows.

At this point in my  marriage I wouldn’t renew. Part of me starts thinking that maybe I should even shock my husband when he wants to do something I don’t like by saying, “Well, that’s something to consider for when we separate.”  After all, he’s the one who twice threatened to divorce me via a letter. I never gave him the satisfaction of a response and he never served me papers. It was a manipulation tactic.

But the fact is, right now if he asked me if I was happy in our marriage. I would say no.

If he asked me to marry him again. I would say no.

I don’t regret the past. I made the best decisions I could for who I was at the time.

But now, given all I’ve experienced, I would not choose the man whose last name I bear and who has fathered my children.

Why then, am I still married to him?

Because while I may not choose him at this point, I have chosen God and He wants me here and staying for the moment.

And even when I have failed to be all a Christ-follower should be, God has never abandoned me. So I stay because I choose God.

“Godly Men” who Fail at Home

I’ve hesitated for months to write on this topic. I got ticked off because I found out that A.W.Tozer, whose writing I admire, was not a very good husband. We don’t know for sure but suffice it to say his wife said she never experienced happiness until she was married to her second husband (after Tozer’s death). She was forced to live in poverty because he would give most of their income back to the church. He poured all his time and energy into “ministry” but missed the ministry he was most responsible for: loving his wife and children.

Do I sound judgmental? Maybe so. Even today many men can be involved in ministry and put on a posture that belies the truth of their failing marriages or even abuses and neglect of their wives and children.

It breaks my heart to discover one acquaintance has filed for divorce from his wife. Online he acts like life is great and he wants to pursue Christian publishing.  Writing doesn’t have the same kind of condemnation associated with it as music or up front preachers have when they fall. Heck, he hasn’t even really begun. So he can pretend blissfully to be a wonderful man and a Christian while his wife is abandoned for the sake of him pursuing the god of publishing.

My spouse is no different. Pursuing whatever ministry opportunities that will make him look good, rarely working, but when he does giving money away (but won’t tithe to the church). He’s rarely home, belittles my dreams, and make ultimatums for the children without being around to follow through on the consequences of those.

But wives are supposed to praise their husbands. We are not to be talking bad about them. So how do we get help when our “godly” appearing spouse is fooling the world and wooing them, maybe with some exceptional gifts, while at the same time violating the promises made before God to honor and love his wife?

Sometimes these men do great things for God. Will it be credited to them as righteousness? God says he won’t answer the prayers of a man who does not treat his wife well.

How are we to think? I get ticked off. It’s not that I don’t want people to be touched by ministries that do well, but where is the accountability in these men’s lives? Where are those with the courage to confront and ask the tough  questions. My husband won’t interact with people who do that so he basically runs away from any kind of accountability. I’m sure that writer acquaintance has done the same.

I loved Andy Stanley who once said that God made him head of the home. His job was to love and serve his wife and God’s job was to be the head of the church.  I just wish more men in ministry understood this and that the rest of them held them accountable. The sad thing is, the one person those “godly men” will refuse to listen to, are their wives.

Any thoughts?

Blessings,
Lilly Grace

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