Friend, I have been there before.
In my previous marriage, when I was trying so hard to be the godly, submissive wife, there was still quite a rift and I didn't know what to do about it.
Despite what I felt were my best efforts, it seemed like my husband wasn't trying at all. There would be some good days, when I would thank God and pray, asking, "Why can't all of our days be this peaceful and fun?" Then there would be days when he would come home late and drunk, or wake up in the morning already angry with me.
I was doing all I knew how to do, and I felt like it was just on him at this point. He needed to step up. He needed to make an effort. He needed to love me as Christ loved the Church, the way a godly husband is instructed to love his wife!
God revealed something to me in that season. He reminded me that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Before we even knew who Jesus was, He died for us.
Before we even had the chance to love Him, He died for us.
Even now, when we do know Him and have promised to love Him, yet still reject Him through our sin and disobedience, He continues to pursue us, being faithful, gentle, and loving.
So why should we go first in our marriage?
Because, sweet sister, our goal is to be more like Jesus. Not more like our husbands.
We are not to emulate the behavior of sinners. We are to emulate the behavior of our Savior.
Jesus went first. Jesus continues to pursue.
That means we are to go first. We are to continue to pursue.
I know it sounds daunting, impossible even, at times. But we know that God equips us when He instructs us. He doesn't expect us to figure it out on our own, nor does He leave us to gather the strength and ability to make it happen. He offers us His strength to accomplish His will.
Our job is to accept His strength and use it.
One thing we can do for our marriages, that I'm sure you're already doing, is pray. We need to pray unceasingly.
Another thing we can do is find a way to show our husbands respect and kindness every day.
You might be asking yourself how exactly to do that, and I have a gift I'd like to share with you.
I've created a 31 Days of Random Acts of Kindness For Your Husband calendar that you can download and print out.
You can choose to do all of these, or pick a few, or maybe just allow them to inspire you to come up with your own kindnesses to offer your husband.
My prayer is that this will be a tangible tool for you in your marriage, to strengthen the bond between you and your husband.
You can grab your copy of the calendar HERE.
Tell me in the comments if you find it easy to "go first", or if this has been a struggle for you.
NOTE: if you are experiencing abuse in your marriage, that is an entirely different topic. We are NOT called to submit to abuse. If this is happening to you, please first ensure your safety and that of your children, and seek wise, godly counsel.
'Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. ' John 2:7-8
How many times have you prayed for a miracle in your marriage?
How many years have you asked God to do a work in your husband, to fix the relationship, to turn things around to where they were when you first chose each other?
After all of those prayers, what did you do?
Did you say, "Amen" and then wait in anticipation for God to perform His miracle?
Or did you sit quietly and listen for Him to give you instructions on how you could partner with Him to make it happen?
In John's recount of Jesus' first public miracle when He turned water into wine, he notes that Jesus asked the servants to fill the jars with water. They obeyed, and then He asked them to draw some out and bring it to the host of the wedding.
Jesus could have easily filled the jars Himself through a miracle, or He could have miraculously refilled the empty wine glasses or pitchers with wine.
Yet He didn't. He asked the servants to partner with Him in carrying out this miracle.
We've all heard the story of the loaves and fishes, when Jesus multiplied the small amounts that were given. He could have created a spectacular meal for everyone there by miraculously supplying all sorts of meats, cheeses, fruits, and wine.
But He didn't. He used what was given, and then He used the disciples to distribute the food to everyone.
In almost every single miracle Jesus performed, He didn't simply snap His fingers, or wiggle His nose. He used people that were willing to accomplish what needed to be done.
What can we learn from this when we're praying for a miracle?
- We need to be open to allowing God to use us in accomplishing His miracles, not just pray and expect Him to "do His thing".
- Our hearts must be willing to obey what He asks of us - including what He's already expressed in Scripture. Are you reading His word daily, taking note of what He's instructed wives to do to build up their marriages and homes? Are you intentional to obey those instructions, even the hard ones like "obey your husband"?
- We must have eyes open to see the small miracles He's already performing. The host of the wedding didn't even notice a miracle had occurred; how many miracles are we missing?
It's possible that your miracle is waiting around the corner, and God is simply holding out His hand for you to take and partner with Him before He brings it to fruition.
What miracle are you praying for today? How can I pray for you?
Do you look at your marriage as a relationship that has transformed you?
There is a big difference between a transformational relationship and a transactional relationship.
We've all heard the phrase, "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours," right? That obviously would be transactional.
I would encourage you to take a long, difficult look at yourself to ask if that's the way you're treating your marriage.
- Do you only do nice things for your husband when he does nice things for you?
- Will you only offer him respect and kindness if he does what you've asked or expected of him?
What about your relationship with God?
Have you ever thought, if He doesn't answer your prayers the way I want, then what's the point in following Him?
You'll only obey if He does what you want Him to do first.
Interestingly, scripture tells us that while we were still sinners, in other words, while we were NOT doing what God wanted us to do, God loved us still so much even then, that He sent Jesus to die for us.
THAT is a transformational relationship.
He asks the same of us - that we are willing to love others the way He loved us, FIRST, whether they've done anything for us or not.
This includes your husband. Whether he does what you consider to be his share of the household duties. Whether he "pulls his weight", or provides everything you think he should be providing, you are still expected to love him, honor him, and respect him.
Sometimes we feel justified in withholding respect, or affection, or kind gestures, because "he hasn't done a single thing all week," or maybe "he was so hurtful to me when he said..."
God tells us specifically to love the way He loves, and He loves DESPITE our negative behaviors.
No more "if you, then I'll" attitudes - spoken or unspoken, conscious or unconscious. Decide today, decide now, that you will consciously choose to bless your husband through your respect, kindness, and servant's heart regardless of what he has or hasn't done.
Do you feel like your marriage has been transactional or transformational? Are you willing to turn your marriage into a transformational relationship, simply by taking the transactions out of it?
Tell me in the comments, and let me know how I can pray for you!
How many times have you thought to yourself, "If I could just be more like so-and-so?"
If I'm being honest, I've thought it a multitude of times.
In my personal life, I've thought it about my friends.
In my marriage, I've thought it about women who I felt were more attractive or fun or smarter than I am.
In business, I've thought it about others who seem to have more or quicker success.
On a recent Sunday morning, I was getting ready to step onto the platform to lead our final worship song. I've struggled with nerves in the past, but instead of reminding myself that those nerves are just pride, I felt God leading me in a different direction.
He reminded me that each one of us is created "fearfully and wonderfully".
Scripture tells us in Genesis 1:27
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."
We are created in His image. When we're afraid to do something exactly the way WE do it, when we want to do something the way someone else does it, or when we're scared to mess it up, we're effectively negating that facet of God's image in us.
He created us as a part of His whole. All of us together are part of Him. When we neglect to be ourselves, we're hiding that part of Who He is. When we focus on not failing, we're not trusting Him to use that failure for our good and His glory. It's through failure that He can use us to display humility and grace.
Do we want to be more like Him? Then we need to focus on being fully ourselves, and no one else.
Who do you want to be like?
If you’ve been around the church long enough, you’re likely familiar with the passage about Jesus healing the paralyzed man whose friends lowered him in from the ceiling.
At first glance, this is simply another story about one of Jesus’ miracles.
Digging deeper, as I studied this passage with our women’s Bible study at church, God revealed to me several lessons from this story that could be applied to marriage.
If you’re not familiar with it, or even if you are, let’s read through it quickly to refresh our memories.
Mark 2: 1-12
1A few days later Jesus went back to Capernaum. And when the people heard that He was home, 2 they gathered in such large numbers that there was no more room, not even outside the door, as Jesus spoke the word to them.3 Then a paralytic was brought to Him, carried by four men. 4 Since they were unable to get to Jesus through the crowd, they uncovered the roof above Him, made an opening, and lowered the paralytic on his mat.5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”6 But some of the scribes were sitting there and thinking in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like this? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”8 At once Jesus knew in His spirit that they were thinking this way within themselves. “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?” He asked. 9 “Which is easier: to say to a paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, pick up your mat, and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...” He said to the paralytic, 11 “I tell you, get up, pick up your mat, and go home.”12 And immediately the man got up, picked up his mat, and walked out in front of them all. As a result, they were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
How on earth can this be related to marriage?
Here is what God revealed to me during my study.
1. We must eagerly seek Jesus’ wisdom and teaching.
The first thing we see in this story is that there was a crowd gathered to hear Jesus talk. Do you eagerly go to Jesus each day to listen to Him speak? Do you look forward to spending time with Him, learning from Him, getting to know more of His truth and His wisdom?
We can’t leave our Bibles closed and then claim we have no idea what God is telling us to do to heal our marriages, or to help our husbands, or to grow as wives. We must sit at His feet and listen to His words, and then we need to do what He says.
2. Be careful who your friends are.
First of all, these four men carried this paralyzed man to the roof of a house. How difficult must that have been? Not only that, but then they took the time to make an opening and lower him down to Jesus. This sounds like it must have taken a lot of time, patience, and strength. These were really good friends!
Secondly, verse 5 tells us that “When Jesus saw their faith”, He forgave the man’s sins. When He saw the faith of the FRIENDS, the man’s sins were forgiven. WOW!
Do your friends have that kind of faith? Are they willing to stand by you when you are in need? Will they sacrifice their time and comfort to be there for you?
Will your friends bring you TO Jesus through sound, biblical advice, rather than lead you AWAY from Him by encouraging you to disrespect your husband by “venting”, to focus only on your needs, or to divorce your husband?
The people we choose for our inner circle matter more than we can imagine.
3. Jesus knows our thoughts.
In verses 6-8, we see that the scribes were thinking things “in their hearts”. Jesus knew what they were thinking, and called them out on it.
If Jesus were to read your thoughts about your husband, would you be embarrassed? If He called you out on the way you think about your husband, would you feel ashamed?
Now, Jesus is not the author of shame; shame comes from the enemy and it’s meant to keep you stagnant. However, the Holy Spirit does use our conscience to guide us, and we may feel guilty or convicted about certain thoughts or behaviors in that we will take action to change and grow.
Consider whether you would be okay with Jesus holding you accountable for the thoughts you think about your husband. If not, reach out to me so we can talk through that some more. Scripture tells us that we are to “take every thought captive” and think about things that are pure, praiseworthy, and lovely. If your thoughts towards your husband don’t fall within that criteria from Philippians 4:8, then you must take them captive and intentionally turn them towards the things that do.
4. Do we notice the miracles God performs?
At the end of the passage in verse 12, we see that the man obeyed Jesus by picking up his mat and walking, while the crowd stood amazed, glorifying God and exclaiming that they’d never seen anything like that before.
Do you take the time to notice the miracles God performs in your life, in your marriage, in your husband? Miracles don’t always have to be something you’ve never seen before; the birth of a child is a miracle but that’s happened countless times.
Your husband may attend church with you every single week. Do you consider that a miracle? You should - it’s only through the miracle of the Holy Spirit that your husband has the conviction to attend church.
Does your husband go to the office and work hard each day to provide for your family. This is also a miracle.
Miracles aren’t necessarily something we can’t imagine happening; they can be everyday things that when we consider them, truly do take an act of God in order to happen.
Sometimes taking out the trash can be a miracle. 😊 We should always be intentional about keeping our eyes open to recognize and acknowledge even the tiniest of miracles that happen in our homes and in our marriages.
One thing I will work on is my friendships. In all transparency, I don’t have many (or any) in-real-life local girlfriends. I define that as someone I can meet for coffee every now and then, have playdates with our babies, go shopping, or hang out at each other’s houses. I would love to have some girlfriends that I can rely on when I need some extra support or just want to get out of the house.
Tell me, what is one thing you are going to work on?
What is God speaking to your heart about growing in order to heal your paralyzed marriage? Share with me in the comments, or send me a message. I’d love to join you in prayer!