Well, apparently this is my new hobby because I love to write stuff SO MUCH! It's really helping me clean my house because I make a deal with myself that I can't sit down and write until all my chores for the day are done. My mother would be really proud of my house cleaning enthusiasm, but really it's so I can get it done and write. I have decided to stretch my legs with this new writing thing. I really want to feel my way through it and use words to express myself. Later I will learn how to write things using fewer words. For those that endeavor to read these words, bless your heart! Your feed back is invaluable to me.
Today, what is rattling around in my brain is marriage. I wanted to write down what I have learned from the Lord so far about marriage. Also I want to remember where we were and where we are now. The fact that we are still married is amazing in and of itself. My marriage at times has been like the Texas weather; wait 15 minutes and it will change. It's also like Texas weather in that we have had a little bit of everything. We have had the super hot love for each other, the surprise of a winter storm with ice and snow, the storms that rattled our home, tornado's that blew everything up, and the dawn of spring that gives you hope for the future. The one thing I have learned about marriage is that you just have to hang on and let God do His work. As bad as it has been for us, we have also seen the sweetest miracles.
Do you remember this clip from the Princess Bride?
This clip makes me laugh so hard! I have watched about 100 times while sitting here writing. I think it ties into what I am going to write about because I approached my marriage like Prince Humperdinck does, "Man and wife! say man and wife!" I just wanted to get to the end and I had no idea what I was getting into.
Jesse and I entered marriage not knowing God, or caring what He thought of marriage. For 10 years we bumped along as best we could. We gave it the ol' college try with the best tools we had. The only reason that I have any words to say about marriage is that in year 10 of our marriage we started to ask God what He thought about marriage. Well He answered us basically saying, "Yeah, everything y'all are doing around here, none of that is what I designed marriage for." (Sorry, God talks to me in a TX accent) God invented marriage, so He must be the one we should go to for instructions, right? absolutely! We have been walking with the Lord together for the past 5 years. So we have 10 years without the Lord and 5 with the Lord--as you can imagine it is still a work in progress. We are re-learning how to do this marriage thing.
God created marriage because Adam needed a partner and companion in the garden of Eden. We see the record of this in the following excerpt from Genesis 2:
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” 19 So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. 20 He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.
21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.
23 “At last!” the man exclaimed.
“This one is bone from my bone,
and flesh from my flesh!
She will be called ‘woman,’
because she was taken from ‘man.’ ”
You see, God said, "It is not good for man to be alone..." Adam was evidently thrilled with her because he breaks into song. And it has to be said that anyone who goes to my church always reads this scripture the same way. When we were going through a marriage series a few years ago Pastor Doug was emphasising how excited Adam was to have Eve. Doug actually broke into a rap and rapped this whole verse to us. Lets just say if you were there you would never forget this verse, if you were not there ask him to rap it for you--it is epic. Anyway, my point is, one of the reasons for marriage is companionship.
Companionship is an anomaly to me. I don't know where this went wrong in me, but the thought of telling someone I need them around because I am lonely makes me want to slap myself in the face. "Get it together girl, you don't need anyone!" I can tell you that this feeling does not serve me well. I have had to learn, through counseling, that it is ok to let my hubs know I need him. That I need to be held and cared for. That I need someone to watch Netflix with. That I need someone to see me as a women, a lover and friend. Uugghh, just typing out the word "need" is hard for me. Let me tell you why I make myself feel this. When Jesse knows I need him, we take a step closer to unity. If I scream at him "I don't need you for anything!" we step away from unity.
Another purpose for marriage is for us to have a safe space to experience sex. There are obvious dangers for having sex outside of marriage. Unplanned pregnancy, disease, and emotional damage are all reasons to have sex only inside of a biblical marriage. Look at the following scripture from I Corinthians 7:
9 But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust
In this letter to the Corinthians, Paul is addressing the immorality going on in the church at Corinth. He is saying, "Hey, if you are lusting after a chick, marry her! It's better than thinking about being with her all the time." I hope Paul doesn't mind me paraphrasing him. The main point here is Paul says the way to deal with lust is to get married. Then you have a safe outlet for it.
As someone who did not adhere to the "sex should only be experienced in the safety of marriage," I can attest to the fact that there is a ton of emotional baggage that accompanies you when you have sex outside of marriage. The damage comes from the fact that you are giving something to a man which does not belong to him. You are giving something away that is not yours to give outside of marriage. God invented sex for us to enjoy in marriage. In marriage we don't have to be ashamed of it or embarrassed by it. Outside of marriage sex leads us to emotional baggage. In a culture that has no regard for the uniqueness of sex the damage is done before we even know what we are doing. The "swipe right for a hook-up" mentality will leave a mark, and you will have to work through that in your marriage, just like I did.
In my opinion the most important purpose for marriage is that it is the earthly representation of what the relationship between Christ and the Church looks like. Take a look at this description of Christ in Ephesians 5:
23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.
Now hold on, I know women who read that go, "Aw, hell no! My husband is not my head, give me a break! What is this, 1950?" Hold on girl, we are gonna get there. I am the same way, every feminist bell in my head goes off when I read stuff like that. Stay with me. The point of this scripture is to show us that Christ is the head of the church and our marriage is a representation of that. That being said, if our marriage is the representation of Christ and the Church, doesn't it stand to reason that satan would attack marriages like they were enemy number one? Yes he would, everyday of the week (and twice on Sundays). The problem is satan is succeeding in blowing up marriage. WE have to fight for this representation of Christ and the Church. We have to stick it out, we have to hang on!
So if our marriage is the example of Christ and the Church, what should that look like. There are so many opinions on this that it is important to really see what God says about it. Take a look at this jewel in Ephesians 5:
22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.
25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.
31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
YIKES!! Truth-bomb! The fifth word in that excerpt is for sure a cuss word. Can you believe God would tell us to SUBMIT to our husbands. What the heck? I am supposed to submit to my husband the way the Church submits Christ (God)? Lawdy, lawdy, have you met my husband? Do you know what I have to put up with? Guess what God's response to us is: "DO YOU KNOW WHAT I, AS GOD, HAVE HAD TO PUT UP WITH?" My response to that is, "No God, I don't know what you have had to put up with." What I want to point out in tandem with the whole submit thing is, that husbands are supposed to love their wives like Christ loves the church. That is really a beautiful exchange between husbands and wives. Men are commanded to love their wives and wives are commanded to submit to their husbands. I myself cannot believe that I can actually type that out! It goes against everything in my flesh. But let me try to show how God brought me around and convinced my heart that the above statement is a good thing.
When I first read this verse six years ago I decided that it had to be a typo in the bible. I knew that it had to mean something else and that the scribe who translated it had to have been a chauvinist pig with a wife he wanted to put under his thumb. Honestly, to get to the bottom of this "submit" thing is what drove my desire to go to bible school. In bible school I learned how to study the bible and how to research what the words mean. So let me share with you what I found.
I started with looking into other translations of this verse. What I mean is that I learned at bible school that there were other translations of the bible. I had an NLT bible and I thought, "Well maybe, I have an outdated version, let me check other ones." Here's what I found:
New King James version, Ephesians 5:
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
English Standard version, Ephesians 5:
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
New International version, Ephesians 5:
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord
New American Standard Bible, Ephesians 5:
22Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
WELL, SHOOT! No luck there! After that disappointment, I decided to study what the greek word that they use here actually means.
The word "submit" in Ephesians 5:23 is the greek word hupotassō. What does that mean? I don't know, it's all greek to me! Seriously though, in greek there are all these things like the tense of verbs, participles, present things, passive things, genders, and so on. Maybe when my kids get out of my house I will learn greek, for now I am going to give you the basic definition of this word. Here you go:
5293. ὑποτάσσω hupŏtassō, hoop-ot-as´-so; from 5259 and 5021; to subordinate; reflex. to obey:—be under obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto.
Strong, James. A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible 2009 : 75. Print.
The moral of this story? When I read this definition what stood out to me is that last phrase, "submit self unto." This is where God started to woo my heart into belief of this command. I saw that this submission is a choice I get to make. It is not forced on me. Suddenly all my fears of "being subdued" by my husband were put in check. The fear that I had of a God that would "hold me down" because I was a woman were put under a spotlight, and I questioned them. God was not putting me under my husband, he was asking me to put myself under my husband. I had a choice. Lets look at the verse again:
22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. (NLT)
Now that I can read that word and see that it is something I choose to do, I read it like this. Wives, put yourself under your husband, the same way you put yourself under the Lord. In the past this verse has been used to "put women in their place." Men actually thought that women were not as smart, or capable as men. My heart aches when my mom tells me stories of a time when she was told she could not do something or was not chosen for something directly because she was a woman. This is shameful. Men and women are equal. We are equally responsible for our relationship with the Lord. Equally responsible for our sin and its consequences. The difference between men and women are the roles God asks us to live out.
Not sold yet? Let me give you another example. One thing I have learned about the Lord is that he is the God of order. He loves unity and order. He is not the God of chaos. So when he made marriage he knew if he did not designate a leader in the relationship there would be disunity and chaos. In the same way that a business would be unsuccessful if everyone was the boss and no one was the worker, a marriage will not be successful if there is not a designated leader. God designated that my husband is the leader and I am to put myself under him. It is not my job to question God on why he made the man the leader it is my job to learn how to submit to my husband.
So where does it all go wrong? Well to start with, it's our aversion to do what God says and our flesh keeps us from putting ourselves in the roles God gave us. We would rather be in control, we think, until we look up and realize the weight of our entire family is on our shoulders--or so I've heard.... Men think they don't want the responsibility of leading so they defer to their wives, until they realize they are treated like a kid and then suddenly they fight for the right to lead. So there is this forever fight going on in the marriage for control. The leadership role is wrestled from one person, and then wrestled back by the other.
Why do we have this aversion to our roles. Well because of sin. Sin is simply anything we do that goes against the Lord. Sin entered the world in the garden of Eden. Eve was deceived by satan and decided to eat from the one tree in the garden that the Lord told them not to eat from. She took the lead of the situation and then lead her husband Adam in to sin as well. As a result of their disobedience the Lord cursed mankind. Take a look at Genesis 3:
16 Then he said to the woman,
“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,
and in pain you will give birth.
And you will desire to control your husband,
but he will rule over you.”
17 And to the man he said,
“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree
whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,
the ground is cursed because of you.
All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you,
though you will eat of its grains.
19 By the sweat of your brow
will you have food to eat
until you return to the ground
from which you were made.
For you were made from dust,
and to dust you will return.” (NLT)
So lets see if this curse is real and if we experience it ourselves nowdays:
Pain in pregnancy and birth? CHECK
You will desire to control your husband? CHECK
Struggle to make a good living? CHECK
Work all your life until you die? CHECK
So, yes we are still experiencing the results of these curses today. This is why it is so hard for us women to swallow that word submit. This is why guys would much rather check out, instead of work hard until they die. Not only are we cursed but we also have a very active propensity to sin. We don't want to do what God says and everything we do that is against what God says is sin.
And another thing. You know that song RESPECT by Aretha Franklin? It has become a sort of anthem for women. And it is true for us. We do want men to respect us and not use us as objects. In a marriage however you may think you want him to respect you but you actually want him to love you. You see, when God created the roles, and then the curses, He also gave us the way to succeed in marriage. Let me show you what I mean. In Ephesians 5 God explains it to us through the apostle Paul:
31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (ESV)
You see!!! He command men to love us!!! It goes against their nature to love us. You see it as men's natural nature is played out. In the world, who mostly reject God's commands, you see how men treat women? All over the world women are oppressed, sold for sex and objectified. Look at the magnitude of the #rightnow movement. Women are crying out for men to stop treating us like we are objects. Without God's command to love us, men would not naturally love and protect us.
Now us women, we have the job of respecting our husbands......wait what did that say? Yes! We have to submit to AND respect our husbands. You see we are creatures who love naturally. We love our husbands, and no one has to tell us to do that. Conversely, we don't naturally respect them. We want to baby them and parent them and love them into doing what we want them to do. God has to tell us to respect them because this is not our natural bent. This is how God makes marriage a representation of Christ and the Church.
After I combed that scripture for translation errors or hidden meanings and found none, I had to accept that submission to my husband and respect for my husband is what the Lord was asking of me. So as a very good Christ follower does, I added caveats to all those scriptures. Example: " I will respect him when he acts respectable, he has to earn my respect." "I will submit to him when he knows as much as I do about the Lord." This stagnated my walk with the Lord. I was literally stuck until my sweet dean at bible school said to me, "Sarah, YOUR sin is the reason you and Jesse are fighting." Let me add that I had just given her a detailed list of everything Jesse was doing wrong to justify my behavior towards him. But as God always does, he used her words to pierce my hard heart and I realized I had some work to do. Let's look at that scripture one more time. I want to show you something that I learned this year.
22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.
Do you see where it says, "As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything." Let that sink in. Think about how you would submit to Christ. If Christ was in your livingroom and asked you to do anything you would say, "YES!" So we are supposed to submit to our husbands in the same way we submit to Christ.
Guess what I found out about myself. I don't submit to Christ in everything. There are things that I worry about--that means I don't submit to Him telling me "worry about nothing." I compare myself to other people--that means I don't submit to him telling me to run my own race. I question why things are happening to me--that means I don't submit to Christ when He tells me to do all things without grumbling and complaining. I want to be famous and the best at everything--that means I don't submit to the Lord when he says to adopt a spirit of humility, putting others before myself. Those are just a few examples, there are more, but if you know me at all you are aware of them. So if I don't submit to Christ, how in the world can I submit to my husband? The answer is I can't. Until I can learn to submit to the Lord, I have no hope of becoming a submissive wife. So that is where I am camping out. I'm letting God teach me what it means to be in submission to him. It is a magical journey of humbling moments, a lot of tears, and a lot of confession about how unsubmissive I am.
Guess what my marriage teaches me about my unsubmissiveness to the Lord? Everywhere that I struggle to submit to Jesse is an area where I struggle submitting to God. I don't want Jesse telling me what to do=I don't want the Lord to tell me what to do. I don't want Jesse deciding what direction we are going as a family=I don't want the Lord to tell me what direction to go. I don't want to submit to Jesse when he tells me he would prefer I not do something=I don't want the Lord to tell me what not to do. Unsure of your level of unsubmissiveness? Take stock of your submissiveness to your husband. Then put your big girl panties on and admit you are not submissive. Join the club, we have T-shirts.
A word about respect. Lets look at the last part of that scripture again. Ephesians 5:
31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one
33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband
It says that this great mystery, marriage, is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. And then he says, "So again I say,.........and the wife must respect her husband." Our respect of our husband is an illustration of how Christ and the church are unified. Do you as a member of the church respect Jesus Christ? Because if you don't respect Christ you have no hope or respecting your husband. How big God is to you directly affects how you follow him. If Jesus is no big deal to you, then respecting your husband will be no big deal. If He is a big deal to you then respecting your husband will be a big deal because your relationship represents your relationship with Christ.
I am laughing out loud right now at the thought of anyone who knew me before I knew Jesus, reading this. They would be dying laughing. They would be saying, "Her? do what her husband says, yeah right!" "Her not be the boss of something, Yeah right!" I would answer, "I know right! Crazy!" I would say, "This is your proof that there is a God and he changes people who know Him!"
Now I am going to try to illustrate these points with my very own marriage. We have been non-believing married people, and we have been a 1 believer/1 non-believer marriage, and we have become two believers trying to be married. Through all of this, God has had to convince me to believe His commands. He loved me and showed me success in small ways that encouraged me along the way. The point is, I could have never decided to do this on my own and expected it to change my marriage. God had to move, teach my heart and woo me into believing Him.
When we started out we were two selfish individuals living two different lives in the same house. We loved each other for sure, but there was no direction we moved together. We fought over who was in charge, who was the leader. We were more like roommates. For myself I can tell you I was totally focused on getting to the olympics. I was a dressage rider and could think of nothing but "making it" in the dressage horse world. I also got really good at getting my way without including Jesse at all. I took control of all the money, the bills and effectively it was the Sarah Griffith show. I would "go off" on Jesse if he ever dared to stand up to me. Essentially he just gave up because he is not a fighter and it was easier for him to just go along with it all.
I'm already at 3000 words so I'll just sum up the next few years of our marriage like this, things got hard. We ran out of money, had to sell everything and move to survive and we had kids to raise. We both found ways to cope. I dove even deeper into horses amidst having two kids and a business. I turned to the horses for purpose and turned to the kids for love. Suddenly one day I looked up and I was sitting in the grocery store parking lot wondering what would happen if I just left. Left Jesse, left everything and started over with my kids somewhere in the world. I knew I was dying on the inside or was already dead and needed something. The Lord was coming for me.
Two weeks later I was standing in my garage talking to my daughters' best-friend's mom, and she is asking me to visit her church because she had felt how I felt, dead and unhappy in her marriage. That lady's name was Autumn and I will never forget her. I thought, church? I'm not sure they would let me in. You see, years of coping led me to be on several anti-depressant, anti-anxiety drugs and I was a closet chain smoker--which is really hard because that is a lot of time in the closet and a lot of Bath and Body Works spray to cover up the smell. Anyway, I went to church with her and within the first month I started to believe in God. I would like to write a separate blog post about the day of my salvation, but for now just understand that I didn't believe in God, and then sitting in church one day He changed my mind, and I believed. I had a crazy experience with the Lord that day and I will never forget it. Anyway, after that I turned into a HUGE JESUS FREAK.
Jesus set me free of everything I had been struggling with and I was in love with Him. Now it has to be said that anything I get into I do 100 MPH and full bore, so everyone in my life was kind of like "aaannnnddd, now she is into Jesus." It took awhile for Jesse to understand that this was not a passing phase, that I was different. I could not get enough of the Lord. I studied everything I could about Him. That is when I first learned that the husband is supposed to be the leader of the house. I started learning that a woman should respect her husband. In my first zeal for the Lord, I was totally in with all these things. It wasn't until the "honeymoon was over" so to speak that I started questioning about those words submit and respect.
To say I was insufferable in the beginning is an understatement. Jesse looked up and he was married to a massive Jesus freak on fire for the Lord. In my zeal for the Lord I decided, "Ok God, I'll let Jesse lead this family." One day I sat Jesse down and said, "God says you are supposed to lead the family so, here you go M*#^%$ F@#%&*, you get to pay the bills, the insurance, and you get to make all the decisions. Go!" He was in a bit of shock and also not ready for that kind of truth-bomb. To say God had to work on me becoming a little more gentle is also an understatement. I was all zeal and no wisdom. Wisdom would have said, one step at a time, let's get him to believe in the Lord first. But, no, I have an affinity to do things in the most difficult way. I also did not give the Lord a chance to teach me what HE meant by "leading a family." I took my americanized, military raised, feminist can-do attitude and looked at that scripture and said, "Oh, yeah, I got this." What I should have said is, "Oh Lord God in Heaven, take me to heaven now because I don't got this!"
It was a mess. Not a small one. Jesse was frustrated and I was angry. It went on like this for a year until it finally broke, for real. Jesse couldn't take it anymore and neither could I. My thought was, "Lord, if I could just be free of him, I could really serve you for real." We separated over spring break in either 2010 or 2011, I can't remember which. I was glad to finally get him out of my house. I was glad to be free. I was sad for my kids, but I thought we would do just fine without him.
Let me tell you, in case you are considering this route, this separation BROKE ME. I was so convinced I did everything around the house anyway, I couldn't understand why I was so burdened by the to-do list for the day. I was so convinced I had no emotional attachment to him that I couldn't understand why I cried myself sleep every night. I was so convinced the Lord was ok with me divorcing him I couldn't understand why I wanted him back so badly.
All the feelings were because the Lord did not want me to divorce him. I was driving down the road and had just hung up from making my first appointment with an attorney. God, as clear as day, said to me, "Wait, wait and see what I might do in him." I thought of the change in myself because of the Lord and I was curious about what he might do, so I did wait. Two weeks later, Jesse called me and said, "Sarah, I gave up, I gave into God, I want to know Him and follow Him too." That was all it took, we started the reconciliation process.
We started to go to biblical counseling together where we learned about what I shared with you above. About the curses, leadership and love and respect. We also learned that I had effectively become his mother and he was my child. We learned that I had to step out of leadership and into submission, and Jesse had to step out of the kid role and up to the leader role. We learned that leading the family was not as simple as just paying all the bills and the insurance and making all the decisions. We had to ask each other hard questions. The hardest one for me was, "What can I do to make you feel like I respect you?" The process of reconciliation also included us having to get on the same page about money, kids and where we wanted to go in life. We were two sinful people trying to figure out this biblical marriage thing. It was ugly at times and full of change. Within the first year after we reconciled we decided to live in a motor home for a summer, and sell everything we owned and go to bible school in Michigan. Like I said, I like to do things the hard way.
In this time of reconciliation I learned that when I was unsubmissive to Jesse or I disrespected him I was sinning. This is a tough pill to swallow. I also realized I knew what the Lord wanted me to do on paper but in real life it was a mess. As I said above, I started to learn the art of asking for forgiveness from the Lord. It is a wonderful gift He gives to us. We get to confess to the Lord when we mess up and then ask Him to forgive us, which He does every single time. He also works in our heart to point out to us when something is going against what He wants from us. This amazing relationship we have with the Lord is where the change really starts happening.
I remember repenting to the Lord for my behavior towards Jesse way before I ever actually asked for forgiveness from Jesse. I do however remember vividly the first time I did ask Jesse to forgive me for how I had just spoken to him. We were moving out of our house to get ready to go to bible school and I let a slew of cuss words go on him. I stopped short when I saw his face. I took a breath and said, "I'm sorry for cussing at you." Jesse responded by saying, "Which time are you talking about, that time or the time before that?" I said, "That's for before, now and tomorrow." Like I said, it is messy.
I also firmly believe that there is a thing called holy duct tape. I remember experiencing the holy duct tape for the first time in my kitchen. Jesse was telling me that he was going to do something, and I opened my mouth to tell him the "right" way to do it. All of a sudden I felt this pressure over my mouth like a piece of duct tape. It kept me from saying anything except, "sounds good babe!" It was a moment that I realized I didn't have to say everything that comes to mind, and that Jesse was a grown up and could do things his own way. Go figure! This was the way God started to convict me of sin before I ever acted on it.
Where are we now? Well, still married--ALL THE PRAISE HANDS!!! I'm learning how to try to be a submissive/respectful wife, how to fail at it, and how to ask for forgiveness when I do. My marriage is my priority now, so if things aren't good with Jess, nothing else happens until we work it out. It is messy and frustrating and I don't want you to think for a second that we have it figured out. We only know what the ideal is now and are trying adhere to it in ways that we can. I'm chuckling to myself right now because since I wrote all this down I can almost guarantee you that my marriage will be a dumpster fire this week. Anytime you declare that you have some knowledge about something the Lord will test it for sure. So if you see me and Jesse screaming at each other somewhere just remember, I warned you.
I want to share with you some tools that have really helped us. First, biblical counseling, you know I am a fan of counseling. It was very valuable to have a mediator at first because there was a few months there where everything Jesse said caused me to scream the F-Word. In counseling our counselor suggested we read Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. Seriously, this book should be a must-read for anyone who thinks they may want to get married, married people, parents of engaged people, and people who are around married people. Another tool was the Dave Ramsey program. This program gave us a plan we could both agree on. We stopped using money as a tool to get our way and started making it work for us. During our separation and reconciliation we were involved in a community group at our church. These Godly people loved us and allowed us to work through our troubles. They surrounded us and loved us no matter what. Jesse often says that those dudes that loved him during that time were part of what led him to Christ. After we moved home from bible school we had the opportunity to do RE|engage at our church. In that program we learned how to forgive one another and how to really communicate through conflict. Our leaders, Chris and Laura, led by example and encouraged us to really dig into the material. If you find yourself in a season of struggle I encourage you to grab hold of one of these tools.
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Why did I write all of this? Because I want a marriage that represents Christ and the Church. I want to be the wife who builds up her husband instead of tearing him down. I want to be happy and be unified with Jesse. I want my kids to know that our family is solid and they don't have to worry about someone leaving. I want all these things and if I try to do them in my own strength it ends up being a dumpster fire. I have to submit to the Lord first, I have to respect the Lord. Then He empowers me to be a submissive woman. As I think about what it takes and what it will cost me to be submissive and respectful in this culture that says men are dumb, I realize a submissive woman is the strongest kind of woman out there. I have to be brave to step into this role. I have to say no when I am in group of women that start bagging on their husbands. I have to talk respectfully about my friends' husbands, which I haven't done well. And most of all it's not just an act, I have to ask God to actually change my heart toward my husband, and to help me be the woman God wants me to be for Jesse. These are all prayers I am praying for me and the women of my generation.
This guy! Can't live with him, can't kill him. Just kidding, where would I be without him? He provides an amazing life for us. He loves the Lord and is learning to lead us with a quiet strength that makes you want to follow him. He has been dealt some tough blows and some hard hurts but he loves anyway. He reads every word I write no matter how bad or long (we are 7000+ words in this post alone). He has cared for me through not 1, not 2 but 8 surgeries, two broken ankles, and two pregnancies. At this point and after all of that he is basically a doctor. This man who God gave me before I even knew God is the perfect match for me. Now to be perfectly frank, he didn't start off that way. God had to change him, and me, from those selfish kids who were just roommates to two sinful people who are just wanting to do things the way the Lord wants them to. I can honestly tell you that the man I am married to today is not the same one that I married 15 years ago. This one has been though a sifting and made it through to the other side. And you know what? I am not the same girl either. I have been sifted as well, refined, asked to seek gentleness. So if you are sitting here, still reading this exceptionally long post, thinking to yourself, there is no way my marriage will ever reflect God's design, let me tell you something, I witnessed a miracle from the Lord in my house 6 years ago. I prayed to the Lord and told him I couldn't do this marriage anymore. I told the Lord I was at the end of what I could do. Guess what his answer was? He said, "Good, now you can give it to me, stop trying to fix it your way, and let me get to work." I pray that you will give your marriage to Him today, then sit back and watch the miracle.