Unfortunately, it’s possible to sabotage your marriage while living as an otherwise happily married Christian woman. I know this from experience. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was guilty of relying on my husband for the comfort and peace that can only come from Jesus Christ. That’s an impossible expectation and when my husband inevitably failed, I punished him for it. My expressions of disappointment, and even anger, towards my spouse when I didn’t receive what I wanted when I wanted it were often ugly. During the course of our marriage, Jesus used this man’s godly responses towards my less than loving behavior to show me His unconditional love. And over the years Jesus has challenged me to grow up spiritually.
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My husband and I married young. Although we were both Christians, my life experience included childhood wounds and an innate tendency to rely on performing well to please God and people. My husband was, and is, an amazing blessing to me and Jesus has used him to help heal my heart in many ways. But I often relied on him for the wrong things:
- It was wrong when I sought his approval instead of Gods.
- It was wrong when I felt reassured because he was seeking God even when I wasn’t.
- It was wrong when I expected him to fulfill me in ways that only Jesus could.
Spiritually speaking, I was riding on my husband’s coattails!
I was attempting to find spiritual fulfillment and reassurance through my husband instead of walking my own separate faith journey at his side. In expecting my husband to support me emotionally and spiritually as a replacement for Jesus, I was, in essence, worshipping my husband instead of worshipping Jesus!
The answer has been slow in coming but Jesus has shown me that it is because I didn’t understand in my heart what I believed in my head about the amazing love He has for me. Ultimately, I feared Jesus way more than I loved Him. And honestly? It is difficult, if not impossible, to maintain a lifelong relationship with anyone, even God, when it becomes long-distanced by misunderstandings and fear.
Forcing myself to seek God in prayer and Bible reading was about as enjoyable as it sounds…not very. So sometimes I did, and many times, I didn’t. Guilt and shame piled up making it increasingly difficult to approach Him. The cycle might have continued forever if it were not for the fact that Jesus mercifully unraveled me.
The Holy Spirit convicted my heart by revealing that I had been living as though I were a fearful orphan instead resting in the truth that I am the Father’s beloved child through adoption.
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:14-19)
When I responded to Him by taking my fears to the cross in confession and repentance, something happened. His Word began to spring to life in my heart. As His Spirit enlivened my own, I began to know without a shadow of a doubt that I am His and He is mine. What once took trying to believe (and often failing) through my strength, became effortless.
Afterwards the dynamics in our marriage began to change. There has been a deeper sense of intimacy between us as my walk with God has matured. Our love for one another has grown in ways I would have never dreamed were possible. There is a rich sense of moving together, as well as separately, towards our Father which is marked by a oneness of mind and spirit.
In retrospect, I can see the hand of God in the way our marriage has played out. I see the wounded young woman who I once was. I see the care and compassion of Jesus in placing this man, my dear husband, in my life when He did. And I see the healing power that God extended to me through our love story. But our marriage is only a dim reflection of the One and Only…True and Forever…Love Story. I’m grateful that Jesus patiently and lovingly helped me to see the difference.
It is only because of the loving grace and mercy of God that my marriage has not only lasted…but flourished. I am beyond grateful to my Heavenly Father that He did not allow me to succeed in destroying my relationship with my husband, and more importantly, with Him.
About the Author, Wendy Munsell:
Wendy has been married to her high-school sweetheart, Patrick, for 38 amazing years. They have been blessed with seven children and 17 grand-children! Wendy home-schooled all of her children although that job is coming to an end soon as her youngest child, Mallory, is now a junior in high-school.
Two years ago Wendy and her husband felt God call them to leave their home in Maine and move to Fort Worth, Texas. In addition to ministering in their local church, Wendy volunteers for an organization that serves women who have been victims of sex-trafficking. This opportunity is especially meaningful to Wendy as she has her own story of redemptive healing from being sinned against as a child.
Jesus has taken this formerly uptight, wounded, people-pleaser and set her free through the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. In her words, “I’m not the same woman anymore. I used to attempt to work out my own salvation in a vain attempt to be a ‘good’ Christian. Now I follow the One who set me free with a heart overflowing with love and joy.”
Wendy writes to encourage others at her blog, Blessed Unravelling, where she has been writing since June of 2015. She has a special concern for those who have been wounded emotionally and spiritually. It is her hope that others will be transformed by the grace and mercy of Jesus.