Letting Go, To Gain it All

Four years ago I would have told you my marriage was dead. In fact, the one thing that should have brought my husband and I closer together was creating a huge chasm between us: Church.

Before we were married, we had discussed religion. Although we were both brought up in a strong background of faith, neither of us was attending church at the time. But we both felt it was important. We specifically agreed that our children would be brought up in a church family.

Four years after we married, I joined a local church. Without my husband. I was seven months pregnant with our first child when I was baptized. I was deliriously happy: expecting my first baby, rediscovering my spirituality, madly in love with my husband.

Two years after the first, our second son was born. Lugging around a baby, a diaper bag, and a toddler is no small feat. Add to that teaching Sunday school at 9:00 in the morning and you have one stressed mama.

I watched married couples stroll hand in hand along the halls of our church, heading to Sunday school. How wonderful, I thought, to share your thirst for the Lord with your husband. I watched as couples sat together in the pews during worship, an arm draped casually over a shoulder. How wonderful, I thought, to worship together.

I sat alone with my leaky breasts, too worried about my crying infant in the nursery to enjoy worship. My heart began to ache in its loneliness.

I joined a committee and became very active. I wanted to spend every waking moment in God’s house. Being away from my husband grew easier and easier. He was surprisingly supportive of my church work and was always willing to watch our children. But he remained unwilling to attend. He would come occasionally, on Easter or Christmas or other special occasions. When he did go to church with us, he became very grumpy for the remainder of the day. He seemed to think he had “wasted the morning” and now the weekend was gone. I started not wanting him to come. The church was my happy place. His presence ruined it for me.

I started to resent my husband. Every Sunday morning, as I rushed around feeding the boys, packing the diaper bag, getting myself ready…he would sit at the breakfast table in his boxer shorts and read the newspaper. I began to seethe inside.

I argued with the Lord. “How could you let me marry this man, Father? We do not belong together! He doesn’t even care about you!”

My husband is no fool. Though I never said a thing, he knew I was unhappy. He felt he had let me down, that he could not be the man I wanted him to be. Vehement arguments began.

During one particularly painful discussion, he mentioned the “D” word. I grew up in a broken home. I did not want that for my children. Or did I? In my heart I felt that I was married to the wrong man.

I began to comb the scriptures and prayed in earnest. “Rescue me, Lord. Change my husband!”

1 Corinthians 7 crossed my path: “If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband…”

Then 1 Peter 3:1-5: “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives…”

I determined that I should win him over by example. I struggled long and hard. I prayed. Silence was marked by occasional heated outbursts. Still, my heart was beginning to tender to him; I was learning to love him again. And I was doing what my Heavenly Father asked of me.

I tried everything: example, pleading, guilting, intellectualizing, feigning indifference…nothing. He wouldn’t budge. I was praying so hard. But the content of my prayers was still: “Change my husband, Lord!”

Finally, I gave up. I told God that it was all in His hands. I gave my husband’s faith over to the Lord.

Don’t you know that was what the Lord was waiting for?

My prayers changed into, “Please help me accept him and love him as he is, Father” instead of “Change him now!”

It was amazing the sense of peace that came with the realization that my husband’s relationship with his creator had nothing to do with me.

God’s timing is so perfect. It just so happened that as the Lord began to move my husband’s heart, my church was starting a Contemporary Praise service. We were in desperate need of someone to lead a praise team and grow that ministry. I watched in amazement as my husband slowly stepped into that role. A dedicated guitarist, he has been playing in bands all of his life. God knew just the way to his heart.

After thirteen years of marriage, my husband was finally baptized. The man I almost gave up on wept with joy as our Pastor welcomed him into our Christian family.

That was two years ago, and my husband’s faith has remained strong. Friends, I know that the Lord answers prayers because He answered mine. Don’t give up! Never underestimate the power of prayer in your marriage. He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV)

Comments

  1. says

    Laura,
    When I married my husband 25 years ago, this coming Wednesday, he was a believer as was I. We both knew we wanted to follow God.

    But there were roadblocks in our hearts that kept us from holding back and hiding some who we were. For many years I tried to change my husband and almost brought my house down with my hands. Praise be to God that He got my attention and began to tell me that my focus needed to be on what He wanted to show me about my heart.

    In the times of trying to change my husband I kept him from moving forward. It wasn’t until I began to get out of the way that God began to move.

    I remember specifically God using a word picture with me. Here’s the picture. Imagine you are on the playground with your children. They are doing their thing and you are watching. All of a sudden your neighbor comes up and begins to tell the child what to do. The neighbor doesn’t like what your child is doing. How would you feel, I heard God ask me? “I wouldn’t like it God.” “Neither do I, he said”.
    Then He asked me. “Would you be willing to get out of the way so that I can grow your husband into the man I want Him to be?” OUCH!

    It was a turning point in my life. Though I still have to make the choice to leave my husband with God, for the first time I saw that I was holding him back. I was a distraction.

    You are moving into a great place and God is going to rock your world!!

    David and I will never be the same. He is becoming the remarkable man he has always been.

    Much love,
    Julie
    PS. Thanks for the post about the snow…..it truly fits.

  2. says

    Laura,
    What a good post and so true.
    I’m blessed in that my husband & I have always attended church together. Years ago when we were first married, my father-in-law would call us if we happened to miss a Sunday. We would laugh about it because we knew the call was coming. I have two good friends who come each week alone. I know they feel the same way you did…looking around seeing other husbands and wives together. In fact just today I sat by one of my friends and my husband does the offering and then came back and sat by us. He had his arm around me and we whispered a few times. I felt for her….knowing she prays for that too. I’ve known her since childhood. This is a desire of her heart.
    This is a reminder to continue to lift each other up in prayer.
    I’m so glad your story has such a good ending. You did the right thing! Like Beth said in our lesson last week in “Stepping Up”…marriage is dang hard. She said she has a good one and it’s still dang hard.
    Thanks for the reminder for us to get out of the way and let go and let God.
    Blessings to you and your family,
    Valerie

  3. says

    Laura,
    Our stories are so similar. I pray that this post would give hope and courage to the many women who walk the same path so many of us have walked. I too want to say – “Don’t give up. God is always working!”

  4. says

    Thank you for sharing this, Laura. I know a dear friend who is struggling with this issue…I am sure many will be encouraged and blessed by your words!

    Praise the Lord, for His perfect timing…without which you and your dear hubby would not have such a powerful testimony!

    blessings, friend!!

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