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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Why I'm Still Married

After two months of marriage, I frequently threatened divorce. My deep-seated mistrust of men, including John, caused many heated arguments. Such as when my husband grabbed my sewing machine and hurled it to the floor. I stormed out of our apartment, crying.  Staying married seemed as far fetched as climbing  Mt. Everest!

Our good friends, Tom and Sue, flashed through my mind. Their marriage modeled joy and respect, something I wanted.

Sue held my hand as I spilled exaggerated stories about John’s faults. I swallowed my pride, returned home, yet held onto my resentment.

A week later, our friends invited us to their church. After one too many hymns, I mumbled something to John about wishing we had never come.

Pastor Andy called the next day and visited us. He shared about his wild hippie days, his broken marriage, and threatening his wife with a knife. What kind of a preacher is this? I wondered. Then he explained how God transformed him and saved their marriage.

Suddenly he turned his attention to John and asked, “Do you think you’re going to heaven?”  

“Well, I think so. I’m a pretty good guy. I don’t drink much and I don’t swear much. I do more good than bad.”

I added, “If John’s going to heaven, surely I’m going because I drink and swear less than he does!”

 “That’s not good enough,” Andy said.

 I fidgeted while Andy opened his Bible. He read,  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God … For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 3:23; 6:23).

As a teen, the words in the Bible sounded dull and black as they appeared on the page. Now they pierced my heart.

 “Do you understand that Jesus’ death on the cross paid sins’ penalty and can save you from hell?” he asked. He then read Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

 “Do you want to ask Jesus to forgive all your sins?  And spend eternity in heaven?”

John and I agreed. We kneeled and prayed to receive forgiveness. By grace, God’s promise of a new heart and a new spirit replaced our stony hearts. Cultivating our love relationship with God, coupled with much prayer, put our marriage on a hope-filled path.

We’ve faced many marriage storms since, but they have drawn us closer to God. I learned there is no one but God who can entirely meet the needs of my anguished heart.

Cultivating a healthy marriage takes daily, uncompromising commitments to …
1.       Pray~ ask for the gift of humility…to give up rights and confess wrongs; say I’m sorry; die to selfish expectations; love and forgive unconditionally.
2.       Receive emotional healing~ from past wounds (perhaps professional/pastoral counseling is necessary).
3.        Renew and replenish our minds with God’s truths. “The truth sets you free!” (John 8:31)
4.       Use empathetic listening skills and take time to talk.

To God’s glory, we’ll soon celebrate our 39th anniversary!

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