When I was single, I heard, and wondered, about women who, when going through rough times with their spouses, would pray and read their bible.
I heard it said that it is hypocritical to try and connect with God when you have unresolved issues with your spouse. Trying to make conversation with God when none is going on in your house is deceitful and phony.
I heard it said, in not so many words that after our wedding, God would henceforth “see both of us or none of us”.
As a result I went through difficult times early in marriage. Like most newly weds who are learning to live with each other, Tommy and I had a lot of adjustments to make – perfect ground for conflict.
But my biggest problem was that when we hit a bump on the road, my communication with God would come to a grinding halt.
Now that brought a slew of other emotions. Fresh from Single Avenue, I resented my husband for interfering with my spiritual life in this way.
I battled condemnation. I felt God was angry with me for not journaling and praying as I should. Turning my face to heaven for help would leave me feeling ashamed and embarrassed.
So I was left with a ton of issues on my plate, with no idea how to solve them and the very person I could go to was not available until I could resolve them myself.
It has taken almost four years to get a re-education on this. It has been a learning process – understanding that I can go to God, right in middle of stormy marriage seasons. Knowing that I can take problems to Him and ask for help has turned my life around.
I have learned
I can tell the devil off
When stormy times hit, the devil would jump in and pour a large cauldron of condemnation over my head.
“Look at you, you are already so unbelievably imperfect in marriage. Such a sinner, you are. Now trying to pray and talk with God? Think He can even hear you? you little hypocrite!”
Drenched, cold and shivering, I would hear him repeat the lie that I already believed – that praying when going through a crisis in marriage was hypocritical.
But God began to point me to a different road. It took a while for me to hear Him but eventually I did hear Him say that I had a bad case of guilt and condemnation going on. And I needed to get free.
And He began to show me how.
I would pace around the house (I still do) and say to the devil;
“The issues I have are between my husband and myself. And God. The three of us will be able to handle it. These are domestic issues and you are not welcome to peek in, spectate or throw dirt or interfere in anyway. I will not let you get on this bus..it’s not your ride.”
God began to build my confidence. He assured me that He would never stop loving me, just because I fell short. He loved me anyway, through my sin, my conflicts, my infatile attitudes, my early marraige adjustments.
He had not left us to fend for ourselves, to return when we grew up. He was right there with us.
Condition of my heart
After I learned to tell the devil off, I had to learn how to actually connect and pray in the midst of a storm in marriage.
Because stormy times were the times when I felt least saved.
The conflicts would ignite haywire emotions and reactions – anger, rage, disappointment, hurt, shock at marriage life e.t.c.
So it could not be “business as usual” with God. It was more of a very wobbly hesitant and fearful walk to the holy of holies.
And God didn’t seem to mind.
He was, after all, after the condition of my heart, not the things on my large plate.
Prayer time was a remodelling session on the Potters wheel. Dealing with my anger, my pain and disappointment.
Often, God would point out where I had gone wrong. He would call me back to trust, to faith in Him, to hope and belief.
He would be very silent about my husband, just making me understand (in that quiet still voice) that the same way He was working in me, He would also work in Him.
For strength, not for show
I don’t know about others, but I cannot do marriage – the kind that pleases God – without God.
I hear that commitment isn’t commitment until it’s tested. That love is not love until options are given and you still choose to walk the road of love.
I am a better acquainted with myself now and I know that I would not choose the God-kind of commitment or the God-kind of love path all by myself. I am too selfish, too willfull, too proud, to egotistical.
I have my own idea of how to deal with hurt or disappointment. I know how not to turn the other cheek, how not to pay evil with good.
I cannot claim any goodness on my part, parade my committment and love to my husband cos honestly when push comes to shove, I got nothing good to show.
So prayer/spending sometime with God is not for others. It is for me.
For when else do I need mercy most, if not in the middle of a storm? Aren’t stormy seasons the time to search His word for a Rhema to shore up a hysterical soul? To find strength? (For God does not always come to calm my storms immediately, some I have to ride out.)
When the things on earth are breaking down, isn’t that the time to seek heaven’s intervention? And how would I do this if I did not seek help for my fallen heart?
This has been true for me – that marriage is God’s idea of making me more like Him.
He does not expect me to do marriage alone. He wants to be involved. Marriage is His idea in the first place and those who keep Him out of it tend to do it all wrong.
He wants me to stay hopeful, faithful, connected. And I can only be faithful, hopeful and connected if I stay with Him.
David, the shepherd king said,
“I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps 27:13)
Life, not just marriage, needs God.
Not just in the good times. But in the bad times. God desires to be engaged with us every step of the way.
Question – Do you struggle to involve God when life/marriage feels hard? Please share your thoughts in the Comments below.