Fortunately, I had locked the door. She was erupting on the other side of it, trying to force herself in to the home office that had become my sanctuary. For years, I had felt trapped. In my marriage. In my job. In my life.
I had known for over five months that my toxic marriage needed to change. I actually wanted it to end, but God had told me not to suggest that, but to take a slower path. I was reluctant, but obeyed.
I had been praying throughout the day of and in the weeks leading up to a difficult conversation about my requested changes. The end result was that my spouse decided to end the marriage anyway.
I was at peace. As she hurled insults and false accusations against me, I answered them calmly. The calmer I was, the angrier and louder she became. The angrier and louder she was, the calmer I became.
I was secure in who I was. I knew what I had done and had not done, and God knew as well. What anyone else thought was really beside the point.
The sheer rage on the other side of the door told me to keep it sealed. While I certainly would not have hit back, a physical confrontation would have done neither of us any good. I had been trapped in my marriage for years. What was a few hours more in my little room?
Less than eight months before, in that very same room, on the verge of suicide, I had accepted Jesus. I was a new person now, and I was filled with His peace. Even if my old life was in the hall yelling at me.
I stayed awake that night with the door sealed, even partially barricading it. Just in case. I spent the time praying, informing my loved ones, starting to pack for a now inevitable move, and shutting down my credit cards. I would be my spouse’s debt mule no longer.
Eventually, things settled down. As things do. That was the last real day of my marriage. The remaining eight months were primarily spent on legal transactions to undo the whole mess. As I have mentioned before, I ignored or missed several warning flags when getting married. It was the biggest mistake of my life, and I am grateful that Jesus has given me a second chance to experience the life He intends for me.
Yes, I once thought I was trapped. That my fate was sealed. Only through faith did I learn that Jesus was there all along, working behind the seal.
No, I was never truly trapped. For God was always with me.
“The king was deeply troubled, and he tried to think of a way to save Daniel. He spent the rest of the day looking for a way to get Daniel out of this predicament. In the evening the men went together to the king and said, ‘Your Majesty, you know that according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, no law that the king signs can be changed.’ So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, ‘May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.’
“Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions’ den. When he got there, he called out in anguish, ‘Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?’ Daniel answered, ‘Long live the king! My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.’ The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God.” Daniel 6:14-16,19-23
David is one of the most interesting figures of the Bible, and JC and I could (and, Lord willing, will) explore him in dozens of posts over the years. Today, I just want to take a brief look at an interesting parallel in the kingships of Saul and David.
In 1 Samuel 18, King Saul, out of jealousy, decides he wants David, his greatest and most loyal soldier, dead. The below verse describes one of the ways he tries to arrange this:
“One day Saul said to David, ‘I am ready to give you my older daughter, Merab, as your wife. But first you must prove yourself to be a real warrior by fighting the LORD’s battles.’ For Saul thought, ‘I’ll send him out against the Philistines and let them kill him rather than doing it myself.'” 1 Samuel 18:17
After initially declining the offer, David eventually agrees instead to marry King Saul’s younger daughter, Michal. King Saul decrees that David must kill 100 Philistines to earn her hand. The ploy fails, for David returns, having killed 200 Philistines (as described in 1 Samuel 18:18-27). King Saul’s behavior towards David becomes increasingly erratic until he is obsessed with pursuing and killing him.
David, for his part, still considers King Saul anointed by God. In the midst of being hunted, David twice has the opportunity to kill King Saul, yet chooses not to do so (as described in 1 Samuel 24:3-7 and 1 Samuel 26:7-9). These are remarkable acts of restraint.
David even kills the man who claims to have killed King Saul when bringing news of his death in a battle against, you guessed it, the very same Philistines that he hoped would kill David (as described in 2 Samuel 1:6-16).
David becomes king, but many years later, he stumbles. He commits adultery with Bathsheba, who becomes pregnant. When he is unable to make it look as if the forthcoming child is of her husband, Uriah, King David then decides Uriah, a loyal solider, must die.
“So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. The letter instructed Joab, ‘Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.’ So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting.” 2 Samuel 11:14-16
King David has essentially ordered the same fate for Uriah as King Saul once planned against him. Except this time, because David’s version is more insidious than that of Saul, the plan succeeds, and Uriah indeed falls. King David has now added murder to adultery in his list of sins. I am leaving out a lot here, but things soon begin to fall apart for him. He takes Bathsheba as his wife, repents and asks forgiveness from God, and their baby dies.
King David and Bathsheba have another child, Solomon, who goes on not only to succeed him as king, but to be in the bloodline of Joseph (see Matthew 1:6-16), adopted father of Jesus – fulfilling prophecy of the Messiah being from the line of David (Ezekiel 37:24).
What to make of all this?
One of the misconceptions I had about the Bible before I was saved was that most of the people in it were perfect and led exemplary lives. Of course, this myth was shattered early on in my journey. In the Bible, there is only one perfect human, Jesus Christ. The rest are flawed, like us.
The Lord considered David a “man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), yet even David went on to break multiple of His commandments. Those of us who follow Jesus also aspire to be after His own heart. We want to be Christlike, but we all sin.
Every day we make mistakes, yet every day God still loves us and still uses us to fulfill His plan and His glory. This is not because we are deserving, but because of His grace and because of His Son, who died for our sins such that we be made right with God.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28
One last thing before I go. I want to point you over to a beautiful post by JC over on Wounded Butterflies, where she begins telling more of her story as a survivor of abuse. Please read what she has to say: Nobody Knew, Yet Everybody Knew.
Sundays have meant different things to me at different times of my life. As a kid, the day began with Sunday breakfast. Mom, often with help from me and my little sister, would prepare a big meal for our family of six. Some weeks she made pancakes, some weeks she made French toast. I can also remember other weeks just standing at the toaster making a huge plate of toast to go with whatever else we were having. Toast specifically made for my father had to have the little adjustment lever all the way to the far right, resulting in a charred brick no one else would eat.
Bread of some sort was always involved in Mom’s Sunday breakfasts. To complement the main course of starchiness, there would be delicacies like bacon, sausage, eggs, and grits.
Oh yes, grits. To eat grits right requires stirring in at least a teaspoon of sugar to your bowl (we used three teaspoons when I was growing up, but I have scaled back), adding a pat of butter until it starts melting, and then splashing in just a drop or two of milk so it mixes up with the melted butter. Break apart a piece of toast, and add it to the mix if you are ready to take your grits to the next level (optional – for advanced connoisseurs of grits only).
Sunday breakfast would normally hold us until an early dinner, which was often big, too – though the specific courses weren’t as consistent. While Sunday breakfast was always at the big round dinner table, dinner was sometimes allowed in front of the TV in the living room. I can remember watching a movie called Shenandoah, one of my father’s favorites, one Sunday afternoon while eating pork chops and jelly biscuits.
Now, that’s not to say we avoided the occasional nod to healthy eating in our house. For instance, we quite often ate a salad – iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, onions, deli ham and Kraft American cheese cut into little squares – doused in French dressing prior to the main course of a huge plate of angel hair spaghetti covered in Prego sauce with added ground beef. On the side, plenty of warm French or Italian bread on which butter would quickly melt away into nothingness. For drink, you had your choice between a pitcher of sweet iced tea or ice cold Coca-Cola.
Okay, maybe I was stretching it a bit with the “healthy eating” claim. But there was a salad buried somewhere in there. And we did, for a time, substitute Diet Coke for the real thing.
By middle school, I had grown an appreciation for football, so Sunday afternoons during that season consisted of sitting in the living room while my father and brother screamed at the TV in attempts to motivate our team. Their combined yelling apparently catapulted the team to multiple Super Bowl wins, for the team began a perennial losing streak soon after my father left the scene that continues to this day nearly three decades later.
As middle school wore on and then on into high school, Sunday nights became a time of anxiety for me. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t do any of my homework (though often true), it was the knowledge that I had to face another full week at that place – dealing with people, not being myself, and other assorted problems.
My first job was at an amusement park, so Sunday then became a key working day for me as I entered adulthood. No more big breakfasts or football games. This lasted a couple of years before I moved on to more typical Monday through Friday work – though, admittedly, never quite as fun as the park.
Sunday night anxiety became a fixture, except the dread of the forthcoming school week was soon replaced with the dread of the forthcoming work week. During my marriage, I went through a long period of time where my inner dialogue often consisted of statements like, “I wish I was dead. I wish I was dead. I wish I was dead.” Sunday nights into Monday mornings were the peak for these kinds of thoughts. By Monday mornings, my stomach was ripped to pieces. But this post is about Sundays. Fortunately for you.
Sundays during my marriage consisted of a blaring TV. Actually, so did all of the other days of my marriage, but on Sundays, it would specifically blare either football games or NASCAR races – both of which I had lost interest in by the time I was married, oddly enough. Sometimes I would sit there with my former spouse and endure this audio and video assault. Other times, I would go hide in my office to try to have a moment to just think, knowing full well I would be guilt tripped later for my retreat.
I find it difficult to concentrate when a TV is blaring all the time, and my former spouse required the TV to be on at all times – even while sleeping. My only opportunities for audio peace were those few times she wasn’t home. Anyway, I am getting off track here. We can dissect my marriage some other time.
In general, I saw Sunday as a lesser version of Saturday. Lesser because Saturday morning was full of promise with the entire weekend ahead, while Sunday was an inevitable march into Monday, collapsing hopes that the new week would never come.
In June 2018, JC led me to Jesus and, as evidenced by just about every post I’ve ever made on this blog, my entire life changed. Including, of course, Sundays.
At that time, for various reasons, I began attending my local church through streaming. Combined with the daily quiet time of reading and prayer that JC instilled into me right from the start, I began to learn and absorb so much about Jesus, God, and myself. Over time, Jesus and JC helped me with my anxiety. While I still have my anxious moments from time-to-time, they are nothing like the prison I had built and constantly refined for myself before I knew Jesus.
As my marriage disintegrated, I began attending the church in person. Outside of JC and a couple of her friends, I never did become fully comfortable there, though. While I was learning, the environment never felt quite right. The mostly monochromatic parishioners left me cold, for one thing. Everyone looked like me, which wasn’t what I wanted. And there were other issues.
JC and I did a few times drive about 70 miles to a small church that I absolutely love (another long story). Locally, we began trying to find a more diverse church. This proved a bigger challenge than anticipated.
Then, COVID-19 hit. My Sundays changed again, as did everyone else’s on the planet – no matter their belief system. At first, it felt like I had come full circle. I was streaming the local church again, but that church just wasn’t for me anymore.
Instead, I began to seek out other streaming alternatives to hear the Word. Dr. Tony Evans and Pastor T.D. Jakes have really risen to the challenge of these times, and I have felt so enriched experiencing their web sermons. The little church 70 miles down the road even added video sermons, which allowed me to stay spiritually in touch with them as well.
Whereas Sundays had become about dutifully going to a church for an hour where I never quite belonged, it has evolved in COVID times for me into a day of worship, learning, reflection, and writing. My three most recent Sundays began with reading, prayer, a big breakfast (in honor of Mom, though never quite as big as those days gone by), followed by whichever video sermon I am led to watch, followed by lunch, blogging, another video sermon, some reading, dinner, and blogging again. And some praise music mixed up in all of that, too.
Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t admit I usually sneak a nap or two in there as well. After all, it is supposed to be a day of rest, right?
I just noticed the time. My heart still sinks when I realize Sunday is almost over. Anxiety is always on the other side of the door, waiting to come in. No. This time, I won’t open that door. Jesus will hold it closed for me.
Thank you for reading these rambles. May Jesus bless you.
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“Jesus responded, ‘Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!’ Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.”
from Matthew 8:26
I feel like I am in the boat alone on rough waters. Health, job, marriage, finances, family, future and so on. Everything is unstable and has been for months. And, of course, the global pandemic and, as of late, riots all over the country I live in.
I was asking Jesus, “Where are You?” As I focused on that question, I thought about the disciples in the boat during the storm. They thought they were going to die.
“The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!'” Matthew 8:25
With all that is going on right now, it is not so far fetched to feel that death is a possibility. If we go back a few verses to Matthew 8:22, “Jesus told him, ‘Follow me now.'” He was addressing a disciple that asked to go bury his father before committing to following Jesus. Most Bibles label this set of verses “The Cost of Following Jesus.”
The very next verse, 8:23, “Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.” We move from Jesus telling us the cost to follow Him to getting into the boat with Him.
There are two things to highlight. One, He just told us there is a cost to following Him, so why are we surprised when storms arrive?
Two, Jesus is IN the boat with us. He’s right here – do not feel the need to ask, “Where are You, Lord?” He is right here in the boat with us.
“Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.”
from Matthew 14:22-23
Jesus “insisted” the disciples get in the boat while He went by Himself to pray. Keep in mind this encounter with the boat is not too long after the verses above that we just read in Matthew 8. The disciples had recently witnessed Jesus calm the storm when He was IN the boat.
While Jesus was praying by Himself, a storm came up, and “the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves” (from Matthew 14:24). The disciples cried out and Jesus came to where they were on the water.
In verse 27, Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid! Take courage. I am here!” Jesus was not physically in the boat with them this time, but He was there. He knew where they were and how to get to them and, of course, had the power to once again calm the storm.
Jesus said to Peter in verse 31, “You have so little faith, why did you doubt me?” In Matthew 8:26, Jesus had said, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!”
This is a message for us today. Jesus asks why are we afraid, why do we doubt Him? We must have faith. He has saved us every single time throughout our lives, for you and I have not drowned yet.
We cannot doubt Jesus is with us. He is right here – in the boat in the storm. He is stretching our faith.
The first time, He was in the boat, right there. The second time, we cannot see Him in the boat. So, we have to use our faith and not our sight. Ride out the storms knowing He is right there. Hand over everything to Him – your faith, your life, your today, and your tomorrow.
Don’t be someone to whom Jesus would say, “You have so little faith!” When fear creeps in, take it captive by praising Him. If doubt enters, pray. If loneliness clouds your mind, read Matthew chapters 8 and 14. Let the Word of God remind you that you are never alone. And there is a cost to following Him – complete and total faith.
I know that secular statistics say that money and communication are the causes for divorce. I propose another root cause that is based in Scripture. The failure of marriages can be traced back to the parties failing to fulfill their Biblical roles.
In this piece, I am going to step on toes. But, Snow and I have committed to be unfiltered here, no matter how controversial what we say may be. The goal is to challenge your perspective. Perspective is everything, but that is an entirely different post.
In the Bible:
“For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 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. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 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. 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. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body. As the Scriptures say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:22-33
When either of the parties disobeys or chooses not to fulfill his or her Biblical role or is ignorant of it, the enemy reigns. These roles also apply to non-believers because God created marriage, so it is only by His playbook that a marriage will be in line with its design. While unsaved people can still have great marriages, anytime you do not follow the instruction manual, things will not be optimized.
What about if only one of the people is fulfilling his or her Biblical role in marriage? That is where we run the risk of stepping outside of God’s design. For example, if the wife respects her husband as he disobeys Scriptures, is she endorsing non-Biblical behavior?
We are called to obey God above everyone else.
What if the husband loves the wife, but she does not respect him? I suggest that it goes back to whether the husband is obedient to God. If he loves her, but disobeys Scriptures, I would offer that is human love, not Biblical love. As defined by the verses above, Biblical love is “as Jesus loves the church.”
So, when a husband loves his wife, but is disobedient to Scriptures, he is failing in his Biblical responsibilities.
It is mighty difficult to respect someone who claims to know Jesus as his Lord, yet refuses to obey most, if not all, of the Scriptures.
But what about those husbands who love their wives, but are disobedient occasionally (as we all are)? Then, as wives, we need to pray for our spouses and fast for them; wives are the “helpmates” (Genesis 2:18).
As wives, we are commanded to respect our husbands, not love them. There are a lot of thoughts that can be said about why that is, but the point of this post is the root cause of the failure of marriage. Wives are to respect and submit to their husbands as the husbands obey Scriptures. Notice how we go back to the obedience of the husband. Wives are not commanded to submit to a husband who is disobedient to God.
If there are issues in your marriage, it is certainly worth praying over these verses to see where is the breakdown. Is the husband obedient? If he is, is the wife respecting him? If not, the enemy is using your marriage as a playground.
The term “spiritual abuse” is not something I looked up on the Internet. I do not even know if such a phrase already exists. Here is how I am defining it: When someone you are under the authority of, per the Bible, fails to fulfill their Biblical responsibilities and instead creates an environment of disobedience to God.
I am the first person to say that nobody is perfect. This is not about a failure along the way or an error. This is about a spiritual authority that has a consistent pattern of being disobedient to the word of God, yet claiming they know Jesus. If you have been reading this blog for any period of time, you know a little about my story.
God has recently laid it on my heart to go deeper with you and reveal more. My intent is to help just one person. Perhaps that one person is you. If so, I have been praying for you.
I have been married for 23 years; neither of us were saved when we got married. Eleven years ago, I was saved, and then two years after that, my husband was baptized. There are many responsibilities in the Bible that are given to governments, people in authority, and to husbands and wives. Ever since I was saved, God put on my heart the burden to give up my old life and be on the mission field full time. What an honor to serve Him full time.
My husband did not have the same call on his heart. We talked to the Senior Pastor, who told me, “God is not a God of confusion.” The problem with the pastor’s advice is that he never said to my husband, “Have you prayed about the burden on your wife’s heart? She is adamant this is what she has heard from the Lord.”
My husband does not pray, does not read the Bible, and never speaks the name “Jesus.” But, as a “good,” submissive wife, I thought that the pastor and my husband were right. God is not a God of confusion. For over a decade, then, I buried that burden deep within my heart. I went on mission trips each year. I prayed that God would reveal the same burden to my husband, but He did not or my husband never revealed He did. That burden is with me every day to this very day. But I replay what the pastor said, “God is not a God of confusion.”
Daily, I beg God for my husband to draw closer to Jesus. I beg for God to provide me with a husband who will read the Bible with me or pray with me or provide some example to our three kids of what a Christian husband and father might look like.
Morning after morning and night after night during my prayer time with God, I sob. I cry out to God. I have become an expert at stifling my sobs, as I do not want the kids to hear me. I have also become an expert at “cleaning up” my face should one of the kids enter the area where I am praying. I wipe the tears extremely quickly and slap a smile on my face. I even learned that a certain eye cream helps when I have cried too hard and my eyes get puffy.
I have become an expert at hiding my pain. I have become an expert at burying what I know God put on my heart: Full time missionary work. I tell myself that if God wanted me to be a full time missionary, He would burden my husband. So, maybe the timing is not just right yet. Keep stifling those sobs, keep using that eye cream, keep being submissive.
In March of this year, my best friend in the world passed away extremely unexpectedly. He was 46-years-old.
I was crushed.
I could not breathe.
The police were waiting for me to arrive. And there my best friend was, gone, laying on the floor, gone at age 46. I had to make decisions about cremation, funeral services, his finances, etc. I am his executor. I agreed to do this, yes, but not now. I thought when we were 90, maybe.
You left me. I felt alone and so hurt. Jesus quickly swooped in and reminded me that you were a child of God. You are now with Him and completely healed. Jesus reminded me that I will see you again. I still cling to that knowledge to help me get through the pain day-by-day. Praise Jesus for His promises.
The death of my best friend awoke in me a journey that I needed to go on. As I planned his funeral and cleaned out his home, I kept feeling him with me spiritually. I believe that when someone has crossed over, they are still with you, just in a different way. As the months passed, I felt my best friend sharing with me that he had no idea how much I cried and hid my tears and buried what I was created to be and denied what I heard from God.
I continued to cry out to God and continued to stifle my sobbing and hide my tears and deny who I was in Him.
A few months ago, God showed me examples in the Bible of people under ungodly authorities. In Exodus 1:15-16, Pharaoh tells the Hebrew midwives to kill the baby boys. Verse 17 notes, “But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders.” In verses 20 and 21, it says, “So God was good to the midwives […]. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.” It appears from these Scriptures that God rewarded the midwives for their disobedience to the king and obedience to God.
In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar requires all people to bow down and give worship to a statue. Three Jewish men refuse to obey the king. In verse 15, Nebuchadnezzar says, “I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue.” In verse 18, the men reply, “We want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” The king throws the men into a blazing furnace and God saves them. Then in verse 28, “They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” The three men were then promoted to even higher positions than before. It appears from these Scriptures that God rewarded the three men for their disobedience to the king and obedience to God.
I am currently in a Bible study by a popular American preacher. He says that when the wife fulfills Biblical responsibilities that belong to the husband, everything gets turned upside-down and the family unit is exposed to the enemy. I believe that, but what does a wife do? Stand by and allow her kids not to be led at all because it is the husband’s role?
Years ago, I made a conscious decision to lead my children and, yes, I assumed Biblical responsibilities that my Christian husband refused to do. I never stopped praying for my husband to be the spiritual leader that God created him to be and for me to be the wife that he needed to fulfill that role. No progress. More sobbing. More hiding the pain.
I have been fasting and praying for years about how to reconcile the command to be submissive to my husband versus the call that I know God has placed on my life as well as me leading the children versus my husband. I am choosing to divorce my husband. There are many reasons why I made this choice: verbal abuse, mental abuse, financial abuse, and, most of all, spiritual abuse.
I am not saying this path is for everyone. You must pray and listen to God. I have peace with the path I am now on. I have bathed it in prayer and asked for forgiveness from my husband and from God. I will continue to cry out daily for my husband, even when he is no longer my husband. The most important thing in this world is Jesus. Luke 12:31 says to “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.”
All I need is Jesus. I want to give Him my life, my every breath. I have denied for a decade what He created me to do. I will be judged by other believers for the path I am taking. But this is not about them. This is about many years of daily conversations with God and me obeying the commands He has placed on the lives of every believer.
As I was praying about my marriage, my husband, and the path I am going down, I felt led to read Genesis. Laban deceives Jacob into marrying Leah, when Jacob just wanted to marry Rachel. In Genesis 31:1-16, conflict arises between Jacob and Laban. In verse 3, it says, “Then the Lord said to Jacob, ‘Return to the land of your father and grandfather and to your relatives there and I will be with you.'”
There will be occasions in our lives that God will use conflict to get us on a new path and, more importantly, He will use conflict to sever relationships that are not guiding us to God. If there is a relationship in your life that is causing you to move away from God, pray about severing it. Our command is to obey God, above all other authorities we are under: “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
What I realized is that in choosing to submit to my husband, I was allowing myself and my kids to be led away from God. When I began to move toward God, conflicts arose. I realized that the marriage I am in is a mockery of God. There is nothing Biblical about this marriage other than two people in it who claim to know Jesus as Lord. I choose to no longer submit to a husband who refuses to pray, read the Bible, or speak the name above all names, Jesus.
Yes, I will be judged by people for filing for a divorce. But I have peace in knowing that I am not confused, and I will no longer be spiritually abused or abused in any other way.
I recently completed a 40 day fast for my marriage during which I performed at least one daily act to try to show my spouse the kindness and love of Christ, regardless of his behavior. While Fireproof was an initial jumping off point, I created my own version to better fit my situation. I learned as I did mine and landed with the below.
Goal: Deepen your relationship with God. Notes: I recommend that you combine this with a daily food fast. When you crave the food(s) you have given up, it will remind you throughout the day of the fast. Due to its origins, the text of this fast assumes you are married. However, you could potentially replace “spouse” with any key person in your life. As I mentioned last time, this fast is NOT intended for people who are in marriages where your health/well-being is at stake. I am not asking you to stay with someone for 40 days who mistreats you or your kids or anyone. If you are in this kind of relationship, please get help: www.thehotline.org. God created you in His image, and He did not intend for you to be abused by your spouse or anyone. Prayer when craving the missing food(s) and during your daily quiet time: “Let today be the day I come to know You deeper than ever before.”
Day 1: Commit to reading the Bible daily for at least 15 minutes, if you do not already do so. Commit to praying daily for at least 10 minutes, if you do not already do so.
Day 2: Find a “Nathan” for this fast to hold you accountable. Named for the prophet who confronted King David in 2 Samuel 12 after he sinned against God, a “Nathan” is the person in your life who will challenge you, call you out, and tell you like it is.
Day 3: Ask how you can pray for your spouse. If he or she won’t/can’t answer, pray Deuteronomy 6:5 over them: “I pray [spouse’s name] will love the LORD our God with all [his/her] heart, all [his/her] soul, and all [his/her] strength.”
“‘Don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.”
“The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.”
Day 6: Commit to communicating to your spouse either a verse or a prayer every day during the fast.
Day 7: Forgive your spouse. Write a letter to give them or burn.
Day 8: Ask your spouse how the situation or circumstance he or she asked you to pray about is going. If a specific request was not provided, communicate to them, “I am praying for you daily.”
Day 9: Do something unexpected that your spouse will see as a kind gesture.
Day 10: Thank your spouse for something he or she recently did.
Day 11: Write our three positive things about your spouse. Leave it for him or her to find.
Day 12: Think of something you do that you know annoys your spouse. If you don’t know, ask. Don’t do this thing for the rest of the fast.
Day 13: Think of a conflict you and your spouse have that you can pray about and find a compromise. Try to put your spouse first.
Day 14: Be present with your spouse. No need to say or do anything. Just be present.
Day 15: Cook or buy your spouse his or her favorite dinner.
Day 16: Find a way to show respect to your spouse today.
Day 17: Pray to God to examine your heart and show you anything that offends Him.
Day 18: Pray for God to allow you to see your spouse through His eyes.
Day 19: Check in with your spouse to see if the prayer request has changed or how it is progressing.
Day 20: Remove any temptation that may be in your life – a person, a thing; get help for an addiction, etc.
Day 21: Plan to worship with your spouse.
Day 22: See if your spouse will share with you anything for which you need to ask forgiveness. If so, ask forgiveness. If you don’t feel sorry, pray about it. Don’t just emptily apologize.
Day 23: Do an unexpected kind gesture.
Day 24: Leave your spouse an encouraging card with Scriptures.
Day 25: Find out your spouse’s love language. If you already know, fill him or her up.
Day 26: Pray with your spouse. If you can’t, tell him or her that you are praying for them.
Day 27: Recommend a Bible study to your spouse to read alone or together.
Day 28: Thank your spouse for a specific thing he or she recently did.
Day 29: Check in with your spouse to see if the prayer request has changed or how it is progressing.
Day 30: Leave your spouse a handwritten letter of encouragement with verses.
Day 31: Do an unexpected kind gesture.
Day 32: Write what made you fall in love with your spouse. Give it to him or her, if you so choose.
Day 33: Create a “break” for your spouse. Do a chore, errand, or something else he or she would normally do.
Day 34: Cook or buy your spouse his or her favorite meal.
Day 35: Plan to worship with your spouse.
Day 36: Spend time with God. Ask Him to examine your heart. Listen.
Day 37: Thank your spouse for something he or she recently did.
Day 38: Check in with your spouse to see if the prayer request has changed or how it is progressing.
Day 39: Determine what, if anything, you want to share with your spouse about the fast. Any letters written during it? Any insights?
Day 40: Write vows of commitment to God. What areas in your relationship with God need to be renewed? Strengthened?
In a future installment, I will share my renewed commitment to God from Day 40. Thank you for reading. I pray that if you choose to fast, you will find what you seek.