When Expectations in Marriage Take Over

This is an “In case you missed it” post that I would like to share with you. Last month, I had the honor of being a guest contributor on AWifeLikeMe.com where it originally appeared: Link to original post     (***I would love hearing your feedback on this…this was a tough topic to share about.)

 

When I was twenty, the future I dreamed of included a loving husband and four kids. By the time I was twenty-nine, my husband and I excitedly welcomed our fourth child into our home, and we were living that dream life.

 

However, in my early thirties, my feelings and my reality were not in sync. Looking back, I can safely say I was in the midst of a mild depression. The blessings in my life were somehow not enough, and I felt something was missing. I began to look for and expect that missing piece to be found in my husband.

 

One memorable morning, my husband and I sat on the edge of our bed. Tears streamed down my face as I once again expressed that I was struggling with nearly constant sadness. I will never forget the defeated look in his eyes.

 

Numerous times before that day, he had lovingly pointed out the positives, embraced me, and prayed both for me and with me. But on this particular day,  when my tear-filled eyes locked with his, I realized he was weary and out of ideas about how to satisfy an unfair expectation I had unintentionally placed on his shoulders. Somewhere along the way, I had started looking to my husband to be the solution to my feelings of emptiness.

 

Confiding in my husband about my lack of joy was part of the covenant of marriage, but looking to him to be the solution was not contained in the vows we made to each other back in 1992.

 

Like the line from the movie, “Jerry Maguire,” I was looking to my husband to complete me. In this famous scene, when Tom Cruise’s character declares to Renee Zellweger’s character that she completes him, many viewers see it as the ultimate romantic gesture.

 

But in real life, it is an extraordinary amount of pressure to thrust upon anyone; especially someone we deeply, dearly love. Not only this, it is unfair to ask a person to be for us what God can only be. But here I was, seeking to find in my husband a fix for my empty.

 

I wish I would’ve known that as a wife, looking to my husband for my source of purpose, joy, or identity would only bring disappointment and frustration. And in my case, a low-level depression.

 

Friends, we have a promise-keeping God, and one of His promises is that we can indeed possess complete joy.  God’s Word assures us that our journey to complete joy starts by remaining in an obedient, loving relationship with Jesus.

 

John 15:9-11 (NIV) says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

 

God goes above and beyond, because a different version of the bible (the NLT) reads, “our joy will overflow.”

 

Let us never burden our husbands with the impossible task of completing us. How wonderful it is that God truly wants us to look to Him to do that. Let us rejoice that He is willing to fill us to overflowing!

 

This truth is freeing and life-giving. God has what your heart longs for. Turn to Him, and see your heart come alive.

 

A note for anyone struggling with depression: the church has historically not been an advocate for mental health. We do not want you to read this and think there must be something wrong with you, because you are looking to God for joy, but still not experiencing it. Please know that sometimes, like in my case, my feelings (of low-level depression) were due to my misplaced source of joy. But for you, it may be due to a chemical or hormonal imbalance, or due to a traumatic brain injury, which may possibly require medication. If you believe you may be suffering from depression, we encourage you to seek the care of a professional to help you seek the Lord in navigating your own unique journey of healing.

 

Wife Step: Spend five minutes alone with God, sharing your heart with Him. Tell Him how you desire new joy in your heart and in your life. Bare your soul to Him and tell God how you’re struggling with your expectations of your husband. He wants to hear, and He wants to fill you with His presence and joy.

 

Prayers (#3 of 3) For Your Husband

This is the third post in a series of three printable prayers for spouses!

I firmly believe praying for our spouse is one of the most important things we can do to strengthen our marriage. I want to encourage you to begin or continue (whichever the case may be) taking time each day to pray for your spouse or significant other.

(Praying together is also a faith-building relationship-strengthening activity in marriage and there will be an upcoming blog post about that!)

Here are three prayers based on the book of James, chapter 1: 19-21, 22-24, and 26-27.

Scroll down for a printable that includes these prayers!

Also printable #1 and #2 are included at the end of this post!

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. James 1:19-21

Dear Lord, fill my husband with Christlike gentleness and lovingkindness. Before he reacts to potentially volatile situations, instruct him how to be attentive to and considerate of all viewpoints. May he be intentional in becoming more like You: quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Lord, show him how to deliberately separate himself from the rampant evil in this world. Produce in him a righteousness that glorifies You, and lead him toward Your will and Your way. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. James 1:22-24

Dear Lord, develop in my husband a passion for diving into and studying Your Holy Word. Teach him to earnestly listen for Your voice as he strives to remain on the path You designed for him. May he allow Scripture to direct every aspect of his life. I pray he will wholeheartedly enjoy the freedom that living for You provides. Lord, reveal to me how to be his trusted source of encouragement as he learns to surrender to You more and more. Generously bless his devoted obedience to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1: 26-27

Dear Lord, make my husband’s relationship with You his first priority. Instill in him the ability to control his tongue and speak with Christlike wisdom and love. I pray that the manner in which he speaks, acts, and treats others will influence them for You. May he be compelled to reach out to those in need, and may Your mercy, generosity, and love be visible through his actions. Lord, guard his heart from becoming distracted or gripped by the sin in this world. Help him to boldly walk in integrity. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Here is the link for these prayers. Download them, print them, tape them on your mirror or use as a bookmark, etc.

Click here for the 2nd printable in this series!

Click here for the 1st printable in this series! 

 

Prayers (#2 of 3) for Your Husband

(This is the second post in a series of three printable prayers for spouses. Be watching in a few more days for the third post!)

I would venture to say that praying for our spouse is one of the most important things we can do to strengthen our marriage. I want to encourage you to begin or continue (whichever the case may be) taking time each day to pray for your spouse or significant other.

(Praying together is also a faith-building, relationship-strengthening activity in marriage and there will be an upcoming blog post about that!)

I would like to share three prayers based on the book of James chapter 1:9-10, 13-15, and 17.

Scroll down for a printable that includes these prayers!

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. James 1:9-10

Dear Lord, may my husband clearly see every blessing You have granted to him. No matter what his current circumstances are, help him to be thankful to You for those blessings. May his grateful spirit be emulated by his loved ones. Put in him a Christ-like contentment whether he is in a season of need or of having all that he hopes for. Lord, stir in him a concern for those that are struggling and a desire to come alongside them in Christlike support and love. 

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:13-15

Dear Lord, I pray that my husband will plainly see the dangers of sinning against you. Replace any of his sinful desires with a longing for a thriving relationship with You. May false promises of fulfillment through sinning not appeal to him, and may he instead be attracted to the genuine fulfillment of living a Christ-following life.

May he refuse to put himself in positions where temptation may be difficult to avoid. If he commits sin, teach him to take responsibility, and help him to humbly accept the forgiveness and restoration You readily extend. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Dear Lord, Thank You for entrusting my husband with countless blessings. Help him to be mindful of the fact that all good gifts come from You. I pray he will always give You the glory for those gifts, whether big or small. May he be a man who faithfully and openly praises You, and may he inspire others to praise You as well. In this world of disorder and confusion, reassure my husband that You are unchanging, constant, and in control. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

***Click here for a PDF with these prayers. You can download them or print them out. Tape them to your mirror or use as a bookmark, etc.!

***There are 3 more prayers from James chapter 1 that I will be sharing with you in the next few days…be watching for them!

Here is a link for the first PDF of prayers for your husband from James 1:2-6

Prayers For Your Husband

Prayers For Your Husband

How would you feel if you knew your spouse was praying for you and your relationship with Jesus?

I would venture to say that praying for our spouse is one of the most important things we can do to strengthen our marriage. I want to encourage you to begin or continue (whichever the case may be) taking time each day to pray for your spouse or significant other.

(Praying together is also a faith-building, relationship-strengthening activity in marriage and there will be an upcoming blog post about that!)

I would like to share three prayers based on the book of James chapter 1:2-6

Scroll down for a printable that includes these prayers!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, James 1:2

Dear Lord, when challenges occur in my husband’s life, help him to be steadfast in prayer. Place in him a firm belief that You will see him through. As his faith in You grows, may it encourage all who see it displayed in his life. Lord, may the joy that comes from being Your child increase not only when You bring him through trials, but also in the midst of those trials. Give him the ability to see beauty in unexpected places as You redeem difficult situations in the glorious ways that only You can. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:3-4

Dear Lord, I pray it will become a natural tendency for my husband to persevere when he faces tests of his faith. May he be known as a man of unshakeable perseverance, and may that impact our family for generations to come. Lord, help him to be grateful that his relationship with You will be strengthened as a result of persevering through adversity. Show me the best way to be supportive and loving toward him when he is facing tests in his life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:5-6

Dear Lord, I ask You to give my husband the desire to seek and boldly ask for Your wisdom. Reassure him that You will generously provide Your wisdom and that You will show him how to apply it in his life. Lord, please remove doubt from my husband’s mind and replace it with strong faith in Your Word and Your way.  Help him to be a man who listens intently for Your voice and has confidence in every word He hears from You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

***Click here for a PDF with these prayers. You can download them or print them out. Tape them to your mirror or use as a bookmark, etc.!

***There are 6 more prayers from James chapter 1 that I will be sharing with you in the next few days…be watching for them!

Luke 8:47 – The Hem of His Garment

Luke 8:47 – The Hem of His Garment

I greatly admire her fortitude, fearlessness and faith. Fortitude helped her withstand twelve long years without healing. Fearlessness compelled her to go to a place where she was not supposed to be. Faith thoroughly convinced her that touching Him would bring healing.

*This post originally appeared on Devotableapp.com on May 9th, 2019

She came up behind him and touched the hem of his clothes, and at once her bleeding stopped. Luke 8:47 CEB

The Bleeding Woman

I love reading about miracles Jesus performed during His ministry on Earth. In the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, in between the accounts of Him freeing a demon-possessed man and raising a twelve-year-old girl back to life, we can find the story of Him healing a woman with an “issue of blood.”  And wow, what an issue it was! She endured twelve years of physical pain, being ostracized, and unsuccessfully seeking healing from countless doctors.

Hopeless, helpless and hurting.

I have tried to imagine what my mindset and emotional state would be after a dozen straight years of suffering physically, being rejected socially, and receiving no relief from numerous doctors as they bled my bank account dry. I do not think I would have the strength that she showed when she sought healing from Jesus by pressing into a crowd of people who had likely been unkind and uncaring toward her.

I greatly admire her fortitude, fearlessness and faith. Fortitude helped her withstand twelve long years without healing. Fearlessness compelled her to go to a place where she was not supposed to be. Faith thoroughly convinced her that touching Him would bring healing.

All three of the Gospel accounts record the facts that she touched the hem of His garment, she was instantly healed, and that Jesus told her that her faith had made her well. 

Why Did Jesus Ask, “Who Touched Me?”

Two of the three Gospels include another intriguing detail: When Jesus felt power leave His body, He asked, “Who touched me?”  Of course, He knew who touched Him; He knew everything! Why did He ask that question aloud and await a verbal response? 

Jesus could have continued on His journey, and He and the woman could have kept a special secret between them. He had places to go and people to heal. However, He took the time to ask the question. 

When she responded, the crowd witnessed the fact that Jesus desired to bring wholeness to a desperate woman. They saw that she mattered to Him. Her importance to Jesus superseded His schedule and social norms. 

You Matter to Jesus

You matter to Jesus too. Has anyone told you that lately? 

Regardless of what you are going through, you matter to Jesus. Regardless of which road to restoration you are currently traveling, you matter to Jesus. Regardless of how friends and society treat you, you matter to Jesus. 

You have a Healer who loves you. 

A Great Physician who wants you to be whole. 

You matter.

Muster up your fortitude, fearlessness, and faith. Reach out and touch Him today. 

Prayer – Thank You, Jesus, for who You are. Thank You for loving us and for Your desire to bring healing and make us whole. Help us have the faith it takes to reach out to You. Amen.

 

 

Masterpiece in the Making

Masterpiece in the Making

When I rest my head on my pillow at night, it is fairly common for me to categorize the previous twenty-four hours as successful or unsuccessful. 

When I consider the day to be unsuccessful,  often it is because I reacted poorly to someone or I left a loving deed undone.

For years, a judgmental voice beat me up over my failures after a rough day. Thankfully, it has recently become more common for that voice to be silenced by a gentle whisper, which soothingly says, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” 

Friends, you are a work in progress and so am I. It is reassuring to remember that God is not finished with me yet, especially when I have been a below-average follower of the Golden Rule.

In Ephesians 2:10, (NLT) we are called God’s masterpiece. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

We can leave the weight of our sins in the past when we choose to move forward with God as we allow Him to do His work in us. We can be confident that He considers each of us to be masterpieces even while we are in the “work-in-progress” process.

The work-in-progress message of Philippians 1:6 is one for us to embrace as we strive to live faith-filled, Christlike lives. But let us be cautious not to allow the fact that God is not finished with us yet to be an excuse to knowingly fall short of striving to be who Jesus has called us to be. 

In between beating ourselves up for our sins and sweeping every offense under a blanket of “Nobody is perfect” grace, there is a line. It is an important line where Christ shows us how to display His character in every situation. A line where we endeavor to stand against the excuses that the world gives us and lean on the promise that God gives us instead: We are a work in progress…a masterpiece in the making!

At the end of those rough days that are undoubtedly going to happen, listen to the whisper that says, “He who began a good work in you…considers you to be His masterpiece!”

Your Nail-Scarred Hands

Your Nail-Scarred Hands

Lord, open our eyes to see the countless blessings You graciously and generously extend to us. As we reach out to Your nail-scarred hands in acceptance of Your blessings, show us how to live in gratitude for the unmatched sacrifice those scars represent.
May we be tuned in to the ways Your boundless love is on display. May we be compelled to love others the way You do. And as You help us live a life of love and gratitude, may others be eternally impacted for You. Amen.