Actually, this is perfect timing, because I have a lot to tell you.
I have talked a little about 2013 being a tough year and that my marriage was also caught in the cross fire. However, I did not mentioned how bad things got, partly because it is always so much easier to write about painful things in retrospect. In truth, things were looking pretty bleak, and the more I tried to fix things, the worse they became.
I WAS AT THE END OF MY ROPE, to put it mildly, and working together as a couple (as my husband and I do) did not make things easier at all. It seemed that I was in need of something NEW; some new direction, a new job, a new hairstyle, a new book to write, a new project, a new city to live in, or possibly A NEW LIFE!! I wanted out of the old so bad, and especially wanted to run far, far away from the arguments and pain that seemed unending!
I complained to God, cried, begged, and whined. I had to find an answer. I should have an answer, right? I’m a planner and a teacher, certainly I could find a way out of this. But for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how I got in this mess, or how to get myself out of it.
So I kept crying out to God, mainly because there was nothing else to do, and also because I always tell you to do it (Jer 33:3). Have to practice what I preach for Pete’s sake!
I thought for sure God was going to answer in some mighty earth shaking way. I had some ideas of how He could do it: A brand new career for me (as He did for a friend), or a huge chunk of money to go on a long luxurious vacation (as He did for another friend), or at least change the hearts of my loved ones miraculously, so they would stop what they were doing, and become everything I wanted them to be. None of it was too hard for God, right?
But no, you probably know that’s not at all what happened. Instead it rather happened as per the old cliche that God many times changes his CHILD rather than her circumstances.
I was standing in a worship service when I felt the Holy Spirit whisper one word to me: JOY. I didn’t get it. I could simply not comprehend such a thing in my broken state. But even so, a small glimmer of hope was forming inside of me. Hope that maybe, just maybe, there could be some joy again in my future. A few days after this, a friend prayed over me with the greatest care and compassion. She also put a book in my hand (which I quietly vowed NEVER to read!) However, that book kept bugging me, and when the first words (straight from the Bible) rolled over me, I started bawling. It reminded me of the book THE LOVE DARE that I’ve been wanting to read since I’ve seen the movie Fireproof. So I bought it and, as I kept reading through the 40 days, JOY slowly started thawing my frozen soul, and as a result my frigid marriage.
I can not even begin to tell you about the miracle of joy that happened in my marriage! We were not even so happy 21 years ago on our wedding day!
Now before you roll your eyes at me and start checking your Facebook posts instead, let me be completely honest: It did not happen overnight, and initially it had nothing to do with my husband. It happened in me, the JOY started spreading through my being, AND TRULY BECAME MY STRENGTH as the Bible says it would. I started opening my mouth with words of encouragement, support, kindness, and thankfulness. I saw the Holy Spirit empower me to forgive the unforgivable, to love without expecting anything in return. I even started praying for my husband every time I felt like complaining or biting his head off, and saw how this simple act stripped away the anger and filled me with compassion and care instead. Unbelievable!
Dearest reader, I want to encourage you, if your marriage is at a tipping point, ALLOW GOD TO CHANGE YOU. Take the LOVE DARE challenge in this book. I know you may not want to at all! I know that everything in you may be rebelling against this and you may be thinking: I’m already doing everything for everybody. Why do I always have to humble myself while he acts like a complete jerk? I have been doing all of the work in this marriage all these years, it’s his turn now! I am not the one who _______ , why should I fix things?”
Remember I just went through all these angry questions and legitimate excuses in my head, so I REALLY know how you feel. However, THIS IS IMPORTANT, it can change EVERYTHING for YOU.
Like me, you may be standing before a choice: Do you want to be right, or do you want a relationship?
Or more to the point: Do you want JOY in your marriage (and in every area of your life), or do you want to wait for him to come around?
Please don’t wait. Don’t let pride hold you back. Throw all caution to the wind and let God change you from the inside out. It may not immediately impact your marriage, but the changes will impact YOU right away, and it will spill over to every area of your life!
WHO is going to take the LOVE DARE with me on this Valentines Day? I can’t wait to see joy abound in your marriage as well! If you are working with your husband, I want to urge you that this love dare is absolutely CRUCIAL!
My husband is so in awe of the miracle that God has done in me that he wants to read the book and do the dare himself (who would have thought!). This can be your story too…
Here is a link to this book on Amazon (it’s on kindle too): THE LOVE DARE
Your sister in Christ who is praying for you to take the dare