Tag Archives: accountability

Why is Christian Marriage So Hard? Hope and Possibilities Within

The look on my face must have been one of utter confusion.

A woman who had been married almost forty years just told our group that, as a young fiancee, she had a bright and sunny outlook on marriage. To her generation, marriage was full of hope and possibilities for a blissful life.

Say what?

Contrary to us millennials who constantly hear and experience, “Marriage is hard.”

Why is Christian Marriage so hard

We’ve heard the stats: divorce rates in the church are the same as outside the church. In fact, anecdotally, many of us know marriages of unbelievers that are thriving and happy and united. 

Why aren’t ours?

Why is Christian marriage so hard?

There are two answers in Ephesians 5.

1. Marriage is a picture of God’s relationship with His people. Thus, much is at stake.

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy…

This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:24-26,32 NIV)

You may already know this, but why does this necessitate hardship?

God has given marriage as a primary tool to teach the gospel (the other big one being the love that God’s people have for each other). Thus, a lot is at stake. Redemption is at stake. Souls are at stake.

So a battle for our marriage is waged. Notice that the famous marriage passages are bookmarked on either side by guardianship against sin and spiritual warfare.

Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Eph. 5:15-16 NIV

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Eph. 6:11 NIV

It should perhaps be no surprise at all that marriage is difficult. It’s a General in a massive battle for the kingdom.

Why is Christian marriage so hard?

Photo by CreationSwap

2. Marriage is a union of two sinners.

You could have guessed this, right? Paul is teaching the “faithful” in Ephesus how relationships work in God’s design, and he has to frequently call out our selfishness.

Get rid of all bitterness…

Find out what pleases the Lord…

Submit to one another…

Love your wives, just as Christ loved the church…

Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies… All from Eph. 4-5

So now we don’t just have a relationship that is under attack by the enemy, but our very selves attack from within, letting selfishness breed like cancer.

I don’t now how well a cancerous soldier can fight. Do you?

Two ways to fight for a better marriage

So what’s the solution? There must be something that can make marriage better!

1. Trust in the victor.

Why is Christian marraige so hard

We already know how this battle ends. Christ’s heel is struck, but the enemy is crushed.

For God has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Cor. 15:57 NIV

We must rest in this truth. Meditate on it and know that God wins!

2. Seek help and accountability.

You must  must  have help to have a great marriage. This includes

  • Personal accountability for your relationship with the Lord
  • Community with others who can encourage your marriage
  • Counseling for traumatic pasts and martial hurts

Why is Christian marraige so hard

After being married for forty years, do you know why that lady was in our group? Because it turns out marriage is hard, and she was leading other married couples to have better marriages, marriages that illustrate God’s work on the cross, marriages full of hope and possibilities. 

 

 

Fight for Time with God

As a mom with 2 young kids (and a third on the way!), it’s been difficult to set a good pattern of having time alone with God.

I personally find it difficult to focus on Bible reading and prayer in the evenings, so I always strive for the mornings. There have been periods where staying connected was doable, and there have been periods where it seemed impossible!

Accountability helps! For a time, a friend and I would text each other early in the morning as a reminder to quit hitting snooze and get up already. That definitely helped me to quit laying in bed as long as I wanted to (which would be forever).

We started with 6:30am, I think. A reasonable time, I thought! Plenty of time to get ready and have time with my Lord before the kids get up. (This was before public school :))

My daughter, who was 2 at the time, would somehow smell in the air that I was up, and there she’d be, climbing into my lap.

Sigh, I’d think. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Well 6:30 was then her new wake up time! I tried to read, but it was distracting.

So my friend and I went for 6am. We’re good rule followers, you see. 6:30 didn’t work? OK, 6 it is!

Ahem. Guess who still somehow figured out I was up and therefore so was she? Yes, indeed.

These days, my pattern of getting up is not an issue – public school calls, and thus, so does 6am.

And since this rule follower cannot fathom being late, I’m up right on time. So, I do usually get to start on some Bible reading/journaling before my kids are up, but day after day, this time is not my own.

But this time is already not mine. It’s His. It’s for me, but it’s devoted to Him. And He’s given me these two, almost three, gifts to join me in the mornings. All I can do is be faithful with what He’s called me to and keep fighting for that time with Him.

But this interruption is not perfect in my mind, so I just want to throw in the towel instead!

Sigh – well I tried God! I tried to listen and hear and read and pray, but these babes interrupted and now I can’t think! Why even try?!

This is what I’m tempted to think.

Then, not too long ago, I was reading in Mark and realized Jesus was constantly interrupted during his time with the Father.

Then Jesus got up early in the morning when it was still very dark, departed, and went out to a deserted place, and there he spent time in prayer. Simon and his companions searched for him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” (Mark 1:35-37, NET)

That’s what I feel like sometimes – everyone is looking for me so they can be fed or warmed or dressed or cuddled or talked to!

I’m pretty sure Jesus had quite a better devotional life than I do, and I’m quite sure people were looking for him for different reasons than they are looking for me. 😉 But reading that comforted me in this issue like nothing before.

It challenged me to stay connected to the vine. To fight for that time and that relationship! To not give up.

So whether you fight your alarm clock or kids or just your own wants in the morning, join me in fighting for that deserted place with God, would you? Let’s get up when we can, spend time with the Lord until that interruption comes, and accept grace for the gap between what we thought it should be and what it was.

The State of Things

Sometimes it’s dangerous to be real. To be candid. To be willing to lay your guts on the table for all to see. To hope that God will use your ugly stories for His glory and His gain and His kingdom. To pray that others will fall more in love with Him because of your weakness.

It’s dangerous; but it’s worth it. Trusting God’s calling and dying to the world’s perception – it’s how you take up your cross daily and follow Him.

After pouring my guts out here in this public place lately, I have had some wonderful things happen:

People Questioned My Marriage

Huh? You call that “wonderful”? Yeah, I do. You see, because of my stage in life and work and maybe a dash of that untouchableness that people mistakenly attribute to pastor’s families, I have only a few close relationships. Laying bare my struggles is an opportunity for people to see the ugliness of my heart and the beauty of my God.

Plus, the people who checked up on me after reading (or hearing about) some of my recent blog posts) did so out of love. They truly wanted to make sure I was safe and loved. And I am.

More on this later, but just because I am daily tempted by something does not mean that I am caught in its sin (although I am not proud enough to think that can’t change in an instant). Thank God for this:

No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13, NETBible)

Some of You Have Been Helped

I am SO thankful for those of you who have commented and emailed on my posts lately. You have been an encouragement to me. It’s difficult to be vulnerable in any media, but when one of you tells me, I needed to hear this because I am struggling and don’t know what to do, I know God has called me here for a reason.

You’re Still Here

I admit – I have been checking my site stats quite a bit lately. Anytime I noticed a dip, I thought, Oh boy! There they go! They didn’t want the real me; they wanted fluff! But no. From what I can tell, you’re all still here. Thanks for staying even though I’m a flesh and blood sinner.

We’re Pressing On and Pressing In

So that’s it! I just wanted to clear the air for any of you who were wondering if something was going on “between the lines”. We’re moving forward, praying that God brings us closer to Himself daily.

Infidelity of the Heart

I want to expand on what I concluded with last time – infidelity of the heart. It’s a very real temptation and sin, and I don’t think many people are talking about it. So I’m going to suck it up right now and confess.

I’m guilty. I have been tempted by infidelity of the heart from the time I dated my husband until now. I’m disgusted to say I have fallen into its evil snare more than once. I’m sure I will be tempted by it for the rest of my life.

The only thing I think I can liken it to is a male’s lust. Yes, infidelity of the heart is my pornography. It carries the same thrill, the same shame, the same disasters, the same let-down that makes you crave more.

I hate it. And I’m fighting it. Just like lust is a daily battle for a man, guarding my heart is a daily battle for me.

If you are single, you can’t write this off. While you’re single, Jesus is your only bridegroom. Your devotion. When I was single, I absolutely gave me heart willy nilly to men rather than to God. It’s a sin, ladies.

I want to share the warning signs with you, just in case I’m not alone here. And at the end (skip down if you like ;)), I want you to see the biggest weapon I use to slay this sin.

The Warning Signs

If you are in danger of succumbing to infidelity of the heart, a relationship with a man (or a woman, if that is your struggle) might have some of these characteristics:

  • You try to catch his eye often; you look for and want more eye contact than really necessary
  • You become really helpful (your design is to HELP your husband, so when you give your heart away to someone else, you try to HELP them)
  • You make flirty jokes or laugh extra at his (remember how you laughed like this with your husband while you were dating?)
  • You hang out where he is or is going to be instead of staying in your usual spaces
  • You purposefully allow physical contact; you stand/sit closer than you would with someone else
  • You communicate more than necessary, rationalizing it. “I need to email him because he would want to know I heard that song we were talking about.”
  • You check communications constantly – Facebook, Twitter, Email, Voicemail
  • You put more effort in your appearance
  • You avoid talking about your husband or children; OR you talk excessively about them to mask what’s really going on
  • You go early and stay late when you know you will be in the same place
  • You do anything with him that you would not do if your husband were there.

How to Slay the Beast

If you want to fight this temptation successfully, you need accountability. Yes, pray. Yes, read your Bible. But just as a man needs accountability to successfully fight lust and the sin of pornography, a woman needs accountability to fight infidelity of the heart.

It was only after hearing Mark Driscoll in the Song of Solomon series talk about the “foxes” in our marriage that I realized how disastrous these sins were. My husband offered the grace of God, and God has been so gracious to rebuild our marriage. But I needed someone else to know, someone else to pray for me, someone else to show me my ugly heart.

So I fessed up in a very embarrassing meeting with my accountability partner. It was the best thing I ever did.

Being able to tell her when I was struggling with this issue – or when I was struggling with not accepting grace for my sins of infidelity – kept my heart safe and sound in my home, where it belongs.

You need this in your life for so many reasons. Find someone you really trust; someone to whom confidentiality is a BIG DEAL. See if they want this kind of relationship too. If they don’t, move on until you find the right person.

You must.

I miss you, Laura.

This Pastor’s Wife’s Purpose, Question 3

Remember that journey we’re on to discover our specific purpose? Here we are again! I can’t say it enough – we are here to bring God glory.

But how are we doing this? Or not doing it?

On to Question 3: Where are there gaps in your life? A longing for doing something differently? Or doing something new?

  1. Marriage – This one is totally my fault. I have an awesome marriage, and my husband is my best friend. But I haven’t been investing enough in our marriage. After I won the ticket to Relevant, I spent the next week getting ready for the conference while Brad was ill and Samuel had a cold. Then we all got sick. Brad and I haven’t been getting good quality time. The lack of quality time lingers around like a fight that never happened, doesn’t it?
  2. Spiritual Investments – This is what I call any actions I take towards people I care about with the hope of sharing about Jesus’s saving work on their behalf. This is one of my greatest passions and is usually in the “I’m excited about…” category. But, again, busyness threw off my usual priorities. I feel focused on myself rather than focused on how God wants to use me.
  3. Prayer – I love praying, but I am terrible at it. I blame my doerness. It’s really hard for me to sit still and talk to God. But when I do, it is so amazing and fulfilling. He already knows me, and He’s there waiting, but I keep passing Him by saying, “Later God – I’m busy right now, can’t you see!?” If I don’t spend time talking to God, how can I hear from Him about my purpose?
  4. Coaching – Brad coined this term (for me anyway) this year for any relationships where we talk through spiritual things together. For example, Laura, my accountability diva, and I are in a coaching relationship. Another word for this is discipleship.
    Laura and I meet once a week unless something comes up, and we can just see God’s sovereignty in pairing us up. This is going pretty awesome, I would say (wouldn’t you, Laura?), but I desire more coaching relationships. For some reason, without having any authority at all, being a pastor’s wife means people listen to you. I don’t know why, but they do. So I want to be a good steward of this position and make sure I’m actually telling people things that matter. I haven’t been taking next steps in the opportunities that are in front of me.
  5. My Job – It’s easy to be excited about the shiny new things, but it’s a lot harder to be excited about the things that require endurance. And my job is no exception.
    I work for an amazing company that has blessed me to be able to work part-time from home. But because my heart right now is really with Samuel, it’s hard for me to always have an attitude of joy about my work – well, not about my work, but about working. I like what I do, but my heart is just torn. I know all of you moms feel my pain.

As you can see, I am not presenting myself as a living sacrifice right now. But I’m encouraged that some tweaks in my routine (courtesy of Amy Andrews’ eBook Tell Your Time) might pull my priorities to front and center.

Now it’s your turn! Where do you see needed improvement in your life? Share with us.

Here’s how:

  1. If you’re a blogger – blog your answer and link us up to it!
  2. If you don’t have a blog, add your answer to the comments.

Again, Lord, I see my need for You, and how I am reveling in myself instead of You. Align my heart with yours so that I naturally desire to do Your will in my life. Please bless my friends on their purpose journey.