“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me, and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
“’Lord, help!’ they cried in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as He brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the Lord for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done for them.” (Psalm 107:28-31)
* * *
*****It is that time of year again: Fall stories! Wholehearted Woman Ministries’ mission is helping women be fully surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ and courageously on-mission for Him – one heart at a time. One of the ways we do that is by sharing real-life stories of Christian women both past and present who have decided to follow Jesus wholeheartedly in this way. No matter what season of life you are in, God is calling you to a place of deep and wholehearted relationship with Him. We pray that each story told over the next few months is used by God to fashion your individual heart, to know and experience Him even more deeply, and to joyfully do His will to His glory! “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.” (Psalm 107:2) Read on!
A dear childhood friend of mine (Jenni’s) shared with me several years ago about a difficult season of marriage that she and her husband walked through. Allie described how her husband had stopped regularly attending church for a while. With a fully surrendered heart, she shared how she realized it was God who was the One who had to work on his heart. Without nagging or despairing, Allie kept honoring and loving her husband even in that uncertain time.
Today the Lord continues to bless them in their marriage and all He has called them to in their family, work, parenthood, and just enjoying life together. How did she keep her faith and marriage strong as she walked through that unexpected season? This is Allie’s story…
How have you guys walked through difficulties together and experienced God throughout it? What insights can you share about how you walked through that time?
My husband had stopped regularly going to church for a while, and I had to walk through that time with a quiet strength. It was really hard. But I learned really where my relationship with God was and that I wanted to get closer to Him. I feel like that was when I really started paying attention at church! It sounds weird, but I almost needed that time to myself with God. And I never had it on my heart to talk to my husband about it. So it may sound strange, but for a year we didn’t even acknowledge that he wasn’t going. I kept it to myself so much though that I never talked about it with anyone. I was embarrassed being a pastor’s kid and worship leader, and my husband wasn’t coming to church. Finally, I talked to two very trustworthy, strong-in-the-Lord friends, and they were like, “We are going to pray for him.” I kid you not, within a couple weeks he came back. Did I handle that year perfectly? No! In addition to learning more about my relationship with God and where I was at, I turned to some of the wrong distractions as well.
It really was God who worked on his heart; it wasn’t me trying to change him. That would’ve made the situation much worse. Like I said, I wasn’t perfect, but I had to “die to self.” It was very much about my husband and what he was doing at that time (MBA, CFA, and working full time). I HAD to be his support, I was the only person who was. I had to listen when he was stressed, even though I was tired of hearing about it and I was going through stuff too, but he needed me. I did everything around the house. All of the cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, you name it! And I was also working full time and volunteering at church twice a week. So this is a crucial moment in lots of people’s relationships. Lots of couples are very busy but neither are willing to give up what they have going on to support the other. It’s not about you! If your spouse is pursuing this huge thing, and even though you may not be totally happy with how things are, you need to be their support. Do not nag them (why didn’t you do the dishes, why don’t you pick up your clothes, why don’t you come to church…) and trust God.
I also have had the opportunity to give advice to people who are going through my husband’s side of the story. I tell them I know you’re about to do something big, and it’s going to consume you, but don’t forget about taking the time to ask your spouse how their day was and listen to them talk for a while.
What can a Wholehearted Woman do in every season of her marriage to help her and her husband grow together by God’s design?
We continued to just do things that still strengthened our marriage. Have fun!! Enjoy each other! That’s what you’re married for! And don’t sweat the small stuff. MOST things in marriage that can get on your nerves aren’t actually worth your time and energy. Why are you focusing on your husband’s every little flaw? Do you want him to do that to you? Do you think that’s what God does? So he doesn’t load the dishwasher or fold laundry the way you like? Who cares! He’s doing it isn’t he? Not worth it. Pick your battles. Step back, take a moment to think before speaking and realize how silly being angry about certain things is.
And if it is more serious to you, pray about it. Either God will help you speak to your husband in love about it, or God will work on him. Most of the time, it’s the latter. Give it to God, BE PATIENT, things don’t happen overnight, and watch your husband surprise you. When change happens in God’s timing instead of you trying to force it, it’s a beautiful thing.
Experience and do things TOGETHER. I get that girls nights and girl trips are fun, but why aren’t you desiring that time with your husband? There’s nothing like experiencing new food, activities and places with your husband! That is my escape; that is my happy place. Traveling and trying new things with my husband.
Be quick to say sorry. Every day you are needing to put yourself aside for marriage. Sometimes when you feel like you’re so right on a topic and you’re mad and arguing it may not be worth holding onto and sacrificing the peace in your home. Say the words “I’m sorry” and watch God work. It may open it up for a better more productive conversation. This is an important part of your surrender to the Lord and helps you grow in intimacy. Be intimate. Intimacy (both physical and emotional) and vulnerability with your husband is beautiful. Do not neglect this.
Last but not least, to sum it all up, be best friends and partners. Utilize what this relationship is all about. You’re doing life together. You’re doing things and experiencing things together. You’re helping each other, burdens aren’t just on one person. You’re sharing housework and responsibilities. In my house my husband does all of the cooking and grocery shopping. I do the dishes and cleaning. Figure out what works best for you guys, even if it breaks social norms. It’s not you and your mom and your husband, or you and your sister and your husband, it’s you and your husband! Making decisions together, laughing together, learning about each other and growing in your relationship every day. It’s so fun! Embrace it!
Visit the link below to dive deeper into this topic and hear more from Allie!
* * *
Check out our book The Wholehearted Woman: Who She is and Why She Matters by sisters and co-authors, Jenni Walker and Beth Doohan. With heartfelt messages that will challenge your faith, stories of other Wholehearted Women, and reflection questions to dive deeper, this is a great resource for personal devotion or small group study.