Mentoring and Marriage

“Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God.  They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers.  Instead, they should teach others what is good.  These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands.  Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.” Titus 2:3-5

I don’t believe in fate or coincidence or luck anymore (although I still wish people good luck sometimes; old habits die hard).  I believe in destiny.  I had a date with destiny in June of 2010.  I met a Titus 2 woman.  A woman who became my mentor.  She is like a second mother to me.

There is no way that I could have entered the battle for my marriage alone.  While I had Jesus at my side, I simply did not have the courage to act the way I needed to without someone’s guidance.  Not only was my mentor my cheerleader but she was my prayer warrior and support to run to when things got really hard.  My marriage got worse before it got better.  With a new identity, a new heart, and a mentor to train me I was ready to be open to what it would take to save my marriage.  I was embarking on a journey that I know many would not take.

Without my mentor I was on rabbit trail after rabbit trail reading books about how to win over my husband.  A lot of what I was reading suggested things that I had already tried and worked for a period of time; then we’d have a fight and all was lost.  It was a constant one step forward, two steps back.  The question I had before me: was I going to control my husband and be controlled by my need for him (the curse of Eve) or was I going to allow Christ inside of me to prevail?

My mentor gave me a sheet of paper with 1 Peter 3 on it, from the Amplified version. Even though I was offended (well, probably mad is more like it), that is what I went after.  Standing behind me was a mentor encouraging me to practice it, no matter what my husband was doing to me or behind my back.  Christ in me produced the 1 Peter 3 woman.  Who is she?

In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives, when they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your reverence [for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him – to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and, in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband.] Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of clothes; but let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God.  For it was thus that the pious women of old who hoped in God were [accustomed] to beautify themselves and were submissive to their husbands [adapting themselves to them as themselves secondary and dependent on them].  It was thus that Sarah obeyed Abraham [following his guidance and acknowledging his leadership over her by] calling him lord (master, leader, authority).  And you are now her true daughters if you do right and let nothing terrify you [not giving way to hysterical fears or letting anxieties unnerve you]. 1 Peter 3:1-6

My mentor gave me a copy of the first chapter of Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartin.  This prayer is AMAZING!  It changed how I prayed for my marriage and my husband.  Her prayer asked God to change her, not her husband. With answered prayer for a new heart in me, my new prayer was: unify my husband and I and change me, Lord.  It was clear that me trying to change my husband wasn’t going to work.  Changing me was the only thing I could call upon God for and he has answered with a resounding yes.

During this stage of my walk with Jesus, I learned discipline.  I chose to have faith that God would work in and through me to be what my husband needed.  I had to allow my husband to continue to do whatever it is he wanted to do without a peep from me.  I cannot say that walked this scripture out perfectly, I got scared and anxious sometimes.  But it was enough; grace and mercy found me when I needed it.  I decided to hold on to my faith in Jesus and let God work it out.

What does that look like?  I stopped fighting for my marriage.  I allowed God to go to battle for me.  Instead of holding on tight, I let go.  I told my husband that I was not holding him hostage in our marriage and that he could leave any time.  These words were said with peace in my heart.  He knew that he could leave and I wasn’t going to cling to him.  I also told him that my choice was to stay in the marriage and work though our problems.  Although it was extremely hard, I had faith that if he did leave, I would be taken care of because God loves me and provides for me.  I had to allow my husband to say whatever he wanted to about himself, about me, about our children and our marriage without defending any of those things.  We have had a lot of uncomfortable moments. I have had mud pie on my face more times than I would like to admit.  I chose to keep quiet.  God is my defender, not me.  What made this possible?  The understanding that my husband is separate from me.  He is responsible to God for everything he says and doesn’t say,everything he does and doesn’t do.  If I control him, he cannot be Fathered by God; instead he is controlled by me so that I don’t look bad and we don’t receive consequences.

I understand today that my husband is a son of God.  God is his Father and because God is a good Father, my husband is under the law of grace and mercy, not failure and consequence.  God is gentle and kind, a controlling wife is…well…not.  Prior to our mess, my husband had not received Jesus.  He was leading a selfish life and it hurt his family greatly.  However, I pursued my relationship with God and fellowship with a mentor who supported my cry to be changed.  My husband now knows Jesus because I trusted God to work.  I laid down my fear and anxiety to save my marriage.

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A New Heart

She is clothed in strength and dignity and she can laugh at the days to come.The cry of my heart was for God to put a new heart in me.  God is faithful to answer prayers like that because that is His promise to us.  During my time in counseling, I spent so much time with God; with kids in school and no job, I spent my days in Bible Study, prayer, and reading books on Jesus and Christianity.  I had very little understanding of what I was actually doing other than looking for answers.  Looking back, I now know I was pursuing God.

Enter again Beth Moore.  So Long Insecurity was the book I was reading when God gave me a new heart.   I was on my knees, on my bedroom floor, bending over the book, and bawling. The truth is that my insecurity is what drove my life, my decisions, and most of the trouble I got myself into.  Insecurity caused me to put on the clothes of someone else in order to be accepted by others.  God exposed insecurity as the true motive of my heart; the lie and the sin that drove me to the end of my rope. What God had for me in this book was one sentence that I needed to hear so badly in my life.  The way Beth phrased it is: “You are clothed with strength and dignity and no one can take that away from you.”  Proverbs 31, verse 25 says “she is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”  I own that scripture!  It is my foundational scripture, and it is available to anyone who wants it – for free!  Just walk with it hidden or in your heart, say it (and believe it) when you feel insecure, and it is yours.

The cause of the circumstances in my life was insecurity; it was now exposed so that I could deal with it.  The beauty of God is that he doesn’t expose a lie to you without replacing it with truth.  Lie: I am insecure.  Truth: I am clothed with strength and dignity!  I was designed that way! I truly believe that I had an encounter with the Spirit of God that day.  My prayers were answered. I was transformed. I got the new heart that I had asked for.

God promises us that he will give us a new heart, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament.  With a new heart, we see ourselves and others differently.   We view our world with a soft and squishy heart of compassion, which is the heart of Jesus.

My favorite scripture on this topic is from Ezekiel 36: 25- 31
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.  Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people and I will be your God.  I will save you from all your uncleanness.”

When I received this revelation as mine, I felt so free.  With these scriptures in my pocket and the Holy Spirit living inside me, I was now prepared to fight my next battle; the battle for my marriage.

A New Identity

I am a serial personality test taker.  If there is a test that tells me who I am, what I should do, and how I can get there, I take it.  I have always wanted to know who I am and how that applies purpose to my life.  As it turns out, I was defined – both in my mind and in the minds of others – by the details of my life lived, including how I was raised, the decisions I made, and what others said about me.

What defined the old me?  My shy nature, an inclination toward rebellion, insecurity, a lack of self confidence, an unplanned pregnancy out of wedlock, wanting to be anyone but me.  All really dark things.  This is the baggage I carried into a relationship with Jesus.  The good news?  He took my baggage and showed me who I really am.  In my journey with Jesus, I have been redefined.  I have a new identity!

God says, I am created in His image (Genesis 1:27). God knew me before I was born (Jeremiah 1:4-5). He predestined me before time began (1 Corinthians 2:7). He knitted me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). He has chosen and appointed me for a time such as this (Esther 4:14). He clothed me with strength and dignity (Proverbs 31:25).  God created each of us with his own hands.  He gave us purpose and instilled in us the confidence to carry it out with Him as our guide.  This looks very different from how I have been defined by myself and others.

Knowing my identity in Christ changed how I view myself and how I view others.  The beauty of Christianity is that we are all valuable to God, even people who do not believe in Christ.  I believe the reason bad things happen in our lives and the lives around us is because our primary thoughts about ourselves are: I am not accepted, I am insecure, and I am insignificant.  The truth is:
YOU ARE ACCEPTED…YOU ARE SECURE…YOU ARE SIGNIFICANT.
Humanity was created for purpose and significance.  Each and every life is precious to God.

My counselor gave me a beautiful document that I still cherish today.  It is entitled: In Christ I Am.  It is a list of scriptures that tell me that I am accepted, I am secure, and I am significant.  The proof is all in the Word of God.  The list is not exhaustive but it is a good start.  Search the scriptures for yourself, you will see that we are created by a God who designed us with love…for love.  Receive it in prayers of thanksgiving that you are God’s child, accepted, secure and significant.

You have a new identity!

I am accepted:

I am God’s child (John 1:12)

I am Christ’s friend (John 15:15)

I have been justified (Romans 5:1)

I am united with the Lord and one with him in spirit (1 Cor. 6:17)

I have been bought with a price and belong to God (1 Cor. 6:19, 20)

I am a member of Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12:27)

I am a saint (Eph 1:1)

I have been adopted as God’s child (Eph 1:5)

I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:18)

I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins (Col 1:14)

I am complete in Christ (Col 2:10)

I am secure:

I am free forever from condemnation (Romans 8:1,2)

I am assured that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28)

I am free from any condemning charges against me

(Romans 8:31-34)

I cannot be separated from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39)

I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God (2 Cor. 1:21,22)

I am hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3)

I am confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected (Phil 1:6)

I am a citizen of heaven (Phil 3:20)

I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Tim 1:7)

I can find grace and mercy in time of need (Heb 4:16)

I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me (1 John 5:18)

I am significant:

I am the salt and the light of the earth (Matt 5:13, 14)

I am a branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15:1,5)

I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16)

I am a personal witness of Christ’s (Acts 1:8)

I am God’s temple (1 Cor. 3:16)

I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor 5:17-21)

I am God’s co-worker (2 Cor 6:1)

I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm (Eph 2:6)

I am God’s workmanship (Eph 2:10)

I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph 3:12)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13)