“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
In the beginning Eve listened to the Serpent thinking he knew better, and in doing so disobeyed God. When I decide I know better, I also disobey God. When I try to control others, I am disobeying God. When I believe I know how someone should live their life and work to attempt to make that happen, God is not pleased with my decision. Even when my husband was into pornography and not treating me well, I could only control myself. God has a plan for each of us and I am responsible for me…no one else. (Jeremiah 29:11)
I wanted to be submissive to God and my husband, but because of my husband’s actions, I struggled with seeing him as a leader or wanting to be submissive at any level. I thought I knew better than God, so I jumped in and tried to control things so my life would be better.
I remember making a mental decision one day that sent me down a long and lonely path. I thought if I made the decision to be in control, I could keep from being hurt, disappointed or left feeling alone. I decided to do everything on my own and never ask for help. I believed I could numb myself to hurtful remarks. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t need my husband, I could do it myself. I learned to be the repairman, landscaper, exterminator, financial planner, housekeeper, cook, laundry mat and cleaners, dog walker, full-time job and errand girl. I tried desperately to juggle everything, but God never meant for me to do this.
God did not want me to carry the responsibility for both of us. He brought us together as a couple and we were to share completely the responsibilities of having a home and being married. By trying to control everything, I took away my husband’s ability to understand the hurt and division he was causing. Since I required nothing of him, he assumed all must be well.
The problem was, I couldn’t do it all myself. I did this for years and I eventually started to feel the weight of it all. My body started to have major problems and now I had to deal with the constant pain along with everything else. I became very depressed yet tried to keep pushing through. Often times it felt as though I was suffocating under the mountain of responsibility I believed I needed to carry. Even in all of this, I still tried to control and keep everything “normal.”
The more I “tried” to control the angrier I became and the more distant our relationship became. Yes, my husband betrayed me and desperately hurt me, but answering one sin with another was not the solution. My husband needed a wife of understanding to draw out his heart (Proverbs 20:5). Instead I did not care about his heart. I needed to “Trust in the Lord with all of my heart (to lie helpless, facedown), and not relying on my understanding.” I did not trust God. I needed to believe I was worth loving and worth being chosen. I had to first really believe that “the Father had lavished great love on me and calls me His child. (1 John 3:1)
It took me thirteen long years to understand God wanted my heart. He knew I was hurting. He knew I was lonely and disappointed. He knew my heart had been broken and my trust was gone. He wanted me to run into His arms like a child that had been hurt or frightened. To run to Him and rest in Him and wait. Wait for wisdom in words to say, actions to take, or people to seek for help. He wanted me! This was my journey with God. This was first my story and my husband’s story of redemption, before it could be our story of redemption.
When I started to release the tight grip I had on everything, God did not disappoint me. He was there through the Word that I would read every day. He was there in thoughts that would come to me. He was there in church when my heart was so convicted yet I could not get enough. He was there in women’s groups. He was there in songs. He was even there in movies I would often see. He helped me understand that I can only control myself. He wrapped His arms around my heart and He has never let go. Even when I stray He brings me back. Because of His work in our hearts, my husband and I are new creations and thirty-five years together.
“The circumstances we ask God to change are often the circumstances God is using to change us.” Mark Batterson