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Life Lessons from a Difficult Season in Marriage

I am back.  Feeling the need to blog. The need to share my hard-learned wisdom with whomever will stop long enough to read it.

In the years since I have really blogged, I have continued to grow and change quite a bit. I wish I could detail more of what has occurred over the past 3 years, but out of respect for marriage, I will not elaborate, only share the main lessons I have learned which have been life changing for me.

For women in difficult marriages, I will say this: Cloud and Townsend http://www.cloudtownsend.com/  are some of the best people with some of the best advice I have ever encountered.  I have read almost everything they have published and I highly recommend Boundaries for any interpersonal issues.

I will also say that if you are in a difficult marriage, for whatever reason, God has His eye on you.  First and Foremost, get as  familiar as possible with how GOD views you and do not let  how you view you or how anyone else views you cloud the TRUTH.  Choose to believe His Word above everyone and everything else. Choose to see yourself as 100% redeemed, sanctified, blood bought, the Head and not the tail, Above and not beneath, an over-comer, victorious, beautiful, having exchanged ashes for beauty, dancing and not mourning, and steps that are ORDERED of God.  Fill yourself up with these thoughts by 'taking each and every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ.'   Believe that He has huge plans for you, your marriage, and your family.  Say affirmations, every morning, in the mirror OUT LOUD.  Speak the Truth to yourself and look yourself in the eye until you believe it.  Stop being a victim and say "I can, I am, I have"  ----- I am a 'woman in process' but I loved Joel Osteen's simple messages and advice.  I listened to him daily, often several times a day for months.  He has a free podcast you can download online.  In addition, I listened to BethelMusic, Jesus Culture, Bethel Church Sermon of the week,  and other favorite praise and worship.  I thought---'so as a man thinketh' and therefore, I figured if I put enough good in, eventually it would have to come out.

Counseling--individual and marital can help.  Use discernment in choosing a counselor.  If they are not fully trained, licensed, etc, I would caution you in becoming vulnerable.  I don't care if they are a pastor or represent a church, I was damaged further by improper counseling by a person who has absolutely NO business pretending she had the corner on the voice of the Holy Spirit in my life.  My marital issues and resulting depression got worse for a while as a result of misguided, untrained, church endorsed counseling.  Again:  Cloud and Townsend are by far the best starting point.

Supplements are a good thing.  Despite being heavily depressed for several months, I did my best to care for myself.  I discovered in this process 5HTP (a metabolite of Tryptophan) and Rhodiola for the extreme anxiety that I experienced.   When your body is in a hyper-vigilant state over the course of months and stress is prolonged, your immune function suffers, you may get sick more often, suffer more sleeplessness, and more infections, etc.  It takes a good deal of time, attention, and self love to heal your body.  Do not take 5HTP with anti-depressant drugs, but it is also used as a sleep aid. Take it at night.  I took Rhodiola, fish oils and evening primrose oil (often still do) in the morning and 5HTP in the evening.  The Rhodiola was life-changing by itself.

Ah-Ha moments:  I cannot remember them all, but a few stand out to me.  Number one---I saw some YouTube videos of John Gray (Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus----did I say I was desperate??) and my big Ah-Ha moment from him was that a relationship does not make you happy (or unhappy).  You focus on making yourself happy and a relationship can only make you 'happier'. Perhaps the relationship will not make you happier, but at least you can make decisions from a happy place---where decisions should be made from.  (I decided long ago not to make decision from a place of fear.)

Another Ah-Ha moment:  I finally understood, really understood what it meant to 'not take things personally.'   I had to train myself that absolutely NOTHING that escapes another's mouth to me has ANYTHING to do with me.  I choose to accept it when it comes from a place of love, nothing more.  Ridicule, condemnation, guilt inducing comments, passive aggressiveness, insults, criticism, etc, is often a reflection of what is going on in their heart.  Their insecurities, their issues---power issues, control issues, injured parts of themselves---- their projection onto you of whatever ugliness is often because they cannot take an honest look at in their own heart and soul.  Guess what?  ME, TOO.   When the old saying that when you point a finger you have 3 pointing back at you----trying assuming everything you accuse someone of--- you are 10x more guilty of it..... for a while.(Ask yourself--why is that coming out of me? What injury is there? Why do i still have that button?  What needs healing?)  At the same time, do not take on anything that someone says to you that the Holy Spirit doesn't reveal to you Himself.  We know, by His grace, if someone says something to us and we go....."oooohhhhh that is me. Ugh.  I need to work on that..."  But if you are trying to do His will, by all means, LIVE IN THE FREEDOM HE BOUGHT FOR YOU and don't let someone else 'steal your joy.'  Or more accurately, the enemy.  The enemy will use other willing parties to try and steal your joy. The Bible says "Above all else, guard your heart."  This is ABOVE ALL ELSE.  This is above beating yourself up.  This is above listening to criticism that might even be warranted but is not given in love.  This is above feeling guilty (which we know is straight from the enemy, because we are not living in freedom and guilt at the same time.)  This is above feeling sorry for ourselves.  This is above feeling obligated, in fact, do not do things out of obligation.  Not only will the enemy try and steal your joy, but he will try and rob you of a healthy marriage, and even try to kill you.  Do not believe any lies, no matter whose mouth they escape.  Above all else, my sister, guard your heart.

Ah-Ha moment:  We often hear it takes two to tango.  It also takes two to FIGHT.  Whoa!  If I believe that in relationships that fighting is not a necessity and the other person thinks that is ridiculous, I can prove them wrong as ONE OF THE PARTIES!  WHOOOO-HOOO!   I no longer live with the fear of fighting because I realized that in 'controlling myself', I get to CHOOSE whether I fight or not!!  Let go of the rope (in the tug-of-war analogy).  My sister, let go of the rope because you can!  That reality is life giving to those who feel trapped in endless fighting.

Ah-Ha moment: One of my most favorite.  In trying to understand the whole, 'submit to your husband' thing, I always felt torn and guilty.  I felt guilty because I am pretty strong minded and stubborn and so I made the assumption that I would probably always fail at this if I wanted my way and therefore, would always be trapped between obligatory submission or obeying my flesh.   With all of the legalistic bologna I was raised with, I can see now how seriously misguided this notion is. My skin crawls when I see my well-meaning friends want to do right by God and cave to their controlling husbands' desire in an effort to be 'submissive'.    Again, Cloud and Townsend said something in Boundaries that stuck with me: "We have never seen a husband who insisted that his wife be submissive that wasn't controlling."   Now, I DO NOT have this problem, nor did I ever have this problem.....(in this marriage, anyway).   But I did want my husband to feel honored by me increasingly as our marital issues healed.  Here is the Ah-Ha moment:  In praying one night, the Holy Spirit revealed something to me in a really profound way.  That just as we have freedom in Christ---to choose Him, I also have the ability to CHOOSE to be submissive  As a free, empowered, strong, smart woman,  the ability to CHOOSE submission from a place of freedom is so much more empowering and speaks of my strength as a woman when I CHOOSE to submit (rather than doing it out of obligation, which comes from a place of weakness.)   It is so subtle, so obvious, but to me, in the midst of 'less than marital bliss' and all of the emotion, angst, confusion, depression, anger, etc that was happening, it felt like the most profound thing I could've heard.   In addition, you CHOOSE to submit in response to the desire to be obedient to the Holy Spirit, NOT as a result of your husbands selfish demands or power hungry self interest.  In other words: the freedom lies in your listening to the Holy Spirit in your eagerness to obey Him, not submitting as a result of some patriarchal religious spirit that is used for manipulating and oppressing the beautiful, powerful, woman that God made you.

Which leads me to the last Ah-Ha.  There is no end to my ugliness.  No end to my sin.  No end to my self-centeredness or jealousy or selfish ambition, unholiness or..........fill in the blank. On my own.  And here is the paradox.  When I can let go, free fall, stop trying by my own might, "but by His Spirit"......   I am  FREE.  Truly free.  I have heard and said a hundred times that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman.  He will not force us to do His will or to Choose him.  He waits.  He knocks, but He NEVER forces His way in.  He is a gentleman in every sense of the word.  And He gives us COMPLETE freedom to do what we choose. Can't we see this in our two-year old??     It is when we choose Him that He gets glory.   When I realized how precious I am to my heavenly father in a way that I had never known or experienced before,  and how in His eyes I am all the things I said in the beginning, really and truly viewed as REDEEMED, WHOLE and HEALED, Worthy of communing, dining, with the One who is the Most High because of what He did not what I did (or did not)...  Oh my goodness.  How my life would have changed had I learned this long ago.  I heard that I was forgiven since I was a child, I heard that He loves me, but unfortunately there was little in the way of unconditional love I experienced from those around me (especially as a teen parent)  which would have led me to this conclusion.   When I was able to understand that I can never, will never stop sinning---there is no end to the depth of my sin, it ironically led me to the conclusion then that 'boy, I must really be in need of a Savior' and 'boy, am I really glad I know One.'  HAHA!  I felt new freedom.   Again.  Perhaps that is what is meant by "working out our salvation" (Phil 2:12). I think there was a part of my self esteem that was dependent on my husband.  And although I do value his opinion very much, I can truly say that my worth is not dependent on any human being---not even me.  Especially not me.  I know I am valuable because I believe God's Word and I refuse to dilute what Jesus did on the cross by believing anything less than what He did for ME. 

For the record, if you are in physical danger, do not stop to collect  $200.  Just Go.  However,  I decided with every ounce of strength I could find that I would believe His Word is true.  I chose to believe that whatever my circumstances, God could heal each and every aspect of my heart and my marriage.  I chose to believe and often had to tell myself that my precious husband was going to love me and find me precious someday. I had to choose to believe (daily) that God finds me precious...and that I was 'fearfully and wonderfully made."   I chose to believe God was in control.  I chose to believe He was directing my steps and wherever that took me, I would follow Him and 'guard my heart' obediently.  I honestly did not know what would happen, but I can say that today, there is victory.  That I have never felt more love in my marriage, more respect for my husband, and more freedom in Christ than I feel in my life today.  Praise the Lord!


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