Categories
anxiety Marriage

Marriage and Anxiety

Marriage often brings two different people who work together to become one, and in so doing, there is some growth between the two people. My husband, with his calm demeanor, has helped me tremendously with my anxiety, while I, with my organization and administration, have helped him to plan better. However, if we’re not careful, we can let anxiety put a wedge in between our marriage. Our previous coping mechanisms can isolate us, and can confuse our spouse, especially if he or she does not struggle with anxiety.

Before I met Lenny, I believed that my husband would cure my anxiety. For those who are single and waiting for a man to fix you, read this carefully: Marriage does not fix you. Only God can take your brokenness, redeem you, and make you new. But for those who are married, God can use your husband, however great or however flawed he is, to help in that sanctification process.

You cannot rely on another person to fix your anxiety. While therapists, friends, and family can help, you still need to deal with your anxiety yourself. No one can make you stop believing lies; only you can. No one can control you when you have a panic attack; only you can. The only difference between being married and single is, now you have to be open with your spouse about your anxiety, and see how God uses him/her to help you overcome it.

While anxiety has consumed less of my life in the last couple of years, here are some practical ways to be open with your spouse about your struggle with anxiety:

  1. Be clear with your spouse about your fears, triggers, etc. If you have been following along with this blog long enough, you have dealt with your triggers, so you know how to communicate them with your spouse. Your spouse may not understand right away, so he/she might need a reminder. I’ve told my husband about my obsessive thoughts, and it didn’t click with him until I was telling him about another person who had the same disorder. Suddenly, my anxiety made sense to him. He said, “Oh, is that why you do such and such?” If you have specific coping mechanisms, tell them to your spouse, especially if they involve what to do in the middle of a panic attack. Although you may be tempted to isolate yourself when anxiety strikes, you can’t do that anymore. You need to let your spouse into your pain. I’ll warn you, it is not an easy process, but it will help you both become one in your journey together.
  2. Don’t be afraid to say no. For most people, anxiety is like a physical ailment. When I’ve had an anxiety-inducing day, the last thing I want to do is be around people. I don’t want to be exposed to more anxiety. If I know a situation is going to bring me into panic, I tell my husband I can’t do it. He understands, and he advocates for me.
  3. Be flexible when you can’t say no. We both have family in Florida (a plane ride, or a ridiculous drive, away). I hate planes, as they give me debilitating anxiety, but I can’t let that be an excuse not to see my family. If my husband has a work event, or a family gathering where I have to be, and I’m not able to say no, I kind of have to suck it up. Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. Remember that you have to be there for your spouse, and take the focus off of yourself. Now, if you are forced to go to an obligation, plan ahead. If you have an anxiety-inducing event on Tuesday, take it easy on Monday or Wednesday.

Don’t let anxiety creep into your marriage. Bring your anxiety to God, and then to your spouse, to find healing and to become one in your marriage.


Photo by Kylli Kittus on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

distracting myself

Do you have OCD? Well, I have the obsessive part but not the compulsive. I don’t have chronic compulsive behaviors, but I do have obsessive thoughts that I can’t get out of my head! Like a bad song. I also have psychosomatic symptoms, so when I have an idea in my head, it almost always makes me sick.

Recently, I caught myself before I was about to go into the “obsessive” trap. I ate something, and I thought it would make me sick. Almost instantly after I thought it, my stomach began to turn. I was going to be sick. But I recognized the thought, realized that I wouldn’t get sick that quickly (especially conveniently after the thought just entered my head!), and then told myself I was fine. The more I thought, “I’m fine,” instead of, “I’m going to be sick,” the less sick I felt over time.

It was literally all in my head.

When a thought enters my head, it won’t leave. But, now that I’m older, I have learned how to drown out the thoughts. It’s called distraction.

Here are some practical ways to distract yourself, so that you don’t have to keep hearing the noise of regret, doubt, shame, or simply that nagging voice telling you what you need to do:

  • Music: I’ll typically listen to something that will calm me down, so that my body will naturally relax. Worship music is my go-to, as a lot of worship songs talk about the healing power of God, or about whatever I need from God in that moment. Focusing on God’s presence instead of the false pretense that something bad will happen shows me the truth, that my anxiety is a lie and that God’s will is for me to have peace. The same is true for you.
  • Prayer: While listening to music is a defensive way to distract yourself from obsessive thoughts (it’s like a shield), prayer and reading the Bible are both offensive. Think of prayer as a sword. You are declaring the promises of God out loud to yourself and your fear. You are speaking to the anxiety and telling it to leave. You are actively speaking against what your heart might be feeling or your mind might be thinking. You are speaking to a real person, who cares for you, listens to you, and helps you in your time of need.
  • Reading the Bible out loud: Like prayer, the Bible is a sword we can use to pierce the anxiety and the obsessive thoughts. Open up to the Psalms or one of the Epistles (in the New Testament) and read about God’s love for you. Reading it out loud uses more senses (hearing, seeing, and feeling) than it does if we simply read it in our heads. It also proves to be more of a distraction from the obsessive thoughts, as you’re focusing outside of your head rather than within.
  • Games: Sometimes, a good old-fashioned game on my phone helps me relax. When I’m anxious or have thoughts I can’t control, I’ll play a game of solitaire and take deep breaths. If I’m extra anxious, I may play a couple of games, but usually by the first game I’ve calmed myself enough to move on.
  • Journaling: This is one of my favorite ways to distract myself. It helps me process my thoughts (instead of ignoring them) and it gives me a reference for when I’m dealing with the same issue in the future. I love looking back on journals I’ve written 10 years ago and gaining insight from my teenage years.

These things help me drown out the noise in my head. What about you?

Categories
Marriage

Forgiveness vs. Reconciliation

Sin separates us from God. When we sin, going against what the Bible says, we are actually telling God that we don’t want to do things His way. We are insulting Him. In order to atone for our sins, Jesus died for us. He died for a people that didn’t accept Him. They mocked Him and beat Him, and yet He chose to forgive them. He chose to die for their sins, for our sins, so that we could have a restored relationship with God.

Knowing what I’ve done to my Lord and Savior brings me to tears. The ways I mocked Him and willingly disobeyed Him form a rock in my stomach at the thought of them. Yet He still chose to forgive me. He chose to seek reconciliation in our relationship. Now I am able to have a restored relationship.

I also have a new power: have the power, through Christ, to forgive others. I no longer have to hold grudges. I no longer have to let the bitterness of what others have done to me cloud the vision of the abundant life God has for me.

Forgiveness is a choice. In reality, forgiveness has almost nothing to do with the other person, but everything to do with how you respond to it. How do you respond to it? You process how you feel, surrender the pain to God, remember how God forgave us through the sacrifice of Christ, and choose to love that person. Then, you do whatever you can to make peace with the person.

But what if your offender is unrepentant? What if the pain is so intense, that you can’t move on from it?

Well, forgiveness is not a feeling. Forgiveness is a choice. The more you surrender it to God, the more you will be able to find freedom from the hurt that your offender caused you. But you have another choice, a choice to be made after forgiveness.

That choice is called reconciliation.

This article shares some great steps to take to reconcile a broken relationship. Forgiveness is always possible, but reconciliation isn’t always necessarily possible. Reconciliation is a restored relationship. It requires two people to come together and discuss what happened, and it requires trust to be established again.

In your marriage, reconciliation is necessary for your marriage to work. You need to forgive your spouse for the little offenses that he commits on a regular basis, and you need to bring these offenses to his attention so that you can continue to have a relationship together. And when someone outside of the marital relationship hurts you, your spouse can be a support to you in helping forgive and to possibly make reconciliation a possibility.

While some argue that true reconciliation is not possible, I believe it is possible to try. I believe that, as ministers of reconciliation, that seeking to restore a relationship should be our default answer. You may not have the exact same relationship you had before the offense happened, but you can seek peace with your offender if you want it. But, if you don’t want it, you don’t have to enter into that relationship again. For example, if you’ve been hurt severely, whether through divorce, abuse, or adultery, you may not want to restore that relationship.

Unfortunately, however, you may still have to interact with your offender. If you’re divorced, and you have kids with your ex-spouse, you still have to keep him or her involved in your children’s lives. If a family member sexually abused you but the family doesn’t know about it (or any other complicated circumstances), your abuser may still be invited to parties. In order to still be civil with these people you are required to see, you have to implement boundaries. You cannot ever enter that same intimacy, whether physical or emotional, you had with the person that hurt you. Don’t share too much personal information with him. Don’t spend prolonged (or any) time alone with her. Make sure you bring a trusted friend or family member with you when you have to interact with him.

No matter if you choose to reconcile the relationship or not, seek peace. Pray for your offender. Wouldn’t it be amazing if God worked in his or her life and actually changed his or her life because of what happened? God’s grace and mercy are not too weak to forgive and redeem the people who hurt us. He can soften their hearts and help them to see the error of their ways.

Who do you need to forgive today? With whom is God nudging you to reconcile?

Categories
anxiety

God Gives Us More Than We (Think) We can Handle

When I was in college, as part of my major, I had to go on an internship out of the country for at least six weeks. After months of searching and praying, I finally found an internship in Andalucia, Spain, with an organization called Camino Global (which has since then merged with Avant Ministries). It was required that I speak at least intermediate Spanish, and I had to raise funds all on my own. Then, when I finally learned Spanish and mustered up the funds, I had to take a plane by myself, and be in a country where I didn’t know anyone…all by myself.

Needless to say, it was more than I could handle.

A common misnomer is that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. The basis for this is found in 1 Corinthians 10:13. I’ve wrestled with this for years because, as I struggle with anxiety and know that God has spared me from so much pain, I know that God truly is in control of my life. But there also have been times where I truly believed that God had given me more than I could handle.

The axiom should be replaced with God knows what we can handle. Instead of trusting in our own strength, we can trust in the grace of God. We can trust His hand to guide our lives. The early church was persecuted for their faith; Paul even says that when they were in Asia, they were burdened beyond what they could bear (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). But, as Paul declares, God didn’t allow them to go through beating and mocking for nothing. Rather, Paul and his missionary team endured trials so that they could rely on God and not on themselves.

We place limits on ourselves that God never put there. God also places limits on us through our circumstances when we think we can handle it. The same guy from the Bible, Paul, heard “no” from God several times. God actually prevented Paul from going to Asia and Bithynia at a certain point in his ministry (Acts 16:6). There are different speculations about why Paul wasn’t allowed to go to those places at those specific times, but the short answer is: it wasn’t God’s will. Maybe it’s that Paul couldn’t handle it, but maybe it’s that God knew what was best for everyone involved in the situation.

To come back to my experience in Spain, I did it. Taking a plane by myself was difficult, and even debilitating, but God provided. On the way there, I sat next to two gentlemen who traveled to Spain every year; they gave me advice about what to do, and they even showed me how to go through customs. On the way home (the longest flight I’ve ever been on), I sat with a boy from Israel whose family had moved to Texas; because he was sitting away from his family, I felt responsible for him, which gave me little time to worry. On my connecting flight, I sat with a guy who was a prayer leader for Liberty University, and he prayed with me during the flight. And that was just the plane.

The first few days were hard, but again, I did it. I made some friends and listened to music and practiced my Spanish. I had a couple of nightmares, and I did panic once, but God used the people around me to help me find peace in Him. By the end of the experience, I was ready to go back to Spain after paying off my college loans. Thank You, God, for your grace!

During that time, God knew what I could handle. His grace sustained me through the six weeks I was away from family and friends. In fact, His grace allowed me to make new family and friends. However, there were other times where I wanted to go and serve Him in other countries, but He closed each door. I like to think that God knew what I could handle, and that He found another person who He would grow like He grew me in Spain.

You’re braver than you think. You can handle more than you think you do. But for the things that debilitate you, trust in God’s grace. He knows what you can handle.


Photo by Leio McLaren (@leiomclaren) on Unsplash

Categories
Marriage

This will RUIN your wedding…if you let it

So much planning, so many details, all go into that one special day. The first day of the rest of your life. Oh, so much can go wrong. But will you let it?

The truth is, anything can ruin your wedding. We live in a fallen world, and we interact with imperfect people. Think about all the people in your family (and in your future spouse’s family). Do you really think that, just for one day, they could be perfect? From experience, let me tell you: the answer is no. They are all still the same people, just wearing fancy clothes and welled up with emotion. So, there’s even more margin for error than usual, because everyone’s emotions are up in the air.

The key is not to let anything ruin your special day.

So, the photographer shows up late, the decorative flowers show up as the bride is walking in, Uncle So-and-So had too much to drink and is now making a fool of himself, and somebody will say something that will make you wonder why you married into this family. Or why you were born into it. Or why you hang out with the people you do.

My husband and I…well, we got married relatively quickly, so we didn’t really have expectations. Until other people did and we realized our expectations were not their expectations. Then chaos ensued. But instead of focusing on what went wrong, we focused on the beautiful day that God gave us.

First and foremost, Lenny and I were dedicating our marriage to God. The church ceremony was beautiful, and (from what I could see) there wasn’t a dry eye in the room as emotion welled up throughout the sanctuary. I was marrying the man of my dreams. My husband was marrying the woman better than his dreams (his words, not mine!). It was an abnormally warm day, at sixty-five degrees in the beginning of November. Our venue was right on the water, so the pictures were beautiful and our guests enjoyed walking around outside. The food was delicious (whatever I was able to eat in my dress!), and I was able to see friends and family that I hadn’t seen in years. And, of course, I felt incredibly beautiful in my dress, and everyone who met me on the receiving line was quick to remind me of how beautiful I looked.

When I focused on what went right instead of what went wrong, whatever petty drama happened in the background stayed there. In the background.

I don’t tell you this to rain on your parade. I tell you this to prepare yourself for what is to come. If you’re imagining a day where nothing goes wrong, you’re imagining a day that doesn’t exist on this side of Heaven. There is a perfect wedding coming, but it won’t be in this lifetime, and it will be between the perfect Bridegroom (Jesus Christ), and His sanctified Bride (the Church). Until then, embrace the day that God has given you and enjoy it. All of your planning was not in vain. Now that it’s all done, take this one day to rest, breathe, and celebrate your union with the man (or woman) of your dreams!


Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Categories
Marriage

Priorit(ies)

Every morning, I feel like I have to make several choices. Do I help my husband get ready (since he has a long commute to work), or do what I need to do to get ready for work on time? Do I iron my husband’s shirt, or work out? Do I make us breakfast and lunch, or do I work on a blog post while he cooks the food? Do I fill up his water bottle, or do I wash the dishes?

The word priority has changed over the last couple of years. It used to mean the most important thing, but now, it can be made plural. When it comes to balancing your marriage, your free time, your kids’ schedules, and your other obligations, it seems like there are multiple priorities. I mean, which one could you really put first before the others?

When we’re single, our priority is to look out for ourselves, or maybe even to look out for a friend or family member. Once we get married, it seems that our priority shifts to making sure our spouses are healthy, happy, and at peace. However, those other important people in our lives don’t go away; we just have to learn how much of a priority to give our spouses.

I believe the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42) pertains to this idea of choosing our priority. One day, Martha invited Jesus over to her house. Since hospitality was important (a priority) in the culture where Jesus chose to have His ministry, Martha was focused on making sure everything was perfect for Jesus’s stay. Her sister Mary, however, did nothing to help her sister get ready. In fact, she was listening to Jesus, which was important (a priority).

What Martha was doing wasn’t wrong. She was doing what was expected from her in the culture, and although it’s not explicitly mentioned in the text, I’d like to believe that Martha was busy preparing because her priority was making Jesus comfortable and well fed in a clean home. Nevertheless, Jesus admonishes her for not choosing what is better. What was important (her priority), in that moment, should have been listening to Jesus, the Great Teacher.

We have a lot going on in our lives. During this past school year, we had plans every single day. It was exhausting! From work, to ministries, to family parties, to small groups…we didn’t have room to breathe. Now that it’s the summer (and we’ve made some changes to our schedules), we have more down time, but before that, we literally had to choose what was most important (the priority) in each moment. Especially since money, and not only time, is also a priority for us now, because we are saving up for a house.

So, our questions were:
Do we save gas and food money, or do we visit a friend who we haven’t seen in months?
Do we have a date night, or do we clean the apartment?
Do we go to our small group, or do we have a date night?
Do we sit in traffic to go visit a relative that lives a twenty miles away, or do we go to bed early?

There was no wrong answer to each of those questions, but there was always a better choice. If my husband chose to work overtime while I wanted to spend time with him, I would have grown resentful, and his choice to work would not have been the better choice. If I chose to clean the house instead of helping my husband get ready, he would have been late to work and angry, so my choice to clean would not have been the better choice. It’s not always going to be a clear-cut correct choice, but when you have one priority, making the choice of what is better is definitely easier. Our priority, overall, was that we made the decision together.

I believe that, although we have multiple people and tasks that are important to us, ultimately, we have an overarching priority that encompasses them all. For me, my priority is obeying God and showing His love to others. Ephesians 5:22 calls me to submit to my husband as I submit to the Lord. The way I submit to my husband reflects how I submit to God. Men are also called to love their wives as Christ loved the church, so my husband’s love for me is a reflection of his love for God.

Think about the priority of your life. Does your schedule reflect that? Are you truly doing what you want to do? Choose today what is better.


Photo by Phil Desforges on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

The day they locked me in a salt cave

We went to a salt cave a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, I was living under a rock, because I thought we were going to a literal cave. But actually, it isn’t a cave at all. It’s a building that is filled with Himalayan pink salt, which has never been processed. People with allergies, dry skin, joint pain, and anxiety, can benefit from the atmosphere as they breathe in salty air, lay back in zero gravity chairs, and stick their sock-covered toes in the pebbles beneath them.

What I’m going to say does not reflect my experience at the salt cave in particular, so I am not going to say where I went. The staff was great, and people seemed to enjoy it, but I would neither recommend it nor tell you not to go. This is simply what went through my mind while I was sitting in that chair, in the dark, in a closed room with four other people I didn’t know.

When we arrived, the staff made us take off our shoes and recommended that we use the restroom before we started, since we wouldn’t be able to walk out once the session began. Oh, great, put me in a room full of strangers and lock the door. Sounds relaxing to me! Upon entering the room, we were told not to talk, snore, or get up during the experience. Again, I felt trapped. Thankfully, there was a chair right next to the door, and even if we couldn’t move, I at least pretended I could leave.

As we sat in our chairs, the door gently closed, and music began to play. For forty-five minutes. I had nothing to do but breathe and think. So that’s what I did.

I took a deep breathe and felt like I was at the beach. Oh, THAT’S why the beach relaxed me. I thought about how stressful my life has been, and how I hadn’t made any time for myself. But as I took another deep breathe, I thought about how many opportunities there are to relax. We can get a massage, we can do yoga, we can even go to a salt cave. But how come those don’t have lasting effects?

Needless to say, the salt cave did not help my anxiety, but it did make my skin feel like I had taken a bath in body lotion. Seriously, my skin was soft for at least a week after going. So, that was a plus. But since this post is about anxiety and not about skin care, I’ll finish my musings about anxiety.

What I didn’t mention was that I had done some research about this particular salt cave before making an appointment. They do not just have a spot where you can sit in salt for an hour; they also have psychic mediums, reiki, and singing bowls. Knowing this, here is why these self-care techniques don’t have lasting effects.

In my Christian faith and my understanding of the Bible, I believe that we are spiritual beings. Our souls have eternal value. I completely believe in the spiritual forces behind yoga, mediums, reiki, etc., because I have seen it first hand, before I came to know Jesus. However, I do not trust in these spiritual forces, as they are not for Jesus, but against Him. Jesus wants to set me free from anxiety, but the “other side” wants to keep me in bondage. While it looks like these mainstream self-care techniques want to give us peace, it’s not true peace. It’s numbing the pain, not dealing with it.

True peace comes from recognizing that our souls are secure in Christ. When we leave this life (because every one of us will one day die, or Jesus will come back), will we be in the loving arms of God, or far away from Him in the pit of despair? When we know that God will be with us no matter what, suddenly, everything we fear doesn’t seem so scary anymore. It’s not that we’ll never struggle with anxiety again, but that we have a Person to turn to when we do have those panic attacks, instead of dealing with it on our own.

In a world that wants to medicate pain instead of treating the wound, don’t lock yourself in a salt cave! Check your heart before you indulge in any self-care techniques. Some Christians enjoy yoga, and I have no problem with that, as long as they do their research and treat it more like a stretching exercise than like a spiritual awakening. No matter what you do to relax, meditate on the God who can offer you true peace. Only in Christ will you have true peace in God.


Photo by Vincent Erhart on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

Pessimism is NOT Realistic!

I generally tend to be optimistic. However, in light of my optimism, people tell me that I’m sometimes unrealistic. And when people look at the negative side, they tend to tell me that they’re just being realistic.

One day, when I was in college, I looked outside and said, “Wow, it’s a beautiful day outside. The sun is shining, and the clouds are white and puffy!”

Without hesitation, my friend said, “Yeah, well, it’s going to rain tomorrow.” So, basically, the sun isn’t going to last.

This short scene from my college days reminds me that “pessimistic” is not a synonym for “realistic.” I chose to focus on the positive, that it was a beautiful day and that the sun was shining. My friend chose to focus on the negative, that the sun wasn’t going to last and the rain was coming tomorrow. Both were true, but which one did I choose to focus on? The one that made me happier.

Life is all about perspective. For example, my apartment is both a great place to live and a terrible place to live. Our little home is clean, spacious, and affordable, but we also have noisy neighbors, and it’s a little far from our friends and family. Everything I told you is real and true, but because our apartment is neutral, I choose to focus on the positive. We truly are blessed to have such a great place!

By definition, optimism is: “the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.” On the other hand, by definition, pessimism is: “the belief that the evil and pain in the world are not compensated for by goodness and happiness” (both definitions are from Dictionary.com). So, in essence, pessimists believe that the evil in the world outweighs the goodness. While the world isn’t perfect, I know that God has given us power to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). God is good, and He is the all-powerful, Almighty God. There is no power greater than His. To believe that God is not enough to overcome the evil in front of us, is to be a true pessimist. It doesn’t sound too faithful, though, does it?

Ultimately, we don’t know the future. Only God does. If we claim that our situation will definitely get worse, we are taking the place of God. Sure, our circumstances can make us believe that the future isn’t bright, but God is in control. Whether it rains or shines tomorrow, let’s thank God for the sunshine He’s put in our lives today.


Photo by LIU HSUAN YU on Unsplash

Categories
Marriage

Prayers for the Impossible

Three years ago, I wrote a post on Facebook:

“Sometimes we go through impossible situations so that we could truly know and believe that nothing is impossible with God.”

How appropriate for the conversation I want to have with you today about impossible prayers!

Think of the impossible situations in your life. I want you to really think: If God could answer any prayer in my life, what would I pray for? What fears would He remove? Which ways would He provide? Which miracles would He perform in your midst? Which blessings would He pour out on you?

Maybe you’re saving for a house, and your budget is tight. Maybe you’re pregnant, and you don’t know how you and your spouse are going to do this whole parenting thing. Maybe you have a house full of kids and you are still overwhelmed. Maybe God is calling you to start a ministry or serve in your local church, but you feel totally under qualified. Maybe you just aren’t on the same page as your spouse, and the happily ever after you expected is never going to come true for you.

Whatever impossible situation you’re facing, God can make a way. God is healer. God is provider. God is our wonderful counselor.

It’s not a prosperity gospel thing to say that nothing is impossible with God. He can and will answer the impossible prayers that we pray. He wants us to trust Him with the obstacles in our lives, especially if He is calling us to go through them.

Steven Furtick said in his book Sun Stand Still, “…if the size of your vision for your life isn’t intimidating to you, there’s a good chance it’s insulting to God.” God wants us to come to Him boldly, fully believing and expecting Him to do the impossible in our lives. If you are a follower of Christ, you are living by faith daily. And when you follow God and learn to listen for His leading, He will not lead you astray.

The same God who fed five thousand with five loaves and two fish can provide for you and your family.

The same God who multiplied the oil in the empty jars of the widow can give you everything you need to take on this next step of your life.

The same God who made the Sun stand still (a scientifically impossible task) can still the storm raging in your heart right now.

The same God who sacrificed His Son for us, and raised Him to life, will resurrect and restore your broken relationship.

When praying for the impossible, I must warn you that it will be uncomfortable. You might feel spoiled at first, or even unworthy. But remember that in Christ, who is our Great High Priest, we can have boldness and confidence to approach the throne of grace, to find mercy and help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

With that in mind, begin to pray for the impossible task that God has called you to accomplish:

Name the impossible. Put a name to what you want God to do. Really, think about the most impossible situation that comes to mind, something that aligns with what God is currently working on in your life. I gave you some suggestions above. For us, it’s having direction, provision, and unity of heart for our next living situation. Be specific, not because God needs to know the desires of your heart, but because you do.

Ask God. It’s that simple. Truthfully, if God has put this desire in your heart, it is part of His will for you to have it. It may not be exactly what you expect, but it will be exactly what God intended for you. Simply ask God for whatever you listed above.

Do I have a part to play? We need to take responsibility for the impossible situations that God has called us to overcome. Using our example of saving for a house, we’re not just sitting around waiting for a check to come in the mail. Lenny and I are both working and tightening our budget so we’re saving as much as we can each month. It’s not that God can’t give us a check in the mail, but He wants us to be invested in the life that He has given us.

Find accountability. I find it powerful to speak the impossible prayer to a friend. That way, you’re not just asking for it from God; you’re believing for it by declaring it to someone else. Over the weekend, I told a couple of my friends about our exact plan for saving for a house, and how we wanted God to provide. My friends each stated their agreement with our prayer, and now I know they are all praying for us as we take on this task.


Photo by Giorgio Parravicini on Unsplash

Categories
Marriage

Prayers for Eyes to See

Marriage is hard. It’s not impossible, and it’s definitely worthy of fighting for, but marriage really is a fight. It’s a fight against our own will, against our spouse’s idiosyncrasies, and against what society expects of us.

The hardest part of marriage is that you realize that your Prince Charming, or your Queen, is a human. A human who burps, says the wrong thing sometimes, and leaves his socks on the floor (in all seriousness, left my socks on the floor yesterday!). A human who talks too much, nags sometimes, and leaves her hair ties everywhere.

We need to pray for eyes to see our spouses the way that God sees them.

God made man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:27). When God created us and put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He called His creation “very good” (v. 31). In light of that knowledge, doesn’t that make our spouse a little more valuable in our eyes? But instead of focusing on that, we tend to focus on their flaws, slip-ups, and imperfections.

Since the Fall of man, it is true that we are not perfect. We have been stained by sin, and the image of God has been distorted in us. But by the grace of Jesus, and what He did for us on the cross 2,000 years ago, we now wear the righteousness of Christ when we accept Jesus as our Master. Now, when God looks at us, He looks at us with grace. We are no longer marred with sin in His eyes; instead, we are His precious, beloved children.

Are you viewing your spouse with grace, or with judgment? Are you nitpicking his every mistake, or are you choosing to look past his imperfections? Choose today to pray for eyes to see your spouse the way that God sees him.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some Biblical tips to help you pray:

Search your own heart. In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus tells us to remove the plank in our own eyes before we judge the speck in our brother’s eye. Before you say a word about the faults in your spouse, think about your own faults. As I mentioned before, God looks at you with grace. Forgive your spouse as the Lord has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32). When you realize how much God loves you and how much He has forgiven you, it makes it easier to overlook your spouse’s shortcomings.

Make a list of what you love about your spouse. Sometimes, all it takes is a shift in perspective. Your spouse may seem like a loser, but that’s only because you’re focusing on his flaws. Focus on what makes him a winner. Write down a list of things you love about your spouse. Think especially back to why you first married him. Thank God for this person that He has given you, the one who will be doing life with you from now until the day you die.

Surrender your idiosyncrasies to God. Admittedly, I’m a control freak, and I often want to fix everything about my spouse (truthfully, there isn’t much to fix!). But I’ve realized in the twenty-six months we’ve been married that I can’t fix him, nor can I control him. What I can control is how I respond to his shortcomings. If I find some flaws more difficult to overlook than others, I need to let them go and surrender them to God. You can tell God how you feel about your spouse, but ultimately, you need to get to a place where you put the issue in God’s hands.

Choose grace for your spouse. Grace is a choice, and it’s a choice more easily made when the God of grace is with you. In light of all that we have discussed, choose to have grace-colored glasses when you look at your spouse. You’ll find that whatever bothered you about him is no longer as apparent.


Photo by Bud Helisson on Unsplash