Monday, June 16, 2014

Beauty From Ashes ~ A Wife's Story

I'm not sure how to tell the story of my decision to be a Biblical wife without going a little farther back into history and sharing more of my testimony.  I've joked many times in the past that I had a boring testimony and I was sometimes jealous of people who had a dramatic testimony.  Little did I know, I would be saved for about 25 years and I would indeed have a dramatic testimony. {This was written by one of my readers.} 

I was raised in a Christian home, however, it was a poor example.  At least in regards to marriage and how to treat each other, it was.  I don't say this to shift blame, I myself am the only one responsible for my actions and sins.  But I feel that knowing this about my upbringing casts light on to the conditions of my faith.  I accepted Christ as a young child.  I honestly don't remember how old I was. I always lived {on the outside} a 'good' life.  As a teenager, I didn't party, drink, openly rebel, or other obviously sinful things. However, there was one thing ruling in my heart that wasn't quite so easy to see, at least not to the untrained eye.  That one thing had the power to destroy me though.  Proverbs speaks to it's damage.  And yet, I clung to it.  That one thing was pride. 

My faith was less to do with Jesus and His redemptive love but more with what *I* believed.  Hindsight is 20/20, I've come to learn. I remember one day in my senior year of High School that should have been a wake up moment to me.  Some kid was making stupid comments about my faith in Jesus.  I went to my next class and said to the kid sitting next to me, whom I knew was at least from a Christian home, "Oh well.  I'm going to heaven and he's not."  The kid looked at me and said, "That's the wrong attitude."  I should have realized at that moment that my faith wasn't about Jesus and His love for mankind, but that it's what I believed, so that's what made it right in my mind.  I'd continue living, even doing ministry, with this mindset ruling my heart.  I didn't see my pride, I didn't see Jesus for who He was.  I just knew that it's what I believed.  And I was right, of course!

We married young, both ill equipped for marriage.  I don't mean to cast blame to anyone else but myself, I should have been responsible for my own faith, wisdom {or lack thereof} and actions.  Our marriage counseling consisted of one session. Unbeknownst to me, this was a complete failure.  Honestly, I'm not sure that it would have helped much, but after walking the journey, I believe in mentorship now. 

Our marriage was riddled with difficulty.  Between my selfish pride, my husband's strength of personality and my inability to communicate when frustrated or hurt, we were a mess.  There was rarely peace in our house.  There were cease-fires, but never true peace.  We were both too stubborn to call it quits, even though I wanted to many times.  Between my own prideful need of doing things my way, and listening to my friends within the church who preached Christian feminism, I was a mess.  I subscribed to the modern submission.  Submit when I agree.  When I don't agree, stand up for my rights!!  After all, a woman's intuition is far superior to a man's and I was a woman!  Again, I succumbed to my pride.  Over the years, not being able to defend myself to my husband, my only course of action was to leave.  I told him hundreds of times, perhaps more, that I was leaving.  I did it partly because I knew it would hurt him.  And partly because I didn't know what else to do.  He never listened to me!  My arguments were never acceptable.  I wasn't able to communicate when I was flustered, so leaving became my MO.  This only bred a lack of trust.  This of course, repeated the cycle.  

By this time, I was also quite mad at the church.  I've been treated badly many times in my life.  With the exception of one mean girl in middle school who not only harassed me at home, but also called my home and bullied me after school, the worst times I'd been treated horribly in my life was by someone within the church.  Looking back, I can see that some of it was my own fault.  I was living a hypocritical life.  I called everyone else to the truth of Scripture, even in my own life, except for one little thing.  That pesky submission thing.  After all, I'd been told by the modern church that it was culturally irrelevant.  I can see now, however, my own hypocrisy.  And while that in no way excuses the horrible things people have said about and to me, I would not have taken it personally had I been doing two things 1) not dismissing this one passage {wives submitting to husbands} as culturally irrelevant and 2) still holding my pride in that it was because *I* believed the Scriptures that made them relevant.

We became very sporadic in our church attendance.  I had come near to ceasing reading my Bible.  I didn't listen to Christian music anymore.  I was tired of the church, tired of this world, tired of constant fighting, tired of lack of peace, tired of my faith failing to do the things I'd been promised {peace}.  Our home spiraled out of control.  Peace was even less existent than it had ever been.  My pride was destroying my marriage and myself.  Finally, the night before my birthday everything came tumbling down.  My husband and I had another fight.  I was done.  I left.  I honestly didn't know what I was going to do.  All I knew was I wanted out.  However, I wasn't sure that I could just divorce him.  Knowing him, it wouldn't give me the freedom I desired.  We had kids together, and my gut told me that he'd still try to control me {my perception of control anyway}, even if I was no longer his wife.  Pride again.  All through this journey, no one knew what was going on, or how chaotic our house was.  My pride kept it in a box deep down in my soul.  I tried to keep it tied up in a tidy box inside, but it constantly burned.  I feel like it completely shredded my spirit.  But I had to hold on to this pride.  At one point, I remember driving and having a battle raging within me about this pride.  I finally realized what it was.  But I refused to let go of it because it was all I had!  How sad!!  My pride was all I had.  It was destroying my life, but yet, I refused to give it up!  None of my friends knew the things I'd done to my husband, the times I'd left, the hateful, evil things I'd said to him.  

Until that night.  I was driving and hoping that I'd just get in a car wreck so I could be done.  Thankfully, God didn't allow that to happen.  Finally about midnight, a friend called me.  First of all, everyone knows I hate the phone, so no one calls me.  Secondly, midnight?  Well, she told me to come to her house.  At midnight.  This just wasn't something I do.  I don't impose myself on anyone. My pride won't allow that!!  She told me that my husband had sent an e-mail to my family and about 10 of my closest friends because I was missing and wasn't responding to his calls.

EVERY GORY DETAIL of my actions were exposed.

My PRIDE was exposed.  I could no longer pretend.  

I went to her house and she really just listened.  She didn't really offer any advice, just a safe place to sleep.  That was the best thing because I'd been told so many lies by the church, I didn't know top from bottom.  I had quit looking into my Bible a long time ago because the actions and teachings of the church didn't line up with the Bible.  

The next morning, we had a handful of urgent doctor appointments for myself because of how dark I had been the night before.  My husband and I were able to meet with one of our previous pastors.  The irony is that she was a woman.  This entire thing opened my eyes up to so many things.  For about a month, I had counseling a couple times a week.  The counseling per se isn't what helped, but rather that I had to confess every detail of my sin to her.  I don't agree with her teachings, as she was well subscribed to mutual submission.  It was that I finally had to let go of my pride that was the changing point. 

My SIN was all laid bare, before everyone who mattered to me.  I could no longer hide behind my pride.  Oh, how embarrassed I was!!!!  And yet, my husband was still there.  He wanted restoration.  I had done absolutely horrible, horrible things to him. I won't say he wasn't mad and hurt at me.  But he still loved me, despite his hurts and anger.  

After being exposed for what I truly was, I saw my great need for my Savior.  I saw how evil I could truly be!!!  I saw my sin for what it was!  Detestable in God's sight.  Something that was worthy of condemnation.  But praise be to God, He sent His son to die that I wouldn't have to!  

With my pride being thrown to the ground, shattered into a million pieces, with nothing left to cling to, I went back to the Bible.  The transition time took about a month.  There was a mix of chaos and peace in our home for a while.  We both had deep, deep scars that we had to work through.  We didn't give up.  We both dug into our Bible.  I tried as best I could to toss aside the ideas of the modern church, because I saw how much damage they had done to my faith when I allowed them to rule instead of what the word of God actually said.  

Over the next few months, God worked a miracle of restoration in our hearts.  He grew us up in our faith.  He changed me!  I no longer clung to the gospel because it was what *I* believed, but because I had seen the ugliness of the world.  I had seen the destruction of sin, and I had seen the POWER of God, and the power of undistorted truth!  Praise be to God!!!  

The journey has continued as both my husband and I now have an incredible desire for  restoration of the truth of God's word to the church.  I began to study apologetics.  The more I did so, the more the truth of submission as God intended was revealed to me.  The more I realized I couldn't overlook these passages and dismiss them as culturally irrelevant, because the dismissal of them is indeed one of the reasons that we are now in a culture of such moral corruption!

I know I am far from perfect.  I'm still a sinner in a sinful body.  But I truly seek to do better each day and to know God and His holiness more each step.  I'm not saying that our marriage is perfect, we still have disagreements at times.  But the way we go about handling the disagreements is completely different. 

Ironically, I've had even more hateful things said to me and about me by the 'church' since my world came crashing down and was restored.  The difference is that I know it is no longer about me.  It's about God.  And if I am persecuted for clinging to Him and His truth, then so be it, as Jesus has told me I am blessed because of it.  

Indeed, He is the Lord of my Salvation.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.  {Psalm 51:12}.  It is not I, but the Lord.  Praise God!

HERE is her husband's side of the story!