I used to think it was all Randy’s fault. If only he’d stop drinking, then we (or most importantly) I could be happy. I also thought I could change him. I could make him want to stay sober. I used ultimatums (you’d better stop drinking or…I’ll leave you…I’ll file for divorce, etc.) I thought he would be motivated to stop drinking. Wrong!
I launched my personal mission to get Randy sober. I placed inspirational books in strategic places around the house and refrigerator magnets with Bible verses on the fridge. When Randy popped open a can of beer, he would see those verses and want to change. Suddenly he would see the light, drop to his knees in gratitude, and proclaim his desire to stay sober. Wrong—again!
It is so tough to love your husband well in circumstances like this, finding the right balance in loving him that reflects Christ’s character. Maybe you’re dealing with a situation where you’ve tried everything you know to love your husband. Nothing ever changes and you feel angry and frustrated. You’ve lost all hope.
I know how you feel. For the longest time it was all about me. I don’t deserve this. Why am I going through this? It isn’t fair. Author and Women of Faith speaker, Patsy Clairmont once said, “Fair is where you buy cotton candy!”
I needed that reminder. The truth is, life isn’t fair. It’s how we respond to life’s inequities that determines whether or not we will find contentment. Looking back, I can see how my reluctant choices to take the “higher road” in our relationship, helped our marriage survive.
Maybe what we need is a road map to guide us, some cues to encourage us to let go of “our way” and become willing to choose God’s “high way.” I thought of the acronym H.I.M. I had to intentionally follow Him (Jesus) to become more Christ-like in all of my relationships.
H = Humility
Jesus is humility personified. He had a way of zeroing in on a problem and speaking the truth in love. He had a posture of gentle strength. Humility doesn’t mean accepting or condoning your spouse’s bad behavior, but it does mean treating him the way Jesus treated others.
Dangerous Detours that almost derailed me:
1. Self-pity—Why me? This isn’t fair!
2. Blaming—It’s not my fault.
3. Comparing—The grass is greener myth.
I shifted my thinking. I learned to admit where I had been wrong. Who me? I learned to accept responsibility for my actions.
Humble yourself in the presence of the Lord and He will exalt you. James 4:10
Integrity is courageous honesty, speaking truth in a compassionate way to ourselves and others. Jesus was also a master of integrity.
Dangerous Detours where I often got hung up:
1. Denial—Refusing to believe or accept what is true.
2. Fear of confrontation—Lack of boundaries or inability to set limits.
3. Disrespect—Treating your spouse in a discourteous manner.
I needed to honestly confront Randy (and myself) with reality. Truth gives us the ability to walk into the light instead of staying forever hidden in the darkness. Truth brings freedom and relief.
You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32
Maturity helps us extend grace to others and give up the need to be right. Maturity requires that we’re grounded in reality and that we do our best to make wise choices.
Jesus knew how to reach people. He asked probing questions and told stories to make his point.
Dangerous Detours that kept me stuck:
1. Unforgiveness—Bitterness and resentment, the desire to punish the person who has wronged you. 2. Selfishness—Insisting on your own agenda.
3. A hardened heart—Stubborness and unwillingness to change or accept instruction.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29
I almost gave up on Randy and our marriage. I’m so thankful the Lord gave me friends who pointed me toward a “higher way.”
• Toward humility so my heart would become tender instead of critical.
• Toward integrity so I could confront the lies I’d told myself and have courage to confront my husband in love.
• Toward maturity so I could act unselfishly, desiring to awaken the goodness in my husband.
By attempting to follow Him, I have truly experienced God’s grace.
Grace is undeserved generosity. It’s a hug when I deserve a slap. And that spirit of forgiving is the soil from which grow words that impart grace to those who hear. Only tender hearts produce words that heal rather than hurt. –Jerry Harvill
Where are you on your journey to follow H.I.M.?