“I learned it from my husband” is a regular tribute to all the ways my husband is fulfilling his role in my sanctification process as described in Ephesians 5:25-26 “…cleansing her by the washing of water with the word.” You can read more about this here.
I was a rescued soul, ready for change.
I became a Christian at age 14, one year after hearing the Gospel for the first time and initially rejecting it. I lived in a non-Christian home that was engulfed in the ways of the world. I had been fully exposed to the consequences of drug addiction, sexual immorality, domestic violence, and idol worship. (The most attractive idol always seemed to be myself. Self worship is such a prison.) My conversion to Christianity was undeniable, as the presence of the holy spirit in my life propelled me to pursue holiness and set myself apart from the sinfulness of my young life. I understood immediately that Christ desired for me to live differently, and the more I learned from God’s Word, the easier and more joyous it became to walk away from various areas of sin. I loved Jesus and I was learning to love scripture and bind it to my heart.
But could I love all of scripture?
From the very beginning of my Christian walk, however, it was a struggle for me to accept that God intended for men to be the leaders in His Church, His marriages, and His families. The only men I had ever known well or lived with (with the exception of my older brother) had been men that I could neither trust nor follow. I had watched enough men harm and mistreat my mother (as strong as she was) to convince me that I would never make the mistake of giving a man power over me. God might have intended for men to have authority in marriage, but I was convinced something had gone wrong in his plan and he needed to do a re-write.
Then grief and loss stepped in.
Several years later, I started my first year of college with the tragic loss of my older sister (and most cherished friend) as the result of an illegal drug overdose. In the wake of her death, I rushed to collect her journals and other personal writings from her home in an effort to protect my mother from the heartache I knew was written there. Through this process, in my grief, I dug myself a deeper tunnel towards complete rejection of men and male authority in my life. In short, I learned she had been severely beaten and sexually assaulted on multiple occasions and that drugs were sometimes the only source of relief from the fear and paranoia these experiences had caused her. To connect the dots for you: My sister was dead, I was devastated, and I blamed the entire world’s population of men for this loss.
To seal my bitter heart on this issue, a sociology professor that I admired and respected was reminding me every Tuesday and Thursday morning that “the basic character of a human being does not change” as she taught us a very secular perspective on courtship, marriage, and family dynamics.
So I came up with a plan of my own.
There I was: Eighteen years old, grieving and bitter, confused by God’s plan for my life and God’s plan for men and women, and convinced that there was no hope for a man to become the Godly example of Christ in my life. In my mind, there were men that may have “faked” a Christ-like walk on the surface, but underneith it all they were full of evil desires. I decided the best way for me to honor God in my life would be to never get married. Afterall, I thought, if I could avoid situations that required me submit to a man in my personal life, I could avoid thinking about the implications of such commands.
But God disagreed.
Thankfully, God had much better plans for my life. A year after my sister’s death, I was learning how to pray again. I was being drawn back to God’s word through surprising circumstances, and I was revisiting the possibility that his Word truly was infallible.
And there he was, my future husband, working his way into my life with an influential presence I could not avoid. He was a man and he could not be trusted, I reminded myself. It was true, though, he could not be trusted. He was imperfect and he was fully capable of using his influence to hurt my heart and further convince me that all men were in fact evil. So what happened? He really was imperfect. My heart really was hurt by his words and actions many times.
Something else was true of him, though, and this is where the lessons from my husband first began. He was changing. Yes he was imperfect, and yes at times his selfish acts left me in tears, but he was a man pursuing the things of God, not of himself. The holy spirit was living and active in his life, and through that power he was being sanctified daily, recognizing his imperfections and striving to replace those imperfections with more of Jesus Christ. I saw something in this man that I had never seen firsthand in my life: a truly repentant heart. The sorrow he felt over his own sin combined with the sincere desire to reject that sin and align himself with God’s Word were life altering for me. Years of skepticism and bitterness toward all men had blinded me from the obvious truth that my professor was wrong: people do change. This change, however, is not by their own power but by the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. I had been unwilling to acknowledge God’s power over sin in the life of a man. It was my husband, at the time just a man I was “getting to know better,” who God used to soften my heart to this truth.
A lesson learned.
Sometimes we read something, understand it, and may even say we agree with it without ever truly learning what it means. For me, this happened in a big way when I read in the word time and time again that God’s spirit changes people. While I knew and testified that God had changed my own life and continued to do so as He refined my Christian walk, I had failed to understand and believe in his power over man’s sin. I had failed to believe that God could change a sinful man in such a way that I could truly trust and follow him. I had failed to believe that God could change my own heart towards all men, both saved and un-saved.
In this case, I learned it from my husband. I continually learn this from my husband. For nearly 7 years now, he has been teaching me what it looks like to recognize shortcomings, repent with a sorrowful heart, and walk in the other direction towards holiness. I trust him and feel safe with him, but not because he will never hurt me or fail to lead me well. I trust him and feel safe with him because I know that he is a man of God, and in his failures the Spirit of God will convict him, draw him to repentance, and powerfully work to make necessary changes. God has used my husband to demonstrate for me that his plan was right all along, and his Word was right all along. He didn’t need to do a re-write. I needed to believe in His power over His creation. He created the man to be the leader and woman to be the helper, and he has the power to make this work for his glory. I am so grateful this is true.Thank you, Lord, for this gift of grace in my life! I pray you will continue to use my husband as an example of a Christ-centered life for myself and my children. Thank-you for changing my heart and showing me how very wrong I was. _______________________________________________________________________________ Check out the side panel for all the great blogs I link up with from week to week!