by Margo James, reporting true stories of a perfect God at work in an imperfect marriage.
We’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do. ~ 2 Cor. 4:8, The Message
Sometimes I don’t know which way to go.
Big decisions are well-advertised, like signs that welcome drivers as they near state lines: New Hampshire, 180 miles. –> New Hampshire, 53 miles. –> Welcome to New Hampshire, “Live Free or Die.”
I have time to prepare when a big decision looms on the horizon, and the options are generally clear. I read my bible and pray, I talk with trusted confidantes and pray, I make lists of pros and cons… and pray. Eventually, peace leads me to the right answer: either I veer off at the exit, or I don’t. The route I am to take is marked with heaven’s highlighter.
Unfortunately, there are about a billion unmarked intersections to every big flashy Welcome to this State marquee on the map of my life. Patches of my road disappear into the muck, and the paths I cross are just as murky. Options are unclear, let alone answers. I am lured into silly arguments, hurt and frustrated by unwarranted verbal attacks, wondering after the fact, Why didn’t I see that coming? It’s not like I haven’t been at that intersection before. I’ve lived right around the corner for almost twenty years.
Sunday after church our happy little family was on a home-decor safari; the object of our quest: cheap end tables (or cool found objects, out of which to make end tables). I asked, “Where exactly do you want these tables to go, Babe?”
My husband turned and shot me an angry look, shouting “I already told you!” In front of the kids. In front of everybody.
Shocked at his anger, I tried to explain. “Earlier, I asked which room they were for. This time I wanted to know where in the room…” Did he want them for either end of the couch, or one for the couch and the other for the love seat? Did they need to be the same height? My question was legitimate. And even if it wasn’t, it didn’t warrant an angry outburst.
But he wasn’t listening. He was too busy admonishing me for not listening.
As we shopped, he was lighthearted and silly, and perplexed by my sudden sadness. At lunch I took aspirin for the headache that had plagued me all day. He nodded. “Ahhhh, that’s why you’re so crabby.”
“No, Dear,” I assured him. We shared a significant glance. I was not crabby. I was hurt, and was trying not to be, and was worn out by years of the same.
At home later, I laid my dilemma out on the carpet in prayer. “I don’t know what to do, Lord.”
Love keeps no record of wrongs, and Jesus told Peter to forgive seventy times seven times. I am supposed to turn the other cheek and submit to my husband as to the Lord. But the bible also says that it is never right to go along with injustice. We are supposed to teach and admonish one another in all wisdom. Surely it’s not wise or right to observe a pattern of sinful behavior in a loved one and allow it to continue unchecked. Especially when children are watching and learning.
Childhood scars are reasons for the ugliness at this particular intersection in my life. My husband — a church-going, bible-believing follower of Jesus — inherited both angry DNA and a terrible example from his parents. He is a good and tender man, a funny guy and a wonderful father, who is prone to anger.
“Please use me to bless my husband, Jesus. Help him with his anger, and help me know how to handle it. We need you. Thank you for this life and for our marriage. Please help us make the most of it.”
That night we were able to talk. My husband admitted his bad behavior, and apologized — actions which are notably easier for him in recent months. A miracle. Years of prayer, answered.
Oswald Chambers wrote, “Prayer is not a question of altering things externally, but of working wonders in a man’s disposition.” He was referring to the pray-er. When I pray, I am changed. But sometimes when I pray for my husband — or anyone who is struggling to break free of a bad behavior — God works in the life of the person for whom I have prayed. And, “Our lives gradually become brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives & we become like him,” (2 Cor. 3:18, The Message).
Margo is giving her novel away for free, no strings attached, one chapter at a time. Click here to follow along. (Think of it as an old-timey serial radio drama. And… enjoy!)