This blog post is very personal. It is hard to think about how my marriage was almost lost. It breaks my heart to know that I let Satan get so close to winning. I am so thankful that our God is greater and that He always brings triumph out of a trial. I would like to say before I get into my story is that God does not put storms in our life, He may allow them into our life to bring us where we need to be but God is good in all things. I recently saw War Room and read a book called Fervent that talks about how to fight Satan with prayer. Trust God, prayer works!
Ok, so here we go…
To give you a little bit of history I was raised Baptist but was not a faithful church-goer. My husband was raised Catholic and was forced to go every Sunday. We were married and had our first child at the age of 18. We had our 2nd child at the age of 20. We were young, happy and in love at a time in our life when we thought that is all we needed. We both believed in Christ but neither of us had a personal relationship with God. We were tired of all the rules of religion and wondered around lost for 35 years of our life. That is the perfect place for Satan to attack and we never realized it.
“For our struggles is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 NIV
Everything was great for a little while, for a long while I suppose. I can’t pin point exactly when things started going south but I can tell you that it was nothing big. There was not a huge blow up, no big fight, no screaming match. We are not fighters, or so everyone would believe, we are the more silent yet deadly type of fighters. The couple that smiles in public and even holds hands but on the inside I was screaming. For the most part my husband thought we had a perfect marriage. I didn’t know how to communicate and when I tried his response was not what I wanted to hear so I started keeping all of my feelings bottled up. Satan attacked my heart, my relationships, and my family.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3 NIV
As the kids got older, our schedules got busier with extracurricular events and career goals. We were always busy, taking a few courses down at the local community college, volunteering at the fire department, daughter’s softball, and son’s football. We were always together, we did everything together but yet most of the time I felt very alone. Satan attacked my confidence, my self-worth.
“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:14 NIV
This is the point in my life that I was very vulnerable. If anyone showed me any attention at all I fell right into Satan’s trap. I tried to find satisfaction in anything and everything, except God. I didn’t like my job, so that did not fill the void. I tried to fill the void with materialistic things but that didn’t work. When I would do that it would cause more friction in my marriage because then it involved finances. I went through the motions…a lot. I would set unfair expectations of my husband and when he would fail it was heart breaking. It was frustrating for him because I made him feel like he never measured up. I always wanted more than what he could give me. Satan attacked my contentment.
“The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the belly of the wicked suffers want.” Proverbs 13:25 NIV
I began to think that I didn’t want to be married, I thought that I wanted to be alone. I thought that I just needed space to find out who I was and what I wanted. Maybe I got married too young, I didn’t know who I was outside of Troy and the kids. I didn’t know where else to turn so I started going to church…alone. Troy wouldn’t come and I was not going to force the kids to come. If my daughter didn’t have to work then she loved coming with me. Satan attacked my identity, I didn’t know how I was and was filled with doubt.
“As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13 NIV
Most of the sermons left me more and more sad. I wanted to have what the Pastor talked about, a lasting spiritual relationship. I wanted to feel emotionally connected with someone. I would go home and felt more and more alone. I started to think that God wanted me to be happy and if I wasn’t happy with Troy then I should leave him. God would put someone in my life that would understand me and that would make me happy. I went to church but I still didn’t have that relationship with God. If my husband didn’t want to talk then why would God want to talk? Emotionally and spiritually I was empty, I was lost. If I tried to talk to Troy about it he would get upset because he didn’t know how to fix it. I wasn’t good at telling him exactly how I was feeling. Satan attacked my focus. I stopped focusing on fixing my marriage and spent more time trying to figure out how to get out of my marriage.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 NIV
After 15 years I had enough, I asked Troy for a separation. He said no, He told me it was either married or divorce, no in between. I didn’t want a divorce, but I knew I wasn’t happy continuing life the way it was. His response didn’t surprise me though because all through our marriage he made the rules. He decided where we lived, how we spent our money, what we did and how we did it. I cried, Troy cried, neither one of us wanted a divorce but we didn’t know what else to do. We decided at one last chance and to go to counseling. Troy was so scared that things were over between us that he got on his knees for the first time and prayed a sincere heartfelt prayer to God. He decided to come to church with me. God waited for us to surrender to Him, to fall on our knees begging for Him to fix what we let Satan destroy. When we started praying and reading God’s word, Satan gets quieter…but don’t be fooled, he is not gone.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV
Honestly the only thing that we got out of counseling was how to communicate about anything and everything. Instead of Troy telling me that I shouldn’t feel that way, he would say I am so sorry I made you feel that way, I never meant it that way. WOW what a difference that statement made to me!!! When decisions came up in the house, he asked me for my opinion and we talked until we reached a mutual agreement, it was amazing. As we go through life, we get trained in our job, we study for school, and we practice for sports…why wouldn’t we get training and education on communication in our marriage!! I cannot express how important communication is in a relationship, don’t assume the worst in your spouse, and always remember that you are on the same team! I feel silly that we went so long and did not seek help.
“I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.” Psalm 30:1 NIV
There were a lot of long talks, forgiveness, praying together, praying separate and learning how to love each other again. It took time and a lot of work. It took patience and when we would find ourselves mad and pulling away from each other, we had to hold each other accountable and admit when we were wrong. We had to learn how to turn away from the bad habits and put into practice the communication strategies that we learned in counseling. It was all very intentional and did not come easy at all. It went against everything that felt natural but now…I honestly can’t imagine it any other way and I hope I never have to.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV
We started going to church as a family and everything in our life started changing. When we came so close to losing everything our perspectives changed on what really mattered in life. We still get on each other’s nerves, we still get irritated, we still have arguments but we know that our intentions are good (we are on the same team with God as our Head Coach). And we also know that neither one of us is going anywhere. We love each other so much and we know that we do not want to hurt each other but we are human and have realistic expectations now. I know that Jesus is the only one that can fill that void in my heart that I have searched to fill with so many other things in this world. All of which left me more and more lonely.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV
Once we started going to church we knew that we had to find a way to dig deeper into God’s word. We had daily devotionals but neither one of us had ever read the bible. We knew only what other’s told us about the bible. So we started in Genesis and by the time we got to Leviticus we were confused and grew frustrated in trying to learn this on our own. Through our church we got plugged into a bible study group and we started reading and discussing the New Testament. I cannot express how important it is to surround yourself with other imperfect people headed in the same direction towards Christ is for our spirits to grow. We have now finished the New Testament and have started on the Old Testament. We encourage each other, bounce ideas and readings off of each other and if we ever get stuck on a scripture that we cannot figure out, we have pastors that are just a text message away!!
“You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.” – Psalm 77:14 NIV
We have talked about how we wished we would have come to have that personal relationship with Christ so much sooner but it is all in God’s plan. I don’t know what that plan is but I do now trust God completely with my life, my marriage, my children and my finances. There is nothing that I don’t seek God for every day. I know that most of us are stubborn, it is in our human nature to want to control everything. But if we pray first instead of as a last resort, you would be filled with hope, peace and a love that surpasses any earthly understanding. We are actually learning that the closer we get to God the more Satan tries to intervene. He continues to tell us that we have failed, are not worthy of God’s love and that we will never measure up to be the people God wants us to be. Satan is the father of all lies. The more you read God’s word the more you will be able to recognize when Satan is attacking you.
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 NIV
Are you ready for God to work a miracle in your life? He wants so badly to pour blessings into your life.
“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” – Job 5:9 NIV
Pray – make it your top priority, if you don’t know what to say, pick a scripture and read it over and over, ask God to reveal to you the meaning and stay quiet for a minute or so, meditate and let God work in your heart. One of my favorite apps for scripture is called “Bible Promises”. It will give you different subjects, click on the one that is weighing on your heart and there will be several scriptures to help you seek God in his word.
Small Group Bible Study – find a church home and get involved in a bible study. There are some online that you can even get involved in as well. It is so important to read and know God’s word first hand and not by a preacher saying scripture in a sermon. I highly recommend the Books of the Bible by Biblica. They separate the bible into sections and lay it out in a novel base format so that it is easier to read. We started with the New Testament and are now covering Covenant History, next will be the Prophets.
There are a lot of resources out there but here are a few books that helped us:
Two Hearts Praying as One by: Dennis and Barbara Rainey
The Five Love Languages by: Gary Chapman
Love and Respect by: Dr. Emerson Eggerichs