The Hard Reality of a One-sided Journey

There is hope for those who struggle in a one-sided journey to a surrendered marriage.one sided struggle

Before I get to today’s post, I want to first offer a quick welcome to all the new readers, followers and subscribers here. Also, I appreciate it that a number of you who have taken One Minute the New Reader Survey. I hope you enjoy being part of my own marriage journey, and I want to encourage you to take part in the dialog by offering your comments on what you read here. I really do appreciate and welcome your thoughts, questions, and insights!

Over the course of my blogging on marriage this year, an issue has arisen from time to time that was reinforced to me by several recent respondents to reader’s survey.

What do you do when your spouse isn’t willing to join with you in the Journey to Surrender?

The One-Sided Struggle

Let me start by saying I haven’t any personal experience in this matter because my beautiful bride is completely on board with the idea of a surrendered marriage and we are taking the journey together, step by step, hand in hand. Obviously, this is the ideal case and the way God intends it to be whenever possible. But sometimes, for a variety of reasons, a spouse will find that they are alone (or at least feel alone) in seeking to make the marriage a reflection of the bridal paradigm, one that is a reflection of the intimate love relationship between Jesus, our Bridegroom, and us, the church, His bride.

Second, let me say that what I propose below is in no way meant to discount the often painful reality of the situations many face. I don’t offer these suggestions as a quick fix or a magic bullet. Rather, my intention is to offer some biblical and hopeful perspective.

Your circumstance may be that of an unbelieving spouse who simply has no perception of the deeply spiritual nature of marriage and doesn’t see it as God’s very own creation. It may be a spouse that is ill-willed or embittered and has put up walls that seem impossible to penetrate. It may be a spouse that has withdrawn and refuses to invest in improving the relationship. It may be some combination of these things or something else entirely.

The question is, though, what do you do when, for whatever reason, you find yourself feeling alone on your marriage journey?

Seek First the Kingdom

You’ve heard it a thousand times: Seek God first, and all the other stuff will be taken care of (my paraphrase of Matthew 6:33). Sure, it sounds like a trite and overused expression, but it is only as we gain a deep and intimate knowledge of who God really is that the truth of it begins to ring true. The knowledge of God, especially of his infinite love, is the key to fullness in God (Ephesians 3:16-18)

The Bible implores us to “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16). God is a faithful lover, full of grace and mercy, one who only has good in his heart for us. He is our source of strength to face even the most difficult circumstances. Press fully into the heart of God, discover who he is and how he feels about you. Let it be his presence that carries you forward in your journey.

Truth Is Truth

The truth of the bridal paradigm is real regardless of whether your spouse chooses to walk along side you in the Journey to Surrender or not. The biblical marriage principles of selfless love, respect, trust, transparency, intimacy and the others you’ll find among the pages of this blog hold true regardless of your circumstances or your spouse’s beliefs. Living your life and trying to walk out your marriage by these principles will definitely bear positive fruit.

That said, you also have to have realistic expectations. Because these principles are certainly most fruitful and helpful to a marriage when a couple chooses to go after them together, don’t be disillusioned if you don’t suddenly see all your marital problems evaporate. Be thankful for small steps forward and let the light of truth be a lamp to light your way forward.

There Is Hope

God is by nature a redeemer and a restorer of lost things. Know that his desire is to see your marriage not only survive but thrive. He is able to make something out of nothing and repair even the most damaged relationships. Pray for restoration, walk in faithfulness, and let the God of hope fill you.

Finally, I leave you with this prayer. It is my prayer for you in your marriage journey:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

(Cautionary note. Of course in situations involving physical abuse you should immediately seek refuge from the abuser. In cases involving verbal abuse, substance abuse, infidelity or other serious issues, you should seek marital or other professional counseling.)

The Most Essential Ingredient for Growing Intimacy

Grace is an invitation to intimacy.

 

This is the sixth and final post in my series on choices that lead to The Path of Intimacy. Go here to see where this started and to get a complete list of the related posts in this series.

So far we’ve covered a number of choices that will help put and keep your marriage on the Path of Intimacy. We’ve addressed the fact that the deepest form of intimacy involves your whole being: spirit, soul (mind/heart/emotions) and body. We’ve seen the importance of being transparent and open, bringing the fullness of your self to your marriage, acknowledging the important role that trust plays in bringing about an atmosphere of living “naked without shame.” Last time we looked at the fact that you can have as much intimacy in your marriage as you choose to work for and that you can always have more if you go after it.

So what is left? What is the key ingredient that remains? Grace.

Grace is an invitation to intimacy

Grace is what keeps your marriage on the Path of Intimacy when other forces would knock you off.

Grace is nothing more than unmerited favor, mercy and kindness. Easy to say, but really hard to do. But grace is one of God’s most significant attributes and one that we would do well to mimic in marriage. It is God’s grace, mercy and loving-kindness that draws us near to him in intimacy. It’s his kindness that leads us to be transformed and renewed in the way we think and act, not his judgment or wrath (Romans 2:4). Grace has the same power to transform you and your spouse in your marriage.

“But wait,” you say. “You don’t know my [husband/wife]. You don’t know what I put up with!”

OK, I’ll admit it, I don’t. But here’s the crazy thing about grace: God knew everything about you, every sin and weakness, every bad choice, angry word and spiteful act you would ever commit, yet he chose to let his own Son, Jesus, be put to death so that he could have intimacy with you forever. That is grace. Ridiculous, extravagant grace. It is reckless mercy, and it is what we are called to duplicate.

“I’m not God,” you reply.

Neither am I. I’m not anywhere near as good at this grace thing as God is. Nobody will ever be. But I know enough to know that there is a promise in grace: that promise is intimacy. Grace is an invitation to intimacy.

Yes, our spouses are full of flaws and mistakes and at times will come out with unkind words and careless actions. As long as there are people involved in marriages, there will be pain. Plenty of it. Don’t let the pain knock you off the Path of Intimacy. At least not for long.

You have to want intimacy more than you want perfection.

It’s really that simple. I’m not saying it is easy. Quite the opposite, in fact. But I do know the power of grace. It’s simply amazing. (Wait, isn’t there a song about this Amazing Grace…)

So if it is the Path of Intimacy you want, choose the way of grace. Be extravagant in giving it and gracious in receiving it. It will do wonders for the intimacy in your marriage.