I’ve come to realize that many women (and men) in my life are being held hostage by something in their past. In fact, something that occurred in their past seems to be strangling the life out of them. But this is not God’s design for me or you! In John 10:10, Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” So what’s the problem? Allow me to spell out 3 common problems related to a person’s “past” that have the potential to strangle the life out of God’s people.
A person takes on a negative identity because of the way she was mistreated in the past, and continues to carry that attitude into her present day. Perhaps her dad abandoned the family and she started to believe the lie that she was unloveable. Maybe her boyfriend was verbally abusive and told her she was trash, and she continues to believe that lie years later. In both cases, that person often sinks into depression or self-medicates in harmful ways, or enters into every new relationship with the expectation she will be treated as unloveable or like trash. Obviously, such believes will strangle the life out of her. If this is you, it’s time to ask God and godly people in your life to speak truth to you about who you really are!
A person carries so much shame about their past sin, that they disqualify themselves from any future blessings or joy. This is also a case of wrong beliefs. If you have repented of your sin, then God has set you free to live an abundant life! Unfortunately, we often feel so undeserving of his forgiveness that we actually reject his kindness and the abundant life Jesus died to provide! But that’s the definition of grace…”undeserved kindness”. That’s why God is so amazing! Ephesians 1:7 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”. Is it time to accept and embrace God’s extravagant forgiveness and enjoy the kindness he longs to show you?
Sometimes, we miss out on the abundant life God intends for us because we stubbornly cling to an old season in our life, refusing to let it go. This sometimes happens after a divorce or death of a spouse. In fact, I took a lot of grief from many believers when I followed God’s promptings to start dating my new husband Mark about 6 months after my beloved husband Raul passed away. But I knew that nothing productive would happen if I allowed myself to wallow in what I had lost. God brought this beautiful scripture to mind. Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Is it time for you to let go of a season of your life that has ended so that God can set you on an exciting new adventure?
Caution. Caution. In fact, I urge you to envision yellow caution tape (like you see around a dangerous construction zone) every time this thought comes into your mind. The thought is “I deserve a different husband”. That is a thought emanating straight from the pit of hell.
When Satan dangles that thought in front of your mind, he’s basically trying to entice you into believing that you have been ripped off and that you are entitled to trade in your man for a better model. I should know. I bought that lie from the enemy, hook, line, and sinker at the end of my first marriage. You know who else fell for this kind of thinking? Eve. She fell for Satan’s lie that God was ripping her off by withholding fruit from one of the trees and he got her to believe she was entitled to more than God had given her. That story didn’t end well either.
Now please don’t misunderstand me. If your husband is an unrepentant, serial cheater or if he has a pattern of abuse and is not seeking serious help, then God may very well release you from your marriage. However, MUCH of the time, the enemy tries to get us to focus on every shortcoming of our husband, every flaw, every way he does not meet our expectations for a perfect husband. Then Satan seals the deal by whispering to us that we deserve a different husband…a husband who would be so much better. That’s usually a complete delusion! I can almost guarantee you that if you were to dump your husband and get a new one, he would have “issues” as well! So don’t fall for Satan’s schemes and delusions. Remember what the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 11:14…”Satan masquerades as an angel of light”.
So, instead of buying the lie that you need to dump your inferior man and get a better model, how about if you do these three things instead? 1) Look for the good qualities of your man and be thankful 2) Respectfully confront any sinful pattern of behavior on his part and establish boundaries if necessary 3) pray daily for Jesus to mold and shape your husband into a godly man of integrity.
If you’ve hit a rough patch in your marriage, and if you’re a believer, you’re likely dying to know what God wants you to do in this marriage challenge. You desperately need his guidance and counsel! The good news is that He loves it when his children seek his guidance. He loves his people to inquire of him!
The question is how. How do you receive his guidance for the issue in your marriage. Well, the first and most obvious answer is to study God’s Word. He has placed so many super helpful instructions on relationships in the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
Secondly, it’s almost always helpful to consult a godly mentor or counselor or pastor. Sometimes we need someone who can look at our marriage situation more objectively than we can, as well as someone who will remind us of God’s instructions for relationships. Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
But thirdly, and often most importantly, we should seek guidance from the Holy Spirit because God is the only one who actually knows the future. He’s the only one who knows if your husband is going to change. He’s the only one who knows exactly what to do and when. John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
So ask God specific questions about specific issues in your marriage. Ask what He wants you to do and then strain to sense the nudges from the Holy Spirit. You probably won’t hear God speak out loud, but Jesus does say his sheep will hear his voice. John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. So pray, and then be quiet and listen for those nudges from the Holy Spirit. Jesus wants to guide you!
I am on the war path…against the devil! I will not stand idly by while he tries to destroy the marriages of beautiful Christian wives who fall for his diabolical schemes. I should know all about his schemes because I fell into them in my first marriage. So heed my warning. I know from first-hand experience that Satan wants to lure your thinking down the wrong path.
You’ve probably heard the verse in John 10:10 where Jesus reveals Satan’s mission to “steal, kill and destroy”. Well, a primary tool of Satan is big, fat, rotten lies! Jesus reveals this in John 8:44 where, referring to the devil, he says, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Be on high alert for the devil to whisper lies that might sound something like this: “Your husband is a total jerk”, “Your marriage is hopeless”, “You deserve a different husband”, “You should file for divorce”, “Your kids would be better off if you divorce”, “You don’t need to listen to advice from your church friends who think you should work on your marriage.”, etc. These are big, fat, rotten lies from the pit of hell. Don’t be impulsive. Don’t rush into a divorce. Give God time to work on your husband…and on you!
Do you feel tempted to throw in the towel regarding your marriage? I know it can be tempting to just bail out, but please let me encourage you to do everything you can to fight FOR your marriage!
When you’re going through a serious challenge in your marriage, it seems right to choose the path where the pain can be quickly relieved. In a nutshell, it often seems best to choose divorce. But I’ve been through divorce, and I can honestly say that even though some of your pain will be relieved, you’ll be faced with a whole new set of problems and heartbreak.
So, maybe you should try something else. What if you were to seek outside counsel for your marriage? What if you were to spend time on your knees crying out to God on behalf of your marriage? What if you were to courageously, but respectfully, confront your husband if he is seriously out of line in some area? That could be the beginning of a turn-around in your marriage.
And also, please consider that other people are watching how you handle challenging times. Your children are watching how you handle this. Are you teaching them to bail out of situations and relationships when the going gets tough, or are you showing them how to persevere and do the hard work to restore the relationship? Meditate on Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus…”
Yes, sometimes ending the marriage may be the right path, especially if there has been a pattern of affairs or abuse. But often, we choose to end a marriage because of resentment or unmet expectations or because “he’s not making me happy”. Please, please, please work to address the issues that are prompting you to consider divorce. There may be a way to develop a healthier perspective and a healthier relationship. This will likely take work, and the process could be painful, but often good things happen when we persevere through the pain!
Having a rough time in your marriage? Do you wish you’d never married your husband? Our society makes it very easy to throw in the towel and divorce. Divorce might seem very tempting, but let me tell you from personal experience; it’s really hard on your children. Actually, it’s devastating for them. Yes, God can heal them over time, but your children will always carry a deep emotional scar. Whoever started the rumor that kids can bounce back from divorce was lying!
I’m not saying that a woman should never divorce her husband. The Bible certainly gives a clear allowance for divorce in Matthew 19:9 where Jesus says “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Jesus clearly states that when a spouse has cheated on you sexually, divorce is permissible. After many years of studying the Bible, I also believe God permits a woman to divorce her husband when he grossly sins against his wife through continuing physical or emotional abuse. After all, God instructs us in Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life“. After years of severe emotional or physical abuse, a woman can become a mere shell of a human being. I don’t believe that is God’s will for anyone. Throughout the Bible, we see that God is more concerned with mercy than merely following rules.
All this being said, please do everything you can to fight for your marriage. Don’t give up easily. Don’t let bitterness grow. Work to resolve issues before your heart grows so cold that you don’t feel like working to save your marriage. You may possibly need to separate from your husband in order to bring his attention to the seriousness of the problem, but your goal should be reconciliation and restoration of your marriage. Find a good counselor. Get a mentor couple. Read the Bible. Pray continually. Don’t give up on your marriage too easily. If for no other reason, fight for your marriage on behalf of your children.
When we first pledge our love to each other on our wedding day, we never think either one of us could possibly end up having an affair years later. Tragically, it happens quite frequently, and even among Christian couples. We can’t be ignorant of Satan’s mission revealed by Jesus in John 10:10 where He says Satan is out to “kill, steal, and destroy”. Satan would like nothing better than to rip apart your marriage. He is always plotting ways to get you or your spouse connected with someone of the opposite sex. That’s why we have to be vigilant from day one!
James 4:7 advises us…”Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” One of the ways we can resist the devil’s schemes to destroy our marriages is to talk with our husbands about rules we will both follow relating to the opposite sex. Agree that you will never spend time alone with another man and your husband will never spend time alone with another woman. If your job requires you to be in a one-on-one meeting with someone of the opposite sex, agree that the door will always be left open. Agree that you will never share anything personal about your marriage with a member of the opposite sex. If at all possible, agree to never work as a two-person team with a member of the opposite sex on a project or at your job. That feeling of being a “team” is extremely bonding!
Safeguard your marriage. You may think you don’t need all these strict rules, but I know from personal experience that you do. Many solid Christians have fallen into Satan’s trap by failing to follow these safeguards. Don’t let your marriage be another notch in the devil’s belt.