marriage

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The Boyfriend Bonfire

Published June 3, 2017 by Dawn

I’ve only been in one serious relationship in my life, but it was enough. Enough to experience one of the greatest acts of liberation to womankind: the boyfriend bonfire.

No, I did not roast him. Not in the 20th century or 21st century use of the word … I did, however, burn every last vestige of our relationship outside on my lawn one night in my last-ditch effort to get him out of my mind and out of my heart.

Everything good about our relationship sleeps around the corner while I write this. For a long time, though, I kept mementos of things we did together that I wanted to remember forever in a little brown lock box. Movie tickets from our first “official” date (you know, the one someone else drove us to because we were fifteen), the promise ring he bought me (which was thrown in a fit of madness and recovered a few months later having been worked over by some car tires), pictures of us, letters between us. All the things that would have been a cute story to tell our kids if things would have worked out between us.

I did hang on to them for a really long time, hoping to share this part of my life with my kids when they grew up, but just looking at the box became unbearably painful as I tried to eradicate him from my heart so I could stop crying and move on. Opening it was a day-trip to hell.

I saw the bonfire idea on an episode of Friends years before, and seeing it work for Rachel (kind of) sold the idea to me. So, one day, I took my box outside, opened it and burned each piece of it individually on the sidewalk. When everything that could burn was burned, including the box, I threw everything else in the trash and sat down and cried my last cry over all those memories, the loss of love, and the brokenness in my heart. Then I prayed to God this one prayer that I will never regret praying and which, mercifully, He granted. “Please, God, replace every thought of him with a thought of you.” I thought about this man every second of every day. It was a self-inflicted torment that I couldn’t seem to stop on my own. But those thoughts had to be replaced by something and I wanted it to be my Savior.

I’m telling you all of this because it occurred to me yesterday that separation from sin requires this same kind of desperate act. A bonfire, if you will, of everything that draws you to that sin. When the Holy Spirit begins to deal with you about sin in your life, your responsibility is to do whatever is necessary to end your relationship with that sin so you can be in a right relationship with God. God does not appreciate a half-hearted devotion. He doesn’t want a lover who is often in the arms of the world. You cannot love both. You will hate the one and love the other (Matthew 6:24), and God says if you love the world, you don’t love Him (James 4:4). You might be able to convince yourself that you do, but it’s not an acceptable relationship in His eyes. Who appreciates being cheated on?!

There’s no doubt we love sin.  We were born into sin, and from our earliest recollection, it was wooing us. We find out at our first lie how well sin works in our favor. It guards us from discomfort, protects the ones we love from heartache, and keeps our pride intact. Don’t believe it’s true? Try admitting you lied to someone who holds the key to your job … I’ve done it and it’s awful. Ever cheated and then admitted it? Then you’ve seen the devastation on your lover’s face and hated yourself for inflicting it. Let’s face it: sin has a beautiful side and it’s easy to love. It’s easy to embrace and easy to give yourself over to it.

If we consider ourselves Christians – the bride of Christ making herself ready for her wedding – we cannot love sin on the side. Grace came to save us and purify us from sin, but God will not abide this continuing love affair with the world. We have to separate ourselves, and if it’s hard to move on because of the memories and the feelings, then we have to do something drastic … like a boyfriend bonfire.

How do we properly break up with sin? We take all the things that drum up memories or feelings for it, all the things that increase our desire toward it and we torch it on the front lawn! We turn away from those things that feed our visual sickness. We turn the knob on the radio, switch the channel, avoid the road that goes past the bars. We pause before the word comes out. We take the high road instead of the low road. You see, the Bible says that when we are tempted, God provides a way out so we can stand up under it (1 Corinthians 10:13). We will not be tempted beyond what we can bear. We just so often choose the comfort of sin than the discomfort of taking authority in our lives.

I’ve no doubt that as you read this, the Lord is reminding you of sin He’s been trying to deal with in your habits. He’s asking you to be His, wholly. You are being wooed by the lover of your soul, but it’s time to break up with the world. It’s time to break up with your proclivity for things that displease God. And as you step away from them, as your purposefully avoid them and say no to all the things that would lead you back to sin, you should pray, “God, please make every thought that would be about this sin about you instead.” God is faithful, friend. You can be free from the grip of sin.  That’s what Jesus died for. This New Age message that tells you that you are hopeless in your sin, so thank God Jesus died, is keeping you a captive to something Jesus died to break you free from. If without holiness, none shall see God (Hebrew 12:14), then holiness is a good and proper pursuit for the Christian in love with Christ. But you can’t chase holiness while chained to sin.

If the Holy Spirit is convicting you right now, it’s time to have a bonfire. Let the holy fire of the Spirit of God burn up all the things that need to go in order for you to accept Christ as your One and Only. Do it now, friend, while the fire is hot and the Spirit is ready. You will not regret this break-up. You won’t even shed a tear.

Praying for a Man

Published May 3, 2017 by Dawn

I hate confessions. It’s weird to let you into my soul. I’m not purposefully this open about things, but I feel like if God is speaking something to me, most of the time, it’s because He wants me to share it with others. So here goes …

A dear friend of mine invited me to a concert not too long ago. It wasn’t something I would have showed up to on my own because I’m not that cool. I like to sit at home and drink tea and avoid my phone … or any other form of communication with the outside world. I’m the kind of person who’s only an extrovert because I’m an introvert …

Anyway, I went to this concert and had a great time. It wasn’t just entertainment; it was worship. I love worship. I love getting lost in love for a while with my One and Only. And I love watching other people worship too. Music is one of my greatest passions and in a room full of people using their talents to worship my King is exactly where I want to be for eternity. Heaven, I can’t wait to meet you!

Ok, on to the confession: So, there was this guy … singing. On the stage. I had to close my eyes to keep from being distracted because 1.) he was gorgeous; 2.) no ring; 3.) his voice; 4.) his was lost in the worship.

I’m not saying everyone else on that stage was purely entertaining, because I don’t believe that at all. What I am saying is that this man was exuberantly worshipping. Without a ring on. Singing to my King. Gorgeously.

I kept my eyes closed most of the time so I would focus on the One I came to see. Not this guy, because before this concert, this guy did not even exist on my radar. I went home that night feeling very refreshed, released from some shackles and focused despite the distractions in my own head.

Imagine my surprise when, a few days later, God recalls this man to mind and tells me to pray for him. Here’s how that conversation went (relatively … I didn’t record it exactly):

(this guy comes to mind while I’m praying…)

Me: Ooooooo, I rebuke you, Satan!

Holy Spirit: Pray for him.

Me: … I probably shouldn’t be doing this. It’s not a good idea, Lord.

Him: It’s my Will. Pray for him.

Me: I know you mean well, but I can’t have this guy on my mind. I’m not strong enough for that. Can’t someone else?

Him: If you had a husband, you would pray for him all the time. Who prays for the single men in ministry?

Me: Their future wives. Come on, Lord, please! I can’t … I’m not strong enough to handle this.

Him: But you aren’t salacious. Pray without coveting. He’s your brother and his integrity is important.

Me: This isn’t fair.

Him: Be obedient.

So I started to pray for this man. I pray for him daily. I don’t even know him, but I guess I don’t have to. My mind revolves back to God’s question in the matter: Who prays for the single men in ministry? And while I know there are single women everywhere praying for a husband, how many of us are willing to spend our time just praying for our brothers in Christ? After all, many of them struggle with the same things we struggle with. Loneliness. Isolation. Temptation. Distractions. And the battle intensifies when we minister for the Lord.

So many of us despise the single life. So few of us are willing to let it be anything more than a waiting room before we’re ushered in to our “happily ever after.” But what if it can be more than that? I offer to you that it can. It can be a time of fulfillment in the presence of God. It can be a time of undistracted worship, and obedience, to His will. If we allow God, He can use us mightily even if no one else ever knows our names. We can be a face in a crowd at a concert, but the prayer warrior in the closet holding up the weary arms of our brothers and sisters in Christ. So to the one guy on stage without a ring … I’m praying for you, Brother.

Published August 26, 2016 by Dawn

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24)

Since night running is no longer an option around here, I had to schedule my run during the daytime. I have not been feeling up to getting up really early, so I chose to schedule my run for right after work while the kids are at their sport practices. Turns out a really great idea as far as timing goes. The weather, however, makes it more of a chore than I anticipated. Take yesterday, for instance.

Of course, yesterday is an extreme example. There was a lot of mitigating factors going on. Firstly, I skipped lunch. I did have breakfast, but it was two poptarts, which only count as empty calories with no significant nutritional benefit to account for. I had two 8 oz. cans of V8 around lunchtime, but nothing in the way of food. My water intake was next to nil, but I still naively thought running would be a breeze. I didn’t realize the weather was also against me.

It was a perfect day … for the beach. Ninety-four and sunny. No clouds. Not even a hint of one on the horizon. No chance of rain. I went running at midday heat. Of course, I took my faithful partner along … the dog. We walked a little first, so he could do his business beforehand. Mission complete, and we were off!

It seems like all there is around here is hills. But not the kind that do down. Just the up-side of them. I don’t know how that works out but it’s a pretty amazing trick nature has played on us here. I immediately noticed that running was much harder from my new start point, but I just pressed forward, urging my pained muscles to take step after step long after I wanted to quit … five minutes into my run. That’s not even half a mile.

We were on the biggest hill when the dog made his first stop. He just needed to sniff a powerful trail. It ticked me off. Stopping is the worst, because then I have to exert more of an effort to start running again, because inertia is no longer in play. I reflexively said to my dog through gritted teeth, “Oh my gosh, I hate you!”

Don’t judge me. I was hot, I had no energy  and I was in the middle of a hill!

That was all the excuses I used to justify my heart attitude toward my dog. About a mile into our run, he began to really fatigue. I suddenly felt like, no longer was I just pushing myself to run, I was pulling my dog along for the ride. He tried to stop several times, but each time, I said something mean in a tone of voice that thoroughly intimidated him and he immediately picked up the pace again.

Two miles in, I needed to rest. The little bit of water I had brought was almost gone, my muscles were suffocating, I couldn’t breathe and we were facing yet another giant hill. I noticed a house that had a “for sale” sign in the yard and a vacancy notice on the door, so we stepped off the sidewalk into the shaded yard and rested ourselves on the front step of the house. My poor puppy sank down into the grass and panted. I squeezed the last few drops of water onto his tongue. Together, we rested for ten minutes before starting out on our last little bit.

We walked most of our last mile. I ran a few times, but at this point, the heat was really getting to me and my legs, chest and upper back were hurting from exertion. We made it back to our car much later than I anticipated, and melted into the seats while waiting for the air to cool down enough to shut the doors and hole up in our cold haven until the kids were done.

Horrible run.

I attended my mind to the Holy Spirit while I was running because it’s what I do. No sense in letting my mind wander for an hour if I can just as easily be taught in that time. So I listened. Every complication on my run had a spiritual implication:

  • I ate junk for breakfast – Sometimes, we fill up on “junk” and expect to run our race well. But junk has no value, and we find ourselves exerting so much more effort, relying on our natural selves because the junk has failed us. This junk comes from the things we watch, listen to and say throughout the course of a day.
  • What little good I had (the V8) wasn’t enough – Sometimes, the little good we take in (Sunday sermons, daily devotionals, etc.) isn’t enough. We need more substantive nourishment (ie. Time in the Word of God) to run our race with endurance.
  • No shade is a killer – “Under His wings you will find refuge.” We need to be sheltered sometimes. We need rest and retreat on our run. It’s refreshing! Don’t be afraid to duck out of the limelight and be sheltered at times. It’s often imperative to running a good race.

In addition to all of this, the Lord shared some great things about running with a partner. My life journey doesn’t include a husband yet, but it could one day and here’s what I gleaned from this run with my dog:

  • Our partners get sidetracked – My dog chases rabbits, follows scents and sometimes, just stops to “feel out” a place. It’s a selfish run if I don’t let his needs be fulfilled too. His needs matter to him as much as mine matter to me.
  • Our partners may need a break – Running is hard work. In this race called “life,” very few of us are taking it in stride. Our partners grow weary, restless, etc. just like we do. They may need to take a break and that has to be okay unless we plan on leaving them to forge ahead on our own.
  • Sometimes I pulled him, sometimes he pulled me – the lovely thing about a partnership is the shared work. I have to admit, though. I loved being pulled much more than I loved pulling. I didn’t want to drag him along, but I didn’t mind being dragged myself. I didn’t mind the extra help, just the demand on my faculties to reciprocate it. This was not a good partnership.
  • I was mean – When my dog struggled, I was not supportive. I was hateful. I told him I hated him. Called him names. Yanked his leash. Rolled my eyes. Huffed. I did not recognize his needs, or care about his desires. I had a goal and I mercilessly pursued the finish line, disregarding any trauma caused by my selfish disdain cast in his direction. Also not a good way to foster that relationship.

Yes, life is a race of sorts. In order to run well, we have to eat healthy stuff (reading the Bible, filling up on good media), take a break to rest in the shadow of the Almighty, and if God gives us a partner, be mindful of his or her needs. We should encourage those God puts in our lives and be willing to share their burdens as much as we desire them to share ours. This is how we run well.

 

When I said “I do”

Published January 8, 2015 by Dawn

I knelt before my Father and said, “I’m ready to get married. Only I know I won’t choose well. Will you find him for me?”

My Father said, “Yes. Tell me, daughter, what is it you seek in a man?”

I read Him my rather long list and ended with, “But above all, he must love you more. That’s what’s most important to me.”

My Father assured me of His love for me, and His desire to give me His best. He said, “Leave it in my hands, daughter. I will surely bring this man to you.”

As time wore on, My Father continually assured me of His faithful work on my behalf. But I kept getting anxious, and looking here and there, said, “It is him! Oh, Father, is it this one? Is it that one” My Father simply smiled and said, “In due time, you will know.”

As more time passed, I began to fret and worry, and I stormed into my Father’s room and said, “You aren’t doing anything! How can you keep speaking of your Will and your Way when you aren’t even working? Where is he, then?”

And my Father stood and looked at me and said very lovingly, “When you sent me to find him, you said you wanted my will. That was the moment you said “I do” to this man. It’s a vow you made to me when you asked. You cannot ask for my will, and then pursue your own, and wonder why things are not working out. You have asked for my will and you shall have it. In my time, and my way. And he may not look like you assume he should, his job may not seem prestigious. His background may not sparkle and shine, and his proclivities may not enamor you. But he will be my best for you. Now daughter, do you trust me?”

“I do.”

What Manner of Love is This?

Published June 30, 2014 by Dawn

I’m … ashamed. And appalled. I’m … speechless. I don’t belong here. This dress. This white. This isn’t me. This is not me. I don’t deserve this dress. This beauty. Your attention and affection. I don’t deserve to be here. I have – don’t you know what I’ve done? Don’t you remember where you found me? What I was doing? You caught me in the act! How can you love me still? How can you bring me home again? How can you dress me like this, when I have trampled on the covenant between us? I’m so unworthy. I can’t – I can’t accept your forgiveness and love. I don’t deserve it. I’m so unworthy.

I was sitting at the foot of my Lord. My Husband. My king. Pouring out my heart. My guilt. Dressed in a beautiful white gown that covered me completely. I was dressed in white. I looked stunning. And he was sitting next to me, looking at me with such compassion, watching my tears fall and listening to my anguished cries. His eyes penetrated me. I felt bare before him, and oh so vulnerable. And so filthy. Wearing white. My eyes were on the floor, unable to look up into the face of the man I had betrayed. I loved him still. More, I think, than I had ever before. Relieved to see him again, but very aware that I didn’t deserve him. He is so much better than I am. I was so broken before him.

Then, I felt him gently touch my chin and lift my face to his. He said, “Sing to me.” He’d always loved to hear me sing. So I began to sing. I sang so fervently, willing my words to embrace him the way I wished I could just reach out and embrace him. I missed him in all my wanderings. I missed him severely. Now unworthy to love him, I yearned for him, and sang from a place of grief and desire I’d never known. As I sang, His eyes held my face. He’s so gorgeous. My heart leapt. Then he stood, and reaching out his hand, gently helped me to my feet. And began to softly sway. My heart raced. We were dancing again. Oh, how I love to dance with him! I sang another song, and he held me tenderly while we danced. I nuzzled my face into the crook of his neck and breathed him in. My love! This man! Lord, you are so delightful.

It occurred to me as I sang and he held me and we danced, that he never once mentioned my adulterous idolatry. What manner of love is this?!

The Faith of a Woman

Published June 6, 2014 by Dawn

Faith in your Husband – my latest lesson from the Holy Spirit. I know, it seems weird that a young single woman is delving into marital discussions, but bear with me. This is, in fact, the truth lately revealed to me. Although I have never been married in this realm, I am spiritually wed to the Lord, and learn more of marriage with Him everyday. When I quieted myself with Him this evening, He spoke to me concerning the faith of a wife in her Husband, and how that affects a relationship.

A man goes to great lengths for the woman he loves. Adam subjugated his authority for Eve. Jacob worked 14 years for Rachel. Abraham sent away his firstborn for Sarah. David committed murder for Bathsheba. Joseph lost his reputation for Mary. Good or bad, men do crazy things for love. Men love to prove themselves to women. And after the marriage, there’s plenty of ways to continue proving himself. There’s fatherhood, where he becomes the hero to his son and the love of his daughter’s life. There’s daily needs requiring sustenance and finances. There’s the need for strength when loved ones are feeling weak. A man has many roles to fill within a family, and he is up to the task … as long as he has one thing: the faith of a woman.

When needs arise in a family, there are two components that must go hand-in-hand: the confident strength of a man and the faith of a woman. You see, a man can do anything with a woman behind him who believes in him. He will try harder than ever to not fail, when his wife believes in him. He will rise to any occasion, as Proverbs tell us, “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.” Usually, what a man thinks in his heart is what a woman has professed with her mouth. So it is important that a woman professes her belief in his ability and strength to conquer. Because in the deepest part of his heart, he is Superman and he’s got this! And with her faith behind him, he is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and all that jazz.

In reality, we know that sometimes, failing still happens, but it isn’t for lack of trying. When the woman he loves believes in him, a man will do whatever he can to succeed for her.

I learned all this in conversation with God tonight because this is something of the Father. We are made in His image and His likeness and this is a characteristic He purposefully put into the heart of man. This truth is also a spiritual reality. God, as our Husband, will rise to the occasion of our faith. Jesus tells us if we would just believe, the Father will give us what we ask for in prayer. Now, I don’t fully understand this truth, because I have seen people with immense faith not receive healings, and I have seen people struggle with need in spite of their prayers. I think God is doing something greater than what we understand with our finite minds. But I do believe that this evening, the Lord spoke to me of faith, and how powerful it is in moving the heart of God and creating an atmosphere of miracles. When the roar of our faith reaches His ears and He looks down to see our expectant faces, something rises up in Him and He becomes a warrior on our behalf. He desires to be the hero we know in our hearts He is. He becomes crazy in love with us in turn, and does His best just because we know He can. He’s a husband, after all. Conversely, when we struggle to believe in His ability and willingness to provide and support us, we hinder His work on our behalf. It is important that we believe in Him and His ability, and tell Him so. He loves to hear it, after all.

A godly wife believes in her husband, and spurs him on by her faith in him. The bride of Christ believes in her Husband and spurs Him on by her faith in Him. Oh the blessed marriage we find ourselves in!

A Loveless Marriage

Published March 19, 2014 by Dawn

When we first met, He swept me off my feet and I fell hard. Right into His strong arms. He was all I’d ever wanted. I took Him in in every possible way, allowing Him to consume me as well, and we were one. The love of my life.

As time  went on, though, I lost sight of the simplicity of our love. The acceptance that used to come so easily now became a battle between the two of us. All my insecurities created an atmosphere of hostility and familiarity bred it’s own contempt until finally, I woke up to the face of a loveless marriage. Bitterness, distrust, and disillusionment replaced every trace of our all-consuming fire. I don’t want to be here anymore.

I don’t want to be here, in this place where I look at the One I used to love and feel next to nothing. I remember passion and fire between us. Now it’s just cold. It’s not Him, it’s me. But I can’t help how I feel … right?

No. No, that’s not right. There was something there before. Something real, something fierce. And if I remember nothing else, I remember this: it was the best thing to ever happen in my life. I was happy, and whole. I was full. I was satisfied. It was amazing. He was amazing.

Dear Lover,

Whatever gap is between us, let’s overcome it. Love covers over. Love covers over. Let’s talk again. Let’s reveal ourselves. Let’s be vulnerable and real. Let’s walk together and share our hearts with one another. Let’s laugh together again. Let’s touch. Let’s look at each other again, and blow on the embers between us. Let’s start a fire together. Let’s let passion burn again, molding us together again. Be with me. I want you. I need you. You are my everything, Jesus. Be with me.