Thursday, July 23, 2015

Setting Life-Giving Boundaries

Today is one of those days where I am in awe of our mighty God.  A few days ago, I was so hopeless in my marriage.  There was so much hurt, anger, and frustration building up that I didn't know what to do.  I felt that I had explored so many different options on how to handle not one, but multiple situations, but all were failing.  I was brought to my knees and through tears, I cried out to my friend Jesus.  I was so desperate to hear from Him.

I'm currently in a "spiritually unequal marriage".  Yes, that's a thing.  In a lot of cases, this means that a believer is married to a non-believer.  In my case, my husband has been saved, and will even go to church sometimes, but he does not walk in His faith.  He is not the spiritual leader of our family.  I believe wholeheartedly that this will not always be the case.  I can so clearly see God pursuing my husband, it's just a matter of time before the Holy Spirit changes his heart.

But in the meantime, I get overwhelmed with what I'm supposed to do when he sins against our family.  I've tried being passive.  I've tried showing more love and no judgement.  I've tried having the hard conversations. I've tried threats and screaming matches.  I'm not proud of that.  But when you feel like you've tried everything to get someone to hear you, respect you, and honor you, the enemy will lie and tell you that you have to fight sin with more sin.

None of these ways worked.  I was feeling like nothing could restore my marriage.  I was crying out to the Lord, begging Him to tell me what to do, and all I kept hearing was the word "boundaries".  OK, fine.  So, I need to establish boundaries, but what in the HECK does that look like?

My gut was telling me that if this situation gets worse, I need to remove myself and my daughter from it.  But is that the right thing to do?  Is that the godly thing to do?  Is that best for me, her, and my husband?  I don't believe in divorce.  I believe that the Lord can breathe life into my marriage, but I just didn't know what I was supposed to do to cultivate that.

I considered speaking with a Christian counselor.  I thought that maybe they could tell me what appropriate boundaries are and help me decide what to do to move forward.

I still might meet with a counselor, but I remembered a book called "Boundaries" that I thought might help.  When I began searching for it, I came across a book, by the same authors, called "Boundaries in Marriage."  I read a few of the reviews.  Several of them sounded like women who were in the exact same situation and the book had helped them tremendously.  I decided to give it a try.

I was two chapters into this book and it was already VERY clear to me what I must do.  Thank you Holy Spirit for your perfect guidance!!  I'm positive that this is where He wanted to guide me when He spoke the word "boundaries."

In "Boundaries in Marriage", I learned that we shouldn't try to control our spouse by acting certain ways or saying certain things.  We should both have freedom to make our own choices.  In everything I had tried so far, I was trying to exert some control or nothing at all.  I hadn't presented choices, I had made demands. I had also failed to protect my heart by not being clear about what I would and would not tolerate.

Today, I was honest with my husband about how his actions and words had made me feel. According to the book, keeping these feelings hidden is a form of dishonesty and only strains the marriage.  I can take responsibility for that and change it.  Then, I clearly stated what my values are and how he has been violating them.  I told him that he is free to continue dishonoring my wishes, but I am also free to leave the room, the house, and eventually the state if this behavior continues.

It's very important to mean what you say, and I can honestly say that I meant every word.  He could see that.  And you know what?  I got to witness the floodgates of repentance, restoration, change, and hope.

Not only did I receive an apology for recent events, but Jesus used all of this to convict my husband to acknowledge a problem that he has had for a long time.  My house feels lighter and we both feel more free.  Chains were broken today because I leaned on the Lord in my time of trouble.

I wanted to give up and walk away, but I cried out to the Lord and trusted His voice.  I'm so grateful for the immediately answered prayer.

Speaking of answered prayers, my daughter is 3.  I believe she is old enough to be affected by what has been an unhealthy environment for a few weeks.  I have LONG prayed that the Lord would make her deaf and blind to our failures as parents.  I've pleaded for His grace in protecting her while we figure all of this out.  I am most grateful that when things were at their worst in my house, my daughter seemed to not even see or hear any of it. The Lord heard my prayer.

My marriage might have a long way to go, but I know what to do now.  I know what my responsibilities are in protecting my heart and my marriage.  I'm believing and following Him for the answers.  He has already proven what can happen when I trust Him.  I can't wait to see what else He has for me and my marriage.

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