It finally happened

I always knew this day would come. In fact, I even prayed for it, but I never thought I would respond to its arrival like this…

It was no secret when Ray and I first got together that I was the one who was holier than thou, them, and their mommas. When I requested that the Lord send me a husband who was even more deeply entrenched in spiritual matters than I was, I knew that it would be a hard task even for Jesus. I’m being a bit facetious here, let the reader understand, but in hindsight I must admit that this was essentially my reality for some time.

Marrying Ray caused a fairly extensive paradigm shift for me. He challenged every notion of what I thought I wanted in a husband. Through my relationship with him and some wise advice from some trusted mentors, I discovered that  “marriage material” for a Christian is, in the most basic sense, a man who has a genuine heart for God and is willing to learn and grow even if that means his wife has to become the primary teacher. No matter where a guy falls on the spectrum of expressions of spirituality, those components are necessary. Each of these qualities and more could be found in Ray, so I gave up “the list” and chose to focus on sharpening my husband as he sharpened me.

It’s time to get out the grinding stone

From day one, even though Ray knew I had a deeper understanding of the Bible, he took the spiritual leadership role upon himself by implementing a daily Bible study every weekday. Thankfully he understood that he could still confidently claim that role in our family regardless of who was teaching who. I don’t think he felt daunted or threatened by me as much as he was challenged.

Eight and a half books of the Bible later, I’ve noticed a gradual shift in his excitement and hunger for the Word, as well as the strength of his contributions to discussion. Full disclosure, I used to get upset with him in the beginning because he never had much to contribute and when he did contribute it was what I considered weak sauce. (Put your pitchforks down, people. I’ve changed my ways.) The past couple months he’s actually been challenging my ideas (he’s usually right), digging into cross references and commentary, and demonstrating tremendous growth. At first I was really impressed and pleased by this change.

At first.

Then last month our church did a sermon series on prayer and extended a 21 day fast to the congregation. Ray decided to join in and not only fasted, but went to the 5am men’s prayer meeting, spent time every day in the other room doing personal devotions, and even received his prayer language (something he’s been wanting for a while) while he was in Tanzania. This man has really been pressing in and God has really been doing some new things in his heart.

Meanwhile… a storm’s a’brewing over yonder

I used to be an avid faster, but it’s not something I do too much these days because of a combination of migraines and an extended bout of apathy, so I opted out. Meanwhile, my husband was becoming this super Christian, and I found myself entering this dark place. When he said he wanted to spend an hour in devotions, I tried to discourage him from being away so long. We had movies that needed to be watched after all. When he shared some significant insight he’d gotten from his time with God, I either placidly nodded my head and forced a smile or yawned and rolled over.

After having prayed for so long that he would experience such growth, why did I have such a bad attitude when it finally happened?

Mike Bickle said once at a Onething conference, that when people try to discourage you from going hard after God, it’s usually because you remind them of how much they’re not. At the time those words were spoken, I ferociously nodded my head and circled that quote in my journal because I had plenty people in my life telling me that I was doing too much for God or “too heavenly minded”. Today I have to admit that I am on the other end of the spectrum. I’m the one who feels my desire to experience the fullness of God is waning and every inch of progress my husband makes causes me to feel it even more.

Bad girl, bad girl, what you gonna do?

I’ve bemoaned a certain loss of identity numerous times on this blog, so this isn’t a new concept as far as marriage is concerned. It’s just that this time I’m coming face to face with the reality that I’ve been reveling in a presumed identity as “the more spiritual one” in our relationship, so now that I feel like my husband is a challenge to that identity, I find myself clawing at him every time he threatens to take it away.

Enough with the identity changes already!

Of course this is just a perceived threat because he has not even the slightest intention of “de-throning” me or what have you, but it’s my pride that has caused me to put myself on a pedestal in the first place, and naturally it’s my pride that doesn’t want anyone to take me off.

I need Jesus.

Though I didn’t participate in the fast, I feel like that season was a good time for me because I’ve recently taken some time to do some soul searching and to lay my pride and insecurities (technically the same thing) on the altar of God’s mercy. Once you scrape off the layers of pride, self-righteousness, and jealousy, a tender heart that desires intimacy with the Father is revealed.

That’s all I want.

Admittedly, hearing the chorus members of the Lion King sing “they [the Pharisees] live in you” isn’t a pleasant tune to wake up to some days, it’s still quite a shock to realize that I can demonstrate more of their character traits than Christ’s, but then I just plug my ears and loudly sing the song my mom taught me as a kid:

“He’s still working on me

To make me what I ought to be

It took Him just a week to make

The moon and the stars

The sun and the earth

And Jupiter and Mars

How loving and patient He must be,

‘Cuz He’s still working on me.”

 

The green-eyed marriage: is your marriage monster-proof?

Maybe it’s because we’re still newlyweds (coming up on eight months now) or maybe we’re just really insecure, but our marriage seems to be the perfect dwelling place for that ugly little creature called the green-eyed monster (GEM).

“Who are you talking to?”

“Why are you looking at her Facebook profile?”

“Can we walk down this street instead of that one? There are too many good looking people over there.”

The insatiable desire to be THE ONE AND ONLY

As a single person, I used to have a particular fantasy about my future spouse. He would be on stage performing or preaching with a million beautiful women in the crowd dying to get his attention. These ladies would be some of the most beautiful women on the planet, and in comparison I would feel quite… less than. Suddenly, the man on stage would peer out into the audience and say, “You. I want you.” Like most women, I would look around and prepare myself to envy the lucky lady he referred to and maybe even trip her as she approached the stage, but then the crowds would part and it would become obviously apparent that he was speaking to yours truly.

Again, he would say to me, “You. You’re the one I want.”

I would have to be an idiot to not see how much of a catch Ray is. He has the cutest dimples, boyish charm, and he’s one of the kindest men I’ve ever met. He truly is the epitome of the guy I envisioned on stage. Even though he’s married, especially now that he’s married and people see what a wonderful husband he is, there are some women (I use other terms for them when it’s just Ray and I) that will flirt with him and try to get his attention.

Just last week a young girl that works at the shop by our house told my husband that if she cooked for him, he would never want to eat my food again. It took the almighty right hand of the dear, sweet Lord Jesus Christ to keep me from going downstairs and punching her in the esophagus when Ray told me what she said. Fortunately, Ray handled it by taking me with him to the shop and introducing me as his “lovely” wife and excessively commenting on my beauty. I could’ve kissed him right there, I was so pleased by the way he handled it, but I didn’t want to rub it in. The fact that I didn’t severely injure her was kindness enough.

That was an obvious example of how GEM typically surfaces in my heart, but I’ve found that he enjoys pushing my buttons when it comes to small things as well. When Ray scrolls through Instagram photos, I make him unfollow any girls that have that “come hither” look. When he’s chatting with friends or clients on Facebook, I read through the messages just to make sure he’s not flirting (he never is, but I still do it anyway). When he’s on the phone laughing, I come running from the other room to try and ascertain if it’s a male or female voice. I’d like to say that it matters if it’s male or female, but it doesn’t. Sometimes he can be talking to his best friend, and I can’t wait for him to hang up so I can have him to myself.

A quick bit of perspective from Ray’s end so you don’t think the monster is me in disguise

When my wife first came up with the idea for this blog, I was like, “Really? Jealousy? I’m not jealous of anything.” But I have come to realize that this has been, and to some extent still is, something I personally fight with. Early in our marriage (I know we are still in the early stages, but you know what I mean) I didn’t like it when my wife laughed at other guys’ jokes or when she shifted her attention from me to any other person, especially a guy, irrespective of age, profession, or even if they were family. Sometimes I would get mad at her when she constantly giggled while looking at the screen of her other ‘baby’ (her iPhone) at odd hours of the night, forgetting that in Kansas it was daytime.

One area where we can never be like God

At first we used to justify the presence of the GEM in our marriage by saying stuff like, “If we’re not jealous, it shows we don’t care”. There is an element of truth to that. I’d hate it if I was crossing the boundaries of flirtation and it didn’t bother my husband at all. Disinterest to that extent can be dangerous! Just as God is jealous for the affection of Israel, His betrothed, there should be an intense desire for the affection our spouses.

But we have to remember that we’re not God.

Jealousy is such a tricky emotion because when it is borne out of a heart that is in constant need of spiritual renewal, it can become the puppet to insecurity, control, anger, and all those other nasty things that lurk in our hearts waiting for a reason to be lured out of their dark hiding places. I think that’s why we’re told in the Bible to avoid jealousy and envy and all manifestations of selfish ambition. Our weak, feeble hearts just don’t know how to handle it. It’s like a chainsaw. In the hands of someone who knows how to use it, the largest trees can be conquered, but put it in the hands of someone who doesn’t, and that will be the last day you see them with all of their extremities intact.

The best way we know to handle this is to present our hearts and all that’s in them to God on a daily basis and to repent to each other and to God when things get out of hand, but we’d like to end this blog by opening the discussion up to you guys to see what else we can do to supplement that.

Do you experience jealousy in your marriage? How do you handle it?

Looking forward to hearing your comments and ideas!