If You Say So - To Your Spouse, Pt 1

Will Huddleston
This past Sunday, Pastor continued the series "If You Say So". I want to personally thank Matt Graves for aligning the sermon regarding communication in marriage with the week I was up on the schedule. I mean, you just pitched an easy one right over the plate for me pastor...an easy topic to discuss. I say that tongue in cheek of course. It isn't that I'm afraid of the topic...rather, it can be such a weighty topic as it concerns something that can change our homes, family, community, and world around us.  
Pastor Matt opened with Ephesians 5, and in verse 32, Paul tells us that this picture of the marriage is equivocal to Christ and the Church. Is it possible that the world may have a skewed view of the church because our own marriages aren't operating in harmony and with love? Or, even if not, what would it say to a world that saw more marriages that were in alignment with Ephesians 5. I venture to say it would make the world more curious about things of God and Jesus.  
Full disclosure here, my wife and I spent a number of years in a marriage that wasn't in alignment with Ephesians 5, Ephesians 4, or quite honestly, much of God's word. It wasn't because my wife didn't desire that type of relationship or a Godly husband. Truthfully, it wasn't even that I didn't have examples in my life and a hope to have a Godly home. However, I had spent all of my life in church, little of my life in the word and none of my life in a marriage. When you spend most of your life listening in church without reading His word for yourself, you pick and choose what you want to hear. I knew what I thought it should look like to me (Ephesians 5:22-24), but I didn't understand who I was in order to embrace that and be (Ephesians 5:25-33). I expected things from my wife. I expected her to love. I expected her to trust, to have faith, to respect.
I used the Bible to challenge her weaknesses, doubts, and fears...thinking I was encouraging her and calling her to be more. Truth is, it was the easy way out. I didn't want to deal with my own shortcomings...rather, I wanted to challenge her to overcome her own. Boy, did I have it all wrong. Pastor cited a quote by John Maxwell that essentially says that your selfishness sabotages your spiritual authority. Hearing that statement was like looking back at an old picture reel from childhood...except the quality was better than the old 8mm film reels many of us remember. It was a vivid glimpse into a time full of hurt and despair, caused by a man that wasn't leading his home yet demanded to be followed.  
It was during this time that God did a work in my life. Pastor Matt mentioned that who we are in the next 5-10 years would be determined by what we read and who we surround ourselves with. Well, God had this one queued up for me. A few years after we joined Heritage and got heavily involved, things came to a head. Finding myself separated and alone, I began digging into God's word. I began seeing things about my identity that I had never seen before. I often wept for myself and for my wife. I hadn't realized my value in God's eyes and I certainly hadn't realized hers. It was then that I began loving my wife, once I realized that God freely and without condition loved me. Also, God had men in my life that pulled alongside me. I wasn't smart enough to align myself with the right people, but God took care of that. Many but not all of these men still fellowship among us at Heritage today. Though 10-15 years older than me, these men treated me as one of their brothers. They loved me but also challenged me. They never challenged me with to-do lists or rules and regulations. They simply challenged me to just pause and consider who He is, who He says I am and who he said my wife is. It was like I was a new person and the world around me even looked new. (despite being a believer for more than 10 years, my eyes were finally beginning to be opened to His truths).  
In the coming weeks, our relationship began to heal. My wife began to forgive me for the years that I hadn't loved her...she even began to respect me. She actually wanted to be around me and share life with me. It wasn't her fault that she didn't before, rather it was due to my lack of understanding. Truth is, I always wanted a winning marriage; however, I didn't know who to be because I didn't even know who I was. After a failed marriage, I had a friend tell me that he spent so much time working for his family that he didn't spend any time working on his family. I had been guilty of the same failure. But little did I know the work had already been done. It sounds hard to love our wives as Christ loved the church when we stop and consider all that Jesus did for us and the sacrifice and unconditional love, He has for us. However, when we understand who we are, we begin to see that the Holy Spirit that lives in us is the bearer of the fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:22). Love isn't something we muster up or grind deep down to pull out. Rather it is an overflow of who Jesus is in our life. Working at it for years turned out to be a helpless and powerless love. Yet, when it was His love overflowing out, it was true, genuine, and life-changing.  
It was then and only then I was able to do what it says in 2 Timothy 2:22 "Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." The fleeing wasn't even me, purposefully running away from the old, but rather, running toward the new.  
Pastor Matt, sorry to hijack the blog with a personal story, but I couldn't help myself but share what God did in my family's life. It was a near failure that God redeemed, and it all started with the things you discussed Sunday morning. As for the part to the women, I'm going to just leave that alone for now. I assure you, my wife wasn't tired of my Godly leadership. She was tired of my lack of leadership and expectations to have my household follow my demands and my shallow words of encouragement. I am grateful every day that God performed a work in our lives, my life specifically, as it was the one that needed awakening. If it wasn't for that, today we would have one beautiful daughter rather than two. We would have missed many of the joys and experiences that we've had over the past nearly 20 years since. Today I don't just have a wife, but rather a partner and a best friend...and we have a family and a life that I never dreamed...pressed down, shaken up, and running over.

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