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A LIFE-CHANGING TRIP

July 15th, 2012

  

Every time God shows up in the middle of an event and turns my world upside down, it becomes a life-changing experience.  When He showed up during our most recent vacation and removed the last thorn in our marriage, it became a life-changing trip!  During our annual winter retreat, God orchestrated events that brought me to a place of readiness to receive the healing miracle He had been saving for such a time as this.  In an instant revelation, the veil over my spiritual eyes was lifted, and for the first time, I could grasp the solution to a problem that had plagued our marriage from the beginning.  I could see how the enemy had been at work, trying to dismantle our relationship and destroy our marriage.  Several days later God revealed the final piece to the puzzle, and one snarly problem simply crumbled and fell away.  And then, when I thought it could not get any better, He delivered a wonderful peace I had been searching after for years, a need I could not even describe.  I pray I can adequately describe this life-changing event to you.

Having experienced unsuccessful and unhealthy previous marriages, my husband and I were committed from the beginning to build as healthy a marriage as we possibly could.  Here we were with a clean slate and much experience in what not to do.  We lived a pretty good life and learned to quickly work through the issues that presented themselves, except for one glaring problem:  my new husband was not willing to share his feelings if they were in any way negative.  He would paste on his best smile and tell me everything was fine, but having been born with discernment, that move would only frustrate me.  So, when I would feel that wall coming up, I would press the issue while he would shut down.  I felt like I was being punished and he felt like he was being harassed.  That would begin a new round of my trying every which way to get him to open up.  I applied pressure, I gave him the silent treatment, I forced him into counseling, I reassured him he was safe to express himself, I cried, I reasoned.  Nothing worked.  He would feel bad and tell me he would do better in the future.  Sometimes it would take days to get to the bottom of what was eating at him; sometimes we just called a truce.  Often I thought he simply threw me a bone just to get me to back away.  You get the picture.

We would kiss and make up, promising to handle it better next time.  I would shelve the matter and life was good again – for a while.  This would happen maybe twice a year, and I was grateful for the wonderful life we had the rest of the time.  After all, everybody has something to deal with, and I knew it could be a whole lot worse. 

About seven years into our marriage, the same old drama began again and I knew something had to change.  This time I decided I was going to make so much noise that my husband would be forced to bring down the wall.  It got pretty tense at our house, and for a while I really wondered if he would run.  Praise God, after about a week my husband informed me that he was not going anywhere, and he would do whatever it took to get to the bottom of the problem.  What a courageous move on his part!  And right there we began to press in together for a solution.  What we discovered was that he did not understand the difference between anger and rage.  He would shut down because he could not risk the possibility of rage overtaking him.  The ‘old’ man had struggled with alcohol, and when he was drinking, he could not predict when anger would become rage.  We celebrated over his discovery, and he vowed he would be willing to talk about anything.  I cannot describe what a sweet victory that was, and going forward, he forced himself to discuss the things that made him angry.  We moved into a deeper intimacy, and we were thrilled to have defeated that pesky demon.  It was to be our last fight.

However, after a while I began to wonder if there was a little more to the story.  Although I was thrilled that we had truly overcome a troublesome challenge, I was finding that I desired even more dialog from my husband.  Was this simply a different twist to the same old problem?  It did not come up very often, but nonetheless, I was troubled because I feared we had not gotten to the root of the issue.  I am quite talkative, and I am prone to process out loud.  I found myself wanting him to volunteer the deep things going on in his head.  I longed to share deep conversations with my husband; I longed for him to tell me new things.  It seemed to me like I always initiated dialog and then I did all the talking.  When he encountered big issues, it seemed to me that he would work through them by himself and then just give me a quick report.  I felt so cheated.  Don’t get me wrong; we were not silent.  We always talked together a lot, but I often accused him of ‘reporting’ rather than ‘sharing.’  I only wanted to know him better, so I thought.  I must admit that the whole concept was a bit cloudy in my own head, so when I tried to explain to him what I was still wanting, I just left him scratching his head; he thought he had been doing a really good job.  I would end up feeling like I was missing something.  And he would end up feeling like a failure. 

Then came that life-changing trip.  A few weeks prior to leaving town, my optometrist told me I had blood leaking in the back of my eye, which was the beginning symptom of blindness due to my high blood sugar.  I decided to put myself on a two month eating regimen of almost no carbohydrates in an attempt to lower my blood glucose levels on my own.  That led to high stress in my life and extreme mood swings.  Then on the eve of our departure, my husband contracted a urinary tract infection.  Needless to say, we were both experiencing tension during our two day drive to Florida.  My husband was focused on finding the nearest rest stop, and I was focused on finding something to eat that did not contain carbs.  We still had a wonderful time in Florida, but we were both pretty worn out from working through the distractions.  My tension grew during our cruise as we continually searched for healthy foods that might also be tasty and perhaps even a little exciting.  We actually met with the head pastry chef to find a low-carb alternative to the sugar-free jello I was requesting every evening.  I was determined to not slump into self-pity; however, I must admit some of the joy had diminished from what had always been a delightful event.

Then one day everything fell apart.  While visiting an island in the Caribbean, we decided to have lunch there rather than trek all the way back to the ship.  Every food stand offered sugared and carb-filled and coated delicacies, but I could find nothing that met my eating guidelines.  Disheartened and discouraged, we headed back to the ship for one more salad.  I was overheated and starved and frustrated.  I had been in this battle for two months, and in that moment I felt myself spiraling down to defeat.  I experienced what felt like a total melt-down, and I cried most of the way back to the ship. 

Back in our stateroom, my husband encouraged me to talk.  Words of pain and discouragement began to pour out of me, when suddenly that old familiar thought reared its ugly head.  I completely shut down and refused to share anymore of the pain that was churning inside of me.  All I could think about was how vulnerable I felt and how lopsided our relationship was because my husband would not be willing to be this vulnerable with me.  I spewed out those words and my husband was devastated; he felt helpless and totally defeated.  We sat in silence for a time.

That is when the light bulb came on.  Actually, it was the Holy Spirit revealing truth to me.  (How wonderful He is, and how quickly He can move a heart!)  I was desperate and exhausted, with no answers of my own; and in my place of weakness, He brought revelation.  Instantly, it appeared as though a cloud had been lifted and I could see an entirely new picture.  The Lord began to give me a brand new understanding about what I had allowed the enemy to imbed in my soul.  The problem wasn’t my husband at all; my wrong thinking was the culprit.  My mind was still operating from old information that was no longer true, and every time I spoke or thought those words, the more credible the lie became for me.  From the day he vowed to be transparent with me, my husband had truly been opening up his soul and sharing his heart.  Suddenly I could understand why it had been so difficult to explain to him what I was missing – I had no evidence, only thoughts and emotions based on lies of the enemy.

Perhaps there was some truth to my accusations when I first spoke them out.  It probably took my husband some time to change a very old habit.  Now I could see that I had carried those beliefs into every similar situation that followed, reinforcing the false beliefs every time I saw them as truth.  I have no idea how or when the devil planted those lies in my head, but I knew for certain the minute they were exposed!  My heart was immediately filled with both joy and sadness as I renounced that false belief and declared truth in its place.  I cried as I looked back on all the years I had been listening to this lying voice, and I marveled at how easily I had been deceived.  I humbly repented, and I apologized to my husband.  Words cannot describe how relieved he was to finally be let off the hook.  For so long he had done his utmost to give me all I desired, but he always walked away feeling like a failure because I was still unfulfilled.  Suddenly he was exonerated, and a huge weight fell off him.  Suddenly I was enlightened as I saw my husband from an entirely new perspective.

The next piece of the puzzle fell into place two weeks later as I told this story to my daughter.  She shared in my joy, but commented that she did not know him as well as she would like.  That troubled me a bit, so when I shared the story with my best friend, I told her what my daughter had said, and asked if she felt the same way.  When she said yes, the most amazing God-thing happened right there.  I immediately began defending my husband, telling her that he is so selfless and so humble that he does not seem to need to be known, or heard, but always appears to be more concerned about the other person – especially when I am the other person.  In an instant, I was able to see the picture even more clearly, and I celebrated all over again!  He cried when I told him what I had just discovered (actually, what God had just revealed to me).  What had been troubling us for so long had just been exposed, and revelation replaced frustration.  

Now, here is the sweetest part of the story.  Once my husband was ‘released’ to be exactly who God made him to be, and once that monkey of confusion and perceived failure was taken off his back, he began to blossom in his spiritual gifts in greater measure than I ever could have imagined.  It was only after he began to operate in the fullness of his spiritual authority and leadership in our home that I realized I was truly experiencing the desires of my heart, those things I had always desired from him but I could never describe.

I have had several opportunities since then to test the place in my heart that God mended.  Each time I would begin to experience that sinking feeling and want to shut down, suddenly something greater would rise up in me and say:  “In the Name of Jesus, I command you lying spirit to shut up and leave me alone.  By the Blood of Jesus, I am healed.  I know the truth and you have no more influence over me.  Now, get out of here!”  When God heals, so long as I hold onto the truth of His word, that healing is permanent, and I am way better off than I ever would have been without the test.  I thank You, God, for testing – and especially, for always mending everything in me that is broken.