My husband invited me to do a 3 week marriage class at his evangelical Christian church. I am devout Catholic and he is a devout Born-again Christian. By the grace of God, we have managed to live in harmony despite our differences in doctrine. It brings its challenges and so, when my husband was invited to take advantage of a marriage-help course, he jumped at the chance. This was very uncharacteristic of him and so of course, I went. It was your run-of-the-mill type of marriage seminar except for one thing. That one “thing” really struck a chord with me.
I’ve been so angry all the time. All my life, really. And I pray to God to heal me. I mean really heal me. So we go to this marriage talk and I figured it would be completely unrelated to my prayer but there was something that the pastor said in the video that touched something in me.
You know how marriage talks go. The lesson discussed loving your spouse, dropping expectations and demands and dying to your self, blah blah blah…But then the fear crops up. You know the one; It goes something like this:
“If I die to my self and do more for Him, well, then he’ll get used to it and then he will EXPECT it and then MY needs wont be met…and I might resent him more. I mean this has to be a two way street!”
Unexpectedly the pastors next words addressed that. It was like he read the mind of every spouse there.
And this is the “thing” I mentioned that struck a chord with me. He said that as long as we keep thinking like that we are just holding on to a leash or a rope that’s attached to our spouses. Every time they get out of line, we tug onto that leash and get them back in line. Whether we have our “little talks” with them, punish them, withold money- whatever.
The trick is that we must drop that leash and just do our part, no matter how our spouses respond since that is between the spouse and God. God has forgiven our debts and has showered our ungracious selves with his unmerited love. In our gratitude, we must do the same for our spouses. Like that story in the bible where the judge forgives the debtor and then , instead of showing mercy to his own debtor, the newly freed man beats him, we are doing the same to our spouses as long as we hold on to that invisible rope of debt.
In our gratitude to God we must be a reflection of God’s holy unmerited love to our spouse. God loves us so much that he made marriage to reflect that love . We MUST be that tangible love- that love made visible- to our spouses.
I got it. But…still….there is something about “dropping that rope” that made the whole room go silent. It was as if a light bulb went on. Once that rope is dropped, we lose all control, all claim, all power. It’s a frightening challenge. Suddenly, it became more than just about marriages. Everybody started talking about wounds and hurts and how dropping that rope would make you exposed or vulnerable or open to hurt or whatever.
The clincher is that as long as we clutch that rope there is absolutely ZERO growth for unconditional love or love to grow in ANY way. There is no freedom there. It is a two-way debt-debtor relationship. That kind of marriage is only about compromise but not about love-the real kind of love, the submitting kind, the dying and laying down your life kind, the kind that God calls us to.
So, okay, I recognized that if i dropped the leash, as hard as it may be and stuck only to my part, God will do his thing with my husband. If he offends me, mistreats me, fine. He is not my child and its not my job to collect retribution or demand explanations or corrected behavior. That’s between him and God but my job is to reflect Gods unconditional love.God will only ask me for an account of my part
But it’s that danged rope. I just cant seem to drop it. Most of us can’t. If we do, in our spirits, we know we will be blessed. We know God will defend us. We know that every desire that we have unfairly loaded up on our spouses that goes undelivered, will be delivered by God. HE is the one that can give us the desires of our heart, HE is the one that never disappoints. HE is sufficient. but, but, but….the flesh keeps going back to the same old “but she OWES me! He OWES Me!” It’s what that leash really is.
And there it is…I don’t know what it is about the lesson of the rope but I wanted to cry. I have a very deep feeling that the rope in my own life is somehow connected to my own anger or the control I want to have over protecting my wounds….I cant bear to let go…And I would wager that I am not the only one. But this one thing I do know. Resisting to drop it is a guarantee that NOTHING will ever change or improve. Although we may not all be angry people, we all clutch on to control to protect ourselves from something. Perhaps its being taken advantage of, being hurt, disappointed, walked all over. No wonder God wants our surrender. He wants to heal those wounds we protect so fiercely. We must all learn to let go…
Copyright 2009 Victoria Gisondi