SOURCE: Leslie Vernick
Are You Living by Faith or by Fear?
Today’s Question: I have read some of your blogs and done some of your suggestions. But what I experience from my husband when I act in the ways you describe is rage, anger, bitterness and resentment and it’s not because I didn’t say it right. It’s because he’s not getting his own way and it’s becoming too much for me to handle (it’s been 25 years).
I believe the next step is to seek a counselor who can help us both communicate better, respect each other and then allow my husband the gift of consequences if he chooses not to work on these issues. I signed up for a mutual relationship, not a servant master relationship and I plan to hold him to his word, lovingly.
I believe from my experience with my husband that he will not cooperate with anything and will give me the ultimatum, “Take it or leave it. You have the problem.”
What do you think? Speaking up terrifies me because I don’t know what could happen and rocking the boat causes a lot of anger, not just in our marriage but in the whole family.
Do you have anything to offer besides trust in the Lord, pray, don’t be afraid or be anxious for nothing. I know these wonderful truths, but even Jesus cried and exuded blood from his pores, even Moses was scared, even Abraham doubted when he walked the journey to place Isaac on the altar. All of these emotions are part of being human, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have faith. My family is very dear to me and I’m afraid that if I put my foot down it will only get worse. Is it wrong to just want peace and rest? I know God won’t give us more than we can handle, but I am so very tired and I’m afraid of the outcome.
Answer: You are right – we are human and we all have real and raw emotions when we live in stressful situations where there is continual conflict, bullying and disrespect.
Your letter indicates you are conflicted about this change you want to make. On the one hand you say you are very tired of living this way and are ready to make a serious attempt at real change. On the other hand you are very afraid that the change you desire won’t occur and by standing up to him, things could get worse.
I was just reading today in the psalms. It said, “My soul has dwelt too long with one who hates peace. I am for peace; But when I speak, they are for war” (Psalm 120:6,7 NKJV). Your situation reminds me of many marriages where one person wants peace, but when she or he finally speaks up, it just causes more drama, more hatred, more conflict.
You’re right. Just because you finally take a stand and say “I didn’t sign up for a slave/master relationship” doesn’t mean that your husband will be willing to move toward a more mutual marriage. As long as he’s the master and you’re willing to be the slave, it works for him. However, perhaps he’s just as frightened of change as you are or just as unhappy.
So you ask if there is anything I can offer besides the standard trust God and don’t be anxious? It’s sad to me that we don’t find the comfort and healing in God’s word that he wants us to but I understand what you are saying.
But here’s what I want you to know. God designed marriage to be a mutually loving and respectful relationship, not a slave/master one. Because that is God’s will for marriage, know that he is on the side of the oppressed when one person takes power over another and uses words, money, physical force or the scriptures to dominate and control the other.
When you respectfully speak up against injustice and oppression in a marriage (or any- where else for that matter), know that God is on your side. If the other person refuses to listen, the gift of consequences can be a painful but helpful reminder that he or she will not reap the benefits of a good marriage when they sow discord and selfishness.
Sadly, when we are in close relationship with people (as in marriage and family) when one person receives painful consequences, often the entire family also suffers. That’s what you fear and rightly so.
So I think the next step you’ll need to ask yourself in this whole process is do you want to live in fear – fear of staying or the fear of leaving, or do you want to live in faith (whether you think it wise to leave or stay)? Faith that God knows your story. Faith that God is bigger than your story. Faith that God has a plan for your life and he is your helper in times of trouble.
It’s interesting to me that the psalmist says both, “I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 56:11), and “When I am afraid, I will trust God” (Psalm 56:3). There are times our faith is so big we don’t feel fear. Other times, we are so filled with fear we will be overwhelmed by it if we don’t trust God.
I pray you choose faith, even when you feel fear.