“The feeling I have is that I’m about to walk into a room full of women, and that they’re in bondage.”
These were among the opening words of Jennie Allen’s keynote session at Allume.
I’ve yet to walk into a room of humans that if I stay long enough and I look in enough eyeballs I don’t see that there is something hindering them and something entangling them. . . .
This is what He [God] kept whispering back to me: ‘Jennie? What if they’re running their guts out, and they’re absolutely about to pass out, and they’re about to give up, and they’re about to quit? What if they are running and they’re smiling and they look great but they’re just seconds from just pulling off on the side of the road?’
Clear as day, I saw myself – and more specifically my marriage – in her words. I was that runner. I’ve had moments, very recently, where I audibly cried out to God saying, “I don’t think I can do this anymore.”
Let me caveat this so there is no misunderstanding: there have been no major “marriage-ending” sins, hurts, or issues that Russ and I are dealing with. These thoughts I had were not serious plans to leave my wonderful husband.
Rather these thoughts were about the day-in day-out, sometimes-life-and-marriage-is-just-hard part of marriage.
Some days it’s easier to just “get by” than to keep intentionally loving and giving when there’s a child, financial stress, job stress, and family issues involved.
Love is a choice; but some days, I’m just too weary to make it.
Or, as Jennie stated, sometimes when you’re running your guts out, you’re absolutely about to pass out. And I’ve had those moments.
In the dark recesses of my heart there has been frustration, brokenness, bitterness, anger, and even the briefest moments of doubt where I wondered if there was any love left in my heart for my husband. In those dark moments, crying out to my God who I knew would understand, I know that those feelings were much akin to a child having a temper tantrum. I was saying angry things in my heart that I didn’t truly mean. Those thoughts were far from the truth of what I really feel for him, but that truth had been hidden by the emotion of the moment and the lies of the devil. Nonetheless, it scared me that I was capable of feeling those emotions even for the fraction of a second – that the circumstances of whatever we were fighting about could blind me so much that I couldn’t seem to find the place in my heart where love for my husband was still very much alive.
I think we are terrified of our weakness, and I think we are terrified of the bondage that we have. And it is awful to think of looking at people’s eyes and telling them our sin. And not the ones that we struggled with five years ago – the one that is tying you up, that God seemed to bother me about enough to bother you tonight. The one that just has you entangled on the side of the road and I think for you to speak it, to say it, could be the most freeing thing in the entire world.
This got to me. Because she’s right. I have been able to speak boldly about my addictions to social media, perfectionism, and control. I’ve been able to tell people why I didn’t enjoy going to church for a long time. I’ve even been brave enough to tell people that sometimes I just couldn’t see how God was relevant in my daily life.
But to tell people that a few months ago I lay on my bed crying out to God wondering how I can keep loving my husband? I just wasn’t brave enough to do that.
Jennie Allen asked me to be brave:
…here’s what I’m going to have you do (you see where this is going): You need to speak it. You need to speak. IT. …I would rather you use the few minutes I’m about to give you to confess the place that you’re not okay. The sin that is easily entangling you, right now, to one other person, get eye-to-eye. It’s terrifying. Guess what? They’re terrified too.
…So, feel brave. Look at one other person in the eye, it’s okay if you say ‘I don’t know.’ But, if you DO know? Say what it is.
I took a deep breath and with a tremor in my voice and tears threatening to spill over, I said to Janelle:
“Sometimes, I just don’t love my husband.”
I went on to cry and wipe my nose as I shared the daily struggles I face as the wife of a combat veteran. I shared how easy it is to choose the loving, generous blogging community over emotional intimacy with my husband. How sometimes, I’d rather not deal with my husband’s anxiety and depression because it’s just too exhausting and I don’t want to make the effort. I shared how sometimes, I feel like I’m running my guts out and I’m about to give up.
If I had to venture a guess, I don’t think I’m the only woman in a good marriage that has ever felt this way. We are sinful people with big weaknesses. And I don’t think that ANY wife is capable of making the choice to love her husband, day in and day out, without some serious reliance on God and His grace.
That day I laid lying on my bed, admitting my weakness to God, my prayers didn’t end there. Yes, I threw my tantrum and I got angry and I shook my proverbial fist at all of my perceived injustices. But then I hopped into a nice hot shower. And somewhere between the steam and my tears, my angry rant turned into a desperate prayer. I prayed that God would meet me there, in all of my ugliness. I prayed that He would help me find that place of love within me and help me nurture it. I prayed that He would fill my heart with love for my husband beyond what I’d ever known before. I prayed for spiritual, emotional, and mental healing for my husband. I prayed my guts out.
Then I exited the bedroom where I had been hiding and hugged my husband with all of my might, making the choice to love him one more time.
And I think that’s exactly what we need to do, Sisters.
In those moments when you aren’t sure you can run another mile, love him another day, stop running and hit your knees.
Say it out loud. Confess the place where you are not okay. To God, to a trusted friend or mentor, or even your husband. Admit your weakness, your lack of love, your sin. I promise you – it will free you. God can meet you, even in your ugliness. God can work miracles in your marriage – even if that miracle is giving you the strength to love over and over again.
Confessing my sin to the sister next to me was only the beginning of what God was going to do in my heart about my marriage at Allume. I’ll be sharing more in several upcoming posts.
To read more about my Allume experience, please check out my conference landing page: