“How did you do it?” This is a common question we get asked when people hear our story. By all accounts we should have gotten divorced, and we did talk about it, but never seriously considered it; but there was something stronger holding us together. There had to be. A relationship simply cannot withstand the pressure and weight that ours had on it by its own strength.
We love to camp, we have a 21 foot home away from home that we pull all over the place. When we hook up to the camper we hook up these two chains to the hitch; they are safety chains. They are there to keep the trailer from careening off on its own should it come unhooked. They keep the trailer protected from total destruction. Just like our camper we had safety chains. Our safety chain was Jesus. Elizabeth was a follower of Jesus and even when she didn’t feel like she had the faith, Jesus was there to keep us from total destruction.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says:
“–a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
The presence of the Holy Spirit in my wife made our relationship a cord of 3 strands. As we continue to build the foundation of relationships we have to make sure that our identity in Christ (foundation 1) leads us to always realize that our relationships are partnerships. We are partnered with each other and with Jesus to fulfill the purpose that He has for us. It’s not about us, it can’t be about us; we cannot handle the stress and the weight.
We want to be clear, we are NOT SAYING that God should simply function as “safety chains” in your relationship. As believers we put Jesus as the Lord of our lives (and our relationship) and we worship Him with every aspect of our lives. However, as sinful human beings we continually create and worship idols in our lives. The amazing thing about Jesus is that even when we fail to be faithful (by creating and worshiping idols) he remains faithful. So even when we are struggling He is still there, to serve as the ultimate safety chain in our relationship.
Many of you may have heard the verse in Ecclesiastes before. Many of you, perhaps not. If you are like me, whether you have heard this verse before or not, had an “aha” moment just now. And let me tell you you are not alone, that’s exactly what happened to me the first time I really thought about what this verse meant. The first time I really processed it. But, let me tell you what happened next….I got up from my bed and went about the rest of my life. Sound familiar?
I don’t know where you are in your walk with the Lord (I’d love for you to share with me). But I will go out on a limb here and say that this verse isn’t too hard to understand. We all get it. A cord of three strands is stronger than a cord of two. Makes sense. And in this case, the three strands are Jesus, husband, and wife. What can be hard about this verse is the follow through. That was the struggle for me. Remember? I got out of my bed and went about the rest of my life.
So what do we do? As the wife in the relationship? We aren’t called to be the spiritual leader. So if our husband isn’t leading, do we? Do we put on our big girl pants and take over? Do we pretend that everything is ok so that we don’t make it worse? Do we wish things were different but just don’t know what to do? Do we think we just have to learn to accept that this is how it will be? Do we sheepishly go about the rest of our lives? Ladies, when Hayes was in the midst of addiction, I answered yes to each one of these questions. I tried to take over. It didn’t work. I tried to pretend. I couldn’t. I tried to just accept the way it was. That put me in a dark, dark spot. I tried to go about the rest of my life. Check! But, that left me empty and dark. And in reality, I was still just pretending.
I know you are thinking…so what’s the answer Elizabeth?! What do we do? Two things. Pray and be an example to him. You are not alone. Even if it feels like it. I know. I know that feeling sweet sister. I also know that HE. Is. Faithful. Hayes and I are a living breathing example of His faithfulness and His mercy. Pray hard for your marriage. Pray hard for your husband. And let him see you putting Jesus first in your life. It’s like what we tell our girls all the time. You can’t control what anyone else does. You can only control what you do. So you do what you know to be right. Do what you know the Lord is calling you to do. He sees you and He hears you. And HE will meet you where you are.
I didn’t do this well. I was hurt and afraid. All I could think about was what I could do to fix the problem. I wish someone would have shared this with me. I wish I would have sought the Lord over what that verse meant to me personally. The “now what” of the verse. But, I went about the rest of my life. Thankfully, the Lord is faithful.
Men, this is hard. We don’t want to be partners with anybody. The way we are wired makes us want to be men and do it all ourselves. I can remember having a discussion standing in the kitchen of our first house where I told my wife “I am just going to man up and beat this thing.” It literally gave me chills at the time to think of what an awesome story it would be for me to be able to tell how I conquered this addiction. That was in June of 2005. I did not get clean until January of 2006. I had absolutely no ability (I was completely powerless) to “man up and stop.” So whatever that thing is that you are battling on your own I’m here to tell you, I don’t think you can conquer it without partnering with Jesus and your wife.
I think the reason we have such a hard time partnering with our wives and Jesus is because it requires us to tap into our feelings. Men don’t like feelings, at least I don’t. But I remember the hardest conversations I have ever had with my wife was when I began to be vulnerable and open up about the things I was battling. When I began to really tell her all that I was dealing with. Partnerships require trust and trust requires 100% honesty and transparency. There are no secrets between Liz and I, and there should be no secrets between you and your wife or fiance or close friends. When the Holy Spirit came into my life we began to work through the deep trust issues we had, and we began to partner together with Jesus and let Him heal us.
This is not something that was or is easy for me. It was really hard to learn, and is still hard to practice. The pride in me wants to lean on my own ability in everything, but the spirit of God inside of me wants to empty me so that only He can work. There were so many things that led me to Jesus, but my wife was no doubt the biggest. Or should I say Jesus working in and through my wife. As she mentions above, she was trying to control the situation and fix it herself. However, the spirit of God inside of her kept her from leaving or giving up on me. Through this God’s faithfulness shined into my life. It wasn’t her or her ability, it was Jesus shining through her gunk. Because He Is Faithful. Once we let Jesus take over our partnership took root and began to drive change in us. Liz repented of the idol she had created and I truly gave my life to Jesus. This is the hinge pin for us men, to be able to truly partner with our wives and with Jesus and become a cord of 3 strands we must be authentic disciples of Jesus.
When we finally surrender ourselves over to Christ then we are able to be true partners. Partners with Jesus, partners with our wives, even partners with other believers. The beauty of the partnership of 3 cords is that it takes the pressure off of us as men. We don’t have to “man up” we just have to seek Jesus and live it out, in every aspect of our lives. We need to hear from God through His word, have conversations with Him through prayer, make disciples, and ultimately worship. I hope you will join me as I pursue this partnership every day.
- Are you an authentic follower of Jesus? Have you identified with the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus? If you are not or not sure find someone you know who is and work it out.
- Is Jesus at the center of your relationship or do you just let him in on Sunday and Wednesday?
- Is there a secret between you and your spouse? Clear the air! It won’t be easy but with Jesus at the center He can work in you and through you to work it out.
- What trust issues do you have in your relationship? Talk through them, let God work out a way to get past them.
- How is God calling you to use your partnership for His glory?