Have you ever felt like you were the fly on the wall observing yourself in a room full of people? Maybe you noticed the woman sitting at the end of a sofa looking out of place and realized it was you.
Isolation breeds loneliness, along with fear, feelings of abandonment, and vulnerability. When your marriage hurts, the holidays can be some of the loneliest times. Trying to keep up appearances as if nothing was wrong drains you.
That first holiday season after our marriage crisis, I felt an overwhelming disconnection. The fear that I might say something to reveal our conflict overrode any sense of joy and peace. No gratefulness, only loss. I felt out of place and uncomfortable, wishing I could disappear into the woodwork. Oh, to invoke the invisibility superpower.
In the previous two blogs, we discussed the first four survival tactics to navigate the holidays when your marriage feels strained.
Lower your expectations.
Acknowledge your emotional state.
These tactics focus on external survival and internal tactics. How have you applied these tactics to your holiday planning?
In this blog, let’s look at some vertical truths to cling to when you and your marriage hurts.
1. Recognize God hasn’t left you.
The Bible tells us that God is ever-present. Often, when we feel like God is distant, it has more to do with us than Him. Have I spent time with God daily? Or do I only reach out to Him when I’m in a crisis? Just as you desire an intimate relationship with your husband, God wants a personal relationship with you.
My understanding of God changed when I realized He never left me in my hurting marriage or in any crisis. By His grace and mercy, He allowed this situation to mature me. The truth is, my feeling distant from God indicated my relationship with Him needed some work. Every time I turn toward God, He’s right there.
Satan desires to separate you and me from God. If he can do that by convincing us that God is far away or disinterested, he’ll do it. Satan’s goal is to break our intimate connection with God every time.
In Joshua 1:5, we hear God’s message to Joshua after the death of Moses:
No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life.
As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Later, the writer of Hebrews quotes this passage in Hebrews 13:4-6:
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure,
for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and
be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”
Our lives are hidden with Christ in God when we accept Christ’s salvation gift.
When Jesus prepared to leave the earth and ascend into heaven, he promised the disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit, who would always be with them. Read John 16-17 to grasp this truth and its impact on your life today.
Beloved one, you are never alone. The next time Satan slithers up with that lie,
quote the Bible: Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.
2. Understand God continues to protect you.
Do you believe God is obligated to protect you from anything wrong happening ever? That would make Him more of a genie than God.
Jesus told us in John 13,
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Doing life with Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean we become immune to struggles. Notice what Jesus said: you WILL have trouble. It’s a common lie today to believe that being a Christian provides immunity from difficulties.
Often, I wonder how much God protects me from that I’m not even aware of. In the relatively recent movie War Room, the story reminds us that real drama happens in the spiritual world and impacts our physical world. The spiritual world is real. But Satan wants us to believe he is a guy with horns and a tail, a cartoon character. If he can keep us distracted, he can weave his lies that God left us to fend for ourselves. He also whispers that because we’re dealing with any crisis, we can’t trust God. This is one of the lies Satan started in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Though the enemy is persistent, he is not creative.
Jesus quoted Psalm 91 when Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, saying God orders his angels to protect his children wherever they go. That’s how we fight against this lie. We use the Bible to speak the truth.
Philippians 4 says that God supplies everything I need according to his riches in Christ Jesus. Therefore, if I need protection, God supplies. During the recent pandemic, how many of us needed God to show up miraculously and protect us from many situations? Did you see him do that? How did he do it? What means did he use?
Still not convinced God protects you? Grab your journal and write out specific needs, not wants. How do you need God to show up with protection or provision in your life? Where do you feel God’s presence in your hurting marriage? Over the next few days, pay attention to how God answers your prayers. It probably won’t be in your timeframe. But note when and how he does. Keeping track of what God’s done in the past increases our faith that he’ll do it again today.
Even though God hasn’t prevented your current crisis, it doesn’t mean he won’t protect you through it. His protection always comes at the right time and for your best.
3. Grasp how much God cares for you.
Yesterday, today, and forever. The lie that the enemy of our souls whispers to us during a crisis goes back to the beginning of time. What better way to trouble God’s children than to encourage them to question God’s love for them?
We experience disappointment, failure, injury, crisis, and more because of our sinful nature, not because God’s character is in doubt. God is always good, and he’s the epitome of a loving father. In Isaiah 43, God tells us that He has called us by name, and we belong to Him. Discovering who God is according to the Bible helps us know his true character, not the one we’ve heard.
God is OTHER. He’s not like you and me. God’s character is holy, righteous, merciful, full of grace, loving, and just. He is present everywhere at the same time. He knows everything and controls everything with his mighty power. Romans 8 says it this way:
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also,
along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against
those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns?
No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God
and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness
or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Would someone who didn’t care promise these things? Truth tells us that we will not reach the bounds of God’s love no matter where or how far we run.
Psalm 108:3-5 says:
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, higher than the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
A hurting heart and marriage often cloud our perceptions of God’s goodness
How do we overcome these misperceptions about God’s goodness even in our hurting marriage? Read and meditate on some of the verses listed here. Reach toward God by telling him your doubts and fears. Talk with him about your disconnected feelings. He promises to hear you and walk with you as you recover.
Putting a focus on your vertical relationship brings healing to your hurting marriage
Feel stuck? Locked in that “fly on the wall” feeling? Let’s talk. I promise to listen without judgment, hear your heart, and help you discover some simple actions to ease you through the holidays.
Next week, learn the final two tactics to survive the holidays in your hurting marriage. You can do this.