“I Feel You Girl”: Sexual Assault, and Diana the Hunter of Bus Drivers

Last week a pregnant 24-year-old college student was walking to her car on a lunch break when she was approached by a man with a knife. He forced her into her car, made her drive a short distance to an ally, where he raped her, then locked her in the trunk of her own car before he fled the scene. This happened near Chicago State University, on 98th and Indiana, which is roughly 5 blocks from the school I work at. Continue reading

Advertisements

It Was Personal: Ferguson, ALS, Christian Genocide, and Tay-Tay

shutterstock_123429226

On August 12th at 11:30pm, a 17-year-old African American boy was riding his bike on 92nd and Dobson when a silver car pulled up and fired shots at his chest. He was rushed to the ER, and was pronounced dead just after midnight. The police report stated that this boy was a documented gang member, whatever that means.

On August 13th, my husband’s and my 3rd year anniversary, I checked the news and discovered that my former student, Tay-Tay, was that documented gang member, that 17-year old bike-rider, that boy who was shot in the chest and who was now dead. I discovered this, and all the color drained from my face.

I knew there were shootings in Chicago all the time, and I had even known of kids at my school that have died, and Mike Brown was just fatally shot by a police officer only a few days earlier. All of these facts made me upset, made me outraged, made me sad.

But I don’t know. Maybe it was because I knew Tay well. Maybe it was because I recommended him for my AP Lang class and I was looking forward to teaching him next year. Maybe it was because he came late everyday to my first period class his Freshman year but still aced all of the exams. Maybe it was because of the contrast between celebrating a marriage and celebrating a life that was taken too early.

But this, this rocked me.

I won’t go into too many details about Tay-Tay, one, because he was in fact a gang member, and pretty high up on the totem pole too, and I want to respect his family’s privacy. And two, because I have other things to discuss.

But I will say a few words to explain, and a few words to commemorate.

So, many of the kids out here, they are sort of forced into the gang-banging lifestyle. Yes, it’s true that they ultimately make their own choices, but joining a gang is a survival tactic in some cases. It’s part of life here, and honestly, you don’t have to do much to be affiliated with a gang. You just have to stay on a certain block. Where you live determines what gang you’re with. It’s really that simple sometimes. And because you’re automatically affiliated with a gang, it’s easy for you to get caught up in the activity of the gang and the hierarchy of it. It’s like a snowball effect. Or at least it can be.

I have reason to believe that Tay-Tay was a higher-up in the gang. He didn’t advertise it at school, but he didn’t need to. The kids that talk the most about it are usually affiliated, but not too involved. The ones who don’t talk, don’t talk because they are involved, and sometimes, heavily so. Tay didn’t talk about it. He was so intelligent and so talented, and he could play one hell of a game of basketball. He was cute, funny, and he had the best smile out there. He was one hundred percent a natural-born leader. I loved him like I love all of my kiddos. Yes, he made some silly choices, he had a little ‘tude some days, and his ability to show up late to class and out-test the ones who came on time drove me absolutely insane!– but I loved that kid. I really did. And now he’s dead.


I can’t help but connect Tay’s death to the world around me right now. People everywhere are getting up in arms about so many issues, from Christian genocide in Iraq, to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and whether or not to dump the ice or donate, to Michael Brown’s brutal shooting by a Caucasian police officer in Ferguson, to the journalist James Foley’s ugly and filmed beheading, and I can’t help but wonder if they are all somehow related.

And the funny thing is, as many times as I’ve seen people speak out to voice an opinion or simply to raise awareness, I’ve seen just as many twitter feeds and Facebook posts and even news quotes that bash the ALS Challenge, or that question the facts of Mike Brown’s case, or that deny the global relevance of any of the issues mentioned previously. We insist that one outrage is more outrageous than the other, and that the cause of another’s choice isn’t worth caring for as much as our cause is.

But even though we are quick the point the finger, and quick to reference another tragedy, the truth of the matter is, we are really just scared of our own selfishness. Scared that we actually might care about our own lives more than we care about the lives of those people who have suffered greater than we ever have.

When I found out Tay was killed, I was celebrating my anniversary. I wanted to have fun, to laugh, and to be romantic with my husband. But when I thought about him bleeding on the ground, scraped up from his fall off the bike, a bullet buried in his chest, in the same spot where he had buried into my heart, I felt utterly guilty for being alive. And somehow, I think that maybe we all feel that way when we look at a tragedy.

When someone with ALS’s body slowly shuts down while their brain remains the same, when a black man can’t walk on the street without fear that the law enforcement might take his life, when a pregnant Muslim encounters Jesus and is executed by her own government, and when a 17-year-old boy is gunned down while riding his bicycle home from a friend’s house, we are stunned with the guilt of still being alive.

So we rage, and point fingers at those who aren’t raging enough, or raging in the wrong way. We take personally what doesn’t usually effect us personally, and we feel better about ourselves…. for a little while.

Maybe this is a first world problem. Or maybe it’s just the byproduct of being raised in a middle-class, white, suburban family and being launched into a violence-riddled, urban neighborhood where my lack of color now is the minority.

Yes, maybe it’s my white-guilt… or my privileged-guilt.

But whatever it is, it’s the same reason I broke down last night after shots were fired a block away from us and we heard the shooter– the murderer of human life– running through the empty lot next to our house. All I could think about was Tay-Tay and the hand of God that protected me in this neighborhood. I sobbed into the humid air and demanded to know why God hadn’t protected him, and whoever else might have died tonight. 

We can’t help what race we are. I know. We can’t help what hereditary disease we contract or don’t contract. We can’t help where we were born, or how we were raised, or how much money our parents had, or whether or not our government is tyrannical or just. I know this. But I still think it’s unfair that we haven’t found a cure for ALS, that we haven’t found a cure for the plagues of racism, a cure for religious discrimination, a cure for white-guilt. I think it’s unfair that Tay-Tay, the boy with the bright smile and the big potential, had his life cut short while I’m still here breathing and teaching the class that he’s still on the roster for. 

And I think I’m more upset about Tay than I am about Ferguson, or about Christian beheadings, or about ice buckets. I think my outrage at his death has caused more genuine and heart-felt tears than anything in the news ever could cause. And maybe that’s cold of me to admit, but it’s true. I felt the loss of his life on a personal level.

I knew Tay. He taught me to value my students, even if they drive me crazy. He taught me to value my life, because it can be cut short. He taught me that sometimes the greatest injustices are the ones that aren’t publicized or argued or even remembered. He taught me all of this, not during his life, but he taught me this through his death.

So I guess what I’m saying is, we need to find out what all of this death and disease and destruction can teach us–what ALS, Mike Brown, and James Foley can teach us. And when we find out, we need to learn that lesson well and never forget it. We need to let it change us. Don’t get into a contest about who can be the most upset or who can donate the most money, and don’t let the privilege of being alive make you feel guilty when you witness those that aren’t.

Instead, value life–all life, especially your own. Because it is a gift.


Photo Credit: Tay's Memorial Obituary

Photo Credit: Tay’s Memorial Obituary

This past Saturday, I looked over the body of my former student. 

I didn’t have Tay-Tay in my class his Sophomore year, although he should have been in Honors English. But he would always pass by my classroom and give me a big ol’ smile, playfully asking, “you miss me Ms. Flo?” 

Yes, I miss you Tay. I will always miss you because you taught me lessons I needed to learn. You taught me that I am selfish, and that I will always care about the things that directly effect me more than I will care about the things that don’t. 

I miss you. And I think that’s the reason why your death hurts the most. Because your death meant a loss for me.  

It was personal. 

The Third Place

You know this scene. The scream of espresso machines. Indie rock music plucking away in the background. Flowers displayed in empty coke bottles decorating an array of colorfully mismatched tables. The aroma of freshly brewed fair trade coffee drifting through the room filled with artfully disheveled-looking twenty-somethings and the occasional middle-aged man with a very impressive beard.

Yes. You are in a hipster coffee shop. Continue reading

A Week of Fasting and Prayer: Day 7- Prayer for Respecting the Marriage Vows

This is the last day of my week-long fasting and prayer for marriages. The Lord has put these specific requests and prayers on my heart, and I have learned a great deal from being obedient to His calling to me. … Continue reading

A Week of Fasting and Prayer: Day 6- Prayer for the Married with a Deceased or Ill Spouse

I’ll just get right to it. The first year of my marriage was pretty rough due to the state of my mental and physical health, among other reasons. I was still suffering pretty badly from a very damaging eating disorder … Continue reading

A Week of Prayer and Fasting: Day 5- Prayer for the Engaged

The day Dennis proposed to me was probably the most romantic and surreal day in my entire life. I was over-the-moon-happy and wanted to keep pinching myself that this wonderful man would choose me above all other women. But the … Continue reading

A Week of Fasting and Prayer: Day 4- Prayer for the Married yet Sperated

The phone rang in the middle of the night, and she* was going to just let it go to voice mail. Who calls this late anyway? And she glanced at the screen to see who dare make a phone call at 10:46pm on a Tuesday. With an intense urgency, she forgot all annoyance and picked up the phone. It was her best friend, who she knew was having some pretty serious marital issues, and who she had just offered to have call her anytime, no matter the hour, if she ever needed to talk. This must be important.

“Hey girl, I’m sorry to call so late. I just… I just need to tell you that I put him out tonight. I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m tired of crying over someone who doesn’t want us to work. I can’t even look at him without getting so angry, and I can’t hear God’s voice anymore… maybe I’m wrong for it, but I told him to go away and come back in a few days….”

She stood, speechless with the phone in her hand. What do you say to that? What can you say to that? She began to feel her friend’s pain in a way that she never knew before. She felt just as angry with her friend’s husband and just as hopeless. How was God going to change this around? How was He going to work this to good? Her friend was one of the most passionate and positive people she knew, one of the most strong and patient and long-suffering women around, and she felt a deep anguish at the injustice of it all. Why was she being left alone to fight for her marriage? Why was she at the point of giving up when she had followed God and had been faithful? Why wasn’t it working out the way she wanted? Why? Why? Why?

The fuzzy silence on the other end of the line prompted her to speak again. She silently asked the Holy Spirit for words for this situation, and then uttered the words “okay dear friend, let’s pray…”

*For the sake of privacy, the names in this story were not included and some of the details were changed.


splitThe topic of marriages separating is deeply depressing to me. I’m just going to be honest. I know more than a few people who this has been a reality for, and while I have not experienced it first hand, when it has happened to the people I love dearly, I feel that pain with them in very real way. I know that God’s word tells me that marriage is a holy covenant, meant to mirror His divine relationship with us, and that marriage is one of the most effective tools used to show Christ’s love, and so it honestly breaks my heart to see a marriage end or be put on hold for even a short period of time. The Lord puts certain issues and pains in our hearts so that we are motivated to pray for them or do something active about them, and this is one of the major issues He has placed on my heart. It is a burden that I do not take lightly and so I very solemnly dedicate today for these marriages that are separated.

Now, before I go on, I want to be clear that I am not condemning any divorced or remarried people in this post. This is very sensitive topic, and while I personally have decided that divorce is never an option in my own marriage, I know that we live in a fallen world and mistakes have been made to lead to this in many people’s lives. I know divorced people who have divorced for the reason given in the Bible as the only grounds for divorce, and I know people who have divorced for other reasons, and while it hurts my heart when any marriage ends, I do not pretend to know these circumstances that lead to these divorces, and I don’t pretend to have the answers. So please know that this post is not meant to shame anyone. It is only a hope that marriages which desire reconciliation, even if it’s only on one end, will come to be stronger and thriving despite these struggles.

With that being stated, today is obviously day four of my fasting and prayer for marriages. To be honest, I am very weary. I’m hungry, I’m tired, and I feel discouraged when I think about the people in my life who have chosen to separate from their spouse. It feels like this week has already been a long and draining journey, and yet there have also been some moments of incredible energy and assistance that I know were gifts from God during this time of focused prayer. The Lord has granted me supernatural patience with my students when they are antsy and ready for summer vacation to start. He has granted me energy to continue my marathon training, which was scheduled this week, despite my fasting, and he has strengthened me to run even faster than I have in the past because of my focus.

I tell you these things not to brag about my experience or make you impressed at my dedication, but to share with you the hard parts, and also the amazing benefits that God gives when His children respond to his prompting. I can’t even take credit for my obedience, as that too has been a precious gift from Him.

This entire process reminds me of Psalm 91, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide in the Shadow of the Almighty”, because when I devote an entire day to focused prayer, even during the daily activities I do, I am dwelling His “secret place”, since no one around me can tell I am in prayer even as I speak with them. And because of this, I know The Lord is protecting me with His comforting shadow. I pray that you too are called to dwell in the secret meeting place of prayer with God, and that you feel the power and strength of his protective Shadow.

Dear Lord,

Today the burden of separated marriages lays heavily upon my heart. I grieve for them and weep for them and I ask you for Your comfort and strength to get through this day. There are a few couples for whom I have a special desire for today, and I pray that these individuals be blessed by the prayer I have to offer and the fast that I dedicate to them. At this point in time, I desire nothing more than to see them joyfully reunited in an even stronger and dedicated bond of marriage, and I pray that You can make this happen in the future Lord, or even instantly right now– nothing is too miraculous for You, O’ God!

I pray for those marriages that have decided to go their separate ways for the time being. I pray specifically for those marriages that desire reconciliation on one or both ends, but are struggling to come to it. May they experience peace and restoration in their relationship Father. Yet while they are apart, a I pray you strengthen them individually with Your Word, and Your Holy Spirit. I pray You convict them, shape their hearts, soften their conscious, and break down their walls of pride and indignation. I pray You turn them back to one another, and remind them of the vows they made to one another the day they made their covenant with You and with each other.

I pray also for the children of these couples who are separated. Lord, I can only imagine what it’s like to see two parents separate. You have blessed me with parents who have stuck together, even though financial difficulties, job losses, addictions of many kinds. Thank you for the example that they have set for me in my own marriage– one of dedication and devotion, no matter what the struggle. I know that my parents have done the best they can to show me what true marital love looks like. I praise them and You for that. I pray for those who did not grow up with that example, and who are creating a legacy of brokenness for their children without even being aware of it. Lord, separation can have terrible effects on children, I have seen it in my own father, my husband, and some close friends. I know it can be detrimental even for older children who understand imperfect relationships, and so I pray that You bring healing to these children and their families. I know from the examples of my family members and friends that You can do this! You can unite new families together, creating a better and safer environment for the child, and you can also unite formally separated marriages, and restore the child’s life in that process. I trust that You know what that looks like for each individual family, and I trust that You desire restoration and healing to bless those that seek you in this time.

Lord, I pray for unity. I pray for strength. I pray for Your presence to be made known for all of those who are separated from their spouse right now. Give them support by way of prayer, petition, fasting, and also by good friends who listen and invest time and energy. Use us all as tools to cultivate their hearts towards repentance and reconciliation and atonement. Lord, we know that Jesus died on the cross so that we could be forgiven by You, Perfect You, and so that we could see an example of what true sacrificial love looks like. I pray for that understanding to come into the hearts of those who are married, yet separated. Save their marriages, in the name of Jesus Christ! Only You can. Amen.

What has God laid on your heart as your burden of prayer for the married yet separated?

A Week of Fasting and Prayer: Day 3- Prayer for Struggling Marriages

Image Last night my husband and I were up late, reflecting on our own relationship, as well as the good and bad seasons that we’ve had so far in our almost 3 year-long marriage. Currently, we are in a very happy season; we’re getting along very well, enjoying each others’ company, and we’re feeling totally in love!

… but there is a reason why I call it a “season”. It isn’t always like this, and while I hope to have more happy seasons as our relationship grows and progresses, I know that there will be times, just like there already have been in the recent past, where we are at each others’ throats, so frustrated and irritated that we want to break things. In fact… that reminds me of a story…

On my husband’s new album, there is a song entitled “Up All Night”, and essentially it is about…. well, making up after an argument. It’s about transitioning from being up all night fighting to being up all night… doing something else. Get the picture? The lyrics were inspired by the many arguments and fights we’ve had in our marriage and how we’ve overcome them. Here are some of those lyrics:

Another fight tonight and,
I think we’ve had this one before.
By the light gotta catch my flight
But your words won’t budge, you’re blocking the door.
I know you wanna hit me,
I’ve lit a fire deep in your eyes.
I don’t know why every time I gotta try
To keep this up, I’m pushing for more.
You push my heart to the floor.

You keep me
Up all night,
Back up, I’m lovin’ it
Don’t hit the light
This is gonna take a little
Bit of Time
Oooh you know you’re driving me
Craaazzzy.

By the time we calm back down
The glass is smashed to the ground.
Both know what to say but we aint
Gonna break gonna make the first sound.
Your lips are looking sexy
If only we could apologize.
I see your frown turn upside down
Cause love aint lost, Love is found.

 

I was mad about something. At this point in time, I’m not sure what it was, but it’s safe to say that it may have had something to do with Dennis being late, me overreacting to something he said, or possibly even PMS. Anyway, we were arguing, and I was in the middle of telling Dennis about himself (it wasn’t very nice things), when he said the dreaded words: “I need to be alone. We will discuss this later.” To which he then turned, and walked into his office, shutting the door behind him.

He. Did. Not! My face was burning red. So I did what I now know is NEVER a good idea, and I followed him, flinging open the office door and blocking the entry way so he could not escape. I was literally trapping him in his office so we could have the discussion I wanted to have, which, as a tip ladies, never worked out for me. Meanwhile, this made Dennis feel pretty darn disrespected, so he probably said some things out of anger, to which I was made extremely angry. So angry in fact, that I decided I needed to throw something. Staring at him like I wanted to hit him, I saw a mason jar half full of water on his desk. In a few short steps, I walked over to the desk, picked it up, and, not even thinking about what the heck I was doing, I smashed the glass down to the floor.

Water splashed everywhere, threatening to ruin some of Dennis’ music equipment (by the grace of God, nothing was damaged), and tiny shards of glass littered his entire office floor. Since this little number left the doorway entirely open, Dennis took his opportunity and left the office, then the house. Image

Meanwhile, I was left crying hysterically, cleaning up water and broken shards of glass, hating myself for not controlling my emotions better and for resorting to something so childish as throwing things in a temper-tantrum.

A few hours later, when we had both calmed down, we realized how silly this fight was. We knew we loved each other and didn’t want to hurt one another as we had both done in the fight. We apologized, and (long-story-short) we made up. Afterwards, we spent a good amount of time assuring one another of our true feelings and attempting to take back the ugly words (or in my case, cups) we had previously flung at the other.

Can you see this fight reflected in the lyrics? Blocking the door, the fiery eyes, the smashing glass, the love afterwards?

It’s pretty much a given that, being married to a musician, my personal life may be getting sung about on stage at some point, so I’ve come to terms with this. That’s why I don’t feel too embarrassed telling you this story.

It also shows you that, as I pray for marriages and write about Jesus, my life is FAR from perfect, and I have a lot of things I’m working on in my walk with Christ and in my marriage. Before I say more, I want to first tell you that I am married to one of the most patient and loving human beings on this planet. I’m utterly convinced of this. And yet, even with Dennis’ amazing patience and ability to show love, we still fight. Probably because, while I’m married to a man with the largest tolerance level, Dennis is married to a women with the largest temper.

In any case, sometimes our fights have gotten so loud and volatile (thanks to my firey temper) that our up-stairs neighbors thought that Dennis was physically abusive–which he has NEVER been! But this is because I have slammed doors, cabinets, and hit things, then screamed and cried afterwards. To an elderly neighbor, this probably sounds like physical abuse, so I don’t really blame them for thinking this. But sufficed to say that Dennis and I have since grown in our conflict-resolution tactics, and I’ve become a little more mature with how I handle my emotions (AKA I’m not throwing as many temper-tantrums).

This fighting season was very real, but it was just a season. We didn’t stay there.

I share this story with you so that you know I don’t exclude myself when I pray today for struggling marriages. I need prayer for God to help me control my tongue, and I need prayer for God to teach me how to be less contentious. His word tells us that it’s better for a man to live on top of a roof than in a home with a contentious wife, and having been a contentious wife, I can agree with this proverb very well. So here I go, praying for struggling marriages and my own marriage along with it:

Lord,

I pray for the marriages that are struggling right now, for the marriages that are in a rough season. I know that it may seem difficult and that things may seem like they will never look better, but I pray that You give these couples hope. Whatever the situation is Lord, I pray You bring peace and restoration to these marriages.

Lord, the struggle could be unfaithfulness or adultery. I pray you strengthen the marriages in these situations. While your Word does tell us that adultery is the only grounds for divorce, I know many couples who have struggled through unfaithfulness, sometimes on one end, and sometimes on both ends. I thank you for these couples who have chosen to remain married and work through this trial; they provide a great testimony to couples that are dealing with this kind of hurt. There is hope for a marriage that is under this sin, and I pray that you give these marriages restoration, that they may become stronger on the other side of it. Be a comforter to the ones in this relationship that need it, and encourage and convict those that need to change their ways and repent. I pray that You would help these couples kill the sin and the unfaithfulness that is in their relationship, that both can rejoice in a unified marriage that remains faithful and loving.

The struggle could be addiction. I pray that You strengthen the marriages in these situations. It could be alcohol, or drugs, or even pornography Lord, and only You can deliver men and women from the snares of addiction. I pray You give patience to these couples, and convict those that need to repent. Give them strength and support and accountability so that these marriages can come through addiction and be stronger because of it. Bring healing and restoration to these marriages Father, and show each couple how to specifically take action to banish the addiction forever.

The struggle could be finances. I pray that you give wisdom and discernment to those marriages in these situations. Lord, money can be a point of contention in any relationship, especially in a marriage. I pray for unified decision-making and transparent honesty with the ways in which couples spend their money. Give them courage to cut expenses where they need to and give them the humble spirit to ask for help when they need it. I pray that they continue to be faithful in their dedication to tithing for You Lord, because I know how this has blessed my marriage and helped us to trust You more fully. I pray You give these couples a sense of security and protection, and give them the resources they need to get by, all the time praying to and relying on You for their every need.

The struggle could be a change in life (occupation, physical ability, location, additions to the family), a season of irritability, a testing of faith, a series of trials, a disagreement on a big decision, a family death, or a collection of arguments that lead to a deep struggle. God, You know the struggles of marriages around the world more than I do, so I pray for any other struggles not specifically mentioned. I pray You provide examples of couples who have been through the same things, and I pray You provide support for those that need it. Give them strength to make it through these trials and the perseverance to keep loving, despite feelings of discontentment and grief.

Lord, I know that you have delivered me from a lot of superficial struggles as well as some deep and hurtful struggles in my own marriage. Thank you for the restoration you bring. I pray you continue to help me be a better wife to my husband, especially in the areas of being respectful with my tongue, and with my actions. I pray you help all wives be respectful of their husbands, because I know showing them respect causes them to love their wives more. And I pray you help all husbands be loving and gentle with their wives, because I know that loving them well will help a wife be caring and respectful. Thank you that You have provided a manual for a struggling marriage in Your Word, and that we can go to it daily to receive wisdom and advice in our relationships.

In Your Son Jesus Christ’s name I pray, Amen.

 

 

What marriage struggles do you feel called to pray for today? Share so we can be praying along with you!

 

 

 

A Week of Fasting and Prayer: Day 2- Prayer for the Seasoned Marriages

“I only wanna be with you For the rest of my life I’m talking about growing old And wrinkling by your side…” At our church, we often call the older generation of our members “seasoned saints”. This often induces a … Continue reading

A Week of Fasting and Prayer: Day 1 – A Prayer for the Newly Married

20140602-183113-66673526.jpgMy heart is pounding as I grab the groomsman’s arm and walk down the walkway, between pews of wide-eyed guests. Somehow we make it down the aisle in one piece, and both assume our positions on opposite ends of the alter. I watch as seven bridesmaids follow me, all carrying bouquets and on the arm of a gray-suited groomsman. Then, the music changes and all of the guests stand and look towards the back of the chapel. From where I am, I cannot see my best friend walking down with her grandpa. But honestly, I don’t want to. Besides the fact that I’ve helped her get ready for the past six hours (so I know what she’s going to look like), I’m more interested in something in plain sight from where I’m standing. So, I’m staring at the groom’s face, to see his reaction when he catches the first glimpse of his bride in all her beauty and then again when they lock eyes, knowing that this is the moment when their whole lives change.

It’s this moment when you can see all anticipation, all love, all excitement, all fears, anxieties, and “am I enough?s” in the groom’s eyes, and you know that his bride has equivalent emotions running through hers, sometimes even in the form of tears. It’s then when I start tearing up as well, because I know what a huge commitment this is. I know what an amazing decision this is. I know these feelings, and I am so excited when others make the plunge into the incredible life-long commitment that is marriage.

In my week-long fast and focused prayer for marriage, it made sense to start with a prayer for the newly married–the newlyweds— mostly because I just was in a dear friend’s wedding this past weekend, and my eldest cousin was also married the same day.

I don’t have to imagine the excitement, joy, weight, and anxiety that this new commitment entails– I felt it on my wedding day and I feel it every time I’m at a wedding. It’s something that you don’t easily forget, especially when you take marriage as seriously as it is meant to be taken. Yet I don’t pretend to know these couples’ stories or how they came to this decision, or how it will effect them and shape them as a unit in the time to come. What I do know is that these newlyweds will need prayer. A lot of prayer.

And so, without further ado, here is my prayer for all of you newly married couples out there:

Lord,

I pray for the newly married couples that have entered into a covenant with You and with one another. I praise you and thank you that they have chosen monogamy in a world that says you can have it all and never have to be satisfied with one person. Lord, we know that You have made marriage a beautiful image and reflection of Christ and the church, and that as husbands are to love their wives sacrificially as Christ does the church, wives are to submit to their husbands respectfully, as they do to God, never sacrificing dignity or the quiet strength and beauty that you created so many women to have.
Lord, I pray that you encourage these young men and women in their decision and their commitment to love each other. Allow them to keep their vows in their hearts and minds so that they work hard to keep those promises. Give them grace when they don’t keep them, and teach them how to forgive one another. Show them your character so that they may become more like you in their marriage, as they learn more about one another, and as they learn more about themselves.

I pray specifically for the husbands. Lord, there may be times, especially in that first year, where the man feels that he didn’t ask for the kind of responsibility it takes to be a husband, and the head of a family. There may be times when he is tempted to be unfaithful, or to be harsh with his wife, or to just give up. He may feel like he’s disrespected and unappreciated, and can never win. Show him that these are lies from the enemy, and give him strength to push harder and stronger towards the love that you have called him to. Let him rejoice forever in the wife of his youth, and allow her to become his standard of beauty, so that he is not comparing her to anyone or anything else. Allow him to leave his mother and father completely, whether that be physically, emotionally, or financially, and cling to his wife. Give him the ability to be a servant leader and protector for his family, and give him fulfillment from this role.

I pray specifically for the wives. Lord, there may be times, especially in that first year, where the women feels that she didn’t know what she was getting into when she signed up to be her husband’s helper and to submit to him. She may feel that this makes her the “lesser” in the relationship, but Lord, don’t allow her to believe this lie that the enemy tells her! Encourage her in her role as a help meet, fit for her husband, and show her the beauty and strength that you created her to have. Lord, there may be times when she is temped to be unfaithful, or to disrespect her husband, or to just give up. She may feel that she’s unloved and unappreciated, and can never win. Show her that these are also lies from the enemy, and give her strength to push harder and stronger towards the love that you have called her to. Let her be satisfied by her husband, and let her be content with the man that God gave her. Giver her the ability to be her family’s irreplaceable manager, the beating heart of her home, and giver her fulfillment from this role.

Lord, I know that it can be easy, in the euphoric feeling of love for the other, to place the other spouse on a pedestal, and place them above you in their priorities. I pray that both the husband and wife do not fail to make you first priority. I pray that they don’t expect the other to be perfect, because I know that this only sets them up for disappointment, and the other for failure. I pray they instead recognize that they each are only human, and I pray you help them bestow grace upon the other, in understanding that, while the spouse is the top priority among human beings, they can never take the place that only You, O’ God, can fill.

Let those who are just married rejoice and be glad! For the husband has found a good thing in his wife, and the wife has found a good thing in her husband! Your word tells us this O’ Lord. Allow them to examine themselves more closely as a result of this relationship, and in doing so, recognize their faults, as well as their strengths and beauty. Please encourage them to hold onto this joy found within one another and within You, God, so that they will work through the hard times, knowing and trusting that the marriage covenant was the right choice and that they will be blessed. Lord, we know that your word tells us that a cord of three strands is not easily broken, and so I pray that these couples be encouraged to keep you at the center of their relationship. Show them how to love each other in their specific love language, teach them how to spend time together and how to encourage one another. Instruct them about how to speak with love to one another and how to express their deepest desires and fears to each other. Let them be one another’s best friend, and provide them with the deepest level of intimacy to share with each other.

Thank you for the newlyweds in our life Lord! I pray you prompt us to pray for them and prompt them to pray for one another, and to turn to you for guidance and strength.

In your Son Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.

What specific prayer has God laid on your heart for newlyweds? Share it here, so we can pray as well!

20140602-183113-66673526.jpg