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!

 

 

 

Sunday Scriptures: Why Adam’s Rib?

Sunday Scripture

It was a normal Saturday morning: I was making the coffee and boiling the eggs for breakfast. The kitten was wining about not having any milk to drink and I was still rubbing the sleep out of my eyes enough to be forgetful of her. Steam screamed from the orange bauble-kettle and I turned off the burner to scoop Folgers into the French press, sprinkling the pile of dark grounds with a dash of orangy-brown cinnamon and pouring the steaming water up to the brim. After pealing the eggs and dousing them in black pepper, I sat down, opened up my Bible, and began to read. Not soon after taking my first bite of yolk-soaked toast, I was hit with this mind-shattering verse:

“For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” 1 Corinthians 11:8-9

Now ladies, how do we feel about this?

As a newlywed, I have been learning quite a lot about my role as a wife, and let me tell you, it has not been an easy route; nor, I imagine, will it continue to be for quite some time. And perhaps it might have been a bit harder at first because of this fact: Men were not created for women. They were not created to serve them, respect them, love them, provide for them, or make them feel beautiful. They just weren’t. If they were, Adam would have been the second human, created to serve his wife Eve.

Instead, Eve was created for her man. She was to be his “help meet”. Meaning, she was a gift to Adam because she was completely designed to give him his every need. She was made from him and for him to be a helper, an encourager, a lover, and a team mate.

You all know the way it went, right? Eve was actually created from Adam’s rib. She actually was made from him. She is that much a part of him, and now, even though a wife is not cut from her husband’s side, she is still to come along side him (very much like a rib), and help him in the calling God has on his life.

Now, at first I thought that this meant women were below men, unequal and inferior to men. And to be honest, I had a little bit of a hard time swallowing this. Who of us ladies wouldn’t?

But this is not the case.

We were designed to be our husband’s help meet. So, we were created by God with a special man in mind for us. And when God created that man, he had us in mind as that man’s special helper. We were created, not to serve all men, but to serve and help and love and reverence one man: our husband.

Cover of "Adam's Rib"

Some of you may think: “Well Claire, this still seems like women get the short end of the stick!”

But it’s not true. We have the privilege of serving our husbands because, just like the Holy Spirit serves the Father and the Son and yet is still part of who God is, so we are in our marriages.

We are one with our husband. “The two shall become one flesh”— and so we are a part of him in a sense. Our natural design already is to nurture, encourage, love, defer to, and reverence. And when we do all of those very natural things for our counter part, our other half, our partner heir in the Kingdom, we make our husbands cherish us, love us, and value us as part of himself (his rib- if you will).

When we truly understand this scripture, we might read it as this: “For the Father is of the Son, but Christ is of God. Neither is the Father created for the Holy Spirit, but rather, the Holy Spirit was created for God.”

The only way, wives, we will ever see the beauty of the way God truly designed marriage to be, is if we start thinking of it as a reflection of God.

…However, I imagine some of you were like me that morning, utterly astounded and pretty much hacking up your breakfast when you read this kind of language. So….what does it mean to you?

How have you ladies seen this verse to be true in your lives? How has God been reflected in your marriage?

A letter to a hottie

Dear Girl That Dresses Like a Hottie,

I saw you today in the CVS on Halstead.You walked by me in your skin-tight, hot pink, sleeveless dress, and I watched you stick your butt out as you strolled down the elise in your stilettos. You were buying diet coke and some cigarettes.

How can I convince you that you are beautiful?

Because you are. And it’s not because you have a tight, 19-year-old body. It’s not because you have globs of black mascara, shiny lip gloss, and highlighted hair. It has got nothing at all to do with the way you look right now, walking by me, all dolled up.

It is who you are that makes you lovely.

I want to ask you why? Why go out dressed like a club dancer? Why the low-cut, cleavage-bearing, short-skirted, skin-tight outfit? There is nothing good that this getup will bring to you.

You most certainly will attract a man, in fact, you’ll probably attract every man that passes by you (unless he is blind).  But I guarantee that those men will only be interested in your body and not your heart or mind, (and certainly not your soul).

Any guy that picks up on you while you are dressed like that will never last. He will not be the best friend, partner, and lover you long for. He will not affirm all that you need to hear. He will not be a good father to your child. He will not love you as you gain weight, turn gray, struggle with finances, get emotional on your period, or find a lump in your breast.

Perhaps you’re not looking for that man. Perhaps you want to have some fun while you’re still young and beautiful. Perhaps it feels nice to have a guy tell you that you look like America’s next top model, and perhaps you have convinced yourself that you only want one night of passion with no commitment.

I understand. But have you fully thought this through?

Just from the way you carry yourself, in your heels and short skirt, you are putting yourself at risk.

You could wind up a lover of a physical abuser. You could give your number to a convicted felon. You could find yourself alone in a bedroom where there are several guys waiting.  Your future husband could be repulsed by the way you are acting now. You could get pregnant.

You are also putting others at risk.

You are setting an example of what a woman is to every young girl who sees you walk by and thinks “I want to be loved like all the guys love her”. You are putting men who struggle with pornography and faithfulness to their wives as risk of temptation and sin. You are creating a situation where another woman may compare herself to you and feel insufficient in the way she dresses or looks. You are making it difficult for every man you pass to be a respectful, honest gentleman.

How you dress makes a statement about who you are. Especially as a woman. Because of this, I sincerely worry about you!

I am certain that you are not thinking about how lack of clothing can harm my own marriage.  I know when I was young, and even not so long ago when I was less conscious of myself, I didn’t think about these things either. Being a temptation to a married man might even be fun for you. But one day you yourself will be married, and a girl dressed like a hottie will strut in front of your man. Then you will understand.

I pray that you find the confidence and security to know that you are enough and that you deserve a loving, kind, and respectful man. I pray that you understand that you are enough to attract a good man, just as you are, without the makeup and push-up bra.

Somewhere out there is a man, who isn’t perfect, but who will adore you and cherish you and treat you the way you truly deserve to be treated.

Believe that you deserve to be treated as treasure and don’t settle for anything less.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  
With much much love (and I mean that),

Claire

Why I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Grey

I am not reading Fifty Shades of Grey.

Recently there have been explosions of women and men(–totally weird, I know), who have become obsessed with the new novel by EL James, and, to put it bluntly, I refuse to be one of them. At the risk of sounding perfectly closed-minded, I would like to explain to you why I’m not considering reading Fifty Shades of Grey and why I think you shouldn’t either.

Reason #1: Simple. Fifty Shades of Grey is sinful. This book is classified as erotic fiction,which, along with pornography, is defined a genre which has “no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire.” That right there is enough for me to say “no thanks, I’d rather just sleep with my husband”. (Excuse my honesty)

Now i’s all very well for me to give you my opinion, but let’s look at what the Big Man says; God tells us that there is only one who should stimulate sexual desire us: our spouse.

Since God’s plan for my sexual desire involves only my own husband, then anything else that adds to my arousal is sin.

Jesus said it this way: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The same is true of a woman looking at (or reading about) a man.

Reason #2: This book may rob of your desire for real sex. The Bible confirms that lust is hurtful and harmful. And guess what? So do modern biopsychologists. Research shows that over time your body becomes conditioned to self-stimulation and gratification. Lust can cut a literal pathway in your brain tissue. At first a little bit of erotica might give you the desire to be with your spouse, but overtime that self-stimulation and your own imagination (or porn) is not only enough to satisfy you, you actually prefer it to real sexual intercourse.

…I’m not just making this up. Check out this article in The New  Yorker  for more information.

Reason #3: This book will make it difficult for women to fully respect their husbands.

Okay, let’s be honest, women. Sadly, a few of our men have looked at porn. I mean, most guys over the age of 12 have. If you’re like me, you find this extremely sad.

You may feel like you can never compare to the perfection created by lights, camera, and Photoshop that is presented in some porn. Or maybe you just feel like you have to compete for your husband’s sexual attention.

Well, he may likewise feel like he can’t compare to the fantasized interpretation of manhood depicted in this particular book, and he may feel like he has to compete with a fictional character. Which would suck right?

If you don’t want your guy to look at other naked women, don’t read about naked men. I personally want to have more respect for my husband than that. How about you?

Reason #4: This book directly contradicts what God created sex to be. It is meant to be a union that is fuled by love and service, not pain or humiliation. Fifty Shades of Grey deals a lot with BDSM: Bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism. And if you recognize what any of those words are, you can get an idea about why this book is so damaging.

It’s not just that Fifty Shades of Grey misuses sex; it redefines it into something evil and transgressive. The lead character uses dominance in a hurtful way.  In our emasculating culture, there is indeed a hunger for strong men, but this book takes the role of headship to a new level- a sinful one.

A man is supposed to lovingly and sacraficially serve his wife and lead her in the Christ-like direction. This does not involve dominating her or holding her in sexual submission. 

A woman is supposed to respect her husband and support him in his leadership. This does not involve becoming a sexual slave to him. Nor does it involve reading trashy novels about men who abuse their sexual partners just to get an arousal.

…Also. Vanilla is an ice cream flavor, not a type of sex. Ew.

 

I will never read this book. And many of you might be up in arms with me about this post because I am (for lack of a better term) ripping this book apart before even opening it. Judge away. In a way, I’m judging the book by it’s gossip.

I’m going to quote another blogger here to explain my point: “There are many things in this world I need not partake in to discern that they are going to be harmful to me. God has given me more than fifty shades of truth in His Word and when just one of them is in conflict with my entertainment choices, I choose to pass”!

I love my marriage, my God, and myself. Why put those things in jeopardy for a quick read?

If you find yourself seeing my side of the story, please take a moment today to post these words on Facebook or twitter: “I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Grey.”

If you have friends who need help understanding why, send them to my blog. I’d be happy to explain!