One of the most difficult lessons I have learned in 14 short years of marriage is this-
One of the greatest gifts I can give my husband is to not “need” him.
You see, by nature we are very needy women. Early in my life, I took great prided in my physical and emotional strength and abilities. When I turned twenty-eight, that facade of inner and outer strengthen was obliterated when I entered into a life long covenant with my husband David. The union of two saints who possessed hearts that groaned daily under the burden of sin and self, exposed a frailty and neediness I had no idea I had become a slave to.
I needed my husband to be romantic and write notes and send flowers like he did when we were dating, in order to feel secure in our relationship and love. I needed him to come home from work on time in order to ensure my troubled heart that our children and I were the most important thing in his life. I needed him to choose spending time with me/us rather than playing games on the internet and reading articles that weren’t nearly as interesting as I though I was, in order to feel loved and cherished. I desperately needed to see him look away from sultry dressed women as they passed by and to publicly wage bloody warfare against the endless stream of immorality and porn on the internet in order to feel a sense of worth and beauty. I needed him to visibly demonstrate he was a mighty man of God by getting up early and spending time in the word and in prayer in order to rest assured our home was pleasing to God and under His spiritual protection. This “I need” list was massive and dictated my days and my nights. When these things did not happen with the frequency or to the degree I thought they should, I willingly boarded an emotional and mental roller coaster laden with endless hills of self pity, fear, jealousy, doubt, anger, withdrawal….The mood and spirit of our home was unwillingly drug behind the erratic flight of my unstable and distorted coaster called “Neediness” and “frailty.” My peace was determined solely upon my perception of “how” I thought my husband was performing in life both spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I had no idea how destructive this “neediness” was to our marriage and my life spiritually until God mercifully broke me and then faithfully bound my soul back together by exposing the sinfulness and idolatry of my heart.
Six years into our marriage, on the outside, life seemed perfect.We had a cozy home, three beautiful children, and an uncanny absence of public turmoil or strife in our lives. Secretly I reveled in this. Hearing about the marital/relational struggles of others feed the monster of pride that steadily grew in my heart. A pride that blinded me to a smothering darkness in my life and marriage. Didn’t I deserve a perfect marriage and a perfect husband? I had done it all right, hadn’t I? I had waited 28 years for the right one. I had endured years of loneliness, disappointment, discouragement, and unfulfilled desires. David meant everything to me, but the image of a perfect life meant even more. I was willing to do or not do whatever it took to maintain the image of a perfect marriage. I buried hurts, swallowed back disappointment, and turned my head away from the things my heart screamed were off.
In one fleeting second, God humbled my proud heart with His heavy but loving hand of correction. My heart was shattered and the facade of a perfect marriage ripped apart. I was not the perfect wife I thought myself to be. My husband was not the perfect man my pride had fashioned and placed as god in my life. I was insecure and in my insecurity I had looked to my marriage and my husband for purpose, fulfillment, and meaning. Success was measured by the degree to which David met my needs as well as the absence of conflict and strife in our lives. My husbands happiness had been my goal because this was a measurable standard I could wear with pride. I needed my husband to be the perfect husband and father. I needed him to return to our home each evening happy and content. This is what I strove for while denying the failures and spiritual needs in my own life. It was much easier to remain silent, play the part of the perfect wife, and uphold the facade the peace than to address and conquer the spiritual darkness in our lives and in our home.
I needed David to be the perfect husband and father not because this was what was best for him but because this was what was best for me. If he was perfect I would not hurt. If he was perfect I would not have needs unmet. If he was perfect, I could look perfect too. If I was perfect I could acquire the esteem of others. I could dress up the outside of Jody and neglect the more painful and ugly Jody inside.
After an extremely painful trial in our marriage, I resisted seeking out Biblical counsel for myself and instead spent two years bound in a prison of fear and hurt. I didn’t know how to repair the pieces of my shattered heart but I was desperate for peace and healing. Like the stubborn child who insist on having things their own way, I did what I had always done, I placed the responsibility squarely on my husband shoulders. I decided I needed him to do a, b, and c to repair the broken pieces and bring healing to my life. I needed him to be strong, perfect, and daily reassure me I would never hurt again. This did not work because I was asking my husband to do something he would never be capable of, perfection.
There is but one person who can accomplish what I demanded of my husband. Somewhere between single life and marriage, I placed my husband and marriage on the throne of my heart. I put a human with a sinful heart in a position only Christ could fill, demanding he play a role only God was capable of.
Sin can not produce holiness, peace can not rise from the ashes of chaos. Disease can not spawn healing. Only the God of Peace can bring peace. Only God the Righteous Judge can be, demand, and make one righteous. Only the Eternal, All Powerful, All Loving God can fill the abyss of a broken and needy heart. My needy heart needed it’s neediness to be reoriented to the one who never disappoints and never fails. It was in this moment of brokenness that God opened my eyes to the truth that my greatest need was Christ. In turn I discovered that my pursuit of fulfillment in Him this was the greatest gift I could ever give my husband and family.
You see, My husband’s greatest need was for me to “not need him”, but instead be possessed, driven, and overcome by my need for God. Our poor husbands are doomed for failure when we insist on placing them in a position they can’t measure up to. My liberation day came when I realized my peace and joy was not dependent upon my husband’s godly integrity, moral victories and spiritual growth. My healing and confidence came when I realized I could experience disappointment, failure, and pain in my marriage and life and still be “okay.” With my focus off my husband and on my own heart, sin, and needs, I found freedom, healing, and peace. A perfect marriage and husband would never bring peace and happiness, but a Jody with an upright and perfect heart toward God could experience and revel in a peace and joy unspeakable. When I could say “whom have I in heaven but Thee and there is none I desire beside thee” then peace, contentment, and joy would rain down. When my heart could echo David’s cry “My soul thirsts for you and my flesh longs for you” then I would experience a strength empowered by a Divinely given neediness, I was meant to experience daily. I was created needy so that I would daily, out of that neediness, peruse the strength of another. So that I would be driven to the throne and to the feet the the Savior who would gloriously and faithfully meet those needs.
What is your greatest need?
Perhaps you are hurting, looking at the shattered pieces of your heart and wondering how or if it is even possible to repair what has been so painfully broken. Has something been taken or withheld? Has your love been betrayed or cast aside? Please believe me when I say “beauty can rise among the ashes”, and “joy can follow the cries of great sorrow.” Do not look at what or who has brought such pain or grief. Do not place the role of healer in their hands, this is a job they can not shoulder or fulfill. This is the curse and product of sinful man and why he stands in such contrast with our Savior. Instead look to the only one capable of healing the broken, giving rest to the weary, bringing peace to the troubled. You need a Savior, a Redeemer, a Comforter. Yes God can transform the lives of those who have disappointed, frustrated, and wounded us but healing will never be found solely in another’s transformation but through our own. You need Christ, not a husband. Your need the Righteous Judge, not a perfect spouse, life, marriage or family.
Jesus cry was “Come unto me and I will give rest”, “Know the truth and it will set you free….I am the truth”, “drink of the water I give..and never thirst” Let your gaze fall upon Him, let your heart rest upon Him. Set your hope and expectation upon He who never sleeps, never falters, who sees all, hears every cry, who is sufficient.
May the God of Peace fill you with peace!!!
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