Bearing Fruit

Forgive me for my silence, ladies. It has been a week of getting my house in order and caring for my kids. A good week, but a quiet one here. Thank you all so much for your words of encouragement and prayer on my last post. I am blessed to be in community with you ladies, and I treasure it. I realized after I had written that blog that I had missed my supplements for a few days. Now that I have been faithfully taking them again, I am much more myself and have more energy. So I am thankful for that, and seeing His faithful hand in all things.

This morning I am tucked away into one of my favorite cafe’s in town, sipping on some soup and trying to fight back tears. One of the reasons I have been silent this week is because I have found myself so annoyed with my husband. Little things just seem to set me off – and I mean really little things. I have found myself again and again over the past few weeks snapping at him, making mountains out of mole hills, and generally getting frustrated at most everything he does. Last night it came to (another) head as I got really angry with him for simply being himself. I got all high and mighty and we went to bed silently. This morning as I walked into the living room and he said “Good morning” – I simply did not answer. The rest of the morning passed in relative silence before he headed off to work. And the worst? As he left he said, “I love you”…my response? A barely audible “mmhmm”. As I drove to the cafe this morning I asked God to reveal to me what is wrong. I began to realize that what is wrong is me. My heart full of sin and pride.

You see, my husband has hurt me so many times over our marriage. And those wounds have run deep. He has repented, and we are in a much better place than we have ever been. I have chosen to forgive him, but I am not “bearing fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt 3:8). This morning, the Holy Spirit began to gently but firmly help me to see myself. And here is the ugly truth – even though I have forgiven my husband, I want him to suffer. I want him to feel small, and shamed. I want him to pay.

My heart is broken at my own sickening pride. I have been forgiven of so much – and God pours out continual grace on this impatient, petty heart. He doesn’t “cold-shoulder” me on the days I am grouchy. He doesn’t decide I am not worthy of His grace because I am unkind to my kids. He is consistently faithful. So why do I think it’s okay, in any way, to punish my husband? What gives me that right?
This morning I could hear God gently saying, “Annabel, give him grace – over and over and over.” And I argued with Him. “Over and over, God? Really? But he needs to change. He needs to be (more spiritual, more trusting, more sexual, more patient, less bothersome…) – how will he know he needs to change unless he is feeling the effects of his ways?” Truly, that was my conversation with God. Refusing to give grace. Or, more accurately, refusing to give it more than once. Refusing to pour it out on my husband’s heart over and over. Refusing to trust God to take care of the changing. Refusing to give grace if I am not seeing the changing.

I want to be a woman who bears good fruit. I want to be gracious, kind, compassionate. I want to be a good example to my children. But selflessly loving the person closest to me has to be one of the most challenging things to do.
Today, because God is loving and good, I was able to see the deceptive pride in my own heart, and repent.

What about you, dear sister? Do you need to repent to someone? Are you harboring self-righteous indignation against your husband for the sins he has committed against you? I urge you to not only forgive in words, but ask God to remind you of His grace towards you – and that out of it you would be willing to pour grace upon grace on your spouse.

I am praying for you today. Praying that you would remember the depth of your depravity without Christ, and the unending patience He shows towards you daily. I am praying you would choose not to punish your husband for who he is or what he does, but to show him grace. Pray for me too. Pray that I would stand on guard against the wiles of the enemy – he is crafty, and my heart without Christ is weak.

Annabel

P.S. Please hear my heart on this post. I completely believe that there are times in a marriage that healthy boundaries need to be set in order to help a marriage heal. I am definitely not talking about that situation, at all. I am talking about being frustrated that my husband didn’t have as much quiet time as I think he should, and so I ignore the kiss he gives me on the cheek. I am talking about sin, not about loving choices.

9 thoughts on “Bearing Fruit

  1. ((Annabel)),
    Thank you for sharing your heart which is not always an easy thing to do, especially when we know that we carry sin within it. I find it amazing how the Lord uses each of us right where we are at, our messy lives and all, to speak to others. And dear Sister, that is exactly what you have done for me and many others this morning.

    I am Aimee that has commented on several other occasions. Guess I’ve decided to come out of hiding! LOL
    My brief story: I was divorced two years ago after a twenty-year abusive marriage and have two sons from that marriage, ages 21 and almost 18. I have been remarried for a little over a year to a wonderful, loving Christian man.

    I have been struggling lately with treating my husband much the same way as you described and it hurts my heart so deeply. My husband is a very caring, loving man who would do anything for me and loves me in a way I’ve never, ever known in my life. I was twenty-four when I married the first time and am now forty-seven, and perhaps because of having been through a failed marriage and partly because of age, I see my faults and sinful ways more clearly. And I find myself trying so much harder these days NOT to behave towards my husband in those sinful ways of disrespect and just plain rudeness when I think he has failed me.

    I’m trying harder to see the big picture instead of focusing on the little irritating, hurtful things that he may do, and usually does unknowingly. It helps me to thank God daily and sometimes throughout the day for all the goodness in my husband and to remind myself how much he truly loves me.

    One of my struggles and why I often read your blog is being a sexually higher drive wife who wishes her husband desired more frequent lovemaking. We have talked about my desire for more frequency and my husband bless his heart has truly made an effort to meet my needs, although I would still love it to be more frequent. 😉 So my struggle is learning how to not shut down on him during the in-between days and get snippy and sulky with him. And just a few days ago I found myself doing this and really hating the feeling of how I was treating him. Kind of acting like a sullen child who is not getting her way.
    So last night when he made an effort to go to bed early and initiate lovemaking in his not so obvious way…his idea of initiating is saying that he is going to take a shower and then comes out to ask me if I’m coming to bed while I would much rather he grab me and tell me how much he wants me. 😉 But instead of following him right into the bedroom I kind of sulked about it and hemmed and hawed, I guess in an attempt to “punish” him for not making love when I want and not being more blunt in his initiating sex. I told him I’d be in soon and he quietly went to bed. I just about cried at how I treated him and decided to slip out of my clothes and slip into bed with him…good thing, because it was a real treat and I would have missed out.

    Anyway, when you really get down to it, isn’t how we treat our spouses all about our own self-centeredness? I mean really, if we were to lay our lives down for our spouses and do nothing but love them as we want to be loved, I wonder if we would respond and act better towards them, kwim?
    I think it goods though when we can acknowledge and take responsibility for our actions. And of course, keeping the communication open is vital to a healthy marriage. So I would much rather just come out and tell my spouse how something he did or said affected me and when needed ask his forgiveness if I’ve responded in a less than loving way.

    Thank you again for sharing your heart and allowing us all a look into the struggles you face in your marriage.

    Amy

    • Amy,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story here! I can completely relate that I get more easily frustrated when there is less sex! Not that it makes the frustration right, but it does help me to keep an eye out for it.

      I am in process (aren’t we all), and I am honored to be able to share my heart with you ladies. My prayer is that it will draw others to Christ – the chief cornerstone of our lives. I know that the only way I have been able to extend more grace to my husband is by asking God to remind me how much grace He has shown to me. It’s so overwhelming that I am truly able to understand how selfish & small I have been. And it honestly helps me to extend more love to my husband (and my kids).

      Thanks for being my internet friend 🙂
      Annabel

  2. Annabel, God bless you for being so open and honest. I truly hope you do not feel you are on your own… you aren’t! We all have tiffs with our husbands from time to time, and yes, God does tend to use these times (note plural) to reveal to us the faults in ourselves rather than agreeing with you about the faults you see in your hubby. God will deal with you and your husband separately; He cares for you both individually! Keep your communication open, though I appreciate this is not always easy. Take time to reflect on the fruits of the Spirit, try to use these in your responses even if this is not how you ‘feel’. Trust in His Spirit rather than your emotions. These can be unreliable at the best of times, not least following a time of low levels of health. Don’t rush, give yourself time, be patient. Lastly, be kind to yourself: don’t beat yourself up. In your husband’s own words, he loves you! Listen to his words, and love him back (with the grace of God!) “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” Romans 12v12 **I’ll need to remind myself of this post next time I lose my rag with my other half!**

    • Jo,

      Thanks for the reminders of God’s goodness – I have to say I am practically swimming in the realization of it today. He is so gracious towards us, isn’t He? And I think the greatest thing about God’s gentle conviction is that it causes us to respond – “what manner of love is this?” – rather than beat ourselves up, as you said…it’s really all rather humbling and beautiful.

      Joyful in hope – A

  3. I can so relate to this post. Just this morning on Revive our Hearts I was convicted when I heard one of the speakers say that our self-righteousness is just as much as sin as our husband’s sins. Ouch! Looks like I have some asking for forgiveness to do when he gets home today. It’s not going to be fun, but I hope it can lead to a new beginning in our understanding of each other.

  4. Getting frustrated with my husband’s weaknesses… having a really hard time lately. Feeling so alone. Thanks for your post…

  5. REPENT= The Greek word for REPENT is two words made into one. Literally translated, it means, “Change your mind.” Seeing the world in a new way. Altering one’s point of view. Changing one’s mind about God, ourselves & the world. Hebrew, the language of John the Baptist and Jesus, paints word pictures. The word for REPENT, “shuv,” means “turn around.” Changing direction. Turning around & heading towards God & God’s ways.
    You are a blessing Annabel! Keep up the good fight!!

  6. Annabel,
    I’m a guy/husband who is the high drive partner in our 35-year marriage. DW and I have worked thru a lot and continue to work on it since we too are a work in progress. Your posts are often good for my high-drive guy heart and journey too — it seems to me that a lot of the high-drive life is common to both guys and gals (tho perhaps not all).
    I simply want to express my admiration and thanks for your tremendous courage in sharing your journey, thoughts, and your faith. I have a lot to learn and your writing is valuable and an inspiration.
    May God continue to bless you in your journey and your words. Thank you.

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