Maybe you’re thinking to yourself that you already have a godly marriage and really don’t need to change anything. Well, consider this question honestly and prayerfully: Have you surrendered your marriage to Christ? Are you doing some things in your marriage God’s way but some your own way?
When I asked myself that question, I had a “light bulb” moment. God clearly revealed to me that, yes, I had released to His lordship some areas of my life, even some areas of my marriage, but in other areas I held tight to my own ways. I was sprinkling into the recipe of my marriage a little bit of God and a whopping serving of me.
Women can be strong, efficient, and independent, but sometimes our self-reliance can wear us out and blind us to God’s plan. Many women today might say, “I am woman, I am invincible, I am tired!” We think, Be a good wife? Sure; I can do that! I’ll clean the house, iron my husband’s clothes, and put a smile on my face. Be a good Christian? Sure! I’ll serve in women’s ministry and children’s ministry, and I’ll fix meals for those in need. Be a good mom? Sure! My children will be obedient and happy. Help with the family finances? I can squeeze a career in here somewhere! And I’ll try to be cute and fit while I’m at it! And on and on our efforts continue until, like the little hamster on his exercise wheel, we have worn ourselves out and gotten nowhere.
Sometimes we have to get to the end of ourselves before we turn to God. Brokenness hurts, but when we’re broken we’re more likely to admit that apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5).
Writer Anabel Gillham describes in her book The Confident Woman: Knowing Who Your Are in Christ the moment she surrendered her marriage to God’s hands:
I had gone to bed. It had been a bad day. I don’t remember why —I had a lot of bad days. I was sobbing, praying, “God, I don’t understand what I long for it to be; my kids are not turning out the way I want them to. And I’m so tired. I’ve given, given, and given, and I don’t think I can give anymore. I have made one grand mess of everything.”
Then I said what I had never said in all my 40-some-odd years of life: “I give up. I have failed. I can’t do it. If anything is going to come out of this life, You’re going to have to do it, because I can’t.” …I believe God spoke to me that night in the quit of my bedroom. A thought came into my conscious awareness that was foreign to my way of thinking. It was a simple little phrase: “Thank you, Anabel, I will do it all for you.”
Surrender is completely counter to our human nature, but this is right where God wants us to be. Sometimes I sense God is saying to me through the whisper of the Holy Spirit on my heart or a verse that leaps from the pages of Scripture, I am God and you are not. I am really good at being God. You are not. When you get out of the way, I can work.
Surrendering is one way to say that we depend on God, not on ourselves and our own efforts. Even though we don’t know what’s around the corner, we put our marriage in the hands of the One who made us and loves us, trusting Him in whatever comes our way, good or bad.
How do we surrender our marriages to God? What exactly do we surrender?
First, we surrender our right to have marriage work the way we think it should. We give up feeling entitled to what we deserve in marriage. I came in to marriage thinking I deserved many things. I thought I deserved to be a stay-at-home mother while my husband provided for our family. I thought I deserved a certain level of comfort with a nice house and beautiful furnishings. Living a comfortable life included shopping for clothes and going to restaurants frequently. When I did not get what I thought I deserved, I was unhappy and moody and made my husband feel as if he were a failure.
Second, we surrender our expectations of our husbands. The main expectation I had of Scott was that he would make me happy. I expected him to know my needs and cater to them. When Scott and I first married, I was insecure about his love for me, so I made him prove his love all the time. I wanted him to prove his love by being home with me, by choosing me over other activities or people, by telling me he loved and appreciated me.
These needs were not inherently bad, but I was draining Scott by turning to my husband to satisfy my longings. Of course, the only One who can meet our deepest needs is God. He’s the one we go to with all of our needs. The more I went to Scott with these needs, the more he withdrew from my extreme dependency. In turn I felt as if Scott was failing me, and we were trapped in this unsatisfying cycle.
As I turned to God with a sincere heart, I knew that I had to confess to God all of the sins I had committed against Scott and consequently against God. I prayed that God would reveal the sins to me so I could confess them to Him and then be free of them. Seeing so much ugliness in my heart was hard as I confessed sins such as pride, judgment, self-pity, self-righteousness, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, selfishness, manipulation, and rebellion.
As I was honest with God, He reminded me that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. (Romans 5:8). Jesus Christ has already paid the price for our sins. We confess our sins, accept His forgiveness, and repent. In Acts 3:19 Peter says, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.“ God truly did refresh me and my marriage as I put my marriage in His loving hands.
Surrendering our marriages to God and repenting of our sins in an ongoing process. God wants us to be in constant fellowship with Him, seeking Him with our whole hearts through prayer, listening, reading His Word, and obeying Him.
Transformed by His Love
Many women I have talked to abut the ideas of this book have a common denominator keeping them from surrendering completely to God: They do not believe in God’s unconditional love.
You may say to yourself, Well, I’m a Christian. Of course I believe God loves me. Or you may wonder what accepting God’s love has to do with surrendering. Let me share with you a revelation that really changed me.
As I began to be honest with God about my marriage, I started to realize that for a long time I had questioned God’s unconditional love for me. I had always felt that I didn’t quite measure up. I was good, but not good enough; pretty, but not pretty enough; smart, but not smart enough; a good mother, but not good enough. You fill in the blank —I was just not worthy of God’s unconditional love. I knew God loved me, but I thought I could help Him love me even more if I did something to deserve His love. I finally sensed God saying, Stop striving. Just receive the gift of My love for you. You’re My child. I created you so I could love you and you could love Me. God’s unconditional love, so different from human love, isn’t dependent on anything about us. It’s just who God is.
God wants us to get His love settled in our hearts for once and for all. He wants us to be absolutely sure we can never add to or subtract from His love. He loves us because we are His children. First John 4:16 tells us that we have to believe God loves us because God is love: “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love.“
Once we believe in God’s unconditional and personal love, we can trust Him and surrender everything in our love, we trust Him and surrender everything in our lives to Him, including our marriages. God’s love will transform us, and we’ll love our husbands out of the well-spring of love God has put in us by His Spirit.
The above article comes from the book What a Husband Needs from His Wife, written by Melanie Chitwood, published by Harvest House Publishers. In this book, author Melanie Chitwood reveals why the best thing you can do for your relationship with your husband is to focus on your walk with God and let Him transform you and your marriage. As Melanie, herself says about this book: “Perhaps you’re thinking, ‘You don’t know what kind of marriage I’m in! You don’t know what a jerk my husband can be! You don’t know all the awful things he’s said and done to me!’ No, I don’t know about your marriage, but be assured that God knows everything about you, your husband, and your marriage. Nothing is too difficult for Him. No situation is beyond His loving hands and healing touch. …As you read this book, be careful not to think of it as a self-improvement plan. Anything based on fixing or changing our marriages in our own strength is missing the point. A self-improvement plan focuses on self. By surrendering our marriages, however, we are putting our faith in God. As you read the ideas to apply to your marriage, ask the Holy Spirit to show which actions and attitudes your husband needs, and ask God to reveal ideas not mentioned. God knows you and your husband. He knows the transformation your marriage needs.”