Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV
Like I mentioned in Part II, God was only laying the foundation for some major heart change in my life, when he made himself the central figure of my life. Of course, my strength had to come from him in order to withstand such change, and for it to be real.
After realizing that nothing, absolutely nothing, could come in the way of my relationship with God, he started to show me sin my life that would hinder that all-important relationship if it was not taken care of. I think if a human did that, it would be considered manipulation. But, thankfully, the perfect, all-knowing God only has our best interests at heart, so we can trust him entirely, in process and product.
The first area he showed me was my lack of respect for my husband. Now Scripture is very clear that a wife is to respect her husband. VERY clear. And I knew that. But, I'm lousy at pretending, and I did not 'respect' him in an emotional way. So what was a girl to do? Well, just what I did of course-nothing. It worked for years, until I realized that it was going to get in the way of my relationship with God. You see, before this, I didn't really care. I guess I just didn't have that real relationship with the Lord, so giving it up really didn't mean much. But once you've tasted it, oh man, it's addictive. And I wasn't willing to give it up, even if it meant lowering my pride and figuring out how to respect my husband.
So, I did what I do whenever I'm faced with an obstacle-I read. And read and read and read. And talked, and talked and talked (thanks Carrie and Robin). Two things I'm very good at. :) But I was taken aback by the results-nothing. Absolutely nothing. No respect came. I tried. I pretended. I said the right words. I acted the right way. And I realized, at some point, that it wasn't working. Usually all my reading helped me to figure things out. But not this time.
Finally, I threw my hands up in defeat and told my husband the truth. 'I'm sorry I don't respect you. I know I'm supposed to. I know it's a sin not to, but I've tried and tried, and I just can't.'. Lucky for me he took it really well. Obviously it was just me stating the truth, not telling him something he didn't already know.
For two years I prayed, asked questions, looked for answers and cried. It was the first time that I felt truly helpless. I was used to being superwoman. Finding a problem, and then finding a solution. But this time, it just wasn't working.
And God finally got through to me, that I could not change myself. That there is no good thing in me, and all good comes from him, and through him. I now realize that the reason for that is so he gets all the glory. But that lesson came later.
So I submitted to him. I said 'God, you told me to respect my husband, and I can't do it. I need your help to obey you.' Weird. I always thought God expected me to obey him. Period. But I was starting to realize that great lesson of the saints. That we are nothing apart from him. And all things, ALL things come from him. Even the ability to love and obey him.
Talk about mind boggling! And humbling, and maddening.
But, it came. At some point, after a few years of letting go, I looked back and realized that 'Hey, I respect my husband, I really do!'. And it wasn't from my own doing. I couldn't. I wasn't capable. It was only Christ in me, that was able to do so.
But it was subtle, oh so subtle. All of my reading and thinking and studying came into play. I did what I was supposed to, simply because I was supposed to, and eventually, my heart followed.
I was scared to death of consequences, but the Lord showed me that the thing he expected of me was to obey him, by obeying and respecting my husband. Any consequences that came from that, he would help me deal with. But he did expect me to play my part. And the heart truly did follow.
Now, I can't decide if my husband has changed and I just naturally respect him. Or if I have changed and can naturally respect him. Or, if we have both changed. I have a sneaking suspicion though, that God used my willingness to obey, and that all-important respect, to help my husband to grew in the Lord. So, we met somewhere in the middle. Now THAT is being a true helpmeet! And he, for the record, agrees.
But remember, all of this started with my daily communing with God and being willing to do anything necessary to keep those communication lines open.
And that, my friends, was the beginning of the end. Or the end of the beginning. Or the middle of the road. Or heck, maybe even a mid-life crisis. I am 33 after all.
Finally, next time, I should get to the whole parenting thing, and how God changed my heart there. But he had to start with my relationship with my husband before he could work on anything else. As that is so foundational to parenting.