As a formerly dominant/controlling wife – I can tell you that I had one primary motivation for those 15 years of our marriage – FEAR. BIG FEAR.
A GLIMPSE INSIDE MY SOUL BACK THEN
I was TERRIFIED about so many things all the time. I was consumed with worry every day. I was anxious. I knew what I thought needed to happen for things to be “ok.” I saw myself as sovereign – I had myself as trying to be in control of my life and everyone’s around me. I felt all the weight of my family and marriage and the world on my shoulders. I saw myself as HUGE spiritually. I saw my husband as small and weak emotionally/spiritually. I saw God as so tiny and impotent. I felt overly responsible for myself and everyone else. So I believed in my soul that if I didn’t make things happen “right” there was no one else who would ensure that everything worked out properly. That’s a LOT of pressure. Trying to control things that you actually can’t control creates an enormous amount of stress and anxiety.
What I was doing was committing idolatry. I set myself up as god of my life. It wasn’t a conscious thing. But that was how I lived. I had very little understanding of God’s sovereignty, His might, His greatness, His abilities, His being God – over MY life. Not just that He was sovereign over countries and galaxies – but over MY life. I would have said that I believed God was sovereign. But that is not how I acted. I acted as if it ALL depended on ME. THAT IS SCARY! And, of course, it’s impossible for me to control life. Thankfully! But trying to have control – it was all an illusion. The more I tried to be in control, the less control I really had over others or even myself.
FEAR OF SO MANY THINGS
I was afraid of:
- my husband dying before we could get married, or dying soon after we got married, or dying soon and leaving me to be a young widow
- my husband not loving me anymore
- horrible illnesses/health problems
- me dying and leaving my children motherless
- my children dying
- my children not becoming believers in Christ
- money problems
- retirement funding
- where our country was headed, would there even BE the United States in a few years?
- making mistakes
- hurting/killing someone as a pharmacist or in a car accident
- doing something wrong as a mom to mess up my children
- my husband’s sin and mistakes
- not doing things just right
- jeopardizing my children’s emotional/physical/spiritual health
- and lots and lots of unending other things
I was ALWAYS running some problem/conflict/fear through my head all the time. I couldn’t turn it off. I WANTED to turn it off. But it was like an audio tape that just played OVER and OVER and OVER. It was overwhelming. I didn’t know how else to be.
If my husband was 15 minutes late coming home from work – I would be completely paralyzed with fear that he was dead in a wreck somewhere. I would play worst case scenarios through my head constantly. It was depressing! And I would think, “NO! Don’t let THAT happen! My world would fall apart! It would NOT be ok! PLEASE, GOD! Keep him alive!”
All that worry – and almost always for nothing.
The worry and fear I had showed how far I was from faith and from understanding Who God is, and it showed how much I thought everything was under my own control.
“JUST DON’T WORRY!”
People would say that to me – and I would just look at them blankly because I had no idea how not to worry. It sounded like a wonderful concept. I longed to be able to stop worrying. I was insanely jealous of my husband’s ability to be calm and at peace and not worry. But I had some deeply rooted idols in my heart that I didn’t even know about. So it wasn’t as easy as “just stop worrying.” I had to identify:
- the extreme amount of pride in my heart – that I actually believed I knew better than God and that I thought I was sovereign over my life, not Him.
- the idols of trying to be in control of myself and everyone else and God
- the reality that trying to have control was an illusion and that I didn’t really have control.
- that God was big enough to lead me through my sinful husband.
- that if God really wanted me to do something, He would get me the message somehow – and it would probably come through my husband. I wasn’t going to miss out on God’s will for me if I was submitting to my husband.
- that if my husband did make me sit and wait for weeks, months or years and didn’t lead me somewhere at 60 mph constantly – it would be ok. I can trust God to lead me and waiting is ok. That was HUGE! I HATED waiting. I was VERY, VERY IMPATIENT. I was always running ahead, trying to pull God and my husband along. That didn’t work well.
- that God was MUCH, MUCH, MUCH bigger than I had understood before. And that He is truly all-powerful, sovereign, mighty, and all-knowing even in my personal life and marriage, even over my husband, even over my children.
- how VAST God’s love for me is.
I HAD TO WORK THROUGH MY DEEPEST FEARS
I had to hash out all of this stuff with God and scripture. It took time. It was hard. It was humbling. It was painful. It was terrifying at first. I began to obey God even when I was afraid. At first, trying to follow my husband and not be in control felt like I was flinging myself off of a cliff.
But then… everything was ok. Hmm. That was surprising! The more I practiced respecting my husband and allowing him to be in charge – I began to experience deep, supernatural peace every day. WOW! That had NEVER happened to me before! What an incredible blessing! Why on earth did I live the way I did before? How could I have been so blind?
So I worked through all my deepest fears. And I came to the place where I could actually say, “Your will, not mine, be done, Lord!” I had to come to that place of submission to God BEFORE I was really able to submit to my husband. I had to understand that I was cooperating with my husband’s leadership out of obedience and reverence for Christ – not ultimately out of respect for my husband. The KEY was my relationship and trust and faith in Christ. I learned to ultimately trust HIM – THEN I was able to trust Him to work through my man. I had to learn in that order.
I even got to the place where I could say, “I want Your whole, total, full will for me, my husband, our marriage, our children and our lives – whatever that is. I hold nothing back from You. I trust You with EVERYTHING. I don’t want to miss one thing You desire to give me or do through me!”
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. I John 4:16-18
I eventually was able to say to God:
- You know when my husband, my children will die and how. You have that in Your loving hands. Thank You for the incredible gift of their presence in my life so far and for the priceless gift of today. You know so much better than I do what is best and how to bring the greatest glory for Yourself in my life and my family’s life. I trust You with this. If and when it happens, I know You will be here with me to take care of me, love me, strengthen me and provide for me. I know it will hurt, but I know You will never abandon me.
- You know when I will die – and I trust You to know best and to handle that and be with me every step of the way. I trust You to provide for my children and to give them someone who loves You to raise them in Your ways. Teach me to number my days and see each precious moment as a gift to share with those I love today!
- If I lose my job or my husband loses his job – I trust You to provide for us and work things out.
- If our country comes under Your wrath and collapses – I trust You to provide for us and our children and seek Your greatest glory.
- If I get cancer or some awful disease – I trust You to use it for my good and Your glory and to draw people to You.
- If our house burns down – I trust You to use that to accomplish Your purposes.
- If there is an awful disaster – I trust You to use it for good.
- This works on the little things, too. If I know God is sovereignly orchestrating my life, I can trust that He will bring good even from little inconveniences and annoyances and when my plans don’t work out just right. I trust that He is protecting me from harm, or lining up a divine appointment for me to meet with someone unbeknownst to me. So I look forward to each moment and hour with anticipation, looking for all that God is doing around me and in me.
I haven’t been severely tested with these things yet – just some minor tests here and there so far. But I am willing to put my life and myself on the altar every day and crucify my own desires and give up my life for His will. I don’t ask God to send me death, disease and destruction. But I know that I will be tested in my faith during my lifetime – maybe today – and that’s ok. What I am going to share with you may seem impossible to believe. But I am at peace about all of the things that used to paralyze me with fear. I know and have tasted the goodness of God’s love. His Spirit is filling me every day. His peace floods my soul. I know I am His. I feast on His Word every day. As long as He is with me, the darkest valley is full of light. My heart is full of praises for Him. This life is an adventure and He is directing my steps. I trust Him – even if it means suffering, even if it means pain, even if it means death. I am at peace with the unknown because I know that my Lord is going before me and will work all things for my good because I love Him. I see how much greater His wisdom is than mine. I don’t want my own way anymore. My own way leads to destruction. I want God’s narrow way that leads to abundant life.
Now, I truly do have a gentle and quiet (calm, still) spirit that is of great worth in God’s sight and I do not give way to fear. That is all God’s doing. And it really is such a beautiful thing! How I thank and praise Him in amazement at all He has done and is doing in me. And how I pray that you might also be able to experience His incredible peace, joy, purpose and power in your life, too!
I pray that we might know Your love more and more. I pray that You might help us to see our idols and tear them down and uproot them. I pray that we might set You firmly on the throne of our hearts as God. I pray that Your perfect love might cast out all fear, and that we might delight in You and seek Your will above our own with great joy and anticipation of all that You are planning to do in our lives!
In Christ’s Mighty Name,