The Best Marriage I Never Wanted

I love Revive Our Hearts.  God has used this ministry to change my life and bring peace to my heart through the teaching of the Word of God.  I have yet to find a better ministry dealing with Biblical womanhood in such a God-centered, balanced, and humble way.

A few months ago I was surprisingly given the opportunity to become a contributor to the Revive Our Hearts blog, called True Woman.  (Umm… to say I was excited is a serious understatement.)  What a sweet gift this has felt like from my Heavenly Father to allow me to write for a ministry that is so dear to my heart and has been so precious in my own walk with Him.

Sooo… in light of all that, I’d love for you to check out my first post on the True Woman blog titled The Best Marriage I Never Wanted.  While you are there, take some time to read a few other posts or listen to some of the radio programs.

Here’s a excerpt from my post:

I married a humble, godly, romantic man at twenty years old. Did I mention he just happens to have a phenomenal voice and is a gifted songwriter? He writes me songs, loves Jesus like crazy, and because of his music career, we’ve traveled the world together. Every girls’ dream, right? Yet, exactly two weeks into marriage, I wrote this in my journal:

“Why am I so unhappy? So scared and confused?”

Surprised? I was too. Let me explain.

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Closet Pharisee

“Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.  You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?” ~Jesus, Matthew 23: 32-33

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You’d think these words were said to a murderer, or a sexually perverted or promiscuous person, or a thief.  But no, Jesus was speaking to the religious leaders of the day.

Wait, did you catch that… Jesus’s harshest words of judgment are to the religious leaders of the day.  This should cause the ears of this religious church girl to perk up and listen.  Why such harsh words?  And what did these religious people do to merit such severe judgment?  And how do I make sure I am truly following Jesus and not the path of these anti-Jesus religious people?  These are questions I should have asked in my early years of following Jesus.

Even though I fell in love with Jesus early in my life, there grew an inward bent of my soul, slowly and stealthily, that was hardly noticeable.  I’m not sure exactly how it started.  Maybe it was the subconscious joy I found in the acclaim of people in being such a “good Christian.”  Maybe I couldn’t help but notice how much “better” I was than my peers.  Somewhere along the way, I began to delight in my good works more than the work of Jesus.  My heart started to reflect that of a Pharisee more than Jesus.

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14)

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14)

No matter how it started, a root of pride began to grow in my heart and for years it was watered with the praise of others and my own comparison to my peers.  I became really good at “being a Christian.” In the morning, I trusted my ability to have a good quiet time and memorize scripture.  In the evening, I found peace in my “maturity” to worship with hands raised.  I no longer needed Jesus as my savior.  My good deeds had become my functional savior.  I knew the right words to say, the right things to do to look like the best Jesus-follower out there.

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The Myth of “The One”

“I think he might be the one!”

Aren’t we all waiting to get to that moment in a relationship? There is this concept that has been propagated through an abundance of romantic comedies as well as our American Christian culture that we all have one perfect soul mate out there somewhere. But I want to propose that this idea of “the one” is a myth and is an idea that is actually bringing more harm than good to those who embrace it.

First, let’s talk about what I mean when I say “The One.” There is a right way and a wrong way to view this. As Christians, we know that Psalm 139 says “all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Because God is aware of what will happen throughout the course of our life, he obviously knows who we will marry if we get married. This is 100% Biblical and a correct way to think. If this is how you see “the one,” then this article is not for you. But there is another, more common way that “the one” is viewed that is not Biblical. It defines the one as the singular other human on the planet who can complete you, satisfy all your longings, and the only one with whom you can have a successful marriage. We see this concept in movies like Jerry Maguire (the famous “You complete me” line), and Twilight (“You’re my only reason to stay alive.”). This concept of “the one” is what I am dealing with in this article. The idea of hoping in one person to complete and satisfy you might not seem that bad on the surface, but underneath it results in numerous problems in marriage and singleness.

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The Influence of a Woman

Before I get into my topic for today, I wanted to give you a brief update on my blog.  Because I think it is incredibly important to be purposeful in everything you do, I recently wrote about the purpose of my writing and this blog.  You can check it out here: “No Apologies.”  In that post I had asked for any topic suggestions or questions that you had for me.  After reading through the responses I received, I’ve decided to write about some of those things in the coming weeks.  Here are some posts to be on the look out for:

  • Becoming a Jesus-Follower: My testimony
  • A Day in the Life: My life being married to a recording artist
  • The Sabbath: The forgotten command
  • Sharing Your Faith: How to live a lifestyle of evangelism
  • How to Encourage Others Effectively
  • Dating & Marriage: The purpose of romance in the believer’s life
For today however, I wanted to write about the powerful influence of a woman.  I am currently reading through 2 Chronicles and am greatly enjoying it!  I have learned so much through studying the history of the Israelite people in Kings and Chronicles and strongly encourage you to read straight through these books if you never have. (This is actually my first time to read straight through them!)

 

Chapter 21 describes the reign of King Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat, grandson of Asa.  Jehoshaphat, though not perfect in his reign, was known for how he sought after the Lord.  He was humble and trusted in God in moments of adversity.  And Asa, his grandfather was also a man who sought after the Lord and trusted God in hard times.  With such a rich spiritual heritage, I expected Jehoram to follow in their footsteps.  But to my surprise, this chapter starts out with Jehoram killing all his brothers as soon as he became king.  It doesn’t even give a reason why he did this.  He also led the people of Judah astray by enticing them to worship other gods (v. 11).  So what happened to Jehoram?  How did a guy with such a great start to life turn out so bad?

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A Greater End

Twelve-twenty a.m. is probably way too late to be starting a blog, but I can’t seem to get this topic off my mind and have been aching to write about it for a couple months now. (Thank you faithful blog readers for your patience by the way.) So give me grace as I work through this topic in an exhausted yet caffeinated state of mind.

Jimmy & Lively

I love being a wife and a mother. Investing in a family is what I have always wanted to do with my life. I consider it my primary ministry to serve these two wonderful blessings pictured to the left. I am constantly researching ways I can improve in these roles, whether it be learning how to help my teething daughter or how to create a more welcoming atmosphere for my husband to come home to. This is my job and I love it! But to what end am I seeking excellence in these roles? Is it because that’s what I’m supposed to do? Or because Scripture calls me to consider others as better than myself? I know that God values my roles as wife and mother, so maybe that is why I am supposed to strive to be good at them. Maybe it’s simply because I love my husband and daughter and serving them is a natural response.


Though all those things are good reasons, there is still a greater end than this. It is simply and decidedly the GLORY OF GOD. The end goal of excellence as a wife and a mom should be THE GLORY OF GOD. I know this sounds like your classic Sunday school answer, but don’t check out. What does it really mean to do something for the glory of God? The Word glory literally means “heavy” or “weighty” in the Hebrew. To bring God glory means to give weight to Him, in a positive sense. If something is weighty, you don’t take it lightly. Rather, you have to seriously consider it and deal with it. In the same way, by bringing God glory, I give weight to Him and cause others to take Him more seriously and to have a more positive view of Him than they did before. This is bringing glory to God. And this is the reason I should seek to be excellent in my roles as a wife and a mother.

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On the road again…

View from the stage

It’s 7:30am on a Sunday morning and I have already left Massachusetts, driven into Connecticut, flown into Washington DC, and am now on a flight to Houston. You know you’re on the road with the band when you have already been in 3 states before 8am. Last night was the first of many concerts Jimmy will be doing with Acquire the Fire, a conference whose purpose is to ignite a movement of students who are passionate about Jesus. With multiple bands, speakers, drama teams, hundreds of staff and volunteers and thousands of students, it was quite an event! I am grateful that I was able to join the guys for this concert in Amherst, MA.


A lot of you know that I used to travel with Jimmy all the time. Our first 2 1/2 years of marriage I was Jimmy’s road manager, merchandise manager, violinist, and for a time, his general manager. I loved this time we had to travel together and will never forget the great memories we have from those early years. But when the opportunity arose for me to take a full time position in our church’s high school ministry, I couldn’t pass it up. Now, joining my husband on his worldwide travels is a much more infrequent occurrence.

Blake, Tim, Jimmy, Josh, Chasen

 

One of my favorite things about being on the road is seeing Jimmy’s ministry and calling in action. I love being able to pray for him during his set and hear the excellence of his music in action. He is passionate about the Gospel and it is evident in every song and every word. Another joy of traveling is just being around the guys again. Through years of traveling together in vans, buses, and planes, Jimmy’s band have become like brothers to me. All of them are such godly men of character and integrity and are an absolute joy to be around. Though you probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you how ridiculously goofy they are when they get together. It always keeps me laughing! (By the way, you can follow Jimmy’s band on twitter by clicking on their names: Tim, Josh, Chase, Blake. I think they’ll keep you laughing too.)



As I was preparing to leave for this weekend, I began thinking about what it means to be a help to my husband on the road. In the past, running merchandise and road managing was the way that I helped. Now that I don’t have any of those same responsibilities, I tend to feel helpless and out of place when I’m on the road with him. In past shows, I have been a distracting and attention-demanding wife due to my lack of purpose. Not wanting to carry on that inappropriate habit, I began thinking through my role as Jimmy’s wife a few days before leaving with the purpose to be a bit more proactive in my approach to this weekend.

During the concert

 


When I think about what it means to be a wife, the word ezer comes to my mind. This is the Hebrew word used of Eve in Genesis 2 when she is described as Adam’s helper, or help-meet. A very dynamic and telling word, ezer is used only twice of woman and is most commonly used of describe God. “I life my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord the Maker of Heaven and earth.”(Psalm 121:1-2) “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) Both of these verses use ezer in the Hebrew. As I have studied every other place in the Old Testament where this word is used, amazing new meaning arises for what it means to be a helper to your husband. The use of this word in the scriptures brings to life the sense of protection, strengthening, and life-giving encouragement it was meant to convey. To be a help to your husband is so much more than simply housework. It is the vital role of strengthening and enabling him to do what God has called him to do while becoming a place of encouragement and protection for him when that calling gets rough. It is a great honor and privilege to play such a critical and indispensible role.


As I contemplated these things in preparation for this trip, I began to ask myself: how can I be this kind of help to my husband when I have no actual role to play on the road? I started by eliminating what I should not do. I am not helping when I am demanding his attention throughout the course of the day. (Yes, I tend to think Jimmy should always be paying attention to me when I’m with him. I mean, I am his wife right?) Though they might not look like anyone else’s, Jimmy’s workdays consist of sound-checks, twitter postings, band meetings, prayer time, concerts, autograph signings, and meet-and-greets. And when I become a distraction to these things, I cease being helpful. So this trip, I brought a few things to work on to alleviate my tendency to need to be the center of attention.


A second way I can practically be an ezer is by simply being a servant to Jimmy and his band. It may be getting extra waters, helping sell merchandise, filming the show, or simply holding open doors.


Lastly, being a help to my husband is sometimes simply being available to him. Whether he needs encouragement, good company to eat dinner with, someone to pray with or bounce ideas off of, or just a listening ear, I long to be for him a place of refuge and comfort.


All in all, I felt like this trip was a successful one in those respects. I effectively stayed out of the way to let the guys do their thing, while serving and providing help to them as needed. I love the privilege I have in being an ezer to my husband! I believe this is my highest calling and most important ministry, second only to growing my relationship with God. I was created to play a vital role in my husband’s ministry and calling and there is such joy in doing just that.



More thoughts on this weekend coming soon…

Day 7 – Giving Up Control

It’s been exactly one week since Jimmy left and I am just astounded at the wonderful things the Lord has been teaching me! I am full of gratitude today as I consider the great work He is doing in my heart. I am only sad it has taken me so long to willingly open up my heart to His gentle correction.


I paused in the middle of my prayer time today to sit back and listen to the instrumental song playing in the background: the old hymn “Trust and Obey.” Jimmy and I both greatly enjoy hymns because of their great theological lyrical content and I couldn’t help but just meditate on the words as the melody played on.

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.



This week has been an act of laying it all on the alter and truly seeking to have a heart that is trusting and obedient to the Lord in every aspect of my life. It was as I meditated on this hymn that I felt God bring to my attention an area in my life that has not come fully under the trust and obedience of Him: submitting to authorities. As a believer, and specifically as a woman, the call of submission is of upmost importance. 1 Peter 2:13 calls me to “submit myself for the Lord’s sake to every human institution” while Ephesians 5:21 says that a product of being filled with the Spirit is “submitting to other believers in reverence for Christ.” It is a call placed on me as a believer and follower of Christ: to have a heart that is submissive.

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A woman who hopes in God

Day 10.


Today is day 10 of being home by myself. These long weeks of doing life at home without Jimmy are usually challenging to me. But this week more than usual. In addition to a challenging week at work preparing for a mission trip, Jimmy has also had a very time-consuming schedule on the road. Top that with bad phone signal, and that’s a recipe for poor communication and misunderstandings.


My continuous prayer throughout this week has been “Help me be a woman who hopes in God.” This prayer was instigated by a John Piper sermon on 1 Peter 3. “For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves…” 1 Peter 3:5. These holy women of old, who we are to look up to and model our lives after have only one defining characteristic: they hoped in God!! John Piper went on to say that the strongest and most defining characteristic of Biblical womanhood is simply that: hope in God. Not hope in a husband, not hope in a job, or friends, or family. But hope in a sovereign and faithful God!

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Life After Marriage

God wants to be first in our lives over all other relationships for many good reasons. Little did I know that I would revisit this issue in marriage.


When I was single I was either satisfied with God or wasn’t satisfied at all. I didn’t have a spouse or boyfriend to give me the love I was seeking outside of God. It forced me to seek God because He was the only one around. I didn’t have the option of receiving love from anyone but God. Many single people struggle to find their fulfillment in God instead longing for a spouse. Often we believe that when married, this struggle will be over- but this is a huge lie. If we already struggle with God being enough for us when we are single, then it gets worse when we are dating or married. Now there is someone to take His place, someone who can give us some kind of love when we aren’t receiving it from God. It has become dangerous because it’s EASIER for us to be ok without God (that’s a scary thought) because there is someone else’s love available for us to choose first.

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My First Love – Part 4 of 4

This process of forsaking my idols of marriage and returning to my first love and learning to call God ’Husband’ instead of ’Master’ has powerfully changed my life. I am a more passionate follower of Jesus who is not burdened by the commands of the Bible, but ecstatic about them, and I have a healthier view of marriage and relationships.

The Lord changed me tremendously after I returned to Him in September 2005. The months following the surrender of my “love life” were some of the most freeing, exhilarating, and joyful times in my life! I fell more in love with Jesus than I ever have before and my relationship with Him deepened in new ways that I didn’t know were possible. Instead of always looking for my future husband, I began looking for God and waiting for Him to reveal more of Himself each day. I never really thought about whom I was going to marry again. I knew that God would show me what to do in every situation.

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