You may have read a heart-wrenching blog post recently, written by a prominent and well-loved ministry leader, announcing that her marriage of 25 years was coming to an end. After learning of her husband’s infidelity and substance abuse, she fought a long, hard, road to try and save their marriage. But in the end, his continued decisions to pursue infidelity and substance abuse ultimately ended their marriage.
I can’t tell you how deep my heart sank upon reading her words. Mostly, my heart sank for her and the unimaginable brokenness and pain that she’s walking through at this time. But then, my heart sank at the reality that so many marriages are falling apart within the Church…right under our noses.
So many people are drowning in difficult, loveless, unhealthy marriages….while we as a body of believers sit back, not knowing what to do.
I know this to be true, because due to the nature of my career and this ministry to which God has called me, I’m immersed in the heart-breaking stories. I receive private messages, read devastating emails, and talk with men and women through the tears of their brokenness on an almost daily basis.
I’ve seen the deep reality that marriage can be the greatest blessing known to man, but in the same breath, it can also be the hardest. It’s something that not many people are speaking about, and my prayer is that God would allow this blog and ministry to be a platform for the hard conversations.
Because if we can’t talk about the hard things, we’ll never be able to overcome them.
If you find yourself struggling within a difficult marriage today, my prayer is that you would be strengthened to move toward healing by taking some important steps:
1 – SHARE: Far too many people are dealing with really hard things – but they’re dealing with them completely alone. Due to the stigma that often comes with “marriage problems” within the church, we don’t often want to share about the struggle until it’s too late – until it’s roots have dug so deep that they’ve caused devastation in our marriages. It’s time for us to break this deadly stigma, and begin to speak up! I challenge you to find someone who cares, and share with them your struggle. Find someone you trust, and invite them into your marriage journey. Then, get enrolled in professional Christian counseling TODAY. Right now. Today. Make the call. Find someone who specializes in marriage, and start the journey. It’s worth every hour and worth every penny. Begin the journey of healing. It’s not an instant-fix. It’s a life-journey. But it can only begin if you’re willing to bring the problems to the surface…because it is only when things are brought to the light that they can be healed.
2 – LEARN: Marriage is a lifelong process of learning, changing, growing, and adapting. We are all a work in progress, and because of that, so is our marriage. I owe the health of my marriage to two things: God’s unrelenting grace and mercy first and foremost, and secondly, the authors, mentors, teachers, and speakers who have spoken wisdom into my life every step of the way. We are so ill-prepared for marriage in the Church.
Marriage is THE ONLY thing in life in which you get a license to do, before you’ve learned how to actually do it. You HAVE TO LEARN ALONG THE WAY if you want to have any chance of succeeding at this thing called marriage. Is that not insane?!?!?!? For this very reason, I’m in the process of writing a new book about marriage, that God put on my heart long ago. I remember when the idea first got planted in my heart, I questioned God. Is this really something that needs to be written? Hasn’t it all already been said? Do I have to talk about all this hard stuff? But, in an act of obedience, I started writing, and God has completely transformed my thinking and opened my eyes along the way. There is SUCH A NEED for one reason and one reason alone: because there is SO MUCH HURT. God led me to write this book because He has a heart for the broken!! And because of this, my heart has been transformed to have that heart, too. And I have personally learned so much along the way. Don’t stop learning. I beg you. No matter what pit you are in today, I pray that God will give you the courage to learn and grow…because the MORE you know, the BETTER you will do.
3- PRAY: No matter who you marry, there’s a good chance that you will one day wonder if you made the right choice. If you’ve hit that point – you need to pray like crazy. If you haven’t hit that point – you, too, need to pray like crazy. If I only knew back then what I know now, I would have been praying for my marriage since I was a small child. We need to cover every ounce of our marriage and every inch of our spouses in prayer. Every day. All the time. Because we are not fighting against flesh and blood! We never were. We’re fighting against the unseen darkness, that wants to destroy our marriages the second our guards are down. But through Christ, we can overcome. Through Christ, we have the strength and courage we need to not only fight the battle – but to WIN the battle. Clothe yourself with your spiritual armor, and pray your heart out for your marriage and your family every single day.
Stories like the one I read today fill my heart with hurt, but then I have to wipe away the tears and remind myself of the countless other stories I have seen and heard in which there was restoration, reconciliation, and redemption.
We serve a God who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine…and I found myself today crying out to my God for the sake of the broken marriages in my church and community, in my country and world.
If you find yourself in a struggling marriage, today, I pray that God would give you a renewed sense of hope to take the necessary steps, and that you would allow yourself to believe that God is able to restore and redeem you and your marriage, from the inside-out.
If you find yourself in a thriving marriage, today, I pray that God would give you a renewed sense of urgency to protect it with everything you’ve got.
God loves marriage, but more so, He loves you. Allow Him to comfort you, to heal you and to transform you from the inside out…and then trust Him with ALL the rest.
Let’s commit to praying for our individual marriage, and for marriages across the world.
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, relationship expert, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. Her newest relationship book is set to be released in the Summer of 2018! You may also recognize her voice from her 200+ articles at Relevant Magazine, Crosswalk.com, and all over the web! She’s the creator of this True Love Dates Blog, reaching over 4 million people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or book a session with her today!