First Step to Get Your Heart Right in a Messy Marriage And Linkup

The continual mending of my messy marriage can be traced back to one foundational shift in my life that created a cascade of other important and healing choices. Ultimately this had everything to do with my heart in relation to God.

So with that in mind, I’m going to begin a new series that will unpack the spiritual and relational steps I’ve taken over the years that have consistently encouraged me in life and marriage.

Heals my Heart and Marriage

Today I want to focus on the “Know” part of this journey.

When I was a young girl of about six years of age, God slowed my heart and focus enough for me to realize that I wanted a relationship with God through salvation. I say it that way because I think that an unbeliever can relate to God on many levels. They can even love and serve him, yet not really be “in relationship” with Him or receive His salvation.

There are a lot of people who refer to this spiritual transaction as having a “personal relationship with Christ.” But the Bible never uses that terminology. When people say it that way, I think they’re trying to convey the surrender and intimacy of placing one’s faith in the Lord, rather than simply being religious.

But that might leave you questioning your salvation. I think it’s entirely possible that your relationship might not immediately feel very “personal” or intimate.

You might even feel like you’ve fallen for a bait and switch scheme—especially if your life continues to be fraught with trouble and injustices. That’s because . . .

Consider this . . .

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.” ~Philippians 1:29

Here are a few more examples of this harsh truth – Mark 10:43-45, Luke 6:27-31, Luke 9:23-25.

Back to my story . . . I decided (as much as any six-year-old can) to receive Christ at that point. I knew that I’d sinned and wanted the forgiveness He offered me.

But I will tell you, I really struggled with doubts after that for many years. I did all the right things to grow in my faith, but constantly questioned whether I knew what I was doing at that young and tender age.

Of course, I wouldn’t admit my doubts to anyone, which only served to deepen my fears and fire up the doubts that I really didn’t have a relationship with Christ.

It wasn’t until I was in college and dating my then boyfriend (now hubby) that I laid it all out for Gary to hear. He assured me that my heart and life gave evidence of my faith in Christ. That was all it took for me to stand in that truth and reality.

Christ was (and is) my Savior!

I’d felt His movement and conviction in my life all along the way.

I’d just let Satan convince me that that wasn’t enough. 🙁

Which leads me to some questions for you . . .

  • Have you ever acknowledged the sin in your life—knowing it has separated you from God?
  • Do you know and believe that you’re unable to earn your way into God’s good graces?
  • Have you then, through faith and not by works, received His gift of forgiveness and salvation?

If you’ve recognized and done those things, then rest in the truth that You are His!* 🙂

You need this foundation in order to find your way through a messy marriage and life, my friends. Without this essential relationship with Christ, you will feel like a “man overboard” without a life-preserver in the middle of a raging sea.

 

If you’re a Christ-follower, how did you come to that important spiritual crossroads?

 

How has Christ made a difference in improving your marriage and life?

 

*If you’re still uncertain about this all-important decision in your life and/or want to know more, check out my Know God page.

I hope you’ll join me next week as I continue in this series. I’ll be tackling what it means to “slow” yourself so that you can know and grow—finding more fulfillment in life and marriage.

And I’m going to be featured as a guest at Marnie and Friend’s radio show this week. You can listen in to our live conversation on what I’ve learned from the mistakes in my marriage at 3 p.m. (CT) on Wednesday, Feb. 15th or thereafter at that same link.


Here are some lovely linkups I joinChristian Blogger Community, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Writer Wednesday, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, Moments of Hope, Literary Musing Mondays, Fresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday

Let’s Get this ‘From Messes to Messages’ Linkup Started!
Add any links that are uplifting, helpful and encouraging to our spiritual lives, marriages and families! Be sure to add a link on your blog back to “From Messes to Messages” or Messy Marriage as well. For linkup guidelines/button, click here.

Messy Marriage

  • bluecottonmemory

    I dedicated my life to Christ when I was about the same age -and it was life changing. Around 21, I started praying that God would show me how to love him more – and he answered that prayer. I grew up thinking I had to earn through goodness my way into heaven – I couldn’t believe it when I learned that just be believing, I was homeward bound. There wasn’t a goodness/missing it tally board in heaven that would, upon my death, be tallied up and my destination revealed. It was an amazing, liberating day when I found out I had been claimed as his all those years ago! Congrats on being on the radio!!!!

    • Oh yes, Maryleigh! So many people view their faith in that light–like a tally board system. It would be so frightening and burdening to live day-to-day without that sense that God’s already done everything for us on the cross. Very freeing, indeed! Thanks for sharing a bit about your story and for being such a great encourager in my life, my friend! Always blessed to have you in the linkups!

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Beth…like, WOW, dude. What a profound essay!

    I’ll say this, straight. I came to a personal connexion with Christ through your kind mentorship. Though we’ve never met, your willingness to interact with the suspicious and guarded person I was made all the difference…and I mean ALL the difference.

    To wit – you know that my childhood was a few degrees past horrible, and the other day I told Barbara that I hoped to see the people that raised me in heaven, that they’d found salvation in their last seconds of life.

    The old me would never have said that, but me-now means it with all his heart.

    I will see God before you do, my friend, and I will speak to Him of you. Count on it.

    • I’m so grateful that you’ve allowed me to speak into that area of your life, Andrew. It is such an honor, because I know that you do have so many wounds from your past that have made it hard for you to trust others. So I do not take that for granted, one bit!

      What a profound turnabout regarding those who raised you too, Andrew. Hoping that they receive that same gift of salvation as the Lord extends to us is nothing short of miraculous, my friend! And if they do or did come to that understanding and faith, then you probably won’t recognize them in heaven. It will be Jesus that you see in them and not the old and wretched people they were.

      I’m so blessed to hear that you will talk to Jesus about me and our friendship. So when you die, I will be thinking of that as a way to comfort me in the loss of your presence here and in the world. You will be SORELY missed, my friend! I really don’t know how we will go on, except that I do know Jesus will be with us in our sorrows.

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Beth,
    In my first marriage, I married an unbeliever (first wrong step), but convinced myself that he had come to be a believer. He went through all the “steps” if you will like baptism, etc., but his life did not produce any fruit. We ALL still struggle with sin after becoming believers, but are called to work out our salvation by putting away sinful behaviors in Christ’s strength. This is the part that never happened. Mental and emotional abuse continued and infidelity tempted and won several times. The second time around, being equally yoked with a believer was a non-negotiable for me. It’s hard enough to navigate the choppy waters of marriage, but if you BOTH don’t have Christ as your Captain and lifesaver, to me, it seems to become virtually impossible. In order for both my husband and I to grow as a couple, with both individually have to work at having our hearts right with God. Great and thought provoking post.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • Yes, Bev, it’s easy to let “love” cloud our view when dating or marrying. That fruit must be present somewhere along the line or you just have to assume that the “branch” is not part of the “Vine.” And yes, it’s easy as believers to coast and never really learn to work out our salvation too. But I always feel like there’s a spark of life in a believer that you never see in an unbeliever who is trying to work their way into God’s graces OR fool others into believing they are a Christ-follower for whatever reason.

      And you are so right about the difficulty of not marrying a believer. Life and marriage is hard enough with two believers who still sin and offend one another, much less the division that a couple feels when they do not both know the Lord. I’m so glad that you’ve found that right guy and are both seeking the Lord in your marriage. What a difference that can make! Thanks for your sweet encouragement, my friend! Always great to have you in the linkup!

  • I’ve been in this following life for decades, but I don’t think we ever outgrow our need to come back to the basics and reaffirm our belief. Maybe I’m an anomaly, but I occasionally have bouts of atheism — they don’t last because I don’t feed them, but it makes me aware of my need to stay close to the Truth all the time.

    • Yes, you’re right, Michele. It is important to revisit the basics, especially here at my blog. I don’t want to spout about marriage issues or offer communication techniques, etc without first saying that God is the foundation of it all. I’m glad that you’ve been able to overcome those doubts. And yes, staying close to the Lord and His truth is so essential in life and marriage. Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend!

  • I love this post. I too gave my life to Jesus at a very young age and it’s amazing to me how much the enemy likes to try to bring people into your life to discount that heart transformation “Oh you were so young, how could you have possibly have understood Jesus.” And now (in my mind at least) I’m always like, “let me tell you about this thing called election…” *wink wink* I love that you lay your heart out for us every week girl. That you say “Hey, I talk about marriage, but let me tell you, I don’t have it all together, I’m not perfect. But Jesus, He is and has done some incredible things in my journey so far…” I love that God has placed you in people’s lives as a counselor and a pastor’s wife, as a friend and sister in Christ and that you’ve been given this passion and this knowledge to really go forth and help people see that they need to admit their own failings in order to find their way to a healthy marriage. Sanctification is a long process and a continuous one and when people find someone that crosses their path who can be so open and honest about the need to bring it all to the Cross, it’s a breath of fresh air. YOU are a breath of fresh air my friend. Love you! 🙂

    • I remember reading about your testimony at your blog, Nicki. It’s one that is so amazing, given your parent’s addictions and faulty beliefs. I can totally understand why you were challenged by others in your decision to follow Christ. And you are so plain-spoken and open about your beliefs and convictions. That’s one of the things I like best about you!

      Your affirmations of me, Nicki, bless me so! I will have to keep them somewhere and reflect on them when I get down and don’t think my love for the Lord or the ministry I try to do here is making a difference. Thank you so much for being someone who loves me in ways that I truly need at times. Btw, words of affirmation is my love language! ha! You truly are one in a million, girlfriend!

  • Beth, I have a few aha moments in my faith journey. But I feel a chapel service when I was in middle school sealed the deal fro me. I didn’t struggle with doubts of my salvation, but I did walk the aisle many times to be sure. After someone told me it only took one time to be born again, I believed them. My son did struggle with assurance for a while. I think his personality played a role in his unrest.

  • Mary

    Thank you for sharing your testimony of faith. I was baptized as a baby and the decision was made by my parents. I was a “believer” my whole life, not always understanding what that meant. I knew God and went to church but my relationship with God didn’t start until ten years ago. I love that now I know love and what it means to give and receive grace. My heart’s desire is to know God better. I do feel there was a lot of wasted time along the way but God is the Author of my story and He knew that it needed to unfold just the way it did.

  • Thanks for sharing some of your testimony. I’m sure many people can relate to those doubts, especially if they came to Christ at a young age. Blessings on your radio broadcast. Praying it goes well! Thanks for hosting. Have a great week!

  • Thanks for linking up on Mondays @ Soul Survival, Beth!

  • Christin Baker

    Beth, I’m looking forward to you new series. Thank you for pouring out your wealth of wisdom from the lessons you have learned in your own marriage! I was also blessed to know Christ at a young age. Even though children may not understand the intricacies of what their salvation means, one thing I always knew: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!” So glad you found peace and freedom in knowing that you are forever His! Looking forward to hearing your interview! 🙂

  • Susan

    Yes, yes, and yes! xo

  • pioneerpat1

    Super interesting. I didn’t think that God loved me until I was in my 30’s. It is long story, even though I went to church and learned some stuff when I was a kid, I didn’t God gave a squat about me. I have learned that he does and even though I can be a :Doubting Thomas” at times, I have learned that God does love me.

  • The moment I decided to obey God in my life and marriage things began to turn around. I began to relax and enjoy peace that I couldn’t find in trying to fix my life and marriage ny myself.
    Looking forward to this series Beth, we all need it no matter where we’re at in our marriages.
    Do have a super blessed day!
    Love

  • Brandi Tesreau

    Thanks for sharing at Literacy Musing Mondays and for being so real. Doubting salvation is such a bummer. I hate it when I have doubts. I, too, believe that Satan tries to make me think that repentance and faith in Christ aren’t enough. But they are!

  • Great assurances today, Beth!

  • Dear Beth

    Nice writing!

    Ok, your questions:

    – Acknowledging sin and receiving forgiveness (Qs 1 & 3). Are they things you do just once and then it’s done? I seem to be doing both quite often. Also, receiving forgiveness feels a lot harder than acknowledging sin for some reason.

    – I know I can’t “work” my way into Heaven (Q 2) and I don’t think of my journey as following rules in order to get a reward. When I am in the Christian groove, the “works” (and the avoidance of sin) seem to come naturally. So should we stop worrying about sin, and have faith that it will fall away as we get better at following Christ?

    – I started thinking of myself as a Christian quite recently at a very High Church service called Compline (evening of Weds, 3rd of August 2015! Blogged here), although how I got there is a very long story.

    – Two little ways following Christ has improved my marriage: (a) when I listen to my wife I imagine it is Jesus speaking, or that Jesus is speaking to me through her — this encourages me to pay attention :D; (b) instead of grumbling about household chores, I think of John 9:3 and do them for the glory of God (healing the sick glorifies God, but so does doing the dishes). I am trying to act so that everything I do would glorify God.

    David

    • Thanks, David! You bring up some really great questions. It can be rather confusing!

      God’s forgiveness of us when we receive His salvation is about our position in Christ. We are accepted and adopted into His family and since Christ died for us, God sees the righteousness of His Son when He looks at us. But even though our relationship with God is secure whenever we sin, our “fellowship” is hindered with Him. It’s like my relationship to my sons. They will always be my sons no matter what they do that might hurt our relationship. But if they are acting recklessly, my relationship with them is hindered. In Eph. 4:30 it talks about how we can “grieve the Holy Spirit” which is another way of describing how sin hinders our relationship with God. We’re also urged in 1 John 1:9 to confess our sins, so there’s a continual need to examine our hearts and surrender our sins at the Lord’s feet as believers.

      As far as “feeling the forgiveness” is concerned, that’s pretty normal for many people. We’re our own worst critics, so it’s hard to believe God could possibly forgive us for whatever we’ve done. But that’s really selling God short! I know it’s difficult for you, David, to see the God’s grace and love is bigger than your sin, but it’s absolutely true. Keep on praying that God would open your eyes to the depths of His love and grace and I truly believe He will!

      I would say that we should never lose sight of our propensity to sin. Look at 1 Cor. 6:1-18 for more insight on this. But the fact is, we can never use the grace we have in Christ as a license to sin or to not remain vigilant to guard our hearts and minds. If we are walking closely with the Lord, the Holy Spirit WILL convict us of sin. But we can also become dulled to the Lord’s voice if we’ve allowed a sinful lifestyle to overtake our lives. But you do make an important point–if we keep our eyes on Christ, our sinful desires do lose their power.

      I’ll have to check out your latest blog about your church experience. I don’t have time tonight, but I’ll try to get to it tomorrow.

      I love what you’ve shared about how following Christ has impacted your marriage. it’s really very inspiring way to think and relate. I think of loving Christ whenever my husband is not acting loving. That way I’m assured to extend love to Gary, because my love for the Lord is never in short supply. I also love the way you’re applying John 9:3. You are following the Lord in beautiful ways, my friend!

      • Dear Beth, thank you very much for your reply! I don’t know why I didn’t see it before, my apologies. David