How Grief and Humility Sets You Free And WW Linkup

Grief and Humility

Early on in my marriage, when we were full-throttle in the messes of our own making, the last thing I wanted to do was admit my part in those messes. And the more I ran from taking responsibility and the more I pointed the finger of blame at my husband for “driving me to make those messes,” the more our messiness in marriage grew.

In the last post of the Resurrect Me series—on how to bring our addictions and bad habits to the Lord and leave them there—I want to unpack the important insights from James 4:9-10 today . . .

“Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

As I mentioned earlier in this series (see this post), my marriage messes were ultimately idols and addictions that took over my heart and drove it away from my husband and most importantly from my God.

[Tweet “Some of the addictions in my life could have been overlooked by the casual observer. “]

They were . . .

  1. Letting my devotion and attention to my children trump and overtake my devotion and attention to God and to my husband. This is so very common for young moms, especially ones in challenging marriages! Can you relate?
  2. Focusing addictively on my anger towards my husband. This was ultimately demonstrating that I did not believe God was in control. #majorfaithfail
  3. Running after the affirmation that my accomplishments in motherhood and ministry would bring. At that time a good pat on the back became the proverbial “high” I longed for and addictively sought.
  4. Habitually unleashing my anger on my hubby through arguments and venting could also bring a false sense of control and superiority. This too was intoxicating! #asuglyasitgets

[Tweet “I had to realize that I was destroying my marriage by these sinful habits. #facethesin”]

First of all, I needed to grieve for the way I had hurt my husband and marriage (James 4:9).

I couldn’t blame him any longer. I couldn’t minimize my part. I needed to recognize that my sin was poisoning my marriage. Most importantly, I needed to face the ugliness of how my sin was grieving God.

Secondly, I needed to humble myself before God and my husband—admitting my failures any and every time I sinned in these ways (James 4:10).

So, for example . . .

I began to replace the bitter venting I did in my head whenever my husband did or said something that angered me with humble confession (See that Push Pull Principle at play?).

My confession to my husband looks something like  . . .

“I was hurt by the tone you used with me earlier. And because I love you, I don’t want us to argue. I know that I’ve hurt you by my hateful tone and defensiveness. Will you forgive me?”

My confession to the Lord looks more like . . . 

“Father! Please help me! I am so angry at this man! But he has not done anything more sinful or ugly than I have at one time or another. Both of us are in need of Your grace and mercy, so please take my sinful and angry heart and soften it with Your love and grace. Help me to respond to Gary in caring and humble ways even though that feels like the hardest thing ever right now! But I know that You are walking with me into the fray, Lord! You are the Keeper of my heart! Help me to live out Your love to my husband in this painful moment.”


What doubts do you have about how God can use your grief and humility to set you free from addiction?


What stories can you share with us of how God used your grief and humility to set you free?


[Tweet “Christian bloggers, come join me for another Wedded Wednesday Linkup! #messymarriage”]


I want to give a special shout out to Trinity Community Church in Knoxville, Tennessee who hosted our Connect U. Marriage Workshop this past weekend. We had an incredible time! Thank you so much! 🙂

And if your church would like to host one of our workshops, we are taking local bookings (St. Louis area) for 2016 and out-of-state bookings for 2017. Check out our Connect U website for contact information. Connect U TCC

Joining with my friends at Giving Up on Perfect, A Little R & R Wednesdays, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, Family, Friendship and Faith, DanceWithJesusFriday and Wholehearted Wednesday.

Join our Wedded Wednesday Linkup!
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 Wedded Wednesday or Messy Marriage as well. For Wedded Wednesday guidelines and buttons, click here.

Messy Marriage


  1. Beth, I love how you contrasted how we confess to the Lord with how we humble ourselves with our spouses. God knows our emotions as well as our true hearts and can handle it all. Mere mortals could be blown away by it all! Congratulations on your cool Connect U website!

    • Yes, Debbie, it’s a action-oriented step I take in humbling myself. Though I totally understand the need for a heart change, God knows that I need to act in faith on that heart change or the transformation that humility brings will evaporate. I’ve got to put my actions where my faith is, so to speak! 😉 Thanks so much for your constant encouragement. It means so much to me and know that I am praying for you, girlfriend! I had breast cancer two and half years ago and know how scary that kind of diagnosis (“cancer of any kind”) can be. Hugs to you!

      • Beth, I didn’t know you had gone through that. I’ve felt a sense of dread today about tomorrow. But the Lord has also given me great encouragement that it’s going to be for the good whatever I find out. Thank you for standing with me! It means a lot!

        • Oh yes. It’s hard for me to believe it was 2 and half years ago. But I’m doing really well post treatment and expect that it will serve only to give me greater insight and compassion for those who hear the dreaded “C” word in a doctor’s office. You know I’m going to pray for you, since I can so relate to your situation, girlfriend!

  2. Beth,
    Please tell me HOW you got into my head and my marriage? The only thing I couldn’t relate to was unleashing my anger on him…I’ve always tended to be a “stuffer”… Appreciate your prayers, friend, as I come to terms with facing and overcoming this all – with His help, of course!

    • Ha, ha! Yes, I get that a lot, Pat! Whenever I share about my messy marriage struggles it’s amazing how it resonates with so many women (and probably men too, they just don’t tell me as much!). I’m glad you could relate and that it was helpful to you, my friend! You are a sweet encourager in my life!

  3. Oh my gosh, Beth…where do I start?

    First of all, a major congratulations on the marriage workshop! Look at how the Lord has turned your “mess” into a “message”! I love how He does that.

    Second, this post – all I can say is that every point you mentioned is slaying me. I am (or have been) so guilty of each one. Lord help me! (And I am so glad that He does.) :o)

    Third, I love what you shared about replacing bitter venting with a humble confession – what a profound and POWERFUL principle…one that’s not easily carried out unless one is in step with the Holy Spirit. (Don’t ask me how I know this.) :o)

    Lastly, I so appreciate how you included your confession to your husband. (I have a feeling I will be borrowing it in the future (but I’ll try to switch up the words first so that I can take credit for it). :o)

    Blessings to you, my dear sister. Thanks for the link-up and have a blessed week!

    • Thank you so much, Tiffiney! Your encouragment means a lot. And yes, it is a great blessing to have my messes turned into messages. 😉

      I’m sorry for “slaying you” but I suppose we all need those kinds of friends in our lives, right?! I hope that it also encourages you. The fact that you are so honest about your own messes tells me that you have won half the battle! Your humility is showing! 😉

      I hope you do use what I’ve learned and done here, Tiffiney. It would be my blessing to know that it is getting “paid forward” because that’s how good God has been to me through this all. It’s not mine to keep! Hugs to you!

  4. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser says:

    Great post, Beth. Again, I am sure you’ve helped – and saved – many a marriage with your wise and transparent words, and your Heart of Faith.

    I suppose my addiction is a resentment that while I am locked into a losing fight for life (had to have canine CPR over the weekend when I stopped breathing), my wife is putting some emotional distance between herself and my situation.

    It’s clearly a survival strategy, because there’s little practical help she can offer, but the gulf between our life-paradigms has grown large.

    Handling this through the acceptance of my own grief is not really possible; every day has become enough of a trial that I don’t feel I can afford either internal or external vulnerability. Just keeping up morale is a full-time endeavour, and slipping…well, I may not make it back.

    Humility is there, I think, at least insofar as I understand where she’s coming from, and where I assume she has to be. I’m learning to take loneliness as a given, and as a necessary evil.

    If you’re interested in what the “Oh, crap I can’t breathe” thing felt like, I did write it. The link’s below.

    • Thank you so much for always trying to encourage me even as you struggle with your next breath, Andrew. I truly feel blessed by your friendship and hope that you know that!

      That’s so hard–when your wife distances herself both out of self-preservation and out of practicality. In our workshop this past week I talked about how when marriage gets very messy we tend to look for “escapes” from our mate’s and the pain. This, of course, only serves to bring greater distance into the relationship–the last thing it needs! So I will pray that Barbara recognizes the brevity of your time together and seeks to come close to you rather than escaping that pain. If she doesn’t, you know that the “Lord is close to the brokenhearted”(Ps. 34:18)–so lean into His strong and loving arms!

  5. Hmnnn… Beth. Admitting wrong is very difficult especially when flesh is fed fat. I have had similar experiences and reactions with you, but I am learning to look beyond my husband and I and look unto God.
    I strive to allow pleasing God hem me in and cause me to think, say and do the right things. I do not score all the time but I am getting better and better…
    Many thanks for sharing this series with us, it is blessing us more than you know.
    Do have a super blessed day!

    • Yes, that’s a good point, Ugochi. When we allow our human, carnal nature to take over, we lose our sensitivity to the Spirit. We don’t feel that conviction as strongly as when we are seeking the Lord in our struggles.

      I’m so glad that you are working on these issues alongside me as well. We are all works-in-progress till the day we die. So it’s good to know we’re not alone. And like I said to Tiffiney below, I can tell that you have humility or you would not be so open and honest here in this public forum. So I wholeheartedly agree that you are getting better and better! You go, girl! I do hope your hubby recognizes what a beautiful woman you are inside and out!

  6. Bev @ Walking Well With God says:

    Beth, Oh the blame game. I wouldn’t have done this if you hadn’t done that. We’ve been doing it since Adam blamed Eve and Eve turned around and blamed the serpent. I need to accept responsibility for the things I say and do and not blame them on something my husband said or did. Grieve, mourn, be humble, and accept responsibility…all things I need to work on. Great reminders here this am.

    • You are so right! Isn’t it funny that the very first sin that this first couple did together was blame each other! Makes total sense to me that we would be forever repeating their ugly sin. Thanks so much for adding to our discussion, as well as encouraging me! You’re kindness means a lot!

  7. Oh Beth, I could write a book!!! Thank you for the linkup. xo

    • Ha, ha! Well, maybe you should get on that, Susan! A book idea has been born in my comment section! I feel honored! Thanks for your encouragement, my friend!

  8. My story is one of grief and humility. When my marriage was crumbling, I looked for God in a much deeper way. This is when I began to have a relationship with God rather than just know God. It has made all the difference in my life from that point on. When you lose your spouse, for any reason, there is a sense of grief and coming to grips with the loss. It has been a burden that I have had to lay before God over and over. Thank you for this series and for the perseverance to see it through as well as your transparency in telling your own story.

    • Yes, I know that’s so true of your story, Mary. And that’s exactly right about how God uses every mess and challenge we face in life and marriage to move us toward the healing power of grief and humility. And I do see that humility in you, girlfriend. I hope you know how obvious it is in you! Thanks for being such a great supporter of MM and of my heart! I love seeing you here in this space. 😉

  9. pioneerpat1 says:

    This going to sound weird but I have always tried to responsible and accountable for my actions and I try not to have an ego at work and in my life. Also, I try to live in a humble manner.

    I started doing this after I was trying to blame people for the crappy way I was raised and using that for an excuse for some of my crazy behavior. I came to realize that the people I was trying to blame were six feet under and really didn’t care. I read something that said “What is your part in this” and I thought that I need to change my ways or things will keep going south for the winter

    I try to go by the Al-Alon 12 steps: one of which is: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

    The interesting thing is that by being accountable, responsible and humble is a lonely island. My ex’s family (who quote the bible all the time) still makes fun of me for being that way. I was told by a born-again Christian at work that “being a stand-up guy” is not the way to go, that it makes a bad impression on management. He said that being humble tells management that I have no self-confidence in myself (I work in the public sector).

    Thanks for everything as I am learning a lot.

    • It doesn’t sound weird, Pat. I think I have tried to be that way too, just didn’t always see when I wasn’t doing it. I think that’s part of what is tricky here. I almost always was trying to do all the right things and act in responsible ways back in my very messy marriage days. The thing was, I would get angry about all the stuff I was doing right especially when others around me–including my hubby–didn’t. Then I felt I had the right to get mad about it. And maybe it wasn’t so much that I shouldn’t have felt anger, but I sure shouldn’t have felt morally superior in those situations. That’s where I really went wrong. It became a place where my anger at being mistreated blossomed not just into resentment but into pride.

      I’m so glad you brought up AA. I actually was going to talk about steps 5 through 11 in this post because much of the work you do in those steps are in sync with what James was getting at here with grieving and being humble. But I ended up going another route with this post, though I totally see the value in the 12 steps.

      I’m so sorry for the way you’ve been treated by people who claim to be Christians. They are misguided in their view of Scripture and what it sounds like you are doing–though I don’t know fully what is going on in your situation. I think humility gets a bad rap, but it is a misunderstanding of what is involved in humility. I’ve wanted to do a series on humility for a couple of years but other things have distracted me from that. Perhaps that will be the next direction for a series here. So thanks for stirring the conversation and the direction of my heart, my friend!

  10. This post certainly resonated with me Beth. I’ve been there done that more times than I can count. I blamed my precious husband so many times for my terrible actions. God is humbling me. I am so thankful for His grace!

    • I don’t know whether to say I’m glad it resonated or not! Lol! But I certainly am grateful that I’m not alone in this challenge in marriage, Christy. I’m right there with you being humbled, my friend. Even though it is hard and even painful at times, it is a good place to be. Thanks for your encouragement!

  11. Dear Beth

    > “First of all, I needed to grieve for the way I had hurt my husband and marriage.”

    Thank you for this. Now I am beginning to understand the importance of that verse: of grieving for my sin. Lot of work to do.


    • I’m so glad that it helped to clarify that passage for you, David. I know that Scripture can be rather abstract at times until we are brave enough to put some “flesh and bone” on those acts of faith. Thanks for your constant encouragement. It means a lot and I’m excited for how I see God working in you, my friend!

  12. Right at the start you had me with this, Beth –>’ full-throttle in the messes of our own making.’ Yeah, that sounds about right. We’d much prefer that our messes were someone else’s fault, but more often than not, they are ours to own … and to decide what we want to do with.

    Another great post … and another workshop. YAY! Lucky them …


    • Aww, I’m so glad that you get that and see what I see most of all–that need to deal with my own junk (plank or whatever), Linda. I actually feel sorry for those who do not know the freedom that grief and humility can bring. It’s so uplifting when you follow this hard but rewarding path. Thanks, sweet friend, for your friendship and support!

  13. Yikes, Beth, it is so difficult to look inward rather than outward! But so necessary for healing to come! Love this post (as always!) Your hashtags always make me laugh, too!
    Blessings and smiles,

    • Oh yes, Lori. Very difficult but also very freeing and rewarding. I know you know that freedom. I can see it all over your blog and writing, my friend! Thanks for the kind words about my “hashtags!” ha! It’s fun to play around with those sometimes! Hugs to you!

  14. Beth, thanks for hosting and for your willingness to be so transparent. God is so faithful when we surrender to Him and do life His way. And when we do, life changes into something beautiful. You are a living example. Blessings!