How to Find Encouragement in the Mess of Marriage Plus Linkup

We all want peaceful lives and marriages where conflicts rarely if ever erupt, right? But more times than not, my life and marriage has been wracked by pain and struggles. #nosurprise

There hasn’t been a season in my life—and I’ve lived a fairly long one!—where I didn’t have some kind of hardship or overwhelming stressor to contend with almost every single day.

Peace in Marriage

By the way, I’m not talking about my marriage always being the cause of these struggles, though my marriage was and is often negatively impacted by them!

Most of my adult life I’ve faced health struggles—everything from my Rheumatoid Arthritis challenges that began in 1993 to my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment in 2013/14.

Ministering alongside my pastor husband in the many churches and communities that we’ve served in for decades has brought us countless trials, injustices, burdens and losses. #notcomplaining #rejoicing

The sinful and selfish tendencies that my husband and I carry with us in every encounter make us ripe for arguments and bitterness. #worksinprogress

The disappointments and blows of life that involve our children are especially heartbreaking for us to navigate and accept. 🙁

This is just a short list of problems, trials, injustices and pressures that I’ve personally experienced.

Can you relate?

Have any of these kinds of situations and the accumulation of them overwhelmed you in life and/or contaminated your marriage?

So how can the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:4 say, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”?

Maybe it’s because of the peace promised to us when we pray with thanksgiving in Philippians 4:6-7.

This turning over of our anxieties and petitions to God as we consider all the ways He has been good to us is not a “pie in the sky” Pollyannaism.

That’s because God is the Provider of the good and the One who acts on our behalf when we recognize and thank Him for any blessings we receive.

So whenever we feel anxious in our lives and marriages, we can receive God’s peace that, “transcends all understanding” (v. 7). That’s because this peace is given when and as we continue to strugglemaking this peace “other-worldly” or “heavenly.” No wonder we can’t comprehend it! 😉

[Tweet “For God’s peace is a little taste of heaven even as we go through hell on earth.”]

Many have come to associate thanking God with the meteoric best seller, 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp, because so many have joined her challenge to count these treasures daily.

I’ve never done that in “that particular way,” but I have made a habit of thanking God in my daily prayer time, as well as when I’m going about my day.

It’s like a little game that I play as I walk here and there—doing this or that. I think about what God has given me and thank Him for whatever comes to mind. For example . . .

  • My eye catches the sight of some manifestation of His beauty and I thank Him.
  • I recall what I’ve read during my Bible study time and I thank Him for those precious truths.
  • I even consider the day’s challenges and thank God for what I see Him already doing or what I know He is about to do.

Sometimes my hubby and I make a “date” out of it. I’ll explain more about that this weekend. So be sure to check back!

So no matter how discouraging your life or marriage is right now, know that you can grow your faith and encourage yourself every time You offer your anxieties to God, because He promises to exchange them for His unfathomable peace.

[Tweet “Christian bloggers, join us for the “From Messes to Messages” linkup! #MessyMarriage”]

 

What is a recent blessing that you’re thankful to God for in your life and/or marriage?

 

What is an anxiety in your life or marriage that I can pray for you regarding?

 

Be sure to scroll down to comment below!


Here are some lovely linkups I joinChristian Blogger Community, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Writer Wednesday, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Faith and Friends, 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.

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  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Great post, Beth, and I’m looking forward to the ‘date’ post coming this weekend.

    I think the greatest blessing here is the daily revelation of how greatly I’m already blessed.

    Case in point – the one item on my Bucket List was seeing the Grand Canyon again, just standing on the South Rim with the tourists and taking it in. It’s an eight-hour drive, and I can no longer tolerate that…and I’m nowhere near well enough for airline travel (even if it were remotely affordable).

    So it was suggested that I accept the offer of a friend to start a GoFundMe page on my behalf, that I could fly in a chartered aeroplane, and be taken to the Rim by a medical transport service. There and back in a day.

    I’m past the point where pride would have me refuse, but I refused for a different reason. My days are numbered, and I don’t want to miss a single day HERE, with my dogs, with my wife, in the surroundings that are not luxurious, but which I love.

    I would not trade away a day of this beloved, blessed routine for the epiphany of even God’s Own Vista.

    And prayers? Well, if you want to check out the link below…

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/04/your-dying-spouse-299-seriously-my.html

    • Thanks for your constant encouragement and friendship, Andrew. It means a lot, especially since I know each keystroke for you is painful. Praying for you in all that you’re facing, my friend!

      I’m glad you’re looking forward to the post on my date idea and experience with Gary. I’m looking forward to unveiling it.

      What great friends you have to try and orchestrate that powerful and inspiring vantage point for you! But I also love how you are finding your joy in being with your wife and dogs one more minute and one more day in the comfort of your own home. There’s no place like home, is there?

      I’m lifting up prayers for your latest added health challenge, my friend! Hugs to you!

  • Hi Beth, thanks once again for sharing practical ways that can strengthen and grow our marriage and our walk with Christ. You really hit the nail on the head with the list of things that can bring you down. When you mentioned the one about the disappointments wrought by children and the strife it can bring in a marriage, I wondered if you were living my life. 🙂 Yet, your solution is one that points us back to Christ and the scriptures: give thanks! Thanks for the reminder and for your words of wisdom.

    Blessings,
    Tiffiney
    WelcomeHomeMinistry.com

    • Hey Tiffiney, I’m still having trouble leaving a comment at your place. Your subscription form pops up after I try to leave a comment. I don’t know if that is happening for others, but here’s what I wanted to say to you …

      That’s your “Happy Home” tour in an “egg”-shell, Tiffiney! haha! Sorry for being so corny! But all kidding aside, I love your enthusiasm for Christ and your inspiring Resurrection Day decorations and even your cute Easter decorations. I don’t do much decorating now that I have an empty nest, but I love how even your neighbors are inspired by your decorations. Also, you have one beautiful family, girlfriend! Beauty is beaming from every angle of your post today! 😉

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Beth,
    I love how you highlighted lifting our prayers and petitions (and anxieties) to Him with thanksgiving. I have found it’s hard to be anxious and thankful at the same time. God knows this too and instructs us to do this not for His good, but for our own. I also like how you pointed out that it’s not peace or pain, but God grants His unfathomable peace in the midst of our pain. How gracious He is. Like you I’ve had many health struggles and grown children struggles that can take a toll on my marriage. That’s why we need to keep coming together as a couple thanking God for our blessings or we’ll get sucked in the vortex of our problems. Wonderful post!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • Yes, being anxious and thankful just really can’t co-occur, can it, Bev? Great way to put it! I’m sorry to hear that you’ve struggled with health issues, Bev. I’ve probably read about them at your blog, so forgive me for forgetting what they are. I’ll have to refresh my memory on them and pray for you in them. It truly makes getting through a day with joy very challenging–as Andrew knows well! Not that I’m comparing my health struggles to his, but they can color everything in a dark and harsh light. As far as my grown children, who knew that reaching the empty nest stage could be so hard. I’ve often said it’s like my heart is walking around outside my body out there in the world. What cuts or hurts them, cuts and hurts me too. In fact, I worry about them more than they probably think about themselves. Just always trying to turn those worries and “anxieties” into prayers. And truly I am thankful for the good that God has done in their lives. It’s been really amazing on the flipside as well. Thanks so much for your encouragement, Bev! It’s greatly appreciated!

  • Patricia A Krank

    My heart is especially tender toward Pastor’s wives as I know that you have it especially hard at times. Thank you for your encouragement and honesty.

    • Aww, thanks, Patricia! I have that same tenderness towards pastor’s wives, since I know the often secret or unknown trials they go through. You have to walk a mile in their shoes to really fathom it. Thanks for your kind thoughts, my friend!

  • Susan

    Storms seem to be a recurring topic this week! We best listen! Grateful for every single day. And prayer request? Two prodigal sons. Yes, Lord. xo

    • Maybe it’s because we’re in a weather pattern full of storms, Susan! ha! Of course, life never relents–always full of storminess in all sorts of ways. Aww, so sorry to hear that you face that tough challenge in parenthood, Susan. I’ll certainly pray for you in that! Would be so heart-breaking!

  • This is such an encouragement to me right now. There is so much power in thanking God in my own struggles, I look forward to your post about doing this in my marriage!

    • I’m so glad to know it, Nicole. It seems like we were resonating with one another in our posts today–the peace of God being a major theme and joy in our lives. The post about my date will be this weekend, so check back on Saturday evening or Sunday, my friend. Thanks for your kindness to me!

  • So thankful for you in sharing your personal struggles, it is encouraging and always full of hope!

    • Isn’t it funny how sharing the struggles we face can encourage others, Jen! Yes, there is so much hope in the Lord. I suppose that’s why we face so many challenges in life–to learn to run to Him for our Hope!

  • Mary

    You are so authentic with us and I always appreciate that about you. I understand the storms of life all too well but recently I am thankful that I have found a wonderful church community that I can call home. They are like family to me. I also try to thank God as soon as I wake up each day. It makes a difference and can set the tone for the day. As for trials, having two grown married sons does not make it easier. I still worry about them and want the best for them. I understand my mom now and how she felt when I was an adult. Thank you for pointing us to rejoicing. You are a treasure friend!

    • Yes, Mary! A church can be such a source of strength and encouragement in our lives, can’t they?! My church is like family to me as well. They are my prayer partners and a source for my accountability partners as well. Such a joy to do life with them.

      Agreed on the adult sons and all the challenges that adult life brings to them. It’s so very hard to watch from an adult-to-adult distance. We can’t scoop them up in our arms and make “everything all better” anymore, can we, Mary?! But God still can! I’ll lift you up in my prayers regarding your sons and daughter-in-law. Or is it daughters-in-law? Either way, God knows and I’ve got His ear! 😉

  • Beth, I’m reminded of a line in Princess Bride, “Life is pain, princess.” 🙂 At least that’s how I remember it. But problems can serve as invitations to draw near to God and experience the peace of God you describe. A friend who used to serve in our ministry decided to become a nurse in intensive care unit. It sounded very high stress to me. But she made this interesting comment. She said she’d never realized how much spiritual warfare she experienced in ministry. Her stressful job didn’t seem as stressful as that. You and your husband are in a battle much bigger than yourselves. Blessings to you both.

    • I don’t recall that line, though there were so many quotable ones that I still remember. That was a good one, though, Debbie, so thanks for reminding me of it. It truly is pain–even though we are the princesses of God. And like you’ve so eloquently said, it’s our invitation to draw near to God. Perhaps we wouldn’t draw near quite so often without that pain. I love what you’ve shared about your friend’s perspective. It comforts me to know that this might explain some of the grief and pain I’ve experienced in ministry. Helps me to extend grace to myself and any others who’ve hurt us as well, if you know what I mean! 😉 Love ya, sister!

  • Carrie

    An anxiety that I cannot be free from: does my husband even love me anymore? Is he committed to our marriage? Does he still contact other women? When or will he ever have a relationship with jesus? Should I stay or should I go?

    • I will pray for you today. Col 3:2 over and over has been of help to me.

    • Yes, Carrie, even in those anxieties you can find God’s peace through thanking Him for all the good He still brings in your life in spite of the pain. I love that Sue is praying for you and shared a meaningful verse below. I’ll pray for you as well and share a verse that has been very meaningful to me, Isaiah 54:5-6, “‘For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—a wife who married young, only to be rejected,’ says your God.” I always find comfort in knowing that even if and when my earthly husband rejects me, I have a perfect and heavenly Husband who loves me without condition and on into eternity. Praying you find His comfort and peace today, my friend!

  • I love that you stop to thank God throughout your day – fewer messes when i do! often the mess is in my mind and when I rein it in to God’s faithfulness, it clears the clutter.

    • Yes, oh yes, Sue! It really shifts my focus, especially when I want to complain or question why something is happening. This single practice stretches my view to see God’s good in the midst of every difficulty. Very liberating and meaningful! Thanks for joining the conversation and linkup, my friend!

  • God is blessing me, He is teaching me by showing me myself and my short comings… so I can become a better daughter to Him and wife to my husband.
    Pray for me Beth, that I will be patient with my husband.
    Thanks a lot for sharing this.
    Have a super blessed day!
    Love

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  • Brandi Raae

    Thank you for always being real and uplifting at the same time. The marriage relationship can be so exhausting. It also reveals how selfish I am. After almost 20 years of marriage, I’m learning to go to God with my marital frustrations and less to my husband. Learning that all issues don’t have to be discussed or sorted out the way that I think they should. Thanks for sharing at Literacy Musing Mondays! Always appreciate seeing you linked up. 🙂

  • Dear Beth, I am sorry about your battles with illness! I’ve just read some of your posts on caringbridge. I do hope you are in the clear now. My Dad had a run-in with prostate cancer but the medics spotted it and radiationed it out of him and he has been clear since.

    I like to lead off my bedtime prayer with thank yous. Saying thank you seems to bring God closer somehow — and then I feel a bit more able to ask questions or confess sins. I am learning to reach out to God during the day as well, when I feel my mind run away with me. That lifts and calms me. I like your idea of giving thanks there and then, so I’ll borrow that if you don’t mind 🙂

    This Lent and Easter and everything attached to it has been a huge blessing for me. I think I am happier and stronger than I have ever been.

    David

  • pioneerpat1

    Praying for you to get healthy,

    This is post is very powerful. Thanks for sharing the words. I am going to steal the thing about God’ Peace.

    Thanks for hosting and have a wonderful rest of the week.

  • Beth, like you we’ve had our share of tests and trials. I agree the ones that involve our children are the hardest. But we have been so blessed by God’s faithfulness through it all! Thanks for encouraging everyone here. Thanks for hosting and have a great week!

  • As a fellow pastor’s wife, I certainly understand and now I know why I am so drawn to your writing, testimony and encouragement! Praying this beautiful ministry of yours touches deeply. It certainly does for me!

  • I love reading the comments on your blog ALmost as much as I love your posts! You attract a quality following of “real” people, Beth…willing to be as open and vulnerable as you are.
    I haven’t had the health issues you speak about, but #worksinprogress totally describes our lives! I’ll be sure to add your health to my prayers, friend. Thank you so much for your continued honesty and transparency, which is so very encouraging.
    Oops, almost forgot – we’ll be featuring this post at Coffee and Conversation tomorrow; I so appreciate your sharing over there… Be blessed, friend <3

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  • Amy Jung

    I’d love access to the Facebook group! How great that you traced your family’s histories…1100 AD! Wow!!

    • I added you yesterday, Amy, after realizing you’d requested this on my MM FB page. I’m sorry for the delay in responding. If you can’t find the group in your FB sidebar, you’ll need to go to groups and search “30 Days of Devos.” Let me know if you still can’t access the group and I’ll do some troubleshooting. 🙂