I surrendered my husband.
The hardest yet most comforting thing God asked me to do in our marriage is to surrender my husband to Him. Last week, we were supposed to celebrate our 3rd year of marriage. That didn’t happen. I had to surrender my husband ON that special day.
Mark and I don’t fight a lot. Sure, we have regular misunderstandings that couples have but we rarely have serious conflicts. I actually just have two memories of this in the course of being with him for almost 4 years. Meaning, it almost always turns out smoothly. We go on a mistake-humbleness-forgiveness-reconciliation pattern fairly quick. This wasn’t one of those days. This day was bad and ugly. But it was still a day that we believe God allowed to happen for a purpose.
Our marriage has always been amazing even though we got married at 20. But the truth is, there are consequences to that. There are lessons that come in form of pain that God allows in our marriage. One is having to be a part of each other’s breaking. When we were still single, the molding is between one of us and the Lord. But now that we are one flesh, both feel the pain and both are part of the journey even if only one of us is going through the molding and growing. It’s the very essence of unity in marriage- through thick and thin… TOGETHER. God allows breaking in our lives so that we’d learn to depend on Him more rather than boasting about our own strength. God allows emptying our lives so He could fill it with something more beautiful.
Mark and I have already been going through personal matters before the marital problem came up. We had our own battles- battles of surrender, faith, obedience, and trust. We were children of God who knew our Father’s calling but struggled to give in because of fear and pride. God was calling me for full dependence instead of feeding my fear of own timeline and expectations in career growth. God called Mark to step up his leadership by surrendering what seems to be harmless habits and completely submitting to God’s control (he went through a season of being focused on playing games on his phone so much that it took a big chunk of his attention from us. It was his way of dealing with his impatience before his first job starts. He also noticed a lot of points of improvements in his heart. He exactly said, “God is asking me to step up my leadership at home so that I could lead others too”). Our response to God’s calling was, “Okay, Lord. But maybe not now. Maybe when we’re ready to completely surrender to You. But okay. Just not now”.
God knew that if we delayed this calling longer, it would destroy us. And I believe He wanted to save us from a bigger damage if we continued living with the same heart we did. So, as the morning of our anniversary celebration broke, so did our problem. Mark made a big mistake. Now, I won’t talk about his own shortcomings because I want to still protect his privacy. I can only speak for myself- where I’ve gone wrong and how I dealt with it.
I dealt with it so bad. It’s shameful to even think I behaved like that. 12 years of friendship, 4 years together, and 3 years of marriage. It was a first for me to speak to my husband with such judgement and disrespect. I was so hurt that I wanted to hurt him back with the deepest cut possible. “How can you be so weak?” “You call yourself a leader?” “You are so disappointing”. Ughhh. Please don’t copy me! This is the surest way to kill your husband’s confidence. I’m just sharing so you’d get an idea how bad the conversation was.
Mark acknowledged his mistakes. He was quiet and received my piercing words with a calm spirit. I didn’t want that. I wanted him to lash out in anger and accept my invitation for a fight. The only thing he said was, “I know you are angry but is it okay if we go to church first?”. My response, “you have the mind to do that right now?”. Wow. What. Happened. To. Me. But that was me at that moment. Mark knew there was no persuading my prideful heart.
For the first time ever, Mark walked out on me. But he walked in to God’s presence. He knew staying at home wouldn’t solve anything. He wanted God’s presence and wisdom. He left and went to church.
I was left at home crying. I started questioning God’s love for me. Does God really see me? Then why do I have to struggle so much in my career? Why do we struggle so much in finances when we already live a humble lifestyle? And then now… marriage? As if my plate wasn’t full enough, God allows more breaking in my life. But that’s exactly what I needed: B R E A K I N G. The kind of breaking that would make me want God’s presence more in my life.
So I got on my knees and prayed, “Lord, I am so tired of living like this. I want to have joy despite the circumstances. And about our marriage… what do I do? I’m not okay with what happened. I’m not ready to forgive”. I love how personal God gets and He really does answer when we call. He said,
“Give him to me. Surrender him to me. Let me be a Father to him. Give him space to have complete dependence on me. I know a better way to take care of him, to teach him, and to guide him more than you do”.
Surrendering Mark didn’t mean divorce and it absolutely did not mean not caring for him or to stop being loving to him. It just means giving him enough space to hear from God. I know what is good for my husband, but God knows what is best for him. If God moves in my heart, then He also surely does in Mark’s.
I love how God acknowledged my pain and told me exactly what to do. Mark tried to make it right the same night but we both knew God wanted to spend time with us individually first. We agreed to focus on the fasting season that week so that we can spend a more intimate time with the Lord before we actually talk about our marriage. Marriage was one thing but the problem was more in our hearts as individuals than just a marital conflict. For a whole week, we were just casual to each other. Treating each other with respect while restraining from causing distraction to the other.
OUR EVERY DAY SET UP
We still greeted each other with a smile every day. There was a problem in our marriage but we were okay. Mark kissed my forehead in the morning and before going to bed at night. We were just as how we were as friends but we limited talking a lot because we didn’t want to distract each other.
Just to give you a little back ground, fasting week is the time for us as Christians to be intimate with the Lord. There are many forms of fasting but Mark and I did a one meal fast (only ate lunch), social media fast, and temporarily restrained from music that causes disturbance in our hearts. It’s really a solemn week for us.
Somehow, I found my heart to be lighter. I didn’t feel the burdens I had anymore even though they were still visible by the eye. I really felt the Lord taking the load from me. I was able to be more gentle, patient, and kind. I stopped overthinking, too.
I didn’t know much about how God spoke to Mark because we really didn’t have big conversations that week. But I have observed that he rarely touched his phone, he was more intentional in helping me out in everything, and he was thrice as loving as he already was. Mark’s spirit was so gentle and calm. At midnight, I hear whispers. I try to open my sleepy eyes and I see Mark praying.
We’ve been through a lot of fasting seasons together but it was my first time to see Mark so hungry for the Lord and so intimate with Him.
OUR PRAYERS DURING FASTING SEASON
When it comes to marriage and family, I personally prayed for a change of heart. I wanted to be a good wife and a good mom. I know I couldn’t do it with a judgmental attitude. I didn’t want to be the person who mocks them when they make mistakes. I wanted Mark and Taziana to feel safest to be with me- even when they are at their messiest phase. I wanted them to get a glimpse of God’s love through my presence and encouragement. I also prayed for Mark’s breakthrough and asked the Lord to continue molding Mark no matter how tough it gets but to give Mark the strength and wisdom that he needs.
As for Mark, I didn’t know his exact prayers. He just sent me his prayer request written in a general way, “Please pray for my wisdom in leadership in our home. Please also pray for the reconciliation in our marriage”.
THE END OF THE FASTING SEASON
The night after fasting, Mark turned to me and said, “Can I hug you?”. Then he said, “Can we talk now?”. I love talking but that night, I just wanted to listen. So I asked him to go on first. I just listened to him while I was kept warm inside his arms.
He said something similar to this,
“Honey, though this season was extremely hard for me, God taught me so many things. He showed me so many areas in my heart that needed to be changed. Sure, He talked to me about what we’ve already seen- to shift my time and energy to more important things. But there were other more important things. I don’t think I could tell you everything one by one. But the most important ones are my gentleness and patience. I want to be a more gentle husband to you. I want to be able to lead you and Taziana well. There are many other things about me as an individual and as a husband and father to you and our daughter. But these are the few things I have gone through with the Lord this week. What I want to ask you is … will you forgive me?”
I said yes. I really didn’t talk much just because I didn’t have much to say. And on top of that, I’ve really seen changes in him that didn’t need to be further talked about.
That night, I fell asleep to the pounding of Mark’s heart and the intensely felt the presence of our God who was there with us throughout our whole journey. Our God who was and will always be with us every day of our lives. Before finally dozing off, I said a quick prayer. “Lord, thank You for being so intentional in guiding, protecting, and molding our marriage. It’s not always a walk on sunshine, but even through the storms, You are there.”
A week has already passed since all of that happened and our marriage has been blooming. Things I could not give justice to just by describing it by words. I always thought that our home was beautiful and filled with God’s presence- and it was. I just didn’t know God could increase that even more.
Mark is shining brighter more than ever. I don’t know if he notices that. But his presence radiates so much joy, peace, and faith. What Mark has inside his heart is overflowing to our marriage and our family.
Last week, I was crying hard in pain because of what was happening. But now I am crying because of joy and awe of what had happened. If God didn’t allow such trials in our lives, we wouldn’t have grown this much.
No matter how tough marriage can be, I will always say that marriage is a fun journey when enjoyed with your best friend and the presence of God. Trials come but what counts is that the trials serve its purpose: to grow together and to grow closer to God.
If we find ourselves in a constant cycle of “fighting about the same things over and over again”, maybe that is the answer. Maybe we should always seek God in times of trouble and listen to what He is trying to tell us; what He wants us to learn in the trial we are going through. Maybe we should let the trial serve its purpose instead of sweeping it under the rug or cutting the process short. Maybe we should lift if more to God than carrying the burden by ourselves.
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
And to my best friend, happy third anniversary! I am always grateful to the Lord for your humble heart. A heart that still has a lot of growing to do but a heart that seeks the Lord no matter how hard the situation is. Thank you for being my best friend, my husband, and the leader of our family. Thank you for a wonderful marriage. And thank you for always, always, always bringing me closer to the Lord. I love you!