Praying your angst...how to love your husband
Prayer is, as I wrote before, is one of the best ways we can love others; and when we marry, we make a vow before God to love our spouse. So pray. Pray for your husband. Every day. Pray for his blessing and pray for growth.
As wives, we are the ones who see and come to know our husbands with all their flaws unhidden. We have a close-up and personal inside track on the real person (as they do of us!). We can either use that knowledge to remind them of how they are failing and try to get them to change, which generally leads to both of you pulling away—though we tend to pull away in different ways. Or you can begin to realize that God has given you a unique opportunity to partner with Him in loving prayer.
Take the flaws, take the irritants to God in prayer. Lay them out there; be honest—even if it may sometimes come out rather vehemently: God can handle it and knows how you feel anyway; no sense trying to pretend with Him. Then once it's out, begin to thank God for those things. What?? But . . . ! Yes, truly thank Him. Don't wait for your emotions to lead the way on this, because they won't. We give thanks out of obedience by faith, trusting His Word and promises: God has promised that ALL things work together for GOOD (Romans 8:28), and He has commanded us to give thanks IN all things (I Thessalonians 5:18) and FOR all things (Ephesians 5:20).
The flaws you see in your husband—even his sins—are means of grace. Consider Joseph. Weren't his brothers' sins against him God's sovereign design for future blessings? Though they were terribly wrong and God dealt with them to bring them to repentance, He was still in control and used it for His own purposes and glory, which ultimately led to Joseph's exaltation. Flaws and offenses are golden opportunities, gifts handed to us by our loving Father to teach us His ways of responding in grace. Grace only flows in the context of offenses. There's no other way to exhibit grace. That is the very definition of the word. And grace is, I would suggest, the highest and best of God's attributes. So after you've poured out your angst to God, give thanks one by one, specifically, for each item causing turmoil in your soul.
Then pray that God will use these marital chafings as refining sandpaper in your own life. In other words, ask God to use these things to turn His searchlight on you. Inner turmoil reveals a need in our own lives. Our hearts as wives need cleansing from the turmoil in order to pray in accordance with the heart of God. God wants our hearts to be chaste—clear and at peace all the way through. That, in fact, is one of the seven things older women are to teach younger women (more on that at another time). It will take some wrestling with God . . . till the angst dissipates and you would sincerely rather have God squeeze more grace into your life through the situation (that is, you would rather change and become full of grace) than have the situation change.
Think about the work the Spirit of God needs to do in us. He has to take a sin-saturated heart and transform it into a heart that mirrors the image of Jesus Christ. A heart that's totally self-absorbed and out to get its own needs met by others (especially our spouse) has to be remade into a heart that cares more about the needs of others, that is able to repay evil (hurt, offense) with good and respond with grace. This is no simple task! And how else can we learn grace, to repay evil with good unless evil/offense is dealt to us? It's quite easy to repay good with good. Jesus said even those who don't know Him at all do that. But to spill out sweetness when our life is jostled and bumped and treated carelessly, even wrongfully? Well, it's just not natural. No, it's supernatural: exactly what God's in the business of doing in us!
Besides, who of us doesn't like to be treated with grace when we've had a rough day, when we're irritable and a bit rough around the edges, when we snap or choose self-centeredness. Usually, we'd like understanding. We'd like the love to keep flowing. And God can help us keep the love flowing to our husbands through prayer—prayer that chooses gratitude instead of hurt; prayer that keeps praying for growth, knowing we have a long ways to go as well. In the face of offenses and failures, let go of the right to be hurt or irritated and back him up with faithful, believing prayer.
So here's the 5-step plan:
Pour out your heart to God: the injustice, the irritation, the angst, the hurt, whatever
Take each of those things and determinedly, verbally give thanks for each one
Ask God to turn His searchlight on you—any ways God wants to use the given situation to change you
Ask God to squeeze every drop of grace out of any negative situation that He possibly can, to fill you with grace and thoroughly dissipate the inner churning
Pray for the things God has allowed you to see in your husband. Partner with Christ in transforming prayer, no longer with angst, but with a genuine loving desire for your husband's growth in Christ.
Will you commit to praying one minute a day for your husband's blessing and one minute for his growth, those things only you see? These are small anonymous gifts we can give every day to express our love. Who knows what God will do?!