When my wife and I worked with youth ministry at our church, I often would use her as an example. I did the same with my kids on occasion. With six kids and a wife that seems to enjoy doing things the hard way, they were and still are a constant source of material. It seemed that no matter what lesson I prepared for the week, that someone (myself included) was always going through something that was applicable. My wife never minded me sharing her struggles. I think it helped her to understand that others could also learn from what she was going through.
Now, Shaunna and I have taken on having a small group meet at our house. Again, I find myself sharing our struggles as a couple with others. We have struggles at home, work, with our kids, and just about every facet of life at some time or another. However, something has changed.
When we first got married nearly eight years ago, my wife tackled issues straight on. She was tough. The harder the issue, the harder she fought against it, even if she was in the wrong. As is the case with just about everyone, she wanted things her way and would fight tooth and nail to get it. As time went by, however, she grew. That’s not to say she doesn’t fight still. Her fights are simply fought differently.
The past year or so has been difficult for my beautiful bride. Two of our kids have left the house. Another will leave at the end of this school year. And, one will leave this summer to start her life with her husband as newly-weds (assuming they don’t kill each other before then.) All this change has my wife going crazy. She doesn’t like change. And, her life has always been about our kids. Amidst all of that, she has to help plan a wedding, plan a baby shower (for her sister), make sure our high school senior stays on track and gets senior stuff done, attend college football games for our daughter who’s a Marching Ballerina at JSU, and attend book signings and other events with me. Not to mention, there have been numerous changes and challenges at her work.
During this time, I’ve watch my wife get angry, cry, laugh, and be more exhausted than I think I’ve ever seen her. But, I’ve noticed something different in her. In this struggle, she’s told me that she feels like she’s fighting against God and what He wants for her life. Oh, how I wish she would see what I see! What I’ve seen, is a woman who has devoted her life to others (family) for many years and now struggles with the idea of finding what she wants to do. She feels stuck. Because of financial obligations, she can’t just quit and go on a “walkabout.” This, however, is where I’ve seen a huge metamorphosis in her. Instead of just fighting and doing things her way (which she would usually do), she has fought her battle another way— on her knees. In the evenings, we pray. In the mornings, we pray. At times when she’s feeling particularly stressed, she comes to me and asks me to pray with her. Through all this, she says she knows God is wanting her to learn something from it. She keeps searching, listening for His voice. In a way, my wife reminds me of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When told they would be thrown into the fire, they responded by saying God would deliver them. But, even if He didn’t, they still would praise Him only. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we don’t wrestle with the physical, but against enemies of a spiritual nature. Shaunna is fighting her battle the best way she can, prayer.
We each go through seasons in life where we struggle. We may doubt God’s will for our lives. We may doubt the choices we’ve made or our ability to see those choices through. In the end, it isn’t really about our ability as much as it is our faith. John 16:33, Christ assures us two things that should bring us peace. First, we will have troubles in this world. Second, He has overcome the world. Note, Christ did not say he will overcome, or is overcoming. Instead, He has overcome. It’s already been done. That battle has already been fought for us! Our peace comes from this knowledge.
What does this mean? It means that my wife is doing exactly what she needs to do. She isn’t sitting idly by, saying, “God, do this for me.” She is working each day, living in this life He has given her and bringing her troubles to Him for strength. I am certain that He will give her the relief she needs. I don’t know when. I don’t know the purpose in it all. All I know is what I see in her, a faith that is so much stronger than I ever would have guessed when we first were married. And for that, I love her all the more.
So, if you’re struggling— fighting a battle that has exhausted you— and haven’t taken it to God, or maybe you have, I’d suggest taking the fight to your knees and giving it to Him.
Kenyon T. Henry