Marriage of the Heart
We’ve been talking about divorce and remarriage in the last two posts. But what if we are in a marriage we don’t want to be in? You may be thinking this isn’t freedom. It is bondage. What about the grace of God? What about His promises of deliverance? What about happy is He who trusts the Lord? Proverbs 16:20
There are many women and men who feel they are trapped in a marriage because it is God’s will they don’t divorce. So, they “endure”. Is this what God wants for His children?
We aren’t to divorce (except in certain situations abuse, adultery, etc as led by the Spirit), so we endure. We tolerate. We do the minimum amount. In our heart we long for a way out. We want it to end. We lose ourselves in other things; children, friendships, work, and ministries, and our spouse slips toward the bottom of the list. . . Most of us have felt feelings similar to this at some point. But, this isn’t a marriage, because true marriage is about the heart. This is a heart of divorce and not God’s will. With this mindset and heart, we are cultivating division instead of peace and love. We are our own worst enemy in wrecking havoc in our marriage. This may be a hard truth to face for those of us who have lived in this mindset. But being in this place is bondage. There is a much better way. God wants so much more for us. God wants to heal and renew our marriages. He doesn’t want us to divorce. He doesn’t want us to live in misery either. He wants us to believe and experience His power of His love at work in the marriage we have.
Marriage isn’t about a piece of paper just as divorce isn’t about that. In the eyes of God, it is about the state of our heart, a heart of love. God instituted marriage to illustrate our relationship with Him. With Him, what is most important is our heart, not our outward actions. The same is true with an earthly marriage. Ephesians 5:25. All of God’s commandments are grounded in love including marriage. 1 Timothy 1:5 He doesn’t want us to simply “endure” but abide in satisfaction. Proverbs 19:23
In marriage, like everything else, our thoughts create much of what happens because our emotional output and actions carry the truth of our thoughts. The movie Fireproof is a great example of this concept. The main character, played by Kirk Cameron, did “nice” things for his wife in a last effort to save his marriage, but his wife knew that his heart wasn’t in it. He didn’t want to do them and that is what she felt. So his actions meant little to her. But when his heart surrendered to God, then he was filled with God’s love and that love filled his actions. When it did, she noticed a difference – a change that made all the difference and saved their marriage. It isn’t just about our actions and our actions without love flowing into them from our core don’t mean much.
People feel our core, which our thoughts reflect. And ladies, men feel it too. We wonder why he can be so detached and unaware as he sits around on the couch lost in the TV or buries himself in his work or hobbies – but it’s probably to escape our negativity coming from our thoughts. Not that this is always the case, but it is a lot more often than people think. How often we hear people say; I do this and that for him and he still ignores and disrespects me! It is your heart he is responding to. Men, it’s the same with the ladies. If you are being unfaithful, disconnected, and not loving your wife in your heart, she feels is and responds. We can see the vicious cycle it creates as we feed and respond to each other’s true thoughts. We love to blame others because we’re being so “nice”. But are we really? What if our spouse could hear all our thoughts? How nice would we be? Well, that is what they feel. Though they may not know exactly what they are feeling from someone, they feel it good or bad and react. If we are pouring his coffee and cursing him in our heart – it is the cursing he feels and will react to. It all starts with our thoughts. They are often the culprit feeding our problems. 2 Corinthians 10:5
This impact of our thoughts is why counseling can be constructive and helpful to a marriage. Counseling helps us to have more understanding, which leads to compassion and a change in our thoughts. It brings to light the error of our thinking as we talk through issues. We gain new perspectives. Fundamentally, we learn from counseling to think differently and that impacts our marriage. However, what we learn from counseling is at a surface level. And though it can be helpful, there is something else that cuts through everything including our thoughts, the love of God.
When we truly come to know the love of God it changes how we think and feel about others at our core. God’s love is powerful to make a significant change in any relationship.
Unlike the movie Fireproof, for me experiencing the love of God that was beyond myself took a long time. For years, I prayed to know His love. One day God filled me with it and it changed how I felt (not fleeting emotions, but a deep unchanging care) about me, God and others. Since then it has never left but grown. It came from developing a relationship with Him by abiding daily in His Word. As I grew to know God and drew near to Him, He drew near to me and His presence including His love filled my life. It started to change how I deeply felt about others. His love is powerful beyond anything we know. It seems daily I learn more and more about its purity and perfection in our lives. Most don’t understand its power and therefore don’t trust in it, because they haven’t experienced it. It is worth the heart-felt request to ask to deeply know His love. When it takes over, it renews us in so many ways including us, our heart toward our spouse, and our marriage. It isn’t an instant process but it is a process that will blow your mind. Where there once was coldness, hardness, bitterness, resentment, pain, anger, indifference, is now love; a love that is pure and strong because it is of God.
Marriage isn’t about just staying in the same house. It is about the state of our heart. But what if our spouse is unlovable? Look at God. How He loves us. His love is powerful. It isn’t by our own strength that we love but by His. Philippians 4:13 It is His love flowing through us; the love we gain by cultivating a relationship with Him. When His love flows through us it can change everything. 1 Peter 4:8
There have been several times God has called me to love someone that was unlovable at the time. The difference in those people when they felt His love through me was incredible. They may have not realized exactly what it was they felt or what changed but they felt it because their demeanor and actions changed, and the dynamic of our relationship followed. One very important note, the only way I was able to truly love was because of God’s love in me. There are two scenarios in which I didn’t have that love of God for others. One, before I had a close relationship with God, I didn’t have true love that has power. If we aren’t closely connected to Him in truth and spirit we’ll lack the power of His love. Second, my heart got hard out of pride. When I confessed that pride and prayed with a sincere motive to truly love that person then God’s love flow toward them. James 4:3 Pride is a huge enemy of love.
Every commandment of God comes down to love. Marriage is an emotional, physical, and spiritual oneness. Some of us may be far from this now. And for many of us we are a big part of the problem because the thoughts we are holding and feeding about our marriage. We need to get our hearts right about our marriage and we do that by abiding in God’s truth and letting His Words of love wash us, through prayer, and knowing that He desires a marriage of the heart – a marriage of love. And this is very important – we must believe He is powerful enough to renew our marriage and that He wants to. It is easy to doubt God’s power in this area when we are face to face with all the issues. We can easily get too focused on what is and not focused on Him. Is a renewal too hard for God? Is God too weak? Is His love to frail? Is His mercy to small?
God wants our marriages to represent our union with Him. And our union with Him is all about love – true and powerful.
A fellow blogger, Ruth, wrote a piece sharing her heart about marriage, Learning about the Precious Concept of Marriage, I encourage you to check it out.
A resource for prayer for your marriage is Proverbs 5. These ladies have a heart for marriage especially in the area of intimacy. It is there desire to pray for you.