I love how Beth Moore’s brain works, I imagine it is a lot like mine, except that I don’t have all of those scriptures floating around in there, although I am working on that…very…slowly…working on that. It gives me hope to compare my life experiences to those in the bible that messed up but saw God at work in their life. Reminds me that I am flesh and all of the people around me are flesh. The truth is that we screw up, hurt each other, struggle to make up and then usually do it all over again. The problem is that if you stay in the cycle of defeat you may find deliverance as Moses did, but you will never get to the promised land-your Gilgal, as the Israelites finally did after decades of defeat.
Nathan and I have recently found our Gilgal and while I know we won’t be permanently residing here, I do believe that God has given us the answers so we can finally pass the test. He wants us to live our marriage the way he designed it.
Now I have to add that Nathan and I have a wonderfully blessed marriage. We work really hard to meet each others needs and are very focused on keeping our priorities straight. But the truth is that we both came to our marriage as, well, humans. Our own selfishness and limitations can and do rise to the surface from time to time. Like most couples, I imagine, we have periods of greatness where everything seems to be going really well. We are communicating with each other like civilized adults, spend lots of time snuggling, catching each others eye from the other side of the room.
You know what happens. Someone gets their feelings hurt (usually me), or someone gets the bank statement (not usually me) and things just aren’t as peachy anymore. It’s amazing how quickly this can happen too. All of a sudden I am doing my regular chores with the energy of a triathlon and the attitude of a three year old. And at this point anything he says is going to make me upset. We were both failing the test.
While we did have more days in that state of marital bliss we did have more days than we would like to admit in the (D-) category. One morning when we were not communicating very well we both stood there staring at each other. We didn’t want to hurt each other so we both realized that we better not say anything at all. We were at a moment of testing, but we didn’t want to fail anymore. We wanted to believe, in each other, in what God wanted for us. We both prayed to ourselves and God showed up.
So we found ourselves days from our 7th anniversary going to marriage counseling at our church. We discovered what we already knew. Men and women are different and that is okay, God created us that way. We were given the tools (answers to the test) to communicate in a healthy way. And told that it would be hard at first and require a lot of practice, again we figure that would be the case.
But then we were told something that we had not really thought about before. As we have been chugging along in life we weren’t exactly headed in the same direction. I was headed North at warp speed and Nathan was enjoying a slow stroll South. We needed to decide where we wanted to go together as a couple and as a family. So together we worked on our goals and plans for the future. We shared the life experiences that we hoped to have and the things we didn’t want to miss on the journey. We talked, cried, shared our biggest hopes and dreams. As partners in our marriage we created a roadmap in which we can direct every decision, commitment and activity of our lives. And on our 7th anniversary Nathan hand wrote the Howell Family Vision and brought it to me with a bouquet of flowers. We had found directions to our Gilgal.
Only As God brings us full circle and breaks the cycle of failure we have been working on for so long can we finally start believing in Gods ability to work in our marriages. We begin to see what he originally intended for man and wife and that he must be the center of our marriage for us to get there. Now we won’t always be in Gilgal, I realize that, but now that we have seen it and have the map to get there we can come back more quickly than ever before.