Today I am praying for rogue marriages. And not just because I love the word “rogue,” but because I have encountered a lot of marriages that function alone outside of community and authority.
A few years ago, some marriages very, very close to us fell apart. We looked at these situations and realized that while we went to church and were involved in a Bible study, we had no one to go to if we encountered serious marital problems–that is, no one we trusted or who invested in us as a couple. That sounded some serious alarms, and we immediately started pursuing relationships with people who would walk this journey with us as well as older couples whom we could seek for counsel and guidance. I am happy to say that the Lord has provided in those ways, and now more than ever I understand the importance of those relationships.
I am praying for these marriages that have no one in their biz–no one getting in their faces, questioning what is going on, loving them through their struggles, reaching out in their hurt. No one who notices if things are off. No one to question their decisions or theology when it gets weird. I am praying for humility for these couples in realizing they need other people and they need input and they need love from others. I pray for courage for them to seek out other relationships–true, honest, messy relationships. I pray for humility for them to realize they need authority and they don’t have all the answers. I pray for a longing for community and an honest acknowledgment of their hunger for deeper relationships with friends and family. I pray that they will have safe places to go with their challenges and brokenness and that they will soon have safe places where they are free to be honest about who they really are.
Have you ever had a relationship in which the other person has such a different idea of how relationships should work that you start to question your own understanding of God’s design? And I don’t mean the kind of relationship where you are stretched and challenged and encouraged, but the kind where the other person is manipulative and draws you into some weird alternate reality where they are the boss and if you don’t follow their rules, you are a big fat sinner or it must mean you don’t love them or you don’t understand the Bible or maybe you’re just stupid? And somehow you get sucked in and start to function under this person’s craziness–their Crazy Town–thinking it’s okay and normal.
But then one day, something happens and you realize you can’t agree with this person on a certain point; you are sure beyond doubt that they are wrong. And because they can’t lose control, instead of discussing things, they just get mad and act hurt and threaten you with anger, hurl insults at you, attempt to manipulate you back into their Crazy Town. At some point the clouds part and you can see the light! All this time you’ve been duped into believing their lies. You didn’t just believe their lies, you lived in them and they tainted your perspective and started affecting other relationships. The moment you realize this is the moment you have found freedom! You start to notice that you weren’t the crazy one for thinking they were weird or for questioning their philosophy. You finally understand that going along with them wasn’t love but actually just people pleasing. You rejoice that God’s design for relationship–complete with messiness, humility, sweetness, intimacy, satisfaction–is true and right and wonderful and the legalistic expectations that person had of you were wrong and ugly and contrary to Scripture. What a relief!
Obviously I’ve been there. More than once. And as I grow up, God is helping me to become more discerning; the more I flourish in healthy, godly, true relationships, the more easily I can recognize distorted versions of what should be. Thankfully my husband and our love has been instrumental in teaching me all this. But today as I was tempted to get sucked into someone’s crazy, I thought, what if I were married to a citizen of Crazy Town?
So today I am praying for people who are married to those citizens. I pray for the blinders to be taken off their eyes and for them to see clearly. I pray for discernment, open mindedness, the realization that people pleasing does NOT equal love. I pray for support from outside the marriage–people to talk truth and sanity into their hearts and lives, and to be there for the spouse to fall back on when things are unbearable. I pray for courage for them to stand up for God’s design of relationship and not fall prey to craziness. I pray for their love of their spouse to trump their fear. I pray for courage for them to reach out to their spouse and remind them they are safe and do not need to live in this weirdness. And of course, I pray for the destruction of Crazy Town once and for all.
After hearing that someone I love very dearly has suffered a second miscarriage, today I am praying for marriages that have gone through this same loss. We know so many couples who have endured this tragedy, and my mind can’t even begin to understand the heartbreak involved. I don’t pretend to know this loss. I do know that I hate it and that it is not God’s original design. So I pray for the parents–that they will somehow be comforted by God’s sovereignty and his love. That his never-ending compassion will overwhelm them and bring them peace. That in this great loss, they will move toward Jesus and each other, sharing the burden of losing their baby with each other. That they will have patience for each other’s grief, no matter what it looks like. That they will grow in intimacy and love for each other. That her body will heal and she will be able to carry the next baby to term. That he will know how to love her in her confusion. That there will be no false guilt, no blaming, no doubt. That their friends and family will reach out in loving ways that will bring comfort. That in their healing, they will have the words and prayers to comfort others who experience this. That their broken hearts will be mended and they will have hope in Jesus.
Today I’m praying for marriages where someone has gone from in love to in resentment. Marriages where a spouse has convinced themselves they are justified in blaming the other and maybe even seeking divorce when it wasn’t biblical. Marriages where people live out of license instead of grace, counting on a second chance with a second person. This kind of resentment hurts my heart because I know and understand bitterness. I struggle with it on a regular basis and always have my guard up against it. I know I could easily become the kind of spouse who resents my husband and justifies my ugly heart and selfishness. I pray for clarity in vision, humility in heart, selflessness in action. I pray for patience, brokenness, community, accountability, and focus on Christ. And I pray for the wronged spouse–for encouragement, hope, and faith in God’s love especially when s/he can’t depend on the spouse’s.
Today I am praying for marriages that have suffered broken trust. I think all marriages suffer this on a regular basis. Often, we forgive easily because we know our spouse did not intend to hurt us or break our trust. And sometimes it takes an act of God to help us trust the Holy Spirit at work in our spouse’s heart and remember that s/he is a child of God whom God’s hand is on, sanctifying and redeeming. And then there are marriages where trust has been severely broken to the point of devastation. I have seen some marriages redeemed from this place and some not. So today I pray for these marriages–that the person who has broken the trust will be truly repentant (and not faker repentant in which they apologize only because they’ve been caught) and heart broken to the point of moving toward God knowing that s/he can’t heal or change or address their sin without Jesus. I pray for the spouse who has been sinned against, that s/he will have grace and forgiveness for their spouse, hope for their marriage, and faith in God’s hand over them. I also pray that their family and friends will come around them to love them and be a safe place for them to flounder as they sort things out.
Today I am praying for marriages in which one of the spouses lives in a place of shame so deep, s/he cannot engage his/her spouse. Either shame that rooted in assumptions of what the other thinks or rooted in misconceptions about his/her own identity. Shame that causes fear and an inward focus that prevent him/her from seeing outside him/herself and loving his/her spouse. Shame that shames the spouse and creates discord and brokenness.
I have saved this series of posts because it is so powerful and helpful to me as I seek God in pray, both in marriage and in other areas. This is the link to the first installment, but there are five, which you can link to on the sidebar.
Naturally, I’m praying for single guys today. I pray they embrace the design of marriage and understand God’s purpose in it and God’s passion for it. I pray that they not procrastinate, act out of laziness, make excuses, or point fingers when it comes to pursuing women. I pray they will surround themselves with godly men who will encourage them to act out of their God-given roles as men to pursue women and marry women. I pray that the men around them will have the courage to call them to action and keep them accountable to their biblical calling to marriage. I pray that they will come to love not just the idea of marriage, but marriage itself for the same reasons God loves it, and that they be willing to climb mountains and swim deep seas to find their bride and make her his. I pray their expectations of a wife are godly and not worldly, realistic and not idealistic, grace-filled and not self-centered, wife-focused and not self-focused. I pray their fears and shames and timidity will be squashed and that they will find great joy in walking this path with Jesus. I pray they will recognize how much the Lord has pursued them and use that gratitude to pursue a woman with tender and eager passion. I pray that churches will be pro-active instead of passive, teaching boys their design for marriage, teaching young men how to pursue, and challenging grown men to pursue and get married. I pray that this generation of men will rebel against the cultural norms, stand up in courage, pursue women in ways that rock their socks, and flourish in marriage like this world has never seen before. And I pray that the women they pursue will respond kindly, eagerly, and graciously.
Today I am praying for single women who desire to be married. I pray for comfort, hope, and joy while they wait. I pray against bitterness and resentment. I pray they will be overwhelmed by a deep understanding of the sovereignty of God. I pray that they will be willing to take risks to put themselves in positions where they will meet potential husbands. I pray their standards will be biblical and not too relaxed and not too strict. I pray their excitement to be married will not translate into desperation. I pray they have friends and community to encourage them, include them in their families, and introduce them to eligible bachelors. I pray they will prepare for marriage and seek ways to love their future husband, even not knowing when/if they will meet. I pray they will not be consumed with their God-given desire, but have a balanced perspective understanding that marriage is not the end-all. I pray they will engage in ministry according to their talents and seek to love and serve others. I pray that they will interact wisely with single men, loving them as brothers while communicating their eligibility in smart and appropriate ways. I pray that their broken hearts will be healed, their fears relieved, their doubts smothered, their scars diminished, and their joy overwhelming to those around them. And I pray that they will be snatched up quickly and lovingly!
I remember when this blog article was first published–it seemed like all my Facebook friends were linking to it, and for good reason. It reminded me of something I read in a book when I was a newlywed; a common fantasy for new brides is that tragedy strikes their husband and they are forced to look for a new husband. I guess as someone who has suffered the loss of people I love, this seemed like an unbelievable fantasy. Yet I suspect it comes from the same place of wondering “what if…” Self focus and self absorption will always hurt our spouses and get us in trouble.