Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Naked and Unashamed - God's Glory

I have always thought we had a pretty good marriage. It was definitely tumultuous in the early years but mostly as I was learning how to live with someone who pursued so intently…it used to enrage me. In the last 5 years though I would say it has been pretty good…at least until I understood what God intended for my marriage. Even though we have not used the last 8 years to glorify God, he has used our sin to show us more of Him.

For the most part we got along. We did not have any moral sin between us, the sins against each other were generally from not loving each other well but they had become more irregular. We have always been united in our theology, parenting (mostly), financial decisions, and household decisions. Arguments were generally over small things that disrupted comfort more than anything. Physical intimacy (although enjoyed) was more of a sticking point. With a lot of my health issues, my desire has been pretty low. My husband however has always been really gracious and not pushed too hard. Little did we know that complacency here was profoundly impacting us.

My husband has always pursued me pretty intently, I often joked about feeling like I was in a 24/7 counseling “sesh”. Although appearing light hearted about it I think I had put up some pretty big walls in my perception of why he was pursuing me.Sometimes I believed he was pursuing me because he wanted me to change, other times I thought he was just going through the motions. If I pursued him, I would get answers like nice, good, fine with no lead in to pursue further. He often felt like my pursual was information gathering so I could figure out how to control the situation better, whatever the situation was. We both struggled with receiving pursual and love from each other. We both were exerting a lot of energy trying to love each other but neither of us really felt loved.

Add onto this the demands of work, ministry, community, and life and neither of us was too eager to extend ourselves further relationally to each other. Often my husband would come home tired and weary (joyless) and I would immediately allow lies about how he felt about me to cause separation. I think most of the time we were ok with the way things were in our marriage because it didn’t take a lot of effort. If our expectations were low of each other we were less likely to be disappointed. He stopped fighting for physical intimacy and I stopped fighting for emotional intimacy.

This summer it all kind of came to a massive confrontation where he was not willing to be ok with the state of our physical intimacy, yet I had become so protected I did not know how to allow my body to respond or enjoy his presence. Most dates ended with me in tears and my back towards him as we fell asleep. I didn’t feel known by him and he often felt like a stranger asking me for something I was incapable of giving. Men have always just taken from me what they wanted and left me discarded…my husband has never done this but he has certainly paid the price from all the men who have. The minute I believe that my husband “needs” something from me; I’m like a soggy biscuit incapable of responding.

Our marriage literally blew up when our entire world was flipped upside down last month. We were forced into being completely dependent on Jesus and only having each other to work through it. Initially we were in such pain and so desperate all we could do to find peace was be in each other’s presence and crying out to God in desperation. When we had to be separated for even a few hours it was absolutely agonizing…actually we are still experiencing that! Our time in each other’s presence was spent holding each other, talking through our fears and our hurt, praying to God about what we were supposed to do, how to respond, how to move forward relationally. We found amazing comfort in physical intimacy…absolute oneness. Lovemaking started with prayer, continued with prayer, and finished in prayer. It was a brand new experience altogether.

I had such distortions about physical intimacy coming into my marriage and although I’ve had enough biblical teaching…the truth had not penetrated my heart nor had I ever experienced the kind of oneness shared in the bible. My experience, even in this marriage, was that intimacy was used to satisfy some longing (physical) or some need. I didn’t fully grasp how God could be glorified in physical intimacy other than I was submitting my body and my will to my husband, neither of which I could do joyfully or freely. That was when things were fine let alone in the midst of sin or conflict. My complete motivation in moments of conflict or sin was to make him pay by withholding myself…generally with my eyes shut and my back towards him.

Now by experiencing physical intimacy often and regularly, the emotional intimacy has just followed. We are one. If we don’t experience the physical intimacy, we have a hard time connecting emotionally. I believe that is the way God designed it. It was not intended to be a needs driven activity but a union between a husband and a wife in the presence of a Covenant God. When we make God the center of our lovemaking, he joins us in a way that I never imagined possibly…truly God glorifying!

That oneness has carried over into every part of life for us. We have truly enjoyed being in each other’s company, dates have been so fun and enjoyable, hanging out together in bed on the weekends has become one of my favorite times. Enjoying coffee, reading, laughing, praying, lovemaking, and fellowship together and with God has been some of the sweetest moments in our marriage. There are some days I don’t even want to leave my bedroom because I have absolutely everything I could possibly need in that moment.

In the past, I would have found ways to dull the pain or mask it; pretending it wasn’t there either by doing things or visiting people or just not having to face it alone. God has met us right where we were at in the most amazing way imaginable. For this, I would not change a single moment in the last 45 days. My marriage has been completely wrecked and God has finally been glorified by our marriage.

Matthew 19:5-6
'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? 6So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate."


Kari said...

What a beautiful thing to read!!! I am rejoicing with you and James. God is so good. I am overwhelmed with joy. Love you guys so much. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Jen Johnson said...

Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. I just experienced this myself, a taste of what God has for us and our future. So blessed by this Gina, in more ways than one. Thank you immensely to both you and James. ~ Jana