Saturday, September 7, 2013

Hosea's wife, the purpose of marriage, and other things God has been talking to me about today.....

The word of the Lord that came to Hosea the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea:
“Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry
And children of harlotry,
For the land has committed great harlotry
By departing from the Lord.”

So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
-Hosea 1:1-3

     I have many friends who are military wives, and my pastor's wife recommended a book called Married Mom, Solo Parent, by Carla Anne Coroy, as something good to give to encourage and help any I knew.  Here is a link to the book on Amazon, for any who might benefit from it:

     I quickly decided to buy one, just to read so I could gain insight into what it is like to be a wife with a husband away due to job or other difficulties, and devoured the book in two days, mostly on the way to/from Vanderbilt Hospital today for Joseph's MRE tests.  After reading the book, I found it was a wonderfully encouraging book not JUST for military wives or wives of those whose husbands have demanding jobs away from home alot, but even for wives of husbands who just happen to be guys who don't get it right all the time, as well as for wives who tend to create idols in their hearts out of the idealistic expectations they have of marriage....which means, if not pretty much everyone, then a whole heck of a lot more people than just military wives.   Alot of the advice was convicting to my heart, and that is what I wanted to write about tonight. Keep in mind these are the impressions I took away from the book after reading it; I don't have the book handy now, as I passed it on, and so I couldn't tell you at this moment the author's exact thoughts or intent, just how it spoke to me.

     I started this entry with the opening passage of Hosea.  As a woman, I have actually always loved the story of Hosea.  It's in a weird way, sort of romantic to me to imagine this prophet of God named Hosea swooping in to rescue this emotionally broken prostitute, and it does indeed paint a beautiful picture of the depth of God's love for His people, and the depths of our sin He has cleansed us from.  I actually never considered how Hosea felt about it.  Here he is, this prophet of God, who probably had atleast a base expectation that God's plans for his future marriage would include a nice Jewish girl from a proper family, and that he would be her first love.  But that was not God's plan for Hosea; his purpose in Hosea's marriage was to show Israel how they treated him, and yet his great faithfulness and love toward them.  If Hosea was to have had a successful marriage, he had to have let go of his original expectations, and ask God for new ones. 

    The thing is, most of  us women (atleast I think I am not that weird about this) LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of a knight on a white horse, coming in on his trusty steed, accepting us despite our brokenness, removing our shame, and placing us in a position of honor, despite the fact we may or may nor have been acting honorably.   We want more than anything to know what it is to be loved unconditionally.  The problem comes, I think, when we realize the knight himself is not as perfect as we envisioned, and that God is calling us to greater things than just a marriage that serves our own selfish ends.  We long to RECEIVE unconditional love;  But how many of us long to EXTEND that love to others, and most especially the husband we married?
I know when marriage begins, the rose colored glasses are on, atleast for most of us.  But at some point,  the quirks and personality distinctions that were so cute when we were dating begin to get under our skin, and then loving that other person is no longer such an easy thing. There is also the fact that marriages don't happen in a vaccuum of heaven on earth, shocking I know. lol Add in all the sin issues within our own heart juxtaposed beside our husbands, and without a whole lot of prayer and intentional forgiveness and communication, pretty soon you have a recipe for disaster, it seems.  I have seen it in my own heart at times.  Joe has certainly done and said things he shouldn't have done, as have I, but ultimately I have the choice of whether I view my husband through a lens of tenderness, forgiveness, and unconditional love, like Hosea did for Gomer, or whether I allow bitterness and hardness to consume what feelings I may have.

    The truth of Hosea is that ALL of us who know Christ were that broken prostitute, redeemed, washed, forgiven, and transformed by His great, beautiful, boundless love and grace.  Yet when it comes to our husbands, we withhold that same transforming, boundless love for lesser crimes than these. 

I think a big part of that is that in our culture, we don't understand the purpose of marriage anymore.  God has been showing me in the last couple years that the purpose of my marriage is NOT my happiness, although there can and should be much joy in serving God in the context of marriage.  The purpose of marriage is not to make me or Joe happy; it is another vehicle God uses to make us HOLY,  and to be a witness and testimony to a lost and dying world of the love of Jesus for his bride the church.  Our marriage should be filled with that kind of love.  And when I only want to love my husband if he is doing everything right and serving me according to my expectations, well, that's not really love at all.  It's more like a form of emotional prostitution, which is pretty messed up actually.  The funny thing is, this whole idea of loving someone like this is terrifying to the world, but it's actually a very freeing love.  When my love, my peace, my joy are not centered on my husband's performance, but on what Christ says about me (He loves me perfectly)and how Christ treats me (He died for me, so there is no question ever where my Savior's heart is), it frees my husband that much more to be the man God has created Him to be.  It also frees me to appreciate all the wonderful things he does do for me, all the hundreds of little ways he shows his love for me that were minimized in my eyes before, because I couldn't see past his imperfections. 

    Truly loving my husband does not mean making myself a doormat.  It may mean doing all I can to be a helper by covering my husband's weakness with grace and love, not keeping a record of wrongs.  It may mean confronting him lovingly, or it may mean standing back quietly in prayer so that the Holy Spirit can work without my interference. For someone in an abusive relationship, it would mean loving yourself (and the abuser) enough to get away and get the professional counseling help you both need, allowing the abuser to experience natural consequences of his actions,not out of maliciousness or bitterness, but striving to have a heart of forgiveness and to keep him from hurting you or others further.  The attitude of our heart is key.   I am not called to be the Holy Spirit for Joe or anyone else.  Sometimes the only thing God expects out of me when I see a need is not to nag, but to pray.  I'm honestly not all that good at standing silently and praying. 

I still have so, so much growth to do with this.  I still too often respond in anger when I should respond with love and grace and proper boundaries.  There are many women far, far wiser than I who would sit better in the position of a teacher than I ever could.  That's why I link to the book, because honestly there was a lot there I thought could encourage someone else.  My blog is just about the things God is showing me, and what I am learning, so I hope anyone who reads this will recognize I am not sitting in the position of a teacher, but more a friend over a cup of coffee sharing where she is at right now.  And I can tell you, honestly, that in the last few years, as I have latched onto this truth and begun to grow in it, my marriage has been better, happier, stronger.  It's not an overnight kind of transformation; more quiet and gradual.  But it is being transformed, as I am.  Hallelujah!  I hope it will be said of me that I never took the grace of God for granted, and that I was equally willing to share that grace with others, most especially my husband and beautiful children. 


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