Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Blog Hijacking: Heeeeere's Gretchen!

Actually, I was an invited guest. But what kind of title is that?

When His Girl asked me if I'd be interested in guest posting at her blog, I was honored and thrilled to do so. But then comes the question...what to blog about? Hmmm? So as I was studying my belly button lint pondering and praying, I kept feeling "spiritually unequal yokedom" come to mind. as much as I have no idea if this will speak to anyone except for me, here I am writing about being happily married to a non-Trinity-believing-but-believes-in-a-God-non-church-going-but-supportive-that-I-go-and-take-the-kids-spouse. See, I could call him a non-believer. But I don't think that's accurate. I love this man for all I'm worth, but I would be making assumptions to say I know exactly what's in his heart and what he believes at any given time. However, I know he doesn't believe the same as I believe, for the fruit is just not there (yet).

In an effort to focus my thinking and make any sense, here are my thoughts on this subject in list format.

Thoughts on an Unequally Yoked Marriage:

1. My marriage is just as holy to me as one where both parties are believers. And I try to be Biblical in all my decisions with Big, even if he's not there. E.g. I see him as the "head", and me as the neck "heart".

2. It's so important to me to have pastors who are real about my not having a church-going spouse. They have been nothing but kind whenever Big picks up one of the children from a church activity, etc. They, I think, have really created an atmosphere where he doesn't feel judged the minute he sets foot into the building. Obviously, just as important, they pray for him, too. And for me and the children. One of my pastors with whom I'm especially close always tells me to honor God by honoring Big first. I love that support. He even told me not to tithe, if Big wasn't supportive. These are things that I think about when the offering plate comes 'round. And I have to tell you, I do send in an offering, and I'm glad that I can, but it's not as much as I'd like to give. Compromise.

3. Know that if you ask me to be in a home group, that's just one more evening away from my spouse. Because he won't come. Even if he were bought-in, he's shy. NOT a joiner. I wonder if that's why a lot of men don't come to church.

4. Know that if you have a church-based party, I will probably decline your invitation. There are some exceptions--when I feel like going stag-ette is okay--but not many. This actually stems from a bad experience we've had. I took Big to a party, and he knew there would be a lot of believers, so I imagine he was intimidated, but he knew this particular party was important (going away), and he liked the folks being honored, so we went. Things were going quite well until a guy started talking about church:
Where do you go to church?
Um...I don't go. Gretchen's not really my thing right now...
That's bad...That's really, really bad.
And then he left us, mouths open. Quickly making excuses and leaving the party. It's taken about 5 years, but I've recently a get together at my house (with folks from church). I won't do it unless I have his blessing, and I did. It was a little awkward, but overall, okay.

5. I once got the great advice to treat Big as if he's already saved. So, really, that's what I try to do. Also, on any given day:

We pray at the dinner table (and sometimes he does, too, though not always
in Jesus' name)
We lay hands on him if he's traveling and pray over him.
I pray over the kids as they go to school (which he sees if he's taking our
daughter to school).
The kids and I pray over this and that throughout the day.
I'm t.r.y.i.n.g. to model Biblical principles, such as forgiveness and
Bible-based confrontation to my kids
I ask Big and the kids for forgiveness. Because I blow it every
day. Many times.

6. Know that it's hard to fight the spiritual warfare on a Sunday morning to drag us all to church, fed, dressed, on time. In this area, I feel like a single parent, and I pray against resentment. Aren't Sunday mornings the worst? Satan would love nothing more than to ruin a day devoted to God. And guess what? I do miss those leisure mornings reading the paper and having donuts. Not enough to stop going to church, but sometimes the busyness of Sundays (alone) can get to me.

7. Know that a kind word about my husband will melt my heart. I believe that Big will go to heaven. I believe that he will turn to God and that this redemption will be the most incredible story in his life. But the waiting can be discouraging. And the "Dad doesn't go to church, so why do I have to?" can get a little old. Thus making the prize even sweeter.

8. I'll end this post at 8. Here are 2 verses which have become my encouragers about my status as an unequally yoked wife. Maybe they'll encourage you or someone you know:

1 Corinthians 7:12-14 (New International Version)
12To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

1 Peter 3:1-5 (New International Version)
Wives and Husbands 1Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands,

Soli Deo Gloria!



Denise said...

Beautiful post sweetie, bless you for sharing from your heart.

Amber said...

Thank you, Amber, for letting Gretchen have the floor. It was beautiful.

Shanda said...

Awesome post! So many women live in this place - thank you Gretchen for being such a blessing and encouragement to others through your own transparency! said...

Gretchen, I'm praying for you and for Big. I've grown to love you both.

Carpoolqueen said...

I love to see that verse lived out. I love that he is so accepting and encouraging to you. This tells me that he knows it's making a huge impact in the life of his family. I can't wait to hear his testimony about how God used you in his life.

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

You are a wise woman, Gretchen.

Amber, thanks for giving her the floor!

DidiLyn said...

I love the advice, treat him as though he already is saved....already a believer.
I have been living that with my adult kids. I kinda get that.
Good job, Gretchen.

HappyascanB said...

Hi, I'm visiting through Shanda's post. I greatly appreciated reading this! I am praying for you, Gretchen, Big, and your precious children.

Lynn said...

Hi My Sweet Friend,

Girl, We live very similar lives. All eight of these I absolutly live as well. Church on Sunday... Dad isn't going, why should I... Parties with church friends are always a struggle and usually go badly... Oh, it is painful but girl.... You and I... We honor Jesus by loving our husbands. Thank you for sharing your heart. Write something for SUM.... Send it along. Love you. Hugs.

Pam D said...

Thanks for this post, Gretchen. I, too, am spiritually single, and it has been a challenge in many ways. Because of dumb decisions on my part over the past several years, my husband has become almost antagonistic towards the church. Finally seeing it, I'm now trying to repair it, but it is hard. Tell you what.. I'll pray for you, and you pray for me, OK? Cause I know that God has plans for us, for our husbands, and for our families... we just have to let Him do his work without us always worrying about it. May blessings and grace abound in your home..

Stephanie said...

Gretchen - thanks for this post! As a minister's wife, it is so helpful to hear your feelings on this. I hope I can now be a better encourager to the spiritually single women -and men - in our church. God's blessings to you!!!

christy rose said...

I loved the openness and honesty of your post. I thought that I might be able to add some encouraging words to your heart today.

The Word says that marriage is to be esteemed and held in high honor, all marriage. (Hebrews 13:4) So, you are right to see your marriage as holy. God does. You should not look at your marriage as "less than" to anyone else's.

Marriage is a covenant that is supposed to be a symbol to the world of the marriage-love relationship that we have with Jesus. We, the church, are His bride. Needless to say, we were not holy when he set out to win our hearts and marry Him spiritually.

He has sanctified us, set us apart for Himself, by the Truth of His Word being manifested in Him toward us. Experiencing His forgiveness, His love, His mercy,
His grace, moves our hearts toward the one who loves us and has cut covenant with us to do us only good all the days of our lives.

This moves our hearts more and more toward Him and less and less toward anything that the world has to offer.

Scripture also says that when we marry we become "one", no longer two. It is with great excitement that you can know that when God looks at your husband, He sees you. I Peter 3:7 says that you are joint-heirs of the grace of God. Your union with God makes your husband, who you are one with in the flesh, sanctified with you before God. (I Corinthians 7:14)

This would support the promise of Acts 16:31. When you believed on Jesus, you entered the covenant of promise that He would save all those that are one with you, husband and children.

Everything God is doing in you, He is doing in your husband as well. You are "one." You are joint- partakers in His grace. Isn't God so good!

I hope I encourage you just a little today.

God Bless

ann said...

Awesome post, Gretchen! I love how you honor your husband, and I love the scripture you gave at the end. Thank you so much for sharing!

His Girl Amber said...

Psst! I snuck onto the internet to see how it's going over here... and of course, you did a fabulous job, Gretchen! I lurve this post so very much and I have more specific comments, but I'm off to the next part of the confernce. xoxoxo!!!

Tiffani said...

My sweet Gretchen!

This is so touching and so REAL!!

I think this can be said for all of us who even have LOVED ones (maybe not spouses) that aren't saved and we want to show them Jesus...

Your tenacity and heart are amazing and I echo Sus..what a testimony he WILL have!

Brandy said...

Thanks for the reminder to to keep praying for you, and for Big's salvation. It was good to get your perspective on church events and such. I hope I can be more understanding and helpful to friends' unbelieving spouses.

Sing4joy said...

Ah Gretchen. All things above.

Laretha said...

Gretchen, thank you for sharing your heart! I will tell you that my mom took her children to church every Sunday that my dad wasn't a believer - the first 16 years of my life and the 10 years before that. BUT GOD! He shows up so big! My dad walked the isle at church one Easter Sunday. I blogged about it Easter weekend if you want to read the whole story.

I have a friend who was also married to an unbeliever. She did EXACTLY what you are saying. She went and she honored him. She honored him in tithing (she didn't without his blessing) and in respecting him. He too walked the isle at church - and it didn't take 26 years!

Your husband will be won by your heart and your love!

In Christs Love,

Becky said...

What a treat to find you here...I loved everything you had to say, Gretchen. My mom lives this every day with my step-dad and I know shares your sentiments. Especially the whole church gathering thing. That can be dicey.

Praying for Big and your family, too!

Jackie @ Our Moments Our Memories said...

Gretchen, this was an amazing post, and I have come away just sensing how wise you are, and how much God has taught you in this area. Bless you, my friend. And thanks to Amber for letting your hijack! :)

Gretchen said...

Garsh! Thanks for the kind words. And once again, Amber , thanks for your hospitality. Xxxooo

Kellie said...

This post is going to be a blessing to so many people. Both those who walk in your shoes, and those who don't...but need to understand.

Love the "Treat him as if he already is a Christian", which in many ways is John 15:2, in yet another translation. THAT's not only how we should treat our unsaved family members, but every human being God places in our lives!

Great post!

Angie said...

Gretchen! Thanks for hijacking this blog. That was an amazing post and it just blessed my heart. Thank you for your honesty.

Keep on keeping on!

Gina said...

Spot on. That is exactly right.
But I am really sorry that people are stupid and say stupid things and have stolen the joy out of gatherings for you.
Wait on the Lord.

truth said...

This post brings back a lot of memories.

I recall having home group at my house, with my husband's blessings. One guy cornered him and was determined to save him. That was the last time hubby allowed Christian gatherings here.

Unequally yoked marriages can take on lots of different looks. Some are like yours, where Christianity is tolerated by the non-believer. My husband was mostly tolerant of our church attendance, but not of Christian music, or prayer or anything "religious" at home. That part was very difficult.

Sometimes the kids would be sad and ask him why he didn't believe or what he believed. I remember a lot of tears when one daughter was told that he didn't believe in God or Jesus. She was brokenhearted.

Four of my five children are adults. I'm still married to an unbeliever. Sometimes I do get weary this many years later.

Andrea Frazer - Pass the Zoloft said...

Gretchen, that was great. I can relate to all of it.

joanofalltrades said...

Stopping over from A Teachable Heart. Wonderful, insightful post!