Learn from my mistakes

close up of wedding rings on floor

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I’ve been married for over 26 years to a man I deeply love, a man who doesn’t love Jesus with me. Through our hard marriage, God has helped me see the error of my ways and led me in better ways when it comes to loving my husband.  This morning, one of the typical tests I’ve faced, and frequent mistake I make, came up. My husband was watching a YouTube video and said, “Hey, did you know a bunch of Christians believe the earth is flat?”

My first instinct was to roll my eyes and argue.  I didn’t think before I spoke this morning, or even pray. I just started laying into how ridiculous it was that he was getting his information about Christians from YouTube. I tried to win an argument with him and then walked away exasperated, wondering if I’d ever get to experience the joy of worshiping Jesus with the man I’ve loved since I was 17.

Here’s a married-to-an-unbeliever life hack for you: When your unbelieving spouse wants to argue with you about unimportant or controversial issues, you may be tempted to try and win an argument. Don’t do it. Jesus shows us a better way.

This morning, while I was pouting in my bedroom after arguing with my husband about faith, science, Christianity and credible resources for information, Jesus’ words came to mind.

“…as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

Getting ready for today’s Thanksgiving feast, asking God, “How long?!” for the seven billionth time, God’s word gently and powerfully reminded me there is a way to love unbelievers: The way Jesus loved me!  In that passage in John, Jesus was about to suffer the condemnation of all my sin, and all his disciples’ sin in his own body, and he bent down and washed feet, even the feet of the one who would betray him. He didn’t love them by arguing with them about petty things. He loved them by serving them and bearing the pain of their sin in his body.

There is no magic argument that will win your unbelieving spouse, relative or friend to Jesus. There is no Petri dish of circumstances you can create that will grow faith in them. If your spouse or child or neighbor or friend or relative bends their knee to Christ and worships him it will be an absolute miracle. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything. You and I should do what Jesus leads us to do and what the Bible tells us to do and then offer up our faith and obedience to God, praying he would light it on fire, and save our loved ones.  We should follow Jesus example, and with his power at work in us, put down our arguments (even if we could win them), and instead just vulnerably love and serve the unbelievers we are in relationship with.

We must love our spouses well, and entrust them to God.

Today after confessing I’d been a jerk, I told my husband, ” I love you. I wish you believed Jesus and followed him with me. I don’t want to argue with you… What time do you want to eat our feast?!” It’s vulnerable and tender to speak the truth like that. But it’s the way Jesus loves.

Yesterday I received my copy of the winter edition of The Joyful Life Magazine: Treasure. In it, there is an article titled: Marriage: When the Yoke Is Unequal.I wrote it. Sometime in early 2020 the Daily Grace podcast will publish a podcast interview with me on this same subject.  I never wanted to grow up and be a woman who wrote and spoke about my hard marriage. I wanted to be an author, or an archaeologist. I thought I’d write children’s books or poetry or dig up old things out of the dirt. I didn’t think I’d dig up treasures out of the ashes of my life and write or speak about them. But here I am, blogging, writing and speaking about my mistakes, what I’m learning and the treasures and trials I’ve found as I bend my knee to Jesus under this unequal yoke.

I hope these blogs, articles and the coming podcast will help you follow Jesus in your circumstances. I hope they’ll give you courage.

2 thoughts on “Learn from my mistakes

  1. Beautiful post, Sheila. Thank you for sharing your heart and the truth. An unequally-yoked marriage is one of the hardest crucible one will ever endure, and one of the greatest lesson one will ever learn. I’ve been in the classroom for 32 years. And I’m still learning. I love this man of mine, and he loves me. It’s not a perfect marriage, but it’s my marriage. And I’m thankful for every moment!

  2. Hi Shelia. Thank you for your ministry! I too am married to an nonbeliever for over ten years. This was my marriage when I came to the Lord. I’m curious, does your husband not mind? This form of ministry for the “unequally-yoked marriages” is so needed in the church. Now that I discovered your ministry, I am sharing it with many other women at church. Again, thank you for your sharing and I’ll be praying for you and your husband. God bless you abundantly!

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