Friday, February 22, 2013

When Dad Doesn't Believe - Nancy Sebastian Meyer

Four practical suggestions for cultivating hope and peace in your family, even when your spouse has no faith

I shifted my position in the pew, once again wishing that Rich, my husband, would fill the empty seat beside me. Later, when the choir sang “I trust You, Lord,” tears burned the back of my eyelids and blurred my vision—not because I couldn’t trust God, but because I could do nothing but trust Him. 

God’s transforming power in my life over the past twelve years worked changes in me that have turned me into the wife and mother I am today, the wife and mother God calls and equips me to be. The changes in me, in turn, have brought love, hope and peace back to our family, even in the midst of my husband’s lack of faith. If you find yourself in a similar situation here are some practical suggestions.

1) Realize that you are never alone. Have you ever asked yourself if you married the wrong man? Have you ever wondered when your husband will get serious about his relationship with God? Do you long for your husband to assume his God-ordained position as spiritual leader of your home? If you said yes to any of these questions, you belong to a large contingency of women. Whether or not you recognize God or feel His gentle touch in your life, He is with you. He’s been a part of your life and in step with you since you became His precious child.


2) Practise His presence. Look for Him in the little things that happen during your day. Listen for Him in the singing of the birds and the splash of a waterfall. Breathe deeply, close your eyes, and find Him in the stillness of a quiet moment. Talk to Him throughout your day whenever you need someone to share a pleasant thought or a troubling problem. Go to bed with Him as you praise Him for the blessings of the day. 

Teach your children that God is with us in every situation. For example, when a difficult circumstance arises in your husband’s life and his angry response or behavior upsets your children, sit down alone with them and explain just as much as they need to know. Then pray together for Dad and his situation. Or while doing a chore with a child, bring God naturally into the conversation by asking your child how he or she has seen God today—and let that lead into thanking God for what He’s doing in your family. Practice His presence day after day after day.
3) Guard your heart. About two years after Rich stopped going to church with me, I returned to my home church where my parents still worshipped. My tattered heart began to heal as week after week my precious mom and dad sat me right between them in the pew.

Many good friends attended a Sunday school class for couples. Because I was diligently praying for Rich’s spiritual restoration, I joined the class with the hope that Rich would soon be attending, too. Instead, every week I sat with girlfriends and their husbands—the yucky boys I grew up with in junior church had matured into tall, handsome, godly men. 

A spiritually single mom can find herself becoming attracted to a kind man who seems to be everything spiritually that her husband is not. How can you protect your heart when it seems so vulnerable?
  • Acknowledge the possible problem.
  • Flee temptation. (I had to give up singing in the choir to avoid a man who touched my heart with his kind, gentle ways with other people, not even me!)
  • Confess your fears and vulnerable heart to a friend who will help hold you accountable.
  • Focus your love and attention where it belongs, on your husband. (You will find help for this last point in my book for wives, Beyond Expectations: Finding Joy in Your Marriage. Yes, you can fall in love with your husband all over again, even if your love tank seems to be on empty right now.)
4) Keep in balance. Every mom must keep many tasks and obligations spinning within her control. In God’s perfect plan her husband helps her. The spiritually single mom often feels unsupported and unbalanced as she seeks to carry the spiritual load of the family on her shoulders.

It seems Satan often selects moments such as these to top off our problems with spiritual dissention in the house. What can you do to safeguard against falling apart at times like this? If God could resurrect His own Son, He has the power to provide you with everything you need for doing His will and can work in you what is pleasing to Him (see Hebrews 13:20-21).

Every person has these five interrelated parts: spiritual, mental, emotional, social and physical. Hebrews 10:22-25 addresses all five of these aspects:

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith [spiritual], having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience [mental] and having our bodies washed with pure water [physical]. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope [emotional] we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together [social]. 

It’s important for spiritually single moms to attend to all five of these areas and to keep them in balance, so let’s take a look at how you can do that. As you read, give yourself a checkup. How are you doing and where do you need to improve?
  • Satisfy your spirit with the Water of Life by reading God’s Word every day and spending time thinking about Him and talking to Him about your joys and concerns (see John 7:37-38).
  • Transform your thoughts from the world’s standards to God’s principles by memorizing and mediating on Scripture and by testing everything against the truth in God’s Word. As Scripture tells us, “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).
  • Rejoice in the Lord always and think about the good and positive things in your life (see Philippians 4:4, 8), which will reproduce the healthy emotions of joy and peace.
  • Meet together in church and elsewhere with fellow believers who can offer you two types of socialencouragement: comfort and accountability (see Hebrews 10:25).
  • Practice healthy eating, sleeping and exercise routines to keep energized for the Lord’s work and present a healthy physical being, the temple of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Indeed, all the parts of us are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). But when one part starts wobbling all of the other parts are at risk. So pay attention to your own needs. We need peace within before we can expect to get our outward act together. But God’s word promises in Isaiah 40:31:

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary, they will walk and not be faint. 

Our Lord is ready and willing to help you. Will you let Him?

Only God knows how long you will be alone in your desire and efforts to help your children love God. Your husband may soon see the Light—or he may choose not to look at God until he’s forced to face Him in the next life. Regardless of how long it takes, living spiritually single takes a toll. Do your task of mothering to the glory of God. Then, one day in the not-so-distant future, you will hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21).

Adapted from "Spiritually Single Mom" 2007 by Nancy Sebastian Meyer.

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