When I say or do something unkind, I love to claim grace for myself. But what about when others hurt or mistreat me? What about those moments when others behave as, well, flawed people in need of Jesus? How can I show them the same truth-and-grace-based love that Jesus shows me?
My guest today tackled this question, and the answer God led her to saved her marriage.
I Was Eaten Up by Discontent
By the time Larry and I had been married seven years, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t love me anymore. He was working two jobs, had a flying hobby and was never home. I certainly was home with a strong-willed two-year-old and a newborn. I never went anywhere but Larry chose to do everything he wanted, seemingly without any thought of me.
If only he would stay home and help me with these kids, I wouldn’t be angry all the time and we could be a happy family. But no matter how much I complained to him and demanded God change Larry, nothing happened. Even God has abandoned me, I concluded.
One morning Larry announced he would be gone flying the entire day. I said, “I’ll get the kids ready. We’ll go with…”
“Kathy, you can’t go. I rented a two-seater plane and Joe is going.”
“But Larry, you’re never home. You work too many hours. You…”
“Kathy, I’m working all those hours to secure our financial future. You just don’t appreciate all I’m doing.”
My face grew hot with fury. “Money isn’t helping me cope with these kids! I get so angry,” I snapped.
“Kathy, that’s just typical motherhood blues. You’ll be fine. See you later.”
Larry walked through the laundry room into the garage, closing the laundry room door behind him. I was eating an apple and hurled the half eaten apple toward the closing door. The apple shattered on impact and red and white apple pieces flew throughout the laundry room adhering to the ceiling and the walls. I whirled around and marched into my bedroom, dropping to kneel beside my bed. “Lord, make that plane crash! I don’t care if he ever comes home again.”
Larry’s plane didn’t crash, but I felt as if my life crashed into a pit of depression and fury fueled by discontentment.
During the following months, the pieces of apple rotted, adhered to the walls and ceiling of my laundry room. Every day I saw them as a memorial to my rotten marriage and my life, rehearsing every evidence of my disappointing life.
One day months later, I sensed God say to me in my heart, “Tell Larry you love him.” I was shocked to hear God’s prodding. I didn’t love Larry and I believed he hated me—so I wasn’t about to give Larry ammunition against me. After all, if he heard those three little words, “I love you,” that I hadn’t said or thought for over two years, he might think I was approving of his negligence. I flatly refused.
God repeated the message and I refused again! Then I sensed the Holy Spirit giving a different message: “Then think it the next time you see Larry.”
- If he doesn’t hear me then he can’t use it against me. Then I’ll do it, even if it’s not true.
That evening, Larry returned from a flying trip. I stared at him, gulped, and thought, “I love you…” and then added, “but I don’t really.” Although I was obeying God, I still couldn’t believe it could ever be true.
I continued making that choice and God directed me to study Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (ESV). That helped me see I was demanding perfection from myself and from Larry. But just as God was patient with me in my journey of growth, I could be patient with Larry. He would never love me perfectly but God could. I realized my discontent was being fueled by my perfectionism.
What a difference. I began giving Larry credit for the simplest thing he did for us. I complimented him and refused to rehearse his faults. No longer did Larry feel like a failure who could never please me. In turn, he wanted to become more of a godly man. He changed jobs and didn’t have the money to fly. He choose to stay home more. We weren’t keeping track of the other’s failures. Little by little we grew in unconditional love and grace, the very opposite of discontent.
That was in 1978 and now, many years later, Larry and I continue to choose contentment by acknowledging the other’s loving choices and forgiving each other’s imperfections. We tell each other several times a day specifically how much we love and appreciate each other. We want God glorified through our story.
Let’s talk about this! How quick are you to offer others grace? Who is one person God might want you to actively show grace to today? What are some ways you’ve grown in this area? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and make sure to check out Wholly Loved’s Bible reading plan, Resting in Grace. Find it HERE.
Get to know Kathy:
Kathy Collard Miller tells her story of overcoming being an angry mom and discontented wife in her book No More Anger: Hope for An Out-of-Control Mom (Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.) She is also a speaker who has spoken in 8 foreign countries and over 30 US States. www.KathyCollardMiller.com.
Learn more about her book, Hope for An Out-of-Control Mom:
How can I have hurt my own child? Why am I so angry at my husband?
*What is it like to be in the heart and mind of an out of control mother?
*What is it like to hate yourself so much that you plan to take your own life?
*What is it like to believe God has given up on you and there is no hope?
*What is it like to see the emotional and physical pain you’re inflicting on your child?
The rest of the story …
*You’ll also learn what it’s like to see anger replaced by patience.
*You’ll also learn what it’s like to overcome suicidal thoughts.
*You’ll also learn what it’s like to know God never gives up on you.
*You’ll also learn what it’s like to see healing in the lives of those you wounded.
Kathy Collard Miller tells the riveting true story of being an angry and abusive mother. At the same time, she was a Christian who prayed for an instantaneous deliverance of her deep-seated anger. God answered yes through a process of growth. He also healed her relationship with her husband.
Is ‘no more anger’ possible? Let Kathy’s story assure you through hope and God’s help, the answer is ‘Yes!’–Carol Kent, author, speaker.
Buy the book HERE.
Make sure to check out Jennifer Slattery’s latest podcast episode: Moving Past Fear of Exposure. We can live in hiding, in shame, or we can live in the confidence of grace. The former leads to isolation and loneliness. The latter to peace and increased relational intimacy with God and others.
You might also enjoy:
How to Stop Identifying With Your Sin by Jennifer on iBelieve
Holding Tight to Our Spouse as Christ Holds Tight to Us, also by Jennifer
Connect with Jennifer on Facebook and Instagram and find her ministry, Wholly Loved, HERE.
Make sure to join her on Thursday evenings, starting April 23rd, for a faith-building book discussion aimed at helping us conquer our anxieties. Contact her HERE for more info!