Many believers have certain people come to mind when they think about great faith. Great men and women of the bible and all throughout the ages there have been countless examples of great faith demonstrated in individual lives during extraordinary times.
Over the years I have also looked to and admired many different examples of great faith that have often encouraged me through difficult times. But the one example that has come to mean the most to me, is my wife. Janet’s story of faith has certainly benefited and blessed my life in a very personal way. But also whenever I step back and look at her story as a whole and I see what role faith has played in her life, when I do that, I’m always overwhelmed with admiration for her.
You see, so often people hear the basics of our story of how we were near divorce 4 different times, and how each time it was Janet who wanted out of our marriage and it was me who fought to save our marriage, and because of that people think I’m the hero of our story. But I cannot tell you how far from the truth that view of our story really is.
So I’ll tell you why My Wife is My Hero of Faith
To really know her story you have to know some things about her before we ever met. She was abandoned at a young age by her birth mother and she only heard from her again a couple of times when she was about ten years old. As a small child Janet was abandoned by her father for a time until he remarried and then on multiple times he disowned her for not living up to his expectations when she was a teenager and young adult.
Growing up, she was sexually abused many times by different men even though most of it could have been prevented if only her parents would not have dismissed it like it was no big deal after she told them the first time it happened.
She was the oldest of six children, so from the time she was around 8 years old she began to work in the kitchen. As she grew she was responsible for cooking, washing dishes, keeping the house clean, and taking care of her younger brothers and sisters.
And on top of all that, because of moving around a lot, she was always dealing with rejection and feelings of being an outsider everywhere she went. Her father hardly worked or held down a job so they often lived with very little food in the house. They also lived in shacks with no running water on a couple of occasions and they even spent a month one time living in a tent.
Oh, I should also mention, her father was always trying to get his preaching ministry going. While many in the churches they attended thought highly of him, his children, especially Janet, were scared to death of him. So Janet also grew up with a very twisted sense of who God is. And to know Him as a loving Heavenly Father was far beyond her comprehension.
So with all this as her background, was there any wonder she dreamed of someday finding a man who would sweep her off her feet and rescue her away from all the hell she had come to know has her life.
There is a lot more I could say about what she went through in her childhood. And I could talk about how her highschool sweetheart/ first husband was supposed to be the one to rescue her, but instead brought more abuse into her life. But for the sake of keeping this as short as I can, I will move on to tell you the part about our story that has come to mean so much to me.
After we met and then dated for a time, I then met her father. On that day, the very first time I met him, he told me about Jesus and on that day I gave my heart to the Lord. (Like I said, he was good at being a preacher. It is just knowing him in a personal way where the trouble begins.) Then after I gave my heart to the Lord and after Janet and I were married, I too began to follow her father’s example of pursuing ministry.
It’s incredible to think how much I followed in her dad’s footsteps. My pursuit of ministry and what others in the church world thought of me was more important to me than how my home life was really going, where Janet and my children knew me best. I also struggle with providing for my family, though I have never been without a job, still I searched from job to job to find satisfaction in my career. Often causing us to move from one home to another and then a few times moving in with family until we could get back on our feet.
I was very controlling and demanding in our home. It wasn’t unusual for Janet to be nervous and fearful when she shopped for groceries, never knowing if I would approve or if I would blow up in some angry response.
I could watch TV every night without paying any attention to her at all. And even though she didn’t like sports and we only had one TV, you better believe I still watched all my favorite teams and then some. Never mind the fact she could be bored out of her mind along with having to deal with feeling like she was never good enough to deserve my attention.
I had my expectations of her and I let her know when she was not meeting them. I expected my meals to be prepared without fail. I expected my cloths to be kept clean. And I expected my sexual needs to be met regardless if I had been paying her any attention or not. I could always recite how many days or hours it had been since we last had sex, but I had no clue when the last time was I took her on a date or bought her something special, or even just sat on the couch holding her while we watched a movie together.
Then when we argued, because she has always known how to fight back, I could let the words fly with no regard of how hurtful and cutting my words could be. In the heat of the moment I didn’t care about her feelings, I only cared about winning the argument and proving I was right. And I was the one who would, out of anger, threaten her with leaving and saying we should just split up. That’s why those 4 times she wanted out of our marriage all she had to do is respond okay to my threat of us splitting up.
So for 19 years she put up with me being angry a lot. She put up with me hating my job and taken my frustrations out on everyone at home. As I said I was demanding and controlling. I also rejected her in many ways including her sexual advances when it wasn’t convenient for me. (I shared a story about that on the post Is Your Behavior Sabotaging Your Marriage?) I betrayed her trust many times including one really serious time which I will have talk about later on here on this blog. I cut her with my words over and over again, even though I would later apologize and say I didn’t really mean what I said.
So then after all she went through growing up, then in her first marriage, and then again in our marriage, she had every reason to be very skeptical and doubtful about our future together. She had every reason to keep running from abusive situations in hope to someday find a relationship that wasn’t abusive.
Which brings me to my point. Three previous times I fought to save our marriage when she wanted to end it and though each time had its unique circumstances, in the end she still had to make a decision to give us another try with nothing more to go on than my promise of changing and her conviction to do what God wanted her to do.
But then after three times of us starting over only to slip right back into old patterns, how could I ask her to believe in our chances of starting over the fourth time. And on top of that, the affair that started the third time we split up and had then been resumed that last time, she had every intention of following through with her dreams of being with this guy. Who by the way had never done anything wrong in her mind for her to even imagine he was capable of hurting her the way she had been hurt before.
Yet, there I was fighting for our marriage the fourth time. Also fighting to keep her from chasing a fantasy I believed would surely leave her more devastated that she could possibly imagine. But why would she even consider giving us another chance? Why would she take a chance on possibly losing this other guy for good if she didn’t go be with him when she had the chance?
It really came down to just one reason. She chose to listen to God and to believe in what God was capable of doing. She didn’t put her trust in me. She had seen me fail too many times to trust me.
But she didn’t trust herself either. She knew she was capable of making the biggest mistake she had ever made, with either direction she went. She also knew how much she needed God and how much she needed healing from all her past. So as she sought after God and she began to listen to the Lord she knew she should not put her trust in this other guy as well.
During that last episode with us Janet could see how the Lord was doing a work in me and that did give her some hope. But ultimately it came down to how she allowed the Lord to do a work in herself that made the difference.
Still for me to look at how she allowed God to move in her own heart and how she obeyed God by letting go of something she had wanted so bad. And then how she chose from her own free will without feeling like she was forced, she gave us another chance along with her full commitment to us.
Maybe you would have to have lived what I have lived to really understand what I am saying. But as for me, apart from Jesus, my wife is the hero of our story. That’s why I can honestly say, my wife is my hero of faith.
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