Give my husband a new wife, and let it be me.
I read that line again. Then I closed the book and set it aside. My stomach was in knots.
I first prayed these powerful words two years ago. I had chosen The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian as my book to focus on during Lent. Of the thirty one chapters and all the prayers contained in that book, it was the first chapter that wrecked me. The chapter entitled His Wife.
The reason that line caused such an ache within me is that I hate change. I hate breaks in my routine. I am not spontaneous. I like simple, sameness, security. But deep down the truth is I hate being wrong. So it’s no wonder that the idea of praying for God to grant my husband a new wife jolted me.
When I read this, I was already a few years into praying with my Mother’s Prayer Companion. The majority of my prayers for my husband, Chris, were intentions I wanted for me. These petitions in all truth were prayers in which I was the direct beneficiary if they were indeed granted. Selfishly, I wanted Chris to become the man I wanted him to be, rather than who God wanted him to be.
One of the biggest thorns in our early years of marriage was Chris’ job; or rather, Chris’ relationship to his job. For years when praying for Chris, it was his job that I asked God to mend. Chris and I argued in circles about his work: the hours, the pay, the hours some more, and the emphasis that was put on serving his work community rather than his own family. It was painful.
In You Alone, I shared some about this loneliness I experienced early on in our marriage.
So when Chris finally decided to resign from the job that caused us so much marital stress, I assumed our life would immediately be “fixed”. I was also arrogant enough to think this was somehow my doing, that I had prayed away the thing that needed fixing in our marriage. I also expected there to be feelings of instant gratification with this shift in careers. However, we soon learned we were pregnant with our third baby, and at the same time we were also buying and selling a home, moving across the metroplex, and raising two toddlers. All of these things kept interrupting what I had imagined as our new and better life. In reality, we were only just beginning the hardest chapter.
After our third child was born, life became more demanding. Chris’ career path felt more like a hike up Mt. Everest. There was more change, and many heated conversations about money and health care and budget. We lost close friendships. In the midst of the storm, I also felt like we were losing hold of our marriage.
Yet, isn’t that exactly where we’re supposed to end up? In my life when I reach my “wits end” is when the the Lord inserts Himself. When I finally surrender--yield myself--He is there. Here, Lord, I’m finally ready for You to take control.
The twenty four months following Chris’ resignation from the “thorn job”, up until he found a secure position in comfy corporate America, was a roller coaster for our family. All these ups and downs also included us having a fourth baby!!!
Well, here’s when I finally fell apart.
It was 10 o’clock at night in the middle of my kitchen floor. I was gripping the countertops, because my whole body was shaking. This thirty something mother of four was about to unleash a Texas-sized tantrum.
Chris and I didn’t know it at the time, but this tornado was actually God bringing my husband his new wife. She just didn’t look like what either of us imagined she would.
Chris had casually mentioned he was discerning taking yet another job. No matter how positively he spoke and used phrases like “perfect job”, I kept spinning in my head. The job he was being asked to interview for was the same position that a few years earlier had caused so much strain in our marriage. I felt like the thorn was returning and pressing in even deeper than before.
Why would God do this to me? Now!?
My postpartum self finally lost a grip on reality (and the kitchen counter), and anxiety laid hold of me. I came unglued. Wheels fell off, y’all. Four letter words were dropped, many tears spilled, and all the big feelings collided onto our tile floor.
This meltdown in the kitchen was such a pivotal moment. I’ll remember every detail of that night for the rest of my life, and I’m sure Chris will too. It was so explosive and words exchanged very hurtful, yet God was actually making way for one of the biggest blessings in our marriage.
While I was crumbling, Chris remained steady. He scooped me up off that kitchen floor and assured me his marriage and his children were his primary concern. He spoke truth to me and consoled me when I must have seemed inconsolable. And it was within a week that he gently led me to seek some professional help.
Here’s when his new bride finally came into focus. Four months after my fourth baby, I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety. Remember that I had I prayed for Chris to be given a new wife? The redemptive love of God, my Healer, did what I thought was impossible. He began to fix me. Not Chris, not his job, not all the wants I had in my heart. It was me He was after.
I could never have imagined back then the woman I am now, the one sharing these details with so many. Because the woman I was five years ago would have stuffed all this in her emotional junk drawer for no one to ever see. I never thought I would have to fall so low that I would be put on medication, or that the answer to almost all of my prayers for my husband were answered once I became well.
It’s amazing to look through my MPC pages over the years, and read through all of the prayer requests I have had for Chris. So often God did not answer my petitions in the way I thought He would. And sadly I spent so much time being anxious and trying to tell God how to be God. In hindsight, all I needed to do was pour my heart out to Him, trusting that His plans and His way are always greater and better than my own.
With every prayer to “fix” Chris that I exhaled, I was inhaling God’s grace, and I was the one being transformed. In fact this story has nothing to do with how prayer changed a husband, it’s a story of how prayer changed a wife.
And guess what? Chris did take that other job, and it too has been an answer to so many prayers I had for him! I have never been happier with his work/life balance. What’s incredible is that Chris was willing to walk away from this job if taking it meant I would be unhappy. Yet that would have been a mistake, and God protected our family from it. If I had not had the humility to do what I needed to do to become emotionally well myself, then we might have missed the huge blessing his new job has brought into our lives.
This year February 14th is not only Valentine’s Day, it also happens to be the first day of Lent. I encourage you to embrace this time to make a journey with the Lord. Courageously ask Him to make straight the crooked lines in your marriage. Boldly ask Him for the faith to believe that He can. And humbly ask Him - where your husband’s wife needs to be made new; changed, healed, and set free.
I pray my journey offers you hope... because my husband has been given a new wife, and that woman is me.