My husband and I married very young by today's standards. I was 21 and he was 22. We stood together in a church before a pastor who had counseled us weeks before and spoke our vows and bowed our heads for each prayer. Yet neither of us was really pursuing a relationship with God.
For years I've had a dream of one day renewing our wedding vows. In this dream I see us standing with a full understanding that we are both making a covenant before God. In other words, when my husband is a believer. The irony here is that this dream is the very thing that has limited God working in my marriage. And possibly my husband.
Renewing My Thinking
In the book Winning Him without Words, I share a story of sitting at a traffic light and talking to God about respecting my husband. That day God made it very clear that I should treat my husband no differently than if he were a believer. Respect him, pray for him, and love him as if he already were a believer.
This change in my thinking allowed God to move me to the next renewal in my thought process—to see my marriage in the same light as I see my husband and to shed the label "spiritually mismatched." This still describes our faith differences, but it doesn't define who we are as a married couple.
I admit it's a radical shift, but this shift in thinking falls right in line with Philippians 4:8: "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
When I embraced this new way of thinking, it changed my viewpoint from a focus on what my marriage lacked to what my marriage was and who I could be within it.
The Renewed Mindset
1. My first shift in mindset came in realizing my husband's unbelief doesn't keep me from growing in my relationship with God. In fact, the more I pursue my faith and calling according to who I am in Jesus, the more I become the woman of influence that God desires me to be in my husband's life and in our marriage. And even better, when I am secure in this knowledge, I am no longer afraid to live my faith openly and authentically.
2. Instead of seeing my husband's unbelief as what has limited God working in my marriage, I now see the problems were my fear, doubts, pride, and unbelief. They fed into my decisions and choices in how I lived my faith in front of my husband and within my marriage. Fear and God's love cannot coexist. When I shed the fear that fed my doubts, pride, and unbelief, I experienced a freedom I'd never known before so I could really be a person of faith in my marriage.
For Further StudyDownloadable resources to go deeper
- Carolyn Custis James: What It Means to Be a Woman in MinistryeBook Format Available! Author and speaker Carolyn Custis James offers leadership insights for women.