These are stressful times we live in. But that doesn’t mean we have to fall apart as a result.
Everywhere I turn I hear of women who have experienced unimaginable heartaches, marriages that are in crisis, families that are financially strapped and people struggling with cancer and disease.
Stress — whether it be personal, emotional, relational, financial or medical — takes its toll on us in many ways. And it’s natural for us to reach out to someone — primarily our husbands or those closest to us — to get the relief, encouragement or support we believe we need to get through stressful times. This manifests itself in scenarios that can tend to backfire on us:
It can push a marriage over the edge when we, as wives, become a burden on our husbands – by letting them know how they are not meeting our emotional needs or expectations at a time when they have multiple frustrations as well.
It can damage a mother-child relationship when we expect our grown or semi-grown children to “be there” for us, emotionally, when they might not feel equipped to do what it is we are expecting of them, or respond in a way that will meet our emotional needs.
It can sabotage our friendships if others perceive us as needy — or aloof — as we attempt to survive our stressful situation by asking for — or avoiding — their help.
But a broken world — and the stressful results of it — doesn’t have to result in a broken marriage, a broken heart or broken relationships.
There have been many times in the past 30 years that I’ve had to look beyond the “brokenness” that life presents us and focus on the One who is whole and can make me that way, too.
For instance, I’ve had to make a conscious decision to let God “husband” me while my husband, Hugh, has been preoccupied with work, stressed over family matters or dealing with personal issues. After many attempts to make Hugh aware of my feelings, I finally realized he couldn’t be all that I needed, nor all I expected. (No man could, for that matter.) So I learned to take an alternative approach.
Instead of pointing out my husband’s inadequacies — which would’ve added another heap of issues to the pile of stress he was already trying to get out from under — I began to go to God to be my “spiritual husband.”
God, as our spiritual Husband was His idea, not mine.
In Isaiah 54:5-6, we read “For your Maker is your husband — the Lord Almighty is his name … The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit …” I realized that promise made by God to His people, the Israelites under covenant with Him thousands of years ago, applies to us today, regardless of our nationality, when we start trusting in Jesus Christ as our Personal Savior.
You and I can know Him as our Spiritual Husband when we start depending on Him to meet our needs in a way that our earthly husbands cannot. When I began to look to God to be my spiritual husband, I found that it alleviated the stress I was placing on my own husband, and other relationships as well.
Today, when brokenness is evident before me, or when stress starts rearing its ugly head in my life, I practice these “Three T’s” on a daily basis to stay strong during difficult times:
1) Tell God First
Sometimes we need to vent or just talk aloud about how we’re feeling. But our frustrations can come across as accusations or complaints if we’re not careful. And since it is natural for husbands– and others who love us — to try to find the problem and fix it, when we just wanted someone to listen, it’s better to go to God with the venting first.
Sure, God already knows what we’re going to say. (Psalm 139:4 says “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”) But by telling God first all that is on our hearts and minds, He can be the ‘buffer.”
2) Trust God’s Promises
The Bible is full of God’s promises about His provision and protection. So when we become troubled about finances, or other issues, we can find comfort just by remembering some of God’s encouraging words to His people.
In Psalm 37:25, David says: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”
In Philippians 4:19, Paul says “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
And Romans 8:28 tells us “…in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Looking to God as your Spiritual Husband means banking on the Bible and taking God at His Word.
3) Thank God Constantly
No matter what the situation, there’s always something to be thankful for. One of my friends was discouraged that her husband’s new job didn’t pay as well as his previous one. But some income was better than none. Another friend complained about her son’s disinterest in school and his unwillingness to “apply himself”, yet he was still very interested in his church’s youth group.
We can become people of praise with a contagious positive attitude when we obey God’s command in 2 Thessalonians 5:17 to “give thanks in all circumstances.” A thankful wife, mother or friend is pleasant to be around.
When we practice these three Ts, our circumstances might not change immediately. But by depending on God — and not solely on others — we can become encouragers, rather than accusers, and we can alleviate the stress in others’ lives, as well as in our own.
Can you start depending on the Only One who can make you whole, emotionally? Lighten your own load by lifting your burdens off of others in your life and leaving them with God instead. You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes in your heart and home.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and the author of a dozen books including Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, Women on the Edge and When Women Walk Alone (more than 100,000 copies sold). For free resources and encouragement to strengthen your walk with God or your marriage, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.