And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through the husband…How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? ~1 Corinthians 7:13-16
A few months ago, I had a woman whom I have known for quite some time, come up to me after Sunday service and congratulate me on getting engaged. Needless to say, I was confused. She pointed to my wedding ring and asked about my fiance. My physical reaction was to hang my head, I told her this is the anniversary ring my husband gave to me 15 years earlier. She was taken back and quickly quipped, “You’re married?” I told her my husband and I just celebrated 30 years of marriage a few months prior. She began to look around and ask where he was. I told her that he wasn’t joining me today and she insisted I introduce them when he comes next week. I smiled, said my goodbyes, got into my car, and wept.
Year after year, week after week, I walk through my church doors, Bible in hand, a smile on my face, eager to worship, and ready to hear God’s word. My church is like many others where friends and families unplug for that small, uninterrupted moment to be in God’s house. I look around and see couples holding hands, praying together, chatting with other couples, laughing, and worshipping together. The only difference between me and most of the people around me, is I sit alone. Alone.
My husband was not raised in the church or with any kind of religion. The only time he went was for funerals or weddings. Faith is a concept he has a hard time understanding. Every now and then he will ask me, “How do you know what is written in the Bible is true?” I patiently explain faith, Jesus, and what I know to be the truth. Occasionally, he will join me and I jump at any chance I get to expose him to the word, but in my heart I know it’s not enough to bring him to Jesus.
Shame is real. Shame is powerful. I have fought shame which consumed 30 years of my life and replaced it with faith. I wasn’t expecting it to hit me like a punch in the stomach. As I sat in my car one Sunday after service weeping, I prayed that God would bring my husband to Him. While I don’t normally have this sort of reaction, there was something different about the realization that my husband doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus. I sat there for what seemed like an hour, praying with tears coming down my cheeks. This new feeling of shame and sadness overtakes me most Sundays but I have to remind myself, this is God’s battle, not mine.
Accepting this is God’s battle with my husband and not mine, has not been easy for me. It’s a weekly surrender because I am a fixer, a protector, and a leader. It takes consistent reminders from God and from my pastor, it may not be me who brings my husband to Jesus. I learned I must stay in constant prayer and continue to grow in my relationship with God so I can be the example of grace. No begging, no nagging, no questioning, just pray. I have put my faith in Jesus, and I know God will soften his heart on His time, not mine.
For those of you who are alone in your faith, I pray for you. I know how it feels to look around and see the couples and families walking with Jesus. Know that you are not alone. Know that we serve an almighty God who can resurrect the dead. Most importantly, know that we are all His children. Do not give up on your spouse or Jesus, for it is through him all good things will come.