When Your Spouse Feels Far From God
By Janel Breitenstein
The headlights of our vehicle wove through a mountain pass as tears dripped on my jeans. My husband had watched the kids that night while I stood absently in a used book store, seeing but not seeing the shelves. It was hard to remember a time when I felt more spiritually bewildered, where I had strained further to hear something—anything—from God.
I couldn’t have known it was only the beginning of nearly three years of spiritual regrouping. Sediment swirled in my heart around a God revealing Himself as mysterious, beyond my grasp in ways holy and troubling.
My husband, however, refused to be rattled by questions neither of us could answer. In that time, he both anchored and harbored me.
It can feel scary when a spouse seems spiritually distant or listless. But our reactions out of fear can lead some of us to control, to force our spouses in a godward direction.
In our faithlessness, we can lack patience for God’s long game. Rather than gently leading, compassionately listening, and calmly influencing, we can worry, nag, and manipulate. Distance can grow between us amidst the clash of our disparate spiritual intimacy.
What my husband did right? He created a place where I could be emotionally “naked and unashamed,” bringing the questions of my heart right into my heart’s place of worship rather than spackling over them.
He trusted the Holy Spirit in me. Prayed for me. Believed my wrestling would result in strength. Facilitated encouraging relationships and alone time where I could “be” rather than distract myself with “doing” or appearing “just fine.”
Like a friend grieving alongside, he sometimes just sat and shook his head about what wasn’t right in this world.
He did what he needed to create a fertile place for authentic spirituality, and then trusted God with the growth. And now, I’m more beautiful for it.
The good stuff: I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)
Action points: If your spouse is distant from God, in what ways do you struggle to trust God and His plan for your spouse? How are you “lean[ing] on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5-6)?
Ask God to show you tangible ways to receive your spouse and gently lead him or her toward Jesus.
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