Restoration Principle #2: Your willingness to confess and pray will determine the depth of healing and restoration God will bring to your marriage.
James 5:16 says it like this “Confess your sins to one another and prayer for each other that you might be healed.”
This principle played a critical role in our ability to move from being on the brink of divorce to God healing and restoring our relationship over the past 3 ½ years. More specifically, Trisha and I leaned into this principle this week on two occasions that made a huge impact in the quality of our time together on vacation.
On a vacation a few years ago, we were sitting at an outdoor café, drinking a cup of coffee, staring at the ocean. But something wasn’t right. I asked Trisha if she was okay. She said that she was fine. A few more minutes passed and again, I just felt like I needed to ask. I said, “Trisha, are you sure everything is okay?” Right then, she had two choices. She could have cut short the restoring work God wanted to do in her and in our marriage by saying again that she was fine. Or she could choose confession. We have seen over and over again that James 5:16 is true and it is right and it is powerful. She began to tear up and just said “I have an ungodly amount of anxiety in my heart right now, and I don’t want to be an anxious person.” There was a part of her heart that was fractured. Anxiety had taken root in her heart and had begun to hold her prisoner. She could have not confessed what she was feeling…and it would not have destroyed our marriage…but a degree of intimacy would have been lost. By confessing her heart condition to me and trusting me with it, communication started, walls were broken down and I was able to pray specifically for her in this area. I can’t make my wife less anxious…but God can. I was able to ask God to do something in her that I do not have the ability to do.
Although I (Trish) confessed my anxiety I didn’t fully explain where it was ALL coming from. The day before we had hit the beach and as we were lying on a comfy lounge chair Justin was “out” as we baked in the sun. I looked-up and noticed two girls just off to the side of us were completely topless and I became panicked as to what to do. Throughout the day there would be a woman walking along the beach topless. I just wanted to cry. Here we were in paradise but I felt like we were trapped in hell! So I had to make a decision…. tell Justin when he woke-up about what was going on and figure out what to do together or just be mad and think the worst of Justin.
The next day we were sitting by the pool (you had to keep your top on at the pool… my mom on a lighter note said I was caught in a “boobie trap” LOL). I looked at Justin and said, “In this moment, I need an honest answer from you, and I don’t care how brutal it is…I just need it be the truth.” He agreed to answer me honestly so I asked, “I want to know how you are doing in the area of lust as women walk around here half-naked. Are you struggling to keep your mind pure, and is there anything I can do to help you?” Huge decision for Justin: confess or hide?
He told me there have been times where he felt tremendous tension in his heart to take a second look at someone, but knew that it was wrong and that it was lustful. He told me that it isn’t a battle that you fight once and win, but it is a daily decision to recognize and fight. He said that I was already doing things that help him in this battle of lust like praying for him, sharing physical touch and affection, sexual intimacy, knowing that I find him attractive and have a desire for him. When these “action steps” are in a healthy balance then I know I am doing all I can to help him combat the temptation of lust and the rest is up to God! It is when I choose to be angry and hold a grudge because he does struggle and withhold myself in areas that are helpful to him, our relationship starts to break down.
What we realized later that evening was God was restoring a brokenness in us that had been created by years of hidden lust, unconfessed struggles and shame. This restoration hinged on our willingness to be honest and vulnerable and hear one another’s heart and pray for each other.
Here is my question to you today…is there anything you are NOT willing to talk to your spouse about? Is there anything that you are withholding? You may not be on the brink of divorce, you may not have the same issues that Trisha and I have, you may have a “good” marriage. If you can’t confess everything to your spouse and pray for them, you are missing a work of restoration and healing and a level of intimacy that only God can provide.
When we withhold things from God, it jacks up our relationship with Him. We pray less, feel guilty more, and we become more disconnected from Him. The same is true in our marriage. God has said that you and your spouse are “one flesh”. When we violate this principle, we allow the broken parts of our heart to stay broken, and over time we drift further and further away from our spouse…and from the oneness God desires for us.