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Volume 7, Issue 1: Femina

Dear Pam

Nancy Wilson

Dear Pam,

Your letter arrived yesterday, and I sensed your urgency for a reply. Although you may be expecting "marriage counseling" from me, I must first address something far more important and fundamental.
When I knew you in college, you called yourself a Christian, and I saw you at many of the Bible studies and conferences the first few years. But then something happened, and you changed in your junior year. You said you just weren't "on fire" anymore. It wasn't long after that when you started seeing Alan. Next thing I knew, you were engaged and then married. That was twelve years ago.
In some ways, I am amazed that your marriage has lasted this long. Not because I don't think you are both very nice people. Alan has always been a courteous and hardworking man, with a great sense of humor. You've been a cheerful and thoughtful wife and an energetic mother. These are good qualities that many would envy in a husband and wife. Nevertheless, it sounds as though you have both depleted your resources of strength. The good humor and thoughtfulness have nearly disappeared altogether, and now impatience, resentment, and self-centeredness have taken their place. Your grief over this is obviously understandable. In fact, I am grateful that you are so disturbed because this is a sign of hopenot that your unhappiness is itself the cure, but it means you are willing to ask for help and listen to the answers.
Think back to your wedding twelve years ago. I'm sure you've long since realized that the bridesmaids' dresses and flowers, the cake and the mints, the rice and the limo were all simply expensive ornaments decorating the doorway to the house. This house was your marriage. As I recall, your doorway was quite lovely. The house was lovely for a time too. But it doesn't stay lovely by itself, and it's not a "one time deal" making it lovely as you did with the wedding.
Now think about the vows you made at your wedding. Do you remember them? What did you swear, before God and man, to do? Perhaps you should dig out the wedding video and listen again to what you promised . How long has it been since you reflected on this? And why does it seem you are so powerless to do what you promised to do? I'll tell you why.
Marriage is a created thing. God created marriage and He created it for a purpose. It does not exist for its own sake; nor does it exist for the sake of the husband and wife. Marriage exists in order to honor and glorify God. Obviously, a poor marriage does not intentionally fulfill its purpose. Can you think of any marriages that seem to fit this description? I'll agree with you that there are precious few of them.
In order for a marriage to be God-honoring and God-glorifying, it is essential that the husband and wife each live in a way that pleases Him. And frankly, Pam, you and I both know that you walked away from that obligation. With regard to your marriage, you have tried, I know. You say you've made resolutions to be a better wife. You've gone to marriage seminars and read books. But it only seems to get worse. Why?
The reason is that you are looking for answers in the wrong places. You have expected to find the answer in yourself. ("I'll lose the ten pounds." "We'll go on a date once an week," etc. ) You've both thought the key to a happy marriage lies in material things. Now you have the jobs, the house, the cars, the vacation, but you have no peace or joy.
You must go to the Author of marriage to supply these things. They cannot and never will be found in yourself, or in any external material thing , including your marriage . You must humble yourself, confess your sinfulness, and call on God to forgive you in Christ. Only Christ can cleanse you and free you from yourself and from the power of sin. Once you are put right with Him, once you are regenerated (or born again as some say), then you will be in a position to learn what God says about marriage. Then you can begin to apply His direction for a marriage that is God-honoring.
Let me quote Samuel Rutherford from his Letters . "Be humbled; walk softly. Down, down, for God's sake, my dear and worthy brother, with your topsail. Stoop, stoop! it is a low entry to go in at heaven's gate."
It seems to me that you are reaching the end of your resources and feeling keenly your need to look outside yourself for strength and purpose for living. Look to Christ , Pam. He has not promised happiness in externals, but He has promised us peace and joy and forgiveness in Him. Only He can put your marriage on the right foundation Himself.
I'll look forward to hearing from you.

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