Today is the final post from Janna Allen (a pseudonym) in which she opens her life to us to share how the journey has looked in her life. I am thrilled to be able to share Janna’s story with you.
In the first post, Janna introduced us to both her journey away from refusal and to her marriage. In the second post, she told us about the dark years of gate-keeping and refusing in her marriage. In this post, she shares what she has learned and how much has changed—in her and in her marriage—in the past year.
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Then one year later…
God orchestrated in His perfect timing, for me to see just the right link, to just the right blog, to just the right posts so that the Spirit would convict me of the sin I had been doing for years but was unaware of.
A YEAR OF CHANGE
When I was convicted, I made the choice to change. I jumped into my change with both feet, no dipping my toes in to “test the waters.” Chris refers to herself as the queen of baby steps; I think I just leapt out of a plane. I believe a difference between Chris and me is that she started with making a change in the bedroom and that helped her work through things in her marriage. With me, we worked through much of our marriage issues and that led to a change in the bedroom.
When I chose to change, I not only changed from saying “no” to saying “yes” to my husband in the bedroom, I also started changing many things that would please him. I changed the type of clothes I wore, started wearing perfumes for him, slept with less on, got rid of all my “granny panties” and bought sexier underwear, and did things I had never done before like bathing together, having the lights on, and being more adventurous all around. I gave up my “me” time. Every night, after putting the kids to bed, it was “me” time. I showered, I grabbed my book, and I read. I read until my eyes were so heavy I knew I could sleep. No more of that! It was now “our” time. I also initiated more in that first month than I had the whole rest of our marriage. I flirted and showed much more physical affection outside of the bedroom.
I don’t want to paint a picture that this was a breeze. I struggled. I struggled with feeling like I was losing myself. I struggled with old thoughts and feelings. I struggled with resisting when I felt like I was being pushed too fast or too far. I struggled with choosing to trust what my husband said about how he feels about me and my body. Overriding my own thoughts and feelings about my body is a battle every single time I become vulnerable with my nakedness.
There were some changes that really took me by surprise and were completely unexpected.
The freedom I have in my marriage. I didn’t fully realize how much I had held back just to avoid having sex or being asked to have sex. I was not only robbing my husband of his love language, but I was cheating myself. I now have the freedom to give and receive love through touch: holding hands, kissing quickly or passionately, hugging, scratching his back, back rubs etc. When I’m stressed, tired, sad or anxious, there is nothing like the comfort of being held in the strong arms of my husband. There is comfort and peace in being held with my head tucked under his chin and my ear over his heart.
I also have the freedom to just be open. I can share what’s going on, my fears, my thoughts, and my desires. I am free to receive his comfort, compliments, thoughts and opinions without thinking there is an ulterior motive. I am fully free to be me: who I am now and who I am becoming. He is also free in sharing his most inner being with me. There is an intimacy that we’ve never experienced, one where there are no barriers and where we each are known by the other.
The total atmosphere change in our house. There is peace. There is laughter. Even when there are disagreements, how we interact with each other in the midst of them is different. Little misdemeanors are easier to look over; love truly covers a multitude of sins.
The change in my husband. Who knew that he would become the man I always dreamed of (with a few quirks here and there)? I guess when men feel like they are being treated like a king, they will treat their wives like a queen. It seems like his main concern has become to make me feel loved the way he feels loved, with dates, gifts, little surprises, praises privately and publicly, protectiveness, and concern that used to not be there. He is more confident, and when the stresses of life come around, it does not affect him like it used to. He really believes he can conquer the world if I am behind him and believe in him.
My perception of men. Not that I am even close to fully understanding them, but I see them in a totally different light now. They are very intriguing in their maleness and how they reveal a part of the Father. I can see their fierce commitment and love for that one woman in their life. I see their desires to fully love them and to be fully loved. SISTER, if your husband is a good-willed husband, he has a fierce commitment and love for you! If you are one who struggles with saying “yes,” your husband desires to fully love you as he is created to do (which is very much intertwined to the sexual connection and the act of becoming one) and he desires to be fully loved and desired by YOU. I pray for those who are blinded, that their “scales” will fall off their eyes as mine did. It’s a whole other world out there!
I see the uniqueness in how God created men as different than us women, and how they complement each other when working in tandem. Both male and female reflect a portion of the image of God that is unique to their gender. (Genesis 1:27) My respect has grown for all men with the realization of the responsibilities they carry in their God ordained callings as husbands and fathers. It is no wonder that Scripture tells the wives that they must respect their husbands. (Ephesians 5:33)
Ministry.I had no clue the way God would use the change in me for me to minister to others, online and in real life. Different opportunities have been presented for us to minister to others. The change in our marriage has affected multiple others—a number we will probably never know this side of heaven. We have had the chance to pour into couples who are thinking of marriage, into couples whose marriages are okay but could always be better, and into those who truly have broken marriages.
HOW DO I KNOW THIS ISN’T JUST A PASSING PHASE?
I have had some fears that my “feelings” will change, especially in the beginning. What if this was some freak thing because my hormones were going whacky? Why do I think this has lasted this long and will be a permanent change?
I believe it is because it is NOT based on what I am “feeling”, physically or emotionally. It is based on conviction and love, love of my Lord and my husband. No matter if my sexual desire dips (which it does), it’s not an option to do nothing. Or no matter how I am feeling towards my husband at the time (which I have had hurt and anger to work through this past year), it’s not an option not to work through things and go back to a “self-protective” state where I build walls and harbor unforgiveness and /or bitterness.
I could never have done it without the conviction and power of the Holy Spirit, and I believe that it will only be through Him that this will be a forever change. Where I am concerned, all that’s dependent on me is a surrendering and obedience to Him, because by nature I am way too selfish, independent, rebellious, and prideful to keep up an act of serving and loving my husband without some supernatural help and empowerment.
Sisters, God will be as original with you as He is with me and as He is with Chris. Though circumstances can be different and He is “original” with His children, WHO He is, remains the same. He is always faithful, He will always love us, He, in all His power, goodness, and knowledge can work together anything and everything for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) When we surrender all of our “self” to Christ first and foremost, it is much easier to put others, especially our husbands, first by serving and showing them love the way that says to them “She really does LOVE me.”
I want to share these words by Stasi Eldredge from Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You:
Accelerating our “becoming” involves saying yes to God again and again and again. It is not a posture of striving but of releasing. It looks a lot more like yielding than pushing through to the next goal. We collapse into God’s life within us. “Christ in me, help me” becomes our prayer. That is why he often brings us to the end of our ropes, the end of ourselves. Because it is from there we turn from our striving and raise our arms in surrender to our God again to save us.
By faith, we turn to him. By faith, we choose to believe that he hears our prayer. By faith, we believe he is good and is for us. By faith, we trust that though we may not see it or feel it, God is at work in us and for us. Because he says he is.
Are you ready to say “Christ in me, help me!”? There is freedom in releasing and surrendering the control we hold so tightly to.
I will leave you with one final quote that I have kept close to me:
God can change what people do, He can change behavioral patterns that have been in play for decades. He can change what we do to cope, to find comfort, to survive conflict, to count… Rahab had done a same old thing for years… and then she did something new. (Ref. James 2:20-26)
– Beth Moore from James: Mercy Triumphs, pg. 108
Sisters, do something new!
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Want to know more about the changes Janna has observed in herself and her husband after one year of her journey of change? Click here to find out.
Who is Janna? “We will be celebrating our 20th anniversary at the end of summer. I love being a mother and we are raising our kids to love Jesus and love others, and hopefully they now have a model of what a Godly marriage is like as they witness what a man and woman look like when they are in love! We have devoted our lives to sharing the transforming and redeeming love of Jesus Christ to the broken lives (which is everyone) around us.”
Image courtesy of Janna Allen