I want to begin by sharing with you something that has absolutely nothing to do with marriage. I’ll get around to talking about marriage at the end, though. I promise.
I was a college teacher and administrator for a long time. Less than a year after I began this blog, I lost my job. I now see God’s fingerprints on much of that experience as He used it to pull me closer to Him and His plans for me. He placed opportunities for continuing writing and ministry within easy reach for me.
For several years, though, I’ve been keeping my professional options open. I’ve stayed connected with former colleagues. I taught part-time so my resume would show me as active in the field I loved for many years. The career that had supported my family and given me professional fulfillment for over two decades had now become my backup plan.
It was my safety net. It would be there to catch me if ministry and writing didn’t pan out for me.
God kept prodding me to move forward.
Since January, my college teaching has been filled with a sense of wrapping up so I could move on to something else. I have several books that have been stuck in the “work-in-progress” stage without much actual progress for well over a year. I’ve been feeling God’s nudge to start a blog coaching and editing business to support Christian bloggers. It’s a ministry-minded business that draws on so much of what I’ve done throughout my life, professionally and personally.
God has shown me the many ways He has prepared me to write books and to help other bloggers. He’s placed people in my life who encourage me. They help me believe in my ability to take hold of what God has in store for me.
I planned. I brainstormed. I researched and outlined. I created files to contain the work on my books. I asked a few folks to let me help them with some blogging work for free to give me some practice. I figured out processes I would use to write and to support others.
And then . . . I stalled. I was stuck.
Fear was in the way.
I can do my writing and do a part-time job at the same time, I told myself. The business can just be a little bit here and there. It will be fine. I can’t let go of my safety net, I thought.
Did you catch that? I couldn’t let go of my safety net in case following God’s plan didn’t work out for me.
Yup, I was afraid to trust God, even though I kept hearing His invitation.
I simply didn’t know how. I was terrified. What if I’m wrong in thinking this is what God wants me to do? What if I am hearing Him wrong? We have to pay our bills. I can’t let go of my safety net!
I kept trying to feel unafraid and to trust God, but I couldn’t seem to get any farther than, I can’t do it!
Recently I shared all this with a group. I told them about my plans for writing and building a business. I said that I’d been letting fear get in the way of following a path God has placed in front of me.
Their response was to pray over me, to pray for God to release me from my fear and fully trust in His preparation and provision.
Now, being prayed over isn’t a frequent experience for me. I don’t think I’d ever experienced it with people physically surrounding me and touching me.
I felt God’s presence in a strong and physical way. A friend later asked me if I’d felt like I had a spotlight on me. (She and I are both introverts, so the prospect of all that attention is a bit daunting.) My response was to say that it was more like candlelight than a spotlight, and that it was shining for me, not on me.
For several weeks after being prayed over, I often thought about getting to work on writing and business building, but that was as far as it went.
I would think about having been prayed over regarding my writing and my work, and since I hadn’t made any progress. I found myself thinking that the prayers hadn’t accomplished anything.
On a walk at the park several weeks ago, I was thinking about how I should force myself to get going on things as a response to their prayer. They went to all that effort to pray over me. The least I can do is show up and go through the motions.
Until that moment, I’d forgotten something: it wasn’t my writing or my business they had prayed about. They had prayed to release me from my fear.
I stood in the middle of the walking path, struck by a realization: MY FEAR WAS GONE.
They’d asked God to release me from my fear into freedom and trust in Him, and that’s exactly what’d He’d done. While I’d been busy avoiding the work, God had been making it possible for me to do that work.
Since then, I’ve worked hard. I launched my new business last week (and gave myself a free ad in the sidebar of my blog). I’ve dusted off the first book I want to finish. (It’s in electronic form, so “dusting it off” amounts to opening the file and reading what I’d already written.) I’ve also been super productive on a couple other projects.
- I was letting fear stand in the way of reaching for what God had placed in front of me.
- A group prayed over me.
- I’ve been released from my fear and am moving forward.
I promised I would say something about marriage, and here it is.
You may be struggling to make a change in your marriage: sex, your attitude, a habit of controlling everything, accepting a habit from your husband that frustrates you, being able to discuss a particular issue, feeling loved and cherished, understanding something your husband is experiencing, or some other change, whether larger or small.
Perhaps you know very well what is blocking your progress: fear, hurt, selfishness, or some other barrier. Or maybe you don’t know why you’re stuck. You just know that you are.
No matter how hard you try, your progress is stalled—maybe even before it’s started.
If you find yourself stalled, unable to move forward on your own, then stop trying to do it on your own.
Ask other Christians to pray on your behalf, to ask God to release you from what is holding you back.
You don’t have to go into specifics. You don’t have to say, “Pray that I can get past the gross factor so I can give my husband oral sex” or “Pray that I can be understanding when my husband comes home from a day of working with obnoxious co-workers.” You can ask them to pray for a challenge you’re facing in the bedroom or for your understanding as your husband copes with a work situation.
The people who are praying for you don’t need to know the specifics. You know. And more important, God knows.
If you know what you need to do and just can’t seem to move forward, ask for prayer. Allow other Christians to reach out to God on your behalf.
Let them pray, to shine a light on your behalf, that God’s hand will clear your path.
If you would like prayer about something in your marriage, please feel free to add a comment.
I will be praying over these during the coming week, and I know some of you will add your prayers as well.
Image credit | Christianpics.co