A reader recently made a comment (on this post) that has stuck with me. Her husband had left her, and she wrote, “Please pray for his heart to soften and turn toward home.”
Turn your heart toward home.
I’ve been spending time in prayer and thought considering what this means. Our hearts belong with God—in worship, in following the plan He has laid in front of us as best as we can. Anything that distracts us from God and His plan for us turns our hearts away from home. When our hearts are tugged on in a way that distracts us from God or His plan for us, we need to keep our hearts turned toward home. In a practical sense, this is really about maintaining focus and priorities.
When we choose to marry, that marriage becomes part of who we are and how we live for God. Jesus said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:5-6) Keeping our hearts turned toward home means that we don’t let anything pull us away from our marriages.
Hearts can turn away from home so easily. People and projects and identities away from home tug on us temptingly. On top of that, when things at home aren’t so great, we are riper for that temptation. We may even be looking for things that will tug on us.
Neither spouse is immune to this pull. I’ve experienced it myself at times throughout my marriage.
Are you losing your focus?
Several things have the potential to draw our hearts away from our marriages and our husbands if we are not careful:
Relationships Although it’s easy to jump to the sin of infidelity here, that is hardly the only kind of relationship that pulls on us. Our female friends, social activities, organizations, and people we know online can all interfere with our focus on our marriages. I’m going to include extended family here, although that is probably a category of its own. When you find yourself going to two funerals and three family birthday parties every month, your focus is shifting from your husband and your marriage to your larger family. When you regularly spend more time thinking about a friend’s marriage problems than our own, it’s a problem.
Ministry If you’ve ever thought, “But I’m doing this for church, so it must be more important than my marriage,” you have turned your heart away from home. When my gate-keeping began to flourish, I delayed sex until weekends because I was busy preparing a children’s activity (or I was recovering from having facilitated said activity). Or I was on a church board and wouldn’t be home until late. If it was related to church, I figured I had a good excuse to avoid dealing with what was going on in my marriage. I would say that most volunteer work could fit into this category as well even if it is not church-related.
Parenting Ah, parenting. It’s exhausting, isn’t it? When we throw ourselves into our kids’ activities, we take ourselves away from home. When we are exhausted from getting the kids where they need to go, volunteering for cub scouts and brownies, it can just be too much. When the identity of Mom becomes a higher priority than the identity of Wife, or more important than the identity of Child of God, it’s a problem.
Work Whether your work is in your home or outside it, we often throw ourselves into it and begin to associate our worth with our work. When things weren’t going well at home for me, I would throw myself into my professional work. The times when I was the best at my job was when things were going their worst at home. Work was an escape from the challenges I saw growing in my marriage. I have a relative who has done the same thing as a stay-at-home mom. When her marriage was struggling, she threw herself into housework and home repair. Even within her home, her heart was turned away from home.
Electronics Facebook. Pinterest. Blogs. Text messaging. “Honey, I’ll be there in a few minutes. I just need to finish this level of Candy Crush Saga.” “I have five more pins I need to look at for ideas for the kids’ teacher gifts.” Sitting smack dab in the heart of our homes, electronics can interfere with our hearts facing home.
To be fair, being distracted by these things on occasion or for short periods of time is not a problem. The problem comes when these things interfere with your marriage and turn your focus away from God and away from your marriage.
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This is the first of several posts about turning our hearts toward home. I’ll say a bit more about each of these areas in the other posts. I confess that I have allowed each of them to interfere with my marriage. Each of them continues to be a struggle for me at times, and I need to address them intentionally in order to keep my heart turned toward home.
Is your heart turned toward home?
The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. Proverbs 14:1
Turn Your Heart Toward Home