I was in my mid-twenties. My husband was the senior pastor of a growing church in the Midwest and we were BUSY. I loved ministry and I thought I loved people. I mean, isn’t that what “ministry” is all about: loving God and loving others? But in the midst of all my good “kingdom work” I was stopped short when I was confronted by a staff member’s wife. It was one of the first conversations that caused me to pause (but only briefly) to consider that I might need to evaluate my treatment of others.
Looking back now, I don’t know how this young woman had the nerve to approach me, because back in that day I was one intimidating fierce woman. Her voice was shaking as she timidly ventured an attempt at confronting my cold and businesslike demeanor, “You just don’t seem to care about people . . . You seem so hard and matter of fact. I mean, for instance . . . I’ve never even seen you cry . . .”
Her stab at confrontation wasn’t enough to effect any real change however. I embraced my fierceness, pitied her ignorance, and breezed out of the room to move on to more important matters. I thought she was just whining. I left the conversation fairly unfazed.
Interestingly, almost ten years later, I was faced with a similar rebuke from another woman in leadership. Her words cut through me reaching the heart, “You just walk over people . . .” This time the confrontation came in the midst of much personal brokenness. God was already opening my eyes to the ugliness of my fierceness and I took to heart her accusation.
Not long after receiving that blow to my pride, a dear friend had the courage to ask me a penetrating question, “Do you think you intimidate your husband?” My first response was to laugh. But her question wouldn’t leave me alone. I played and replayed it . . . and started to wonder if this wise sister recognized something in me that I had missed but needed to see.
God used all of these confrontations on my journey toward brokenness and deliverance from being a “Destructively Fierce Woman.” When my eyes were finally opened to the depth of my own need for change, and the responsibility I bore for our estrangement, I was broken. I laid it all down. I asked my husband’s forgiveness. That was a turning point in our marriage. Things didn’t suddenly become easier. Our marriage didn’t change overnight. But my heart changed and eventually our marriage changed as well.
You may be in a miserable marriage, looking for answers to where things went wrong, wishing your husband would change, convinced he’s the problem . . . let me challenge you to read through the contrasting characteristics of the Fierce Woman and consider where you are.
You may be repeating words similar to mine: “He’s the one who needs his eyes opened, not me! If only he would be more loving, open up, communicate . . . if only he would demonstrate love, we could have an intimate and enjoyable relationship . . . if only he would change . . .” How often I sang that same song. All the while, intimacy continued to steadily erode.
Every couple’s issues will be different, and the specifics of the relationship struggles will vary, but when it comes to marital conflict—there are no “innocent bystanders.” There is always the need for growth in both partners. In the years I’ve spent talking with women on this topic I’ve found that no matter how desperate the situation, admitting when you’re wrong and consistently demonstrating love results in positive changes. Our marital transformation has been a journey of bringing down walls and a process of building unity. Stopping the blame game is where that starts.
If you are serious about bringing down the dividing walls and destroying the barriers in your relationship, you’re going to have to get honest with God and with yourself, and admit it’s not all your husband’s fault. I’m challenging you to stop, take a deep breath, and state the truth out loud: “It’s not all his fault.”
Will you start there?
Excerpt from Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior © 2012• Kimberly Wagner • Moody Publishers