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Desperate for Change

“I need to quit telling my husband what to do—can you please help me?!”

My friend was desperate for change, but really unsure of where to begin. I remember struggling for years with this same thing. I wanted so badly to be a godly woman, a loving wife, a respectful sister-in-Christ to my husband . . . but then he’d do something that I felt like I just had to step in and correct him!

And the destruction of the Fierce Women/Fearful Men cycle just kept rolling on.

Yesterday I shared with you some thoughts on birthing repentance and today, I want us to see how to discover the root issues that keep tripping us up, allowing us to continue repeating the same cycle of conflict in our marriages. I mentioned that when we move our focus from the speck in our husband’s eye, and go on a log hunt to see what might be blocking our vision . . . we’re beginning to  experience the labor pains of repentance.

The “log” is some kind of sinful response like: fuming if my husband tells me things have changed and we’ll have to cancel vacation plans, or berating him for not taking care of household chores, or giving the silent treatment to get my way.

My sinful responses serve as a signal that my “log” has some roots that run deep. If I want to discover the source, I need to start asking some hard questions.

Root Issue Questions:

♥ Why? Why am I fuming/crying/shouting (you fill in the blank) . . . ? What am I wanting that I’m not getting?

♥ Is what I’m wanting a legitimate need? A good desire? In line with God’s will for my life?

♥ If not, I need to reconsider what I’m wanting. If I said yes, to any of the above, has what I’m wanting moved beyond a good desire to something I’m demanding I must have?

♥ What is my heart motive?

My sinful reaction (the log in my eye) is an indicator that I’m caught by the lure of lust. I’m wanting something so much that I’m willing to sin to get it or I’m sinning because I can’t have what I’m wanting. James explains the process so well:

[box]“But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin . . .” (James 1:14–15)[/box]

When lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin. That’s the log. That’s the plank that’s sticking out of my eye: the slamming of the door, the rolling of the eyes, the frustrated sighs, the harsh tone, the ugly sarcasm . . . it was given birth because of lust. And really my lust is always the problem.

My lust is the root issue that needs to be dealt with.

Again, James helps us to understand what’s happening here:

[box]What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:1–3)[/box]

When I determine what I’m lusting for, I’ve discovered an idol of my heart and that idol needs to be smashed. Smashing an idol isn’t easy, it starts with repentance, but an idol can be demolished once I look it square in the eye and determine I love God more than I love that idol.

The next time you have a conflict, before you focus on the other person, on how you feel, or on what you need to do to get things going your way, stop and ask some root issue questions. Find out where your heart is, and who or what you’re worshiping.

6 Comments

  • Nicole

    Hi Kimberly,

    What an eye opener! “How to discover the root issues that keep tripping us up, allowing us to continue repeating the same cycle of conflict in our marriages.”

    For so long I asked myself “why am I back in the same cycle? why isn’t things changing?” I would think that what I’m wanting is a legitimate need and so on, but did not think of asking myself “has what I’m wanting moved beyond a good desire to something I’m demanding I must have”? or “am I willing to sin to get what I want?” I thought I was dealing with the “log in my eye” but now see that I was not dealing with the right “root issue”. Did not realize that “my lust is the root issue that needs to be dealt with”. Thank God that He never gives up on us and when we are ready to give up, He brings hope in our lives to keep going!
    I pray that God gives me the grace to remember to ask myself these questions when situation arises that I may break out of these cycles and see my husband turn to the Lord in repentance and see the desire in him to serve God and follow Him. I also want my prayers to come from a pure heart and not from selfish desires so I may have a better life or marriage, but that God would be glorified in my marriage.

    May God continue to lead you and give you wisdom as you minister to other women.

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello Nicole ~

    Joining you in prayer, asking God to give you the grace needed to pause before speaking (stop, drop, and pray, is what I call it), to go to God to ask Him to reveal the root issues of the heart, and then to fill you with desire to repent when needed. As God works in you to transform you more and more into His image, that beautiful work, and the power of the gospel will have an effect on your husband:

    “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord–who is the Spirit–makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” (2 Cor. 3:18)

    God is faithful, He is at work!

    Thanks for sharing how He is speaking to you, Nicole. He is planting you in my heart and I am praying for you 🙂

  • Sandra

    Moving toward godliness requires a constant alertness. That’s really hard work.

    Thank you for your timely encouragement during a difficult week.

  • Katie

    Hello Kimberly,

    Thank you again for the reminder and accountabilty. I have good days and bad days with struggling with my “lust” to have things my way…and on the bad days I am blinded by that huge log in my eye. Not until I put my husband before myself do I really see who I’ve been worshipping. I plan on applying your list of questions, and ask for God’s grace and strength to encourage rather than be the wrong type of fierce woman. Along with your post, I am also finding your book most helpful! I will say though it is a challenge to read, as I’m fighting with my pride while reading and am having to do a lot of highlighting.

    May God bless you dear Kim as you have blessed me over and over again.

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello Katie ~

    Good to hear from you! I am so thankful to hear how God is working in your life! “Fighting the pride” comes easier as we keep reminding ourselves of God’s holy, gracious, pure, and perfect character and then reflect on our great need to be rescued by Him. I sent off a book on forgiveness to you in the mail yesterday, I pray God uses it to minister to your heart.

    Stay in touch, friend. I love hearing your thoughts here on the blog!