(LeRoy Wagner—Marriage Ministry Mondays)
There were days when suicide seemed the best option.
I don’t know where you are right now. I don’t know exactly what your thoughts have been. Only God knows those most jagged edges of your pain. But, if your marriage is anything like ours at its worst point, I have a pretty good idea of where your mind often goes. It is difficult to come out and admit my darkest moments publicly, but I’m willing to confess this to you, so that you’ll know that you’re not alone in what you feel.
I was there, overwhelmed by despair, hopelessness, feeling abandoned by God . . . and desiring a way out, longing for death. And I’m ashamed of what I’m about to admit to you.
There were many times in the darkest season of our marriage misery, while trying to sort out the pain in my heart and the torment in my mind, when I fantasized about ending the hopelessness.
I was convinced it would be the best thing for Kim. The best thing for both of us. I shudder as I write this, but I have to tell you the truth. I wanted to die and I was ready to take that step into my own hands.
While driving, I wanted to straighten out a curve and leave the road, to fly off a steep embankment to a (hopefully) sudden death. I fantasized about it often. But then, I figured that carbon monoxide would be the more reliable option. Sometimes when I was in a dangerous work situation, I would silently hope that something might go wrong and it would all be over, an “accident” would end it all. No more pain.
Can you relate?
I’m ashamed to tell you that I also was tempted to abandon Kim. Just run away, change my name, I could live as a vagabond, drop off the face of the earth—anything would be preferable to how we were living. After a particularly emotional and humiliating exchange with Kim, where once again I could not counter her intensity, answer her arguments, defend my position, calm her composure, or deescalate the situation, I simply walked away. And kept walking. I walked into some thick woods and stayed there for hours. I didn’t want to ever leave. I just wanted to stay there and die of starvation or exposure at the base of a lonely oak. Pathetic, I know.
Suicide is putting the “victim” in control. And after being held under your wife’s control for an extended period of time, gaining any control at all is a huge temptation.
Suicide is like the final big retaliation against the person who has hurt you the most.
Thankfully, God’s grace protected me from my sinful desires. I never acted on those fantasies. I didn’t want to die a coward, or die putting myself before others. I couldn’t do that to our children, but in a twisted way, I believed that others would be better off without me. Kim would, for sure (my warped thinking had convinced me of that lie). But what ultimately protected me from acting on my sick plans, was that I didn’t want to dishonor the testimony of Christ. In my mind, I could justify my sin of suicide, but in my heart, I couldn’t justify bringing shame to my Lord.
I don’t know where you are as you read these words, but listen to me. I would’ve missed out on so much good stuff that God had in store for me if I would’ve checked out twenty-five years ago. I would’ve brought such heartache and pain, but ultimately, I would’ve destroyed my gospel witness. The thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy would’ve been delighted (John 10:10). But thankfully, God had a better plan. He rescued us.
But that rescue plan involved many small battles along the way. We want to help you recognize how you can “run into” your personal battles in order to win the victory in your marriage. That’s why we’ve written the resource “Men Who Love Fierce Women.” We want to supply you with the information and tools to be able to run into that battle and experience the victory in your marriage that God can accomplish. We want you to enjoy the “future grace” that He has for you!
There are root issues and destructive components at work in your relationship that, if left alone, will destroy your marriage. There are three primary heart issues that we see affecting marriages today:
Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real
Ingratitude: The Demand for “MORE!”
Pride: It’s all About Me!
Any of these (and sometimes all three combined) contribute to the tendency for a man to gravitate to one of two extremes: Passivity or Aggression. I went the passive route. I ran into my cave of self-protection and hid there for almost half of our marriage. That cave didn’t offer real relief, it just made things worse.
Today, I’m challenging you to run into the battle. Choose to take a good look at yourself rather than placing all the blame on your wife. Consider how her heart may be broken because you’ve failed to be her spiritual leader, maybe failed to show her that you truly care—and maybe you’ve failed to show her you care because you’ve actually stopped caring. I’m challenging you to recognize how wrong that is and to ask her forgiveness.
Consider the God-Man who ran into the battle for you.
We didn’t deserve His love. We didn’t deserve His sacrifice. But He showered us with it. That’s true love, and that’s what He’s called us to and what He will empower you to give:
[box]By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers (1 John 3:16).[/box]
[box]Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself . . . (Ephesians 5:25–33)[/box]
Who’s with me?
I’ve run into this battle and I’m so glad I did. I wasn’t alone. The God-Man met me at my point of greatest need and supplied me with the grace to press into love and give love. He’s no respecter of persons, He wants to do the same for you if you let Him. Cry out to Him for grace today, but also be willing to go to battle with your fears, your ingratitude, your pride and your passivity or aggression.
Portions of this post are excerpts from Men who Love Fierce Women: the Power of Servant Leadership in Your Marriage © 2016 • LeRoy and Kimberly Wagner • Moody Publishers