October 10, 2016

Dear Esther,

I’m not sure how to get my thoughts into email form, but I’ll try my best. I’ve been alone most of my life. My mother abandoned me, and shortly after, my father married my stepmother. He left me, too. My grandparents raised me and I do thank God for that.

My battle now is that I have a mind like a 40-year-old in a 26-year-old body. It’s a blessing, but also a curse. The curse is finding friends and people to connect with on the same level as myself.

I am married and have a beautiful son. However, my husband works a lot and I don’t see him often. When he is off work he is always: very stressed, tense and just wants to be left alone. God found me while I was young, and I have been thankful to have the Lord. But, sometimes having no tangible friends (that are not 4 years old) makes me feel alone.

Why is it so hard to find people to hold onto as tight as I try to; I mean friends as well as my husband? I have no one around that has that passion and desire like I have for the Lord.

The friends my age that I’ve known since K-12 are living wild lives partying or are deep in sin. I’ve tried to be close to them, but their lifestyles and mine clash. I don’t find bars fun and I don’t want to sit around listening to them complain about other people either. I was bullied in school so I only have two “friends” the rest are on a name only basis.

It’s hard for me to muster up the courage to get close to people. I’ve ALWAYS been abandoned. God has been the only consistent Person in my life. Why is it so hard to find people that hold on tight like I try to? I mean, people aren’t perfect but it doesn’t seem like true friends can be found.

My husband says he’s saved but I don’t see much evidence. I go to a good Bible church and I’m involved. My husband has gone a few times but isn’t involved. He is also very angry when I am involved in different activities.

His excuse for his anger is this: He says my activities take time away from him. His idea of quality time is my sitting around doing nothing while he’s on different tech devices. I hold onto God tightly but he doesn’t; He tries to come between my relationship with the Lord.

My husband acts jealous. I spend a lot of time reading my Bible. I do so when he chooses to play video games or watch TV. But still he acts like I need to give it up for him. When we met seven years ago he went to church every Sunday. He told me he was a born-again Christian and from everything I saw it seemed true. We were married in his mother’s church. He is a few years older. He’s 31, I’m 26.

I read my Bible often but he always tells me that my wanting to do things like that together is pushing him too much or like shoving it down his throat. We do pray with our son together before he goes down for his nap. I’m involved in the worship team and a group called “Awakening” which is like an interpreting dance group. I have a study group on Wednesday nights. But he hates when I go practice or am away.

He says it’s because he thinks I should be spending time with the family. However, sitting and watching him play video games for three hours just feels like I’m wasting my life. To be honest, I feel like I am more of a roommate more than a wife cleaning, cooking and staying at home.

I never had many friends because I was very shy and bullied. When my husband and I met everything was so different. He was spiritual and had everything on my list. I was picky when it came to guys because of being abused. Somehow I feel like I was fooled.

I know God is good and when I get frustrated I try to remind myself that the devil will use any means possible to try and destroy God’s people. It’s just lonely sometimes. Thank you for your prayers. I love my son and do what I can but I hope he doesn’t take his father’s habits when he grows. I read your column every week. Thanks in advance for the advice.

Elaine

Dear Elaine,

I am glad you wrote. Your life story is filled with many issues that must be placed in a perspective that will best help you cope and thrive. I can see why you would feel alone and abandoned, especially considering you were abandoned by your mother, and then your father.

Only Jesus can heal wounds like this, and as you say, He found you early. You have a concern shared by many other Christians whom—like you, find it very hard to find friends and people they can connect with. In your case, it is even more hurtful because of the abandonment issues.

“When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take care of me” (Psalm 27:10).

We are living in the last days when people are getting more and more self-centered. The majority of the population is very self-seeking and only concerned about their own personal little world. The Lord shows us those who belong to Him and who we are to stay away from. He is letting you see what people are really like so you can make sound spiritual choices.

It is unfortunate that this also applies to many of the people we find in our churches. It is even more complicated when it comes to the person we chose to marry; especially if once interested in the Lord and then later falls away.

Your frustration to find others who have the same passion for the Lord is understandable. A lot of people can rattle off Christian buzz words, and try to give the appearance that they are deeply devoted to the Lord—but sadly, too many are using Christianity and the outward motions of going to church, etc. as just another social activity or as a money-making business.

But I am glad to hear you are involved in a church. If others around you are more on a superficial level, it may be you whom the Lord is using to try to awaken them to get more serious about their faith. It sounds like your husband is backslidden. From the way you describe the situation he seems very different from the man you dated and married.

I know it is not easy to get some people to open up. Have you tried talking to his mother to see what she thinks about all of this? Perhaps she can offer some answers to why he has changed so much from the man you thought he was when you married him. I can see why you would feel like he fooled you.

It sounds like your husband has fallen into a rut. And his behavior is symptomatic of something deeper that is hard to discern; he wants you near yet he is not willing to give of himself.

I can see why you would feel like you are simply a prop or a security blanket of some sort, and find it disturbing that he feels threatened when you want him to participate in reading the Bible, or anything to do with the Lord (except for the one prayer at your little son’s nap time). At least that is something. Ask the Lord in prayer for your husband’s spiritual growth and to help him realize that you too, have needs.

Your marital situation is one many Christian women can relate to. Sometimes a husband tends to become very proprietorial (someone who has an exclusive right to something or someone) and does not like anyone or anything competing for his wife’s attention. This shows a lack of spiritual and emotional maturity.

It sounds like your husband has a tough job and when he is home he may not be thinking clearly that you too, have needs. While he is insisting you hang around him, he absurdly ignores and neglects you in a way that is only going to create a wider rift between the two of you. This is very selfish behavior, not at all the way the Lord asks husbands to behave.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 22:25-27).

Try everything you can to let him know how you feel; he may not know how you really feel and it may come across that he is taking you for granted. Or it may be that his jealousy wants you where he can see you. This all sounds like insecurity on his part. You have a little child together and I urge you to find a way to get to a point where you can both contribute to the relationship in a way that will keep peace in your home, especially for the sake of your little boy.

Once you calmly let him know it is not fair that he makes demands that even pull you away from the Lord, and the things that are important to you, ask if he will go to Christian counseling with you. If he refuses then tell him lovingly that it takes two to have a relationship and without him participating in your life too, then the relationship is headed for trouble.

It sounds like he wants assurance of your love and devotion. But he must understand that you need that same assurance. And by trying to keep you from the Lord and your involvement at church he is damaging the relationship. Tell him how much you miss the times when you shared life, together; especially when you shared Jesus, but first point out all his positive attributes.

Let him know you have your own interests also and it is not fair that you should be expected to put aside even the Lord so you can sit and watch him while he is involved in his video games and television shows; that you are at a point in your walk with the Lord where you cannot sit idly by filling your mind with secular minutia.

Be sure to tell him you love him and that you are there for him, but intimacy comes when two people can openly share what is important to both of them. When there is no joy in a marriage it is very hard to smile and get excited about anything.

Ask him what happened to his interest in the Lord. Remind him what seemed to be his love is what drew you to him; and you are extremely perplexed why he is no longer walking with the Lord together with you—as he once did. And tell him that it is not fair for him to expect you to decrease your commitment to the Lord even if he has.

You are right in your assessment that true friends are hard to find. People have all kinds of expectations when making friends. The best way to make friends is to not have any expectations and let the friendships develop on their own. I know this might sound a bit harsh, but perhaps you are better off not having too many friends. In fact that is what Scripture teaches:

“A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

This world is so fallen that we may never have the true friends we would like. Back biting and deceit exist everywhere, and sadly even amongst so-called Christians. But the Lord will bring special people into your life as you continue to pray that He opens the door to sharing Him with the right people, and closes the door to those who are self-seeking phonies.

It is very hard to trust anyone. Jesus said it would be this way (2 Timothy 3:2). Some people will even tell you they are praying for you but your discernment warns not to get involved or trust them. Pay attention to the nudging of the Holy Spirit. And always remember we are living in enemy territory and rethink what your needs in this world really are, and what the Lord is calling you to do.

I understand that you read your Bible and are involved in your church; that is very good. But please rethink how you view yourself in relation to these last days and how much energy you want to spend trying to make earthly relationships flourish—considering the time we have left here may not be very long. Sharing the gospel should be our number one priority (Matthew 28:19).

Being a mother is a full-time job. Nurture and love your son the best you can. He is your gift from God and his young years are so precious. They pass so quickly; enjoy them and have fun with him. When he is older you will miss that delightful little 4-year-old who is so dependent on you, now.

I have already made some suggestions about how to improve your marriage but it takes two to make the improvements. If all the compromising must come mostly from one person (you) than you have an uphill battle. And from what you have shared, that may well be the case. If so, then you will have to find a way to look at your life (marriage) in a different way.

Expectations almost always let us down. The major disconnect is that your husband has left the Lord behind in a demonstrative way, and the spiritual bond that you had together is no longer shared in your relationship as it once was.

Does your husband understand Bible prophecy? One approach you might try is to ask him if the two of you could start studying Bible prophecy together. Point out some things to him that might peak his interest and above all keep praying for him. Do it in a way which brings current events into the discussion so you are not “shoving” the Lord and His Scriptures down his throat. We cannot change people but God can.

Try to focus on all the blessings you do have. Being a stay-at-home mom is a huge blessing. Find creative ways to make the most of your time at home. You may never find the type of deep interaction with others in this life that you crave, but you can be a shining example for the Lord by your loving approach to things.

The Lord has a way of turning our disappointments into joy, but we must let go of idealism and realize everything that happens to a Christians is an opportunity for spiritual growth and to prepare for our eternal future with Him.

I can tell you that a lot people do not have the relationship with a spouse that they envision for themselves. Instead of being sorrowful, we must make the most of the situation. Be as cheerful as you can toward your husband, even though you are not getting what you need, and trust that the Lord is working on him.

In time, the relationship still has a great chance of improving. And be glad that he is a hard worker and is providing for the family.

Keep fellowshipping with the Lord and He will sustain you.

The Lord asks us to give thanks in all things. Now that sounds like an impossible feat at times. But we must trust Him. He understands your heartaches and has been there for you. He warned us that we would have tribulation in this life, so we must not get overly exhausted about the trials and disappointments we face. This is not our true home. Keep remembering that when you feel disconnected from others.

And take great joy in knowing that all of the misery we have had to endure because of this fallen world is a temporary state of affairs. As true believers, we are only passing through. Often it is a good idea to think, I am on a journey, I don’t like the rough and lonely road, but thank God, this is not my true home.

Elaine, there is a very happy ending to all of this, to the trials of this life, but it may not be until we are face-to-face with the Lord. That is when we will be free of the entanglements and heartaches of this broken world. In the meantime do your best to act as an ambassador for Christ, and that alone will reap many blessings as you sow seeds to bring others to His saving grace.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Consider yourself blessed, Elaine. See if you can find ways to meet other mothers who do know the Lord, even the two friends you do have should be counted as a blessing. And your involvement at your church should be a support for you to some degree, anyway. (Many people cannot even find a good church.)

Keep thanking God for your husband’s positive traits, and for your beautiful little boy and all the good in your life. In this life, the people we meet, even close family members may disappoint us, but Jesus will never let us down. And your amazing future with Him is guaranteed. Please focus on all the positive blessings you have and you will begin to feel less victimized and alone.

When we are on the disappointed end of a relationship, we must change our attitudes to better deal with our given circumstance. It sounds like your husband loves you very much (in his own way), but has taken the wrong road (a detour) that has broken the bond you so very much crave.

Focusing his time and mind on videos, etc. has skewed his ability to see things for what they are. If he was once strong in his faith, he can be again. He is using these things as an escape, to tune out for the daily grind of life—like so many others do.

Please keep in touch and let me know how you are doing. I think there is still great hope for your marriage. Give it all over to the Lord. Keep praying for him and your relationship. God can work miracles to change your husband’s heart and attitude (although it doesn’t look that way right now to you).

Be loving and patient and always keep in mind that from a prophetic perspective—we are going home soon. And all of these earthly matters will soon be long gone.

In God’s love,

Esther

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).