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Women in His Presence

by Erica Salazar

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marriage

Uprooted

I had a really difficult time about thirteen years ago moving from Houston to a small south Texas town. Even though I had gone to college there, it was still a drastic change from the big city of Houston.

My second year living there was the first time I had heard the saying, “Bloom where you are planted.” From that moment on, I began to embrace the differences and adapt to my new home. It was slow progress, but eventually I loved it. Everywhere I went, I ran into somebody I knew. Wal-Mart was my go to place when I was bored. A drive down the backroads was always relaxing and the outdoors was always near. Friends were like family and across town (15 minutes) seemed far. Traffic was never an issue and summer always brought the best snow-cones and fire flies. No matter the season, the stars were always in view and home was where my heart was.

Uprooted.

Everything I grew to love began to slip through my fingers. It started small, but eventually led to me moving back home to Houston to be near family, find work, and start over with a divorce in the works.

Uprooted.

It hurt. Every root that grew down was tangled around a dream, a spouse, normal routines and friends. And then, it all got pulled out. Trying to cling to every grain of old soil, I fpund that the process rips. Roots don’t let go easy and they take a piece of that earth with them no matter what.

When I saw this tree in the middle of the road I found it to be very interesting. It’s so grown and not like a seed that’s expected to bloom where it’s been planted. No, this seed bloomed already. In fact, it even reproduced. It’s gone through years of growing, storms, branch breaking, and leaves falling and growing.

I wondered, how does it live and not die of shock in the replanting? How do the roots get ahold of something that they never held before? This is new soil. A new territory.

For me, it took support. Luckily I had family to lean on. But, the biggest support was God. Only through the Word of God, could I receive healing. Only through the Word of God, could I receive understanding. Only through the Word of God, could I receive the most delicate pruning. And only through the Word of God, could I have received comfort through this shocking process.

I’m not going to lie. Some of my roots feel a little lost as if nothing quite feels right. Part of my heart isn’t home. Some of my roots are growing deep excited about the new growth to come. But my core root knows to hold tight to only one thing. The root of Jesus Christ. It will always comfort, always provide, and always bring life to my soul.

“For there is hope for a tree, When it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And its shoots will not fail. “Though its roots grow old in the ground And its stump dies in the dry soil, At the scent of water it will flourish And put forth sprigs like a plant.

Job 14:7-9

To God be the Glory

 

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The Power of IT: Marriage

In my life there have been certain focuses and strongholds that have falsely formed my value and self-worth. Therefore, this series is a sort of testimony on each area before and after coming to Christ.

This IT has definitely been the one I put all my hope in instead of Christ. However, the Power of this IT placed in its proper order allows me walk in obedience to the covenant despite being divorced.

Before Christ:

As a little girl I remember picking white flowers in the backyard pretending that they were my wedding bouquet. As I grew up, I couldn’t wait to get married, love my husband, show him he was special, and have fun together. For the most part, when dating, I was always looking for someone who was marriage material.

The first time I saw my spouse walk into a class in college my mind went, “That’s him. That’s who I’m suppose to marry.” It was like this little checklist in my head of who he was and what he looked like just appeared and the only one who new the list was God. This is going to sound funny, but this was the list: Mexican-American guy (but a “coconut” like me), 5’10, hair on arms (I like fur but not on the back), looks good in a baseball cap, athletic, reserved, disciplined, morning person, hardworking, hardworking, hardworking, parents that are around the same age as mine, comes from a similar family background, believed in God, and had similar values.

Now of course, all of this I didn’t know the first time I saw him, but it’s like I knew it was all there. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that we started dating.

What was going on when I came to Christ.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but entering into the marriage I was already committing a very dangerous sin. I was idolizing my husband and also the institution of marriage.

How did this affect the marriage:
1. It put an unspoken pressure on him that he was perfect and could do no wrong.
2. My self-worth was deeply connected to how my spouse chose to love and treat me.
3. My value rested on whether or not I had a man who loved me.
4. Number #2 & #3 also put an unspoken pressure that he existed to meet all of my emotional needs.

Once I became a follower of Christ, the idolization of my spouse diminished, but not the institution of marriage. Christ alone wasn’t enough for me. I needed my marriage to be healed. I needed my dream to materialize. I needed to feel like enough which was through the status of being a cherished and loved wife.

I did learn how to lean on God and walk through the fire during the storms, but my method of choice in dealing with some major marriage issues made me an enabler and allowed toxic things to become deeply rooted in the foundation of our marriage.

I needed to be willing and ready to shut the door on the enemy instead of allowing him to linger. But I was afraid of losing IT: my spouse and marriage.

How is God working in my life today:

If I could go back just this past year, I would have suggested to myself to separate with a long-term mindset. Under the circumstances, I would need to start functioning independently of my spouse and focus solely on my relationship with God and let God take full control. This would be necessary and would have been better than divorce.

My six month separation followed by filing for divorce in hindsight wasn’t really long enough after eleven years to allow the Holy Spirit to workout and undo the damage done. Not because It couldn’t, but because as humans we are stubborn. Plus, it was a little late in the game for me to make such a strong stance of “enough is enough” and expect the mountain to start moving.

Ultimately, my situation today would not be too different except that maybe we would still have some communication.

It’s hard that I regret making that decision, when I was constantly seeking God, seeking out knowledge, and had pastoral guidance. I know that I had every right to move forward and was always out to only do God’s will. But, being emotionally detached from the relationship now, I have a clearer picture that long-term separation was an option instead of a divorce.

Filing left my spouse even more vulnerable to the devil’s schemes. Sure, he made his decisions and acted in his free-will, but there is a spiritual battle at play and at the root of the divorce.

Conclusion:

Today I still feel called to pray for my spouse and marriage reconciliation. This hasn’t always been easy. First, when I think about the entire situation, I don’t really want to. Second, I know what I’m dealing with and it is quite an impossible situation. It will literally take an act of God and a miracle to resurrect and restore the covenant legally. But if it does, it will be rebuilt on the foundation of God for His glory.

At this point I just have to trust and rest in God’s character determined to do His will.

1. God weighs all sin the same.
2. Therefore, one spouse’s sins are not greater or less than the others.
3. None of us are worthy of God’s love, because we all rejected the death of His son Jesus Christ in our habitual sinful nature before becoming saved.
4. Therefore, there is not another person more or less worthy of my love as a wife then the spouse I married on August 14, 2004.
5. We are called to become Christ like and His love is not withheld because of our sinful behavior. We choose not to accept His love when we continue to sin. Therefore, I will not withhold my love if an opportunity for restoration presents itself.
6. God is in the business of redemption, restoration, and reconciliation.
7. God loves my spouse more than I do and is pursuing him daily.
8. Sin causes a breakdown in a marriage. Who caused that? The devil.
How? Through temptation and deception
Why? To make a mockery of the marriage covenant and prevent us from becoming witnesses
9. God has already defeated the enemy and given me power over the enemy. I just need to activate it and engage in the battle no matter how long it takes.
10. Being single does not make me less valuable or desirable. It allows me to spend more time working for God’s kingdom.
11. A restored marriage makes a greater impact for the kingdom of God.
12. “It takes two to save a marriage: one spouse and God.” https://www.rejoiceministries.org/

Now, what IF I’m wrong and I am misunderstanding God. Well the following things are happening.

1. I’m seeking, searching, learning the power of prayer.
2. I’m learning to exercise my authority over the enemy.
3. I’m focusing on me and the areas that need to be refined and removed: pride, jealousy, competitiveness, lack of discipline in some areas, and food as a source of comfort.
4. I’m learning to find my value in Christ.
5. I’m challenged daily to view things from God’s truth and not what appears to be.
6. I’m learning to be complete outside of a relationship.
7. I’m developing into who God intended me to be. It’s like He is tearing everything down that was shaped by the world and starting to build me back up into what He desired all along.
8. I’m learning patience. Grrrrr 🙂
9. I get to share restoration resources I have found as an option to others who feel the same calling as I do.
10. God is and will always be my unfailing husband.

Am I really losing anything if I’m wrong? No, in fact I’m gaining so much. It’s a win-win situation for me no matter the outcome. My spouse, no matter what path he takes has someone praying for him with specificity that no other person can do because I know the battle he is under and how the enemy attacks him.

Luke 9:23
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

1 Corinthians 7:34-35
….An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

Proverbs 21:21
Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

To God be the Glory

 

Answers to Unanswered Prayers

February 20, 2016 marked the first night I spent alone and the beginning of a separation which ultimately led me to file for divorce in early June.

I wrote in my journal, “Is this the end or the beginning for us?”

The few months prior had led me to take this excruciating step that was a result choosing safety over holding on to this broken dream. Finally, I realized that there are certain things in a marriage God does not expect you to endure and that I didn’t need to do it anymore.

The following months were filled with many tears, struggles of feeling an aloneness that was unbearable, emotionally draining, and physically and mentally exhausting.

Learning how to sleep alone with all the lights off was a fear I eventually conquered. Weaning myself from having all lights on, to just a lamp, to just the blinds open, and finally to complete peace in the darkness.

Many times I cried out to God, “Where are you in this? Why aren’t you moving this mountain? If I have had faith all of these years that you could fix this and use all these years of darkness for good, why aren’t you doing it? How could divorce be in your will?”

As the months passed, there wasn’t much proof that things were going to change and neither was the behavior that would determine whether or not returning to the marriage would even be an option. I was becoming afraid that I was going to be forced to file while truly believing it never had to be this way.

What did begin to change was another move by God to draw me nearer than ever before. Training me to trust His voice and the doors he was going to open that would eventually reemphasize a calling, deepen my friendships with my sisters in Christ, reunite me with my family, and move me to a place I could grow.

After the move, he was going to draw me even deeper to a point of complete joy and thankfulness for having this experience. 

In both apartments I have lived in this year, my bedroom has become a prayer chamber. Chart paper is my decor with various titles that document what God shows me in our private time.

One chart paper that stayed empty was the one titled, “What are you showing me through this?” It was empty, however because I thought I had nothing to learn as the “perfect” wife. Ha! God showed me.

When I finally opened my heart and mind this is what he showed me. The list is long. Double Ha!
1. I learned how to be a real prayer warrior and pray with authority mainly for my spouse.
2. I learned that I cannot put my value into my marital status or in how I am treated by my spouse. That becomes idolization.
3. How to have perseverance.
4. How to spell perseverance. ( I always spell it perSERVErance which I also think is a later message)
5. I needed to marry my spouse because everything I went through brought me to Christ and my salvation.
6. I’m the wife my husband needed. Even is this time, my spouse needed to know what AGAPE love looks and sounds like.
7. Resistance training-When the mountain isn’t moving, then God is trying to teach you something. (TD Jakes sermon)
8. Praying for your marriage to work, so you can have your “Dream Come True,” is selfish. I should have been praying for my spouse’s walk with God and his salvation.
9. I had become self righteous and adding guilt and shame instead of just letting God have complete reign. God needed to move me, so I could get my hands and eyes off of trying to fix a relationship that was never really about me and my spouse. It’s always been about his relationship with Jesus Christ.
10. Finally, to show His miracles.

Ezekiel 3:27 NIV

But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’ Whoever will listen let them listen, and whoever will refuse let them refuse; for they are a rebellious people.

To God Be the Glory

 

 

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