I am thrilled once again to have Nancy Kennedy as a guest here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage. Nancy kindly provided an interview back in September, 2006. (Click here to read the past interview)
If you have been a reader here for very long you probably know that Nancy’s book, When He Doesn’t Believe, Help and Encouragement for Women Who feel Alone in Their Faith, was the first book I read in the early years of my unequally yoked marriage. This book was a balm to my spirit and gave me hope for the first time for my marriage. I owe Nancy a debt of gratitude. Thank you Nancy!!
I have also recommended this book to everyone who asks me for resources, it is included in our library, and I have mailed at least a dozen copies to readers here at SUM. If you have not read it yet, find a copy. Nancy’s style of writing and her personal stories will inspire you.
Nancy, thank you for joining us here today. Your love for Jesus and your husband is an inspiration to many. I am one of them. The audience and I thank you for making yourself available to share your insights with us.
Nancy, lets begin with a few basics.
How long have you and Barry been married now? [Nancy Kennedy] 33 years May 3.
Do you still consider yourselves unequally yoked? If not, what happened? [Nancy Kennedy] Yes and no. In 2006 Barry had open-heart surgery, which went beyond a mere quadruple bypass. God met him in the days prior to his surgery and now I know that he knows Jesus as Savior. In many ways he has changed and we pray together before dinner every night and he enjoys sermons, but he doesn't love church. He comes occasionally, so mostly I still go alone. I have that assurance of his eternity, but there still isn't all the fun stuff like going to church together as I had always hoped there would be.
Nancy, this gives so many of us hope and the ability to persevere through the years. So, tell us what you working on now? [Nancy Kennedy] I'm not working on any books at the moment and I'm not sure when or if I'll do another. I write a weekly faith column for the newspaper where I'm on staff and it goes in about a dozen other papers. I also post it as a blog on MySpace, which people can access from my Web site (www.nancykennedybooks.net) Plus, I have a monthly blog, "Walk With Me," at TodaysChristianWoman.com..
I have read your blog at TCW and have enjoyed your wit and wisdom immensely.
Nancy, I want to take this opportunity to gain your perspective about some of the tough issues we face as well as your words of wisdom to thrive in an unequally yoked marriage.
What scripture text has been instrumental in your marriage and why? [Nancy Kennedy] Ephesians 3:20 -- "God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us." I tend toward skepticism. I don't have great faith and because I spent nearly three decades praying for my husband's salvation, I was sure it would happen "when pigs fly." But that scripture kept haunting me, and every time I'd want to give up, I would remember "immeasurably more" and my hope would be renewed.
How do you handle tithing? [Nancy Kennedy] I tithe what my husband agrees upon. He's a generous guy, probably more generous than I am, but writing out a check to put in the offering plate is a touchy subject for a lot of men. I always advise women to abide by their husband's wishes in this department. God doesn't "need" our money and His grace covers our lack.
Throughout your marriage how did you manage to be the spiritual leader of your home/children? [Nancy Kennedy] I think because I have daughters it was easier than if I had sons. For many men, Jesus is for girls. My husband has always been a great encourager of me taking the girls to church. You're right, this is a tough question and I think every situation is unique. Even so, there's a basic principle that Christians are to teach their children at all times about the faith and pray at all times. A lot of times you can appeal to your husband's sense of morality: "The Christian faith inspires people to be their best, to be law-abiding citizens," etc. I think men are just afraid that their kids will be weird.
How has your relationship with Christ impacted your marriage through the years? [Nancy Kennedy] It's kept me from leaving, not that I've ever had a real reason to. But marriage is hard, even a good marriage. During those times of temptation, when I've wondered what if I had a Christian husband, I haven't gone any farther than wondering because I knew that God had called me to be Barry Kennedy's wife, to be a missionary in my home, to be Christ's hands and heart. During a particularly difficult time when my husband was depressed and he wanted me to leave him, saying I deserved better and that he wanted me to find a Christian husband (with his blessing), I wouldn't. As he came out of his depression, he remembered that -- that I wouldn't leave. He used to be angry -- "You won't leave because of all that Christian bull****!" But then he said, "You didn't leave because you're a Christian, and you really do love me." Unless you're being abused or abandoned, don't leave. God is able to do immeasurably more!
Today, how do you handle disagreements that arise over faith with your husband? [Nancy Kennedy] There really aren't any disagreements. But whenever I talk to people who have disagreements with Christianity I put the blame on God! I tell people, "Look, God is God. It's His universe and He makes the rules. If you were God, you could make the rules, but you're not." With a husband, you might say, "This is what I believe and I have my reasons. If you want to talk about it without fighting, I'm willing to. But I don't want to fight. I want to be your wife and live with you in peace." Then you let God change his mind. That's the bottom line to everything--God is the one who changes hearts and minds.
As you look back through the years of your marriage, what would you have done differently or sooner? [Nancy Kennedy] I would not be so "doormat-y." I used to think that being submissive meant swallowing my opinions and not voicing my strong opposition to things. For example, my husband used to stay out really late with his friends. I let it go for 10 years before I said anything! Finally I told him, "I don't like it when you're gone and stay out so late. I love you and want you home." I thought that was taking a huge risk! But it turned out that Barry figured I didn't care, that's why I never said anything. I also wouldn't have been so naggy and played "us against him" -- like we were somehow above or more advanced than he was because we're Christians and he's not. That's so easy to do and so destructive and not God-honoring. We may be saved sinners, but we're still sinners.
In your many years of living unequally yoked, what words of encouragement or advice would you share? [Nancy Kennedy] Relax! God is God and you are not. It's His salvation. He does the work of changing hearts and minds. No person comes to Him except the Spirit draws and we aren't the Spirit. Also, it's been my observation that men come to faith differently than women do and almost always as a direct result of another man's ministry or influence. Wives influence husbands tremendously, but rarely are used to lead a man to Christ. My best advice: When you realize that God is God and you are not, you will find rest. Also, when you think that God's not doing anything, He is--you just can't see it and He's not done doing it. He never says "Oops;" nothing ever takes Him by surprise. Nothing is out of His control, even if/when everything looks out of control. And He is able to do immeasurably more than your wildest dreams.
Nancy, God bless you. Your humble heart and willingness to share has helped many. We love you!!!
Lord, place your hand upon Nancy and bless her and Barry. Father, we give you thanks for her willingness to serve your kingdom. We know Lord that you look upon her and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Nancy, as readers of your book, we say “Thank you!”
For More of Nancy's books go to her website http://www.nancykennedybooks.net/