Often-times a spiritually mismatched marriage can make us feel we're in a real quandary. I wonder if that's how you'd describe it too?
Dictionary definitions of the word 'quandary' include:
A state of perplexity
A hard plight
A state of difficulty
A state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation.
Yes, I'd say that's how it's often been. But today I'd like to share something that God seemed to show me about that state of quandary. What he seemed to say is that a quandary has its purposes Here's the story:
Three years ago I was sat in my church's Easter service. The pastor put on some music and said "Let's sit and reflect for a while." The soft music played.
Gazing down, my eyes began to wander. They wandered over to a certain molded indentation on the plastic seat beside me, where my husband should have been sat. And still the music played. Instead of thinking about the empty tomb I began to think about a different empty thing: That empty seat, and my absent-from-church husband.
"He is not here," I thought to myself. And I wasn't thinking about Jesus now.
One thing led to another then, and yes this may sound dramatic but I threw myself forward, hurled my head into my hands, and let my shoulders heave in quiet sobs.
He is not here. He is not here.
Meanwhile, the reflection music just kept on playing.
It was at that moment that little thoughts came to me that seemed to perfectly articulate my problem, like some kind of 'eureka' moment. I grabbed my phone and began to type. Here's what I wrote:
"I can't do faith without you, Bryce.
You won't do it with me.
I can't be without you.
I can't not do faith."
"Wow" I thought, clicking the save button with a sense of resolution. "That there is what's going on. I'm in a constant quandary." Indeed, what I realized from writing those four statements is that this SUM situation was bringing me a set of tensions that seemed impossible to hold. Well, at least that's how it felt.
At that moment, however, God seemed to give me the following as a way of countering the problem I had just typed out. It landed in my heart as an analogy, a quiet answer from the Holy Spirit:
"Ann, there are numerous facets to your character, just like a glitter ball has many facets. These tensions in your life enable the different facets of your character to be examined by Me. These tensions have their purpose: They enable Me to test your heart. Know this, then: Every time you hold two contradictory things in tension in your marriage, you are being tested and refined. I am watching to see how you navigate it and what choices you will make."
Amazing. "I think I understand, Lord," I said, and I have thought a lot about that image of the glitter ball and its facets ever since. Is this whole SUM situation one big set of tests, even?
The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the hearts. (Proverbs 17:3)
Well, that was three years ago and of course I've had numerous thoughts about spiritually mismatched marriage since, just like I imagine many of you do. But, three years on, some of those things I'm holding in tension don't seem so hard to combine any more. I can't say why exactly. Perhaps it's that Jesus has come into the middle of it and brought ease.
There is one part to that quandary that I can say has actively changed, though. My first statement that Easter three years ago was this: "I can't do faith without you, Bryce." Well, I have learned that I can do faith without him, and I do. For, after all, though I am one flesh with my husband, I do stand on my own two feet before God.
Overall, then, perhaps our lesson is today is that we mustn't despise the quandary, but instead see it for what it is: a tool for us to draw closer to God, and a tool for him to refine our characters.
Do you have a quandary you're wrestling with at the moment?
Let's chat in the comments!