The ONE Thing You Can Control
By Leslie Vernick
If you remember nothing else from this newsletter, remember this: the only thing you can control is you.
It’s a simple truth but a very hard one to accept when you’re in a destructive relationship. I work with women all the time who are desperate to get their husbands to see their destructive behavior, to repent and change.
These women are pretty resourceful. They find articles, books, recordings, sermons, counselors, and come up with their own persuasive lectures...all in an effort to open their husband’s eyes. By the time I come into the picture they’re exhausted, frustrated, and incredibly sad. But, hopefully, they’re also in a place to accept their powerlessness… that they are absolutely, completely, totally powerless - to get their husbands to see or do anything.
Friend, if you are one of those women, it’s time to get the focus on the only person you can control: you.
Let me first say, working on you won’t make your marriage great. That takes two people. But it will make you much, much stronger. Doing your own work will mean you react better, know how to set better boundaries, have the strength to enforce those boundaries, and don’t fall apart when your husband hurts you.
Carefully follow these steps if you’re ready to work on what you can control: you.
1. Open your eyes to the truth. God tells us that the truth sets us free (John 8:32)
Self-deception is easy...until it’s not. It’s time to really contemplate how you got here. What happened inside of you that allowed the mistreatment for so long? What did you tell yourself? Why - and how - did you allow it? What lies have you believed? These are really important questions to answer.
2. Believe God’s word about your value, you are God’s daughter and he loves you.
Women who have been demeaned for a long period of time have a very difficult time accepting they have value. But, just like a lay person isn’t qualified to appraise valuable art, your husband doesn’t get to decide your worth. God does that. Go back to his word every day and meditate on these verses until you truly believe what he says about you:
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
In fact, even the hairs on your head are all numbered. Do not be afraid; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Luke 12:7
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.” Psalm 139: 13-18
3. Get feedback from godly, wise people.Women in destructive marriages often find themselves isolated from others. But, in order to get healthy, you need to have the perspective of godly, wise people who will see things you don’t see. People who will love you enough to tell you. Invite trusted people into your life and situation to hold you accountable and speak into your situation. (And be open to their feedback, even when it may hurt.)
4. Be aware of how you are being shaped by what’s happening to you in the midst of your marriage.
Haggai 1:7 says, “give careful thought to your ways.
It is not selfish to prioritize you right now. Get alone and reflect on what’s happening inside, how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking and how you are responding. What do you value? Remember, negative emotions aren’t “bad.” They actually serve an important purpose and it’s wise to pay attention to them without being controlled by them. If you don’t pay attention, your emotions tend to become bigger and stronger until you find yourself out of control and full of negative, toxic feelings.
5. Put your marriage in its proper place.
One of the reasons your marriage has gotten so bad is because it’s become too important. That may be the opposite of everything you’ve heard but it’s true. You’ve become obsessed with making it work, with making him change. You’ve put keeping your marriage together as God’s highest priority, above your own safety and sanity and maybe even the well-being of your children.
If you’re in this place, your marriage has become an idol. It’s in a place where only God belongs.
Ask yourself this question: “If I do my part and my marriage doesn’t make it, can I trust God to be enough for me?”
Until you can answer “yes” to that question, you’ll be too afraid to do anything differently. You must be willing to unravel the life you’re living to allow God to create the life he meant for you to live.
Your marriage is important, to you and to God. But it is not more important than your safety and sanity. Only God can get through to your husband. So focus on what you can control: you.
If you’d like more help in learning these steps, you may want to consider joining our Walking in Core Strength Group Coaching class that starts March 3rd. It might be just the structure you need to start focusing on you. You can learn more at leslievernick.com/groupcoaching.