WHY HE’S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING

Dear Girls,

I’ve told you my story… 

And I’ve written endless letters to my son about what kind of woman to marry… though on that day I married Phil I wouldn’t have qualified!

But here I am nearly 35 years later…

Still married. Very much in love with my husband. Happy and thriving.

And honestly, I wonder why. So many of my friends and family have seen their marriages ripped apart. Or drift apart. Or generally disintegrate. Good people, godly men and women. People who started out in love and who ended up hating each other.

Why?

Is it because they married a jerk? Or that they themselves were hidden jerks and marriage unveiled their jerkisms? But that doesn’t make any sense because who does not have those moments of appalling jerkiness? I have often been that impossible-to-please-person in our marriage. And Phil has had his less-than-stellar moments too.

No, its not our goodness as people that has made our marriage work. Nor is it simply our commitment to keep working on it. Sometimes that very commitment brings out the ugliness in each of us. (We’ll talk about conflict later.)

I think Phil and I found a secret along the way that kept us from failure. Not so much a nobody-knows-but-us kind of secret, but more of a mystery-that-can-be-explained-but-is-not-logical kind of secret.

It’s simply this:

I have discovered that I am incapable of satisfying Phil

and Phil has discovered that he is incapable of fulfilling me.

And…

I have discovered a deep satisfaction in Christ that has taken pressure off of Phil to spend his life attempting to satisfy me and

Phil has found a deep satisfaction in Christ that has taken the pressure off of me to be enough to satisfy him.

And…

That deep down satisfaction has made us free to love each other well and skillfully because we are so well loved by God Himself.

Isn’t that the mysterious secret of Ephesians 5? That marriage is meant to be a picture of the way Christ loves His Bride and the way His Bride responds to that love?

Not a paradigm of Phil loving me so well that I respond in perfect love… but a picture of Phil being so well loved by Jesus that he cannot help but love me well… and me being so well nurtured and nourished by Jesus that I cannot help but apply those skills to lavishing the same kind of care on Phil.

So marriage becomes the place where the Gospel is lived out in our lives. Two imperfect people being loved so perfectly by God that they in turn love each other in a faltering attempt to demonstrate how well loved they are.

Or, as Tim Keller so brilliantly puts it:

The gospel is this:

We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe,

yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope…

the hard times of marriage drive us to experience more of this transforming love of God.

But a good marriage will also be a place where we experience more of this kind of transforming love at a human level.

(The Meaning of Marriage, pg 48)

 

And that’s the main purpose of this series: To remind you that the man you married is Not Your Prince Charming. And to point you to the One who is.

Because only then will you be free to love lavishly. Only when you are all caught up in a passionate love for Jesus will you be capable of passionately and persistently loving your husband over years and decades of real life living.

And so before I start in on the bits and pieces of gathered wisdom I’ve discovered in His Word over the 35 years we’ve been married, I want to urge you, my girls, to fully embrace this truth:

That the gospel is all about God’s all-consuming love lavishing all that He is on all that I am.

It is about me dying with Jesus on that Cross. Dying to my dreams and my must-have’s and my rights and my way. Dying even to my happiness.

And then it’s about staying hidden so tight in Him that He resurrects all those broken places and fills me with Himself.

And then I change. Slowly, imperceptively at first. Simply by being so near Him that His breath warms the skin of my soul and colors my world in a way I’d never thought possible.

Joy comes. Rest. Delight. And so much love that I cannot help but spill it somewhere, on someone…

And I become who I am meant to be. He makes me holy… which is really all about being wholly who I am.

The way I respond to my husband changes. The way I handle worry changes. The way I handle all those irritating, soul-stretching everyday-bumping-up-against-each-other interactions that happen in close proximity with another person… changes.

I change…

because…

He changes me…

when I choose to die with Him…

daily.

May we fully grasp the reality of this Gospel— this news that is so good it changes everything, even and especially the way we love.

From my heart,

Diane

Three passages to sink your soul into this week:

  1. Romans 6- notice that word choose used over and over in the NLT
  2. John 6vs28-35- that word, believe, actually means to fully entrust yourself to God. That’s my “work”.
  3. John 15- to abide has to do with tucking myself into God.
Posted
April 1, 2013
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Charming, Features
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31 comments... (add a comment)

  1. Thank you, Diane, for these very wise words. The second we choose to love the only man in the world who can truly give us the moon is the second we are free to love the man we are partnered with on earth.

  2. Lisa Thayer

    This is sooooo true! No one person can possibly fulfill our deepest needs and desires each and every time except Jesus. Amen!

    • Dearest Lisa,
      You’ve learned this, I know. May He give you the words to tell your story to women who need to the hope He’s given you. Love, Diane

  3. Bree

    This is amazing. Every person needs to hear this. Thank you!!

  4. K

    This is wonderful. I often times struggle with this. How do you really DO this? How do you let God fill you up, when you can’t see him? Right now, I long for that close relationship but I am unsure how to get there. I do feel like I am setting my husband up for failure because I look to him to fill me instead of Jesus. I don’t want to do that anymore.

    thank you for your wisdom.

    • Dear K, I really hope to be able to make some of this more clear (at least as far as how it works for me) in coming posts. This one is sort of the premise of much of what I want to say. But this I know: Ask Jesus. Then open His Word on your lap and listen. He wants us to get this…

  5. Annie

    Hi Diane,

    Thank you for this message! I have been learning this truth more and more in my few short years of marriage. I am curious what wisdom you may have concerning this topic and how it relates to abusive marriages, or dating relationships that are unhealthy. Does the Lord ever call us to be filled with His love and ‘endure’ abuse? And where is the line between unhealthy and abusive (having an ugly fight verses verbal abuse where one person tries to have power and control)? As a domestic violence advocate, I face some hard battles daily with women longing to do the right thing and each woman longs to be loving, while also staying safe and taking care of herself. Do you have any thoughts on this? Thank you!

    • diane

      Dear Annie,
      I’ve tried and tried to answer this and everything I write (and delete) sounds trite and politically correct. I’ve seen up-close the effects abuse on a woman’s soul. There can be no one-size-fits-all answer. A cry for James 1:5 wisdom is needed, as well as wise and loving people to listen and question and probe and give wise counsel.
      However, that is not the kind of situation I am equipped to address in this series. My point is that even the best of men will not make a woman perpetually happy. And knowing that, finding that place of rest and joy in an intimate relationship with the Father will enable a woman to love even when she doesn’t feel like it.

      • Annie

        Thank you for your answer, I know it is a hard question to answer! And you are right, not every situation is the same, and each needs to be placed before the Father for specific wisdom in how to respond. I will continue to pray for wisdom.

  6. Yeonsoo

    I love how you have put the “secret” into such a clear and beautiful way! When my focus shifts to “I, my, me, mine”, I become frustrated and down, but when it is on Jesus’s love and grace, my hardened heart melts down with overwhelming thankfulness and I become less demanding toward my husband. Yes, the Gospel is the hope and the light of my life here and His grace IS sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in my weakness!!
    Love you, Diane!

    • diane

      Exactly! Now let’s all keep saying it in all our unique ways so that we believe it every single day.

  7. Jill

    Today I opened my bible and found my the card I got at the Women’s night in Prayer and I finally understood why I got it. (the card i got was Everlasting God) It’s what you are talking about in this series. I was dating someone at the time and we’ve broken up since but now I know that only Jesus can fulfill my hearts desires and He will be there for me always no matter what. Although this is still hard for me to understand how to do I’m excited to continue to read this blog. Thanks so much for your willingness to teach us and pour your wisdom into us.

    • Jill I think we are find this hard to understand. Yet over years of searching and asking and mulling and reading I think I’m getting it more and more. Someday we will see Him face-to-face and it will be so clear! For now we keep seeking, keep knocking, keep asking for Him to show us more of Himself. So good that you’re getting this now!

  8. Jodi Stilp

    WHOA was this profound. One to read over and over and over again. I loved this line: “So marriage becomes the place where the Gospel is lived out in our lives.” Thank you Sista!

    • And, might I add, parenting is where the Gospel runs smack into reality- you’re living it out every day in the midst of loving those kids! Love you, Sista!

  9. Anonymous

    2 years ago my husband stopped leading me & our children to Jesus. When this happened he stopped loving me like he had before. This after years of serving Jesus together in and out of the church. We even came to be saved during our marriage at different times. I always said this was what made our marriage so strong and why we have lasted so long. And now after 2 years of no longer walking with Him together our marriage is on the edge and I am having to learn to trust in Jesus and seek him alone to meet my needs. I grew up with a terrible father so I honestly have never even really understood God’s love. I know OF it and I know He does love me or He wouldn’t have saved me but after a lifetime of men who only love when they feel like it or I have had to earn it, I find myself desperate to truly understand and FEEL God’s love. But how do you have a God driven marriage that can succeed if only one of you is willing to do it?

    • diane

      Dear Anonymous,
      There is an excellent book that many of us at the church recommend over and over again for people in marriages that seem lopsided and weak. Its called “How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong”, by Leslie Vernick. She does the best job of anyone I’ve heard or read on bringing the Cross into the reality of a broken marriage. Don’t give up, dear one! Our God is a Redeemer and He is wooing your husband back. The amazing thing is that He will use you to do it if you are willing to die to all that you “need” and depend on Him alone. How your husband responds is his responsibility. How you love him during this time is yours. But don’t try to do it alone. Get yourself connected to a godly older woman who will help you focus on Jesus and keep your perspective healthy and hopeful. One thing I know- if you let Him, He will make you more beautiful than you ever thought possible through this painful time.

  10. Jillian

    Diane this is spot on with what I am trying to learn myself as a single young woman in college. It is so easy to see couples walking around campus, seeing friends become engaged on Facebook, etc and yearn for that in an unhealthy way. Learning and ultimately understanding a relationship with a man will not satisfy me at the root is what all single people need to understand. I also should recognize marriage and family as a good thing and something He wants on His time and not mine. God is preparing me for something better to come. Keller’s book is wonderful and something every single person should read to understand the depth and sanctification of marriage. My view of marriage was completely changed after that book. I look forward to every Monday to read another part of your story. Thanks so much Diane!

    • Jillian, To get this and understand it before you get married will save both you and your husband so much confusion and frustration. I had to learn this the hard way (I seem to learn everything the hard way!) by needing and nagging and never having enough. Keep at it and when God brings you to the right man at the right time you will be a refuge and joy to him.

  11. “That deep down satisfaction has made us free to love each other well and skillfully because we are so well loved by God Himself.”

    Amen! It is such a blessing to my heart when people say that my husband and I seem to love each other well, because I know it’s all God. It’s the overflow of His love for us, and nothing we could begin to do ourselves. We tried, plenty! And failed miserably. We had to secure our identities first as deeply and intimately loved by God before we could even begin to love each other the way He intended.

    • Dear Allie,
      And the glow of knowing Him in that intimate way has not only stayed with you, but increased as you’ve endured the loss of your dad. Thank you for offering your gifts freely to this blog and this team! Love you!

  12. Teresa

    My heart breaks everyday. And everyday that I am hurting, I crawl back to Jesus and ask him to feed me, comfort me, and make me whole. I learned all too late that my husband was not my prince, sometimes not even a frog waiting to morph into Mr Charming. Through the life draining sadness of 22 years lost, it was the realization that Christ had been asking to come to dinner all that time that hurts the most. Praise God, He is at my table, and I do not eat alone, but I can only wonder what it would have been like if I had set a place for Christ next to my husband each night? Thank you for sharing beautiful, inspiring words that I can give to my children. I want them to know and taste the hope that is served with their forever dinner guest!

    • Teresa, I can hear the echoes of a story here… one that has brought you up close to His presence. May He give you the words and the way to tell your story and perhaps save others from some of the pain you’ve endured. Praying for you… Diane

  13. Oh my, these are wonderful words. You and your husband are blessed. My wife, Vanita (before joining our Savior in heaven) would often say to ladies she mentored, “The best marriage is the marriage of a man and woman who do not need one another so much as they need God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When filled and satisfied with the Savior we need no other savior. Surely, expecting a spouse to give us the meaning only God can give us is expecting far, far more from him than God ever intended. Only God himself can give us that kind of meaning.” She would say much the same thing you are saying, but with her own special words in her own special way. My children and I miss her, but are grateful for her example of finding Jesus to be her Prince Charming. I cannot wait to introduce your blog to my 22 year old daughter.

    • I love your wife’s way of putting it, ” When filled and satisfied with the Savior we need no other savior. Surely, expecting a spouse to give us the meaning only God can give us is expecting far, far more from him than God ever intended. Only God himself can give us that kind of meaning.” Beautiful. I will pray for your daughter, that she will carry on her mother’s calling to point women to Jesus in a new and fresh way that makes sense to her generation. Thank you for the kind words of encouragement, Diane

  14. Maddy

    I loved loved loved this post. It brought to mind a favorite quote from one of the best devotionals I’ve read, “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers:

    “Once we get intimate with Jesus we are never lonely and we never lack for understanding or compassion. We can continually pour out our hearts to Him without being perceived as overly emotional or pitiful. The Christian who is truly intimate with Jesus will never draw attention to himself but will only show the evidence of a life where Jesus is completely in control. This is the outcome of allowing Jesus to satisfy every area of life to its depth. The picture resulting from such a life is that of the strong, calm balance that our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him.”

    I absolutely love this quote and I love advice you give that seems to be along the same line with it. The one question I have about the quote in particular, is do you think it’s possible? It seems like it might be an unreachable ideal. This sort of intimacy sounds almost “too good to be true”? Something to reach for but ultimately, is not completely reachable? Or do you think we can really achieve this sort of life that Chambers describes?

    Thanks for your love and wisdom!

    • Dear Maddy,
      I do think its possible. But I think it takes a life time to actually get this kind of truth into every crevasse of our being. Here’s what I think I would add to his wisdom: “Once we get intimate with Jesus, when we do get lonely we turn immediately to Him to fill that empty place and He does! When we get in a fog of not understanding, then we turn to Him immediately (instead of to our friends or a husband or some other source) and He lifts that fog so we see clearly and understand.” Does that make sense? And one more thing I’ve seen in women who know Jesus this intimately- instead of seeming perfect, they are hyperaware of their own flaws which results in joy and gratitude at God’s grace.
      So good that you’re there, yearning for more! He loves that and is leading you closer, I’m sure of it. Love, Diane

  15. Bradley Chandler

    This is phenomenal!

    I have spent the last hour or so reading over various posts, from the letters to your son to this and a few other assorted posts and I must say that your words are very wise and a great resource. This post is also convicting, though not necessarily written to a male audience, it is nevertheless convicting in two ways:

    What I actually do
    What I should be doing

    What I actually do is, as a single man in college, sometimes I find myself daydreaming about not just whom I will be married to, but far more frequently, what marriage will be like and how much better it will be. In these distorted dreams, in which I know but perhaps do not understand the truth, I am a great provider and our relationship is flawless and I give all that my wife needs out of the love I have for her, and likewise I fall into this generational trap of “she completes me.”

    However, I know that this is not what I should do, from this post and honest reflection, I know (and from history too) that a woman cannot satiate my desire for relational intimacy. The only One who can is Jesus, as your post concludes, and He not only wants to, but has already come to us, both physically on the cross and spiritually in our hearts. Christ wants to be our all and He knows that we were created to be in a relationship with Him, and He is the only fount of living water. All that is to say, I have slipped into this line of thinking that takes Jesus out of the picture and lends me the credit of being this hero figure.

    As a message to any men who might dare to read this deep into the comments, know and understand that the most heroic thing you can do for your wife, and truly any whom you love, is to point them to Christ, not to block His radiance and bask in the rays. Point them to Christ.

    Thank you Diane for this and your other series, I’ll be back (sorry for the ramble) and, as you can tell, your post has already inspired thought within me! Christ is Lord, keep doing what you are doing and know that I thank you. To God be the glory.

    • diane

      “As a message to any men who might dare to read this deep into the comments, know and understand that the most heroic thing you can do for your wife, and truly any whom you love, is to point them to Christ, not to block His radiance and bask in the rays. Point them to Christ.”
      Seriously, Bradley… these are some of the most insightful words I have ever read for men from a man. That is exactly what spiritual leadership at it’s best looks like!

  16. lataya

    Yes this makes so much sense to me because I’m in the middle of my wilderness right now. I’ve been in a relationship with my boyfriend now for 5 in a half years ..a relationship that God did not approve of from the beginning. We’ve been living in sin and even when I wanted to do right by God it seemed impossible because I was in love with someone who didnt. We’ve had 3 miscarriages and 1 still born. This year God completely turned my life upside down. He told me to leave this man and He would change my life. AND I did …mind u I was pregnant with his child for the 5th time…but I was tired of living in sin and poverty and turmoil and depending on a man to take care of me a man who didn’t respect my God. So I did what God told me to do. I left him.. pregnant and all …it definitely hasn’t been no picnic in the wilderness but God had to do it to bring me closer to Him. He didn’t take my baby this time and my relationship with Him is grower and deeper..He’s revealing Himself to me in ways that’s blowing my mind…and I know He isn’t thru yet!….to b continued…

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