Stories of Hope
My wife Shelley and I were married on August 15, 1998. Our family jokingly called us the greatest 'HITZ' of 1998. During our first year of marriage, we enjoyed a blissful time as newlyweds. Shelley was a budding Physical Therapist and I had recently taken a full-time position as a Campus Life Director with Youth For Christ in Findlay, Ohio. Living in an apartment within a triplex house where the rent was a mere $350/month, we were able to pay down our college loans in a hurry. Life was busy, yet good.
Then reality hit during our second year of marriage.
As two first born children, Shelley and I began butting heads more often in what seemed to be a struggle for power and control. As someone who comes from a history of stubbornness on both sides of my family, I wasn't about to give an inch! And I especially didn't what my young wife telling me--the man of the house--how to do things.
And so we yelled, argued, and threw things (fortunately not at each other) over the course of that stormy second year. One of my not-so-proud moments came late one night when at the height of an argument I decided to take our outdated phone and heave it out the back door onto our sidewalk. We needed a new phone anyway, right?
Something had to change or this marriage was about to experience an early death. What was a marriage of bliss was soon becoming a marriage from the abyss. It seemed that each agreement or disagreement was escalating to a new level. How could this happen between two people who followed Jesus?
It can be summed up in one word: Selfishness
"For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every kind of evil practice" (James 3:16).
Unfortunately, we were both full of this spiritual virus, but me especially. I certainly wasn't loving my wife as Christ loves the Church (Eph. 5:25). Whenever two people are at odds, it usually takes one person to take the initiative in making amends, in our case Shelley took the higher road.
Shelley decided to consult her mom about our situation and ask for some advice. Looking back, I'm thankful for the advice Shelley received since it completely changed the trajectory of where the marriage was heading. The words of wisdom she received were, "the only person you can change is yourself."
It was like a light bulb came on in Shelley's head. She recognized that as much as she saw things in me she wanted to change, the only thing she could really control was her own actions and responses to me. This began to make all the difference in our relationship. As she began to relinquish control to the Lord, I took notice. I remember feeling like a loser during those times when I wanted to control things. As I saw what the Lord was doing in Shelley, it motived me to also surrender and truly allow Jesus to be Lord.
This past August, we celebrated 17 years together. We've had plenty of bumps along the way as the Lord has sharpened us. Year number seven was also a hard year (7 year itch?) but we survived. I know we can both honestly say that we've grown in our love toward one another with each passing year. I would say we're currently enjoying a "sweet spot" as a couple. I find myself thanking the Lord regularly for such an incredible wife who loves me unconditionally. She is a joy to wake up to!
If you are struggling in your marriage, there is hope. When a husband and wife choose to completely surrender to the Lord, selfishness is replaced with selflessness.
Forgiveness Formula: Finding Lasting Freedom in Christ, CJ Hitz
Those who share their story are people just like you, who, at one time, felt lost and alone. Yet, their lives turned around by the hope and deliverance they found in Jesus Christ.
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