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February 29, 2008

“In times of trouble, may the Lord answer your cry.
May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm.
May he send you help from his sanctuary
and strengthen you from Jerusalem.
May he remember all your gifts
and look favorably on your burnt offerings.
May he grant your heart’s desires
and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory
and raise a victory banner in the name of our God.
May the Lord answer all your prayers” (Psalm 20:1-5).

The first time I exploded with anger at my husband, I thought I was going to die. Standing in the middle of my small apartment in married student housing – shaking, sweating, swearing – I told my husband I wished he would leave me. I told him I hated him. I imagined what it would feel like to attack him.

Who was this woman? A few months earlier I had stood next to him in our small chapel, veil down and eyes shining, my heart full of love for this man. We held damp hands and grinned through our whole wedding ceremony. Our reception at a local country club was a like a dream – I drifted through the night greeting friends and laughing. I ate nothing of the menu I had so agonizingly picked out.

Our honeymoon at a tiny cabin in the mountains was a continuation of the dream – the nights were great, but traipsing around little stores in the nearby town was great, too. We ate fudge, watched “Blue’s Clues”, and talked about the family we would raise.

It wasn’t long before the honeymoon ended and we went home. Something about marriage brought out new and unfamiliar emotions in me. My feelings of love for Hugh faded and were soon replaced by an explosive anger that lashed out suddenly, painfully.

He touched me in the wrong way – and I smacked him.

He got irritated about the grocery bill – and I started swearing, slamming the door behind me.

If he tried to keep talking to me once I started to feel upset, I would push and kick him until he would leave me alone.

Any conflict we had would send me into an emotional tailspin as I tried unsuccessfully to deal with the anger that was overtaking me. Although I knew Christ, I felt completely trapped by my emotions. The anger I had was constantly raging inside of me, slowly destroying my new marriage.

When Paul cries out “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” (Romans 7:24), I can understand at the deepest level how he felt when he wrote those words. Finally, after months of living with this rage, I had a moment of piercing clarity:

Either I would submit my life completely to God, or I would lose Hugh.

It was as simple as that. I knew that I couldn’t keep hurting my husband and expect that we would somehow survive.

Slowly I broke the bondage of rage off my life. I started memorizing scripture about anger, I spent consistent time with God most mornings, and I started learning about the Holy Spirit.

While Romans 7 is Paul’s painfully accurate description of the struggle that we face against our sin-nature, the next chapter is full of references to the Holy Spirit – the most references of any chapter in the Bible. I began to study Romans 8 with diligence.

Paul states, “…the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death…the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace…if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is alive because of righteousness…”

These words changed my life as I realized the power in these verses. Jesus set me free from sin – all sin, including rage. I began to understand that my spirit was alive in Christ, not dead to sin. My spirit, my very own spirit, is alive because of righteousness.

I slowly began to digest these truths. I began to realize that the more time I spent in God’s Word and at His feet, the less I struggled with rage towards my precious man.

A friend once told me, “You know that God has really redeemed something in you when people look at your life and won’t be able to believe what God has brought you out of… It will almost be unbelievable to you, too. You will almost struggle to remember it.”

She is right. Even as I write about this chapter of my marriage, I want to pause and say, “God, really? Was I this controlled by rage? I can’t really remember what that even feels like.”

His redemption is complete; my marriage – though needing care and attention – is no longer scarred by my rage.

The anger I brought to my marriage as a new wife is no longer a source of shame. It has instead become a victory banner that I raise high in the name of my God (Psalm 20:5).

And as I raise my banner, I am full of faith and confidence in the One who set me free. I have learned through tears and perseverance that it does not matter the mountain I face – everything flung at His feet in brokenness is healed.

Jesus, you are my Healer. You are my redeemer. Thank you for sending me help from your sanctuary on my day of trouble – how faithful you are to me! I am so in love with you!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 29, 2008 10:40 pm

    your real, honest, lovely posts make me smile and cry. Thank you for sharing the amazing Glory of our Father!

  2. March 1, 2008 11:36 pm

    I needed this post tonight, Jess. What a “yuck” night it has been. But I was so blessed by your reminder that Jesus has set me free from ALL sin. I have got to start declaring that victory over some areas in my life. I want to wave a victory banner in His name.
    Thank you so much for the honesty you offer and for the hope you offer, too.
    You are a blessing.

  3. March 2, 2008 1:08 pm

    Oh my goodness, this is absolutely beautiful. What a moving testimony. I know that I have thanked you before for your honesty and for sharing such tender parts of your life with us– but I just wanted to say it again! I always leave here feeling uplifted, thankful, encouraged, blessed, choked up, convicted, something… I always feel something! I am so glad that I ran across your blog during that giveaway carnival! Yay for that! 🙂 You bless me!

  4. Tasha permalink
    March 3, 2008 12:58 pm

    Good grief woman, you have an amazing ability to make me cry with just about every post and make me examine my life and my walk with God more deeply! Thank you for being so honest! I find that I identify with so much more and it hits me so much more deeply when I discover that I am not they only woman to experience emotions like these, and that I am not alone in my quest for following God on a deep and very personal level!

  5. March 12, 2008 2:15 pm

    I see myself in every line of this post … some events the same, but not so much the events as the emotions!

    I believe that the statement about redemption is one of the most profound things I’ve ever read! It sent tears streaming down my face that were inexplicable for a moment … and yet comforted me. I’ve been in a season of loneliness because my closest friends (the other homeschool moms of my son’s friends) don’t really know “who I was” … and most of them can’t even imagine that I could have ever struggled in the areas I struggled in … it has been hard to be in this place. BUT your post reminds me that this ‘new me’ is God’s Redeeming work.

    Thank you!!!

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