It was the summer of ’96 and there I was, standing in the middle of a crowded downtown square. As the multitudes walked around me, I looked up and saw her. I knew of her from a friend and had seen pictures, but now, here she was! The bustle of the crowd was suddenly reduced to slow motion. In that moment, all I could see was her and I knew that she was the one — and that I had been staring at her awkwardly for too long. So, I played it off and quickly moved on. But not from her.
Fast forward to May of ’99. After three years of friendship, I had finally convinced Elizabeth to go on a date with me. After securing that “yes,” I was on top of the world. With our dating relationship in the wake of a solid friendship, we felt confident being together. I was confident that she was the one. There was no question: I wanted to marry her. In July of ’99, I mustered up the courage to ask her if she would marry me and she said, “Yes!” Again. I was on a roll! We got married the following year in March and our wedded bliss began. Or did it?
As spouses, we act as mirrors to one another. When we look at the other, we not only see our spouse, we see ourselves — the good, but also the not-so-good qualities. After I had crossed the threshold of marriage, I was not ready for the reflection that would stare back at me. I locked eyes with myself. All I could see was a man riddled with insecurities and inadequacies, which I could never un-see. What I am doing? Who am I? Who did I marry? These and many other questions spun like a tornado in my mind. I had no idea how to handle this, so I resorted to blaming the mirror — my wife.
As the first couple years of our marriage progressed, my actions grew increasingly more offensive to my wife. I was so angry at her and the ease at which she lived life. Hate fired up in me each time she succeeded in anything. I would go on trips to visit her family and hear amazing stories of all she had done. All I could see was how inadequate I had been in comparison. Each story was one more log on the fire of my anger. My jealousy had gotten so bad that I couldn’t even look at her when she ministered at our church. When she would go up on the platform to speak, I’d stare squarely at the floor or at my phone. I felt powerless! I had believed that the only way to get power for myself was to steal it from someone else. In this case, my wife.
This put a huge strain on our marriage. I did not know what to do. But as we were rounding out the second year, God got my attention. I had a dream about my wife that included two separate movie reels.
One showed my wife running down a pathway. Directly in front of her was a large boulder blocking her way. I knew she’d go around it, but no. She ran right into it, causing her to fly in the air, flip and skid on the ground. After getting up, she turned around and I could see that she was bruised, cut up and dirty. To that, God said, “Jason, you are the boulder.” I was causing my wife a ton of pain and I was in the way.
In the second movie reel my wife was reaching for an item on a high shelf in a pantry. She was grunting and straining to get this thing she desired so much. As she struggled, in flew a jet-pack and it affixed itself to her back. With the help of the jet-pack, she flew up to grab the object and within seconds she blasted out of the frame. God quickly said, “Jason this could be you. A husband that provides his wife lift and takes her higher than she could go on her own.” This was so compelling; there was no other option but to change. It felt like a Saul-to-Paul conversion. So I asked God, “Would you help me be this jet-pack?”
In the coming months, God gave me the grace to support my wife in a way I had never thought possible. I empowered her to be the woman she was meant to be. I was only able to do this because God showed me how powerful I can be as well — a jet-pack designed to complement her. This drastically changed our marriage. She later began to empower me in the same way. Now I look for opportunities to give my wife space so she can be the powerful woman she is. She does the same for me. No longer is her strength threatening to me. No longer do I weigh her down with shame and guilt. Instead, I am the biggest Elizabeth fan there is!
It is safe to say you desire a healthy marriage. A healthy marriage is a byproduct of two healthy people. A healthy person is one who walks in his or her true self. Your true self is the self God specifically created you to be. The root issue to an unhealthy marriage is an unhealthy self in either spouse, or both. A true self can only be revealed by hearing God speak identity over you and receiving His grace to walk it out. The greatest gift you can give to your spouse is to be your true self. Your greatest position of power is resting in who God created you to be, allowing His Spirit to strengthen and shape you. As each of you does that and merges with the other in the unity of marriage, both become better!
Husbands, you are powerful! Wives, you are powerful! God wants to introduce you to your true self. As you allow God to fortify your individual identity, the identity of your marriage is fortified as well. In this moment I invite you to do what I did: look to God. Ask Him, what are some areas I could be healthier in as an individual? Ask Him, what does it look like for me to walk in power? Ask Him, how can I be more of a jet-pack to my spouse and less of a boulder? God will give you the grace to become one as you walk as two healthy individuals.