A Hurting Couple Finds True Hope, with LeRoy & Kimberly WagnerWithin Your Four Walls
Leslie Basham: Have you ever asked your husband to pray for you? Kim Wagner says a wife can ask her husband just like this:
Kim Wagner: I need protection. There are some things I’m struggling with, and it would mean so much to me if you would protect me by just praying over me. I think that would really help.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, September 17.
Last week Revive Our Hearts touched on some topics that deeply moved our listeners. We received a huge number of emails and web comments about Kim Wagner’s story.
Kim consistently criticized her husband, a pastor, and he retreated emotionally. But then, they watched God transform what seemed to be a hopeless situation.
Nancy, it’s been amazing to hear from so many women who have been encouraged by these programs.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Over the past several years, God has used Kim Wagner’s story to transform so many marriages. As women have seen the video of Kim’s testimony at ReviveOurHearts.com, or they’ve heard it here on the broadcast, they’ve been deeply challenged to ask some questions:
- Have I been tearing down my own home with my words?
- Have I been respecting the husband God gave me?
- Have I encouraged him to be the man God designed him to be?
Now, I know that those kinds of questions can feel a little complicated in the context of real life, and a lot of women have written us about their situations.
Today, Kim’s going to continue responding to some of those comments and emails. She’ll look at tough life circumstances and show us what God’s Word has to say.
I want to remind you that Kim has written a new book that includes a lot of the kinds of things you’ll hear today and much more. The book is called, Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior.
We’ll tell you at the end of the broadcast how you can get a copy of that book, which I think is going to have a huge impact in so many women’s lives.
Leslie: We’ll begin with a woman named Theresa. She wrote us and said:
My husband and I just "celebrated" our tenth anniversary. [And Theresa put the word “celebrated” in quotes, as if it weren’t really much of a celebration.]
There is such a wall between us, put up by me because I’ve grown tired of his hurting words and remarks to me. Now he is in his own little world, and the kids and I are in ours. He used to be a worship leader, but he has confrontations with everyone with whom he is involved. Honestly, is there really any hope for us?
Here’s Kim Wagner’s response.
Kim: Theresa, when I read your comment that you and your husband had just celebrated your tenth anniversary and there’s such a wall between you, I want to say that my husband and I both have prayed for you. As we read your comment, it reminded us of our painful years of struggle, and I just want you to know that your marriage does not have to remain the way it is. And if it can encourage you at all, our marriage is the living proof of the power of the gospel to transform individual lives but also our marriage.
I want to encourage you to look in Ephesians chapter 5 and beginning with verse 22, and really, this passage, Ephesians 5:22 through 33. It’s what I call the descriptive passage for marriage, and it’s really describing the big picture. This is the goal of marriage and God’s intention of marriage. It’s describing how Jesus Christ loves His Bride so much, which is the Church, that He laid down His life for her. And that’s what He charges husbands to do.
And you may be saying, “Yes! That’s what I want! I want a husband that loves me like Christ loves the Church.” But in that same passage, Theresa, it encourages us as wives to respond to our husbands just as the Church is to respond to Christ.
And that’s really the big picture for marriage. God’s intention with marriage is to show people what His love relationship with us looks like. And that’s why it’s so vital for us to show the world a loving, harmonious, united relationship with our mates because we want to give the world a picture of God’s glorious plan for marriage.
We want to give the world a picture of the sweet love relationship that Christ has with the Church. So if you’ll look through that Ephesians passage, you may say, “Yes, that’s what I want, what I see there, that big picture.”
But then I encourage husbands and wives together to follow that up with a study together through Colossians chapter 3:12–9. If your husband is not willing to do this or you’re not at a place where you feel you can invite him to do this with you, if you would just start working through Colossians 3:12–19. Where Ephesians gives us that descriptive, big picture of marriage, this passage in Colossians is what I call the prescriptive passage, or a passage that gives practical instruction for you for living out that big picture.
There are instructions in this passage like, “Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” We’re told there that we’re to “bear with one another”—that’s like you put up with some stuff.
I had a woman tell me that, “I hate to hear my husband slurp his coffee in the morning.” And I said, “You know what, that’s something that we just forbear.” That’s something that’s pretty easy to put up with. I imagine a lot of widows would say, “I would give anything to have my husband slurping coffee with me right now.” So that’s forbearance.
Then “forgiving each other,” which is huge, huge. But if we look at Ephesians 4, we’re to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us. Wow. If we really love Christ, if we really appreciate His grace in our lives, we’re to turn around and give that grace to others.
Now, these are some tough, hard things to do—forbearing, forgiving, putting on love—just thinking about that and looking through 1 Corinthians 13 and the description there of love—letting the peace of Christ rule in your heart.
If you continue through that passage, you’ll see that we’re also to demonstrate gratitude, thankfulness, be worshiping in our hearts as we’re following these instructions and putting on these characteristics. It’s interesting that all of these instructions come before this simple statement here in verse 18 to wives—specifically to wives—and it follows up what was said in Ephesians 5, and it says: “Wives be subject to your husbands as is fitting in the Lord.”
And really, I’ve found that I’m not able to do this. I’m not able to subject myself to my husband until first I am doing what it says above—I’m worshiping God; I’m walking in gratitude for all He’s done. I’m keeping my eyes fixed on Christ and what He’s done.
And really, we have the privilege, Romans 12:8 tells us: “We have the privilege of being conformed to that image.” So as you ask God to do this, as you ask Him to give you grace to be conformed to the image of Christ—and this is what it looks like; these specific descriptions is what it looks like—then we’re able to do what verse 18 says. We’re able to walk in that submission.
And you know what? It follows up with instruction to the husband that they’re to love their wives, just like it did in Ephesians 5. So Ephesians 5 gives us the big picture, a descriptive picture of marriage, but then here in Colossians 3 it says, “All right, this is what it looks like; this is how to live that out.”
Leslie: Kim Wagner is responding to some of the messages Revive Our Hearts listeners have written about their tough marriage situations. A lot of women wrote to tell us they saw themselves in Kim, and they realized that they’re tearing down their husband. They want to change, but they don’t know where to start.
Here’s an example from a woman named Ann. She heard Kim Wagner’s story on Revive Our Hearts and wrote:
This is the second time I’ve listened to this series. God has graciously put His finger on my lack of respect toward my husband. I’ve been so frustrated with him. He never leads us spiritually and never reads Scripture. He’s a very quiet man, and I know he’s in a cave of his own. I wish I had a godly mentor to come alongside of me. I feel our marriage is in danger.
Perhaps like this listener, you recognize your lack of respect for your husband. Kim Wagner says you can start doing things differently by creating a safe place for him. Here she is to explain.
Kim: I share with women that when I first met LeRoy, I was a power to contend with. I was a very strong, opinionated, and forceful woman, and proud of it. Now, I would have told you that I was a biblical woman; I loved Jesus; I loved His Word; I loved the gospel; I loved to share with people about Christ.
But I had a lot to learn, and I didn’t even know it. But I was a woman that was so intimidating without realizing it that my husband had become a fearful man. I would have never dreamed that my husband was in fear of me.
I remember one day having a conversation with Nancy, and I’m thankful that she’s such a good friend. She looked at me, and she said, “Do you think you intimidate your husband?”
I’m so glad she asked me that question because my knee jerk reaction to that was, “No! Intimidate LeRoy? No! He’s not intimidated by me!” And it wasn’t until quite a few years later that I found out, “Yes, he was intimidated by me. He was in fear of me.”
And God began teaching me that in order to win my husband’s heart back I needed to prepare a safe place for him. He needed to know that he was safe with me, that he could open up and talk to me. He could share with me. I could watch him mess up, and I wasn’t going to demean him for that. I was going to help him get picked back up and walk again.
So I share with ladies a little acronym based on the word appreciation, and, if you’re listening by radio, I hope you can jot these down, but if not, you can find it online. So just go to ReviveOurHearts.com and pull it up to look at it later.
But let me just run through the letters of appreciation with you that helped me to remember just some practical ways that I can prepare a safe place for my husband.
And I start with A: Admire and affirm.
I don’t know where you are right now in your marriage, but there was a time when I thought, “There is nothing, nothing that I see that I admire in my husband. In fact, he repulses me.” And you may be there, but you know what? There was something you admired about him, I would guess, or you wouldn’t have walked down that aisle together.
Go back and think about those things and start looking for any hint of that that you may see in him. Start watching for the simplest things that you can admire in him.
The second letter in the word appreciation is P: Pray—Prayer.
When I was in a bad place in my marriage, the way I prayed for my husband was, “God, fix him. God, do this in him.” I want to encourage you to pray for your husband in love. Pray caring for him. Pray specifically, regularly, intercede for him.
Find specific Scriptures to lift up as you pray for your husband and to read through those Scriptures and apply them to your husband’s situation. But pray positively for your husband, not just picking him apart negatively to God.
I’ve had several different passages through the years that I’ve prayed for LeRoy, but the prayer most often I use in praying for him now is from Psalm 92 because we’re older now, and we’re asking God for us to be able to be fruitful now in our final years. And as I pray through Psalm 92, some of what I pray is: It says, “The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree.” And so I ask God, “Let LeRoy flourish. Let him grow. Let him grow in Your presence. Let him know You more and more and desire to know Your Word more.”
It says, “Let the righteous man be planted in the house of the Lord.” So I ask God, “God, let him be planted deeply in Your Word and in Your presence. Let him know You more, love You more.”
“That they will flourish in the courts of our God.” I ask God to let LeRoy flourish, let him be fruitful. And that’s some of my prayers for LeRoy now. They’ve changed through the years, but I want to encourage you, as you pray for your husband, to find specific passages of Scripture that you would like to see God work in his life that would help your husband to become more conformed to Christ’s image, but not in a way that you’re berating your husband to God.
Yes, you talk to God about the ways your husband hurts you. You talk to God about your loneliness or the difficulty or the challenges—talk to Him about that. And then ask God, “How do You want me to view this? What do You want me to learn from this? How do You want me to respond to this specifically?”
So prayer is huge.
The letter R: Remember and recount the good things, but when you remember the bad things, release your prisoner. In other words: practice forgiveness in your heart and practice forgiveness with him.
It’s so good to remember good events, to remember the positive times, to remember your courtship years, or times when you first met your husband. Remember special occasions. Go back to the dating years and think about little inside jokes you had or personal stories that the two of you share.
Don’t just remember that but recount, or speak that to him. Remind him of that. And by you talking of those things, and by you reminding him of sweet memories that you had together, fun times that you experienced, you know what? That can warm his heart as well as yours. That can take the two of you back to a special time. That can even start a little fire.
Release your prisoner. Forgiveness is huge in a marriage. Forgiveness is huge in a family. If you have children, and they’ve seen you, they’ve watched you as you’ve not treated your husband well, as you’ve been disrespectful, perhaps spoken harshly to him or spoken negatively about him behind his back, they need to see you ask forgiveness of your husband, and you need to ask their forgiveness for how you’ve treated your husband in front of them.
We need to practice forgiveness in order for others to be willing to come to us and find us a safe place to ask forgiveness when they’ve offended us.
And as we work out way through the acronym, appreciation, we come to the letter E: Encourage.
Encourage your husband. Encourage your man. If you want your husband to lead, if you want him to live out godly manhood, then you need to move aside and encourage him to lead. Just by you stepping out of the lead, that will be an encouragement to him.
Your husband may act right now like he doesn’t want the role. He doesn’t want that responsibility. He may feel so defeated right now, he may feel like he can do nothing right, that he may be saying, “You go ahead and make the decision. You know best. I can’t do anything right.”
Now, he may not be voicing that to you, but inside, he may be in fear and trembling of the decision he makes because he knows if it ends up being the wrong decision, he’s going to hear about it from you.
You need to give him room to lead by moving out of the way, and you need to give him peace of mind to lead by letting him know that, “I know that the leadership role is tough. I know that it’s hard. I know decision making is hard. But I’m behind you. I know you’re trying to do the very best you can. I know that you are looking out for us. I know that you care. I know you can do it.” Encourage your husband to step up to the plate.
God put within men this thing—when He designed Adam, and He really gave him before the woman was even created—He gave him the responsibility and the ability to protect and provide. And men are built in a way that they love to step up to the plate and protect their woman, to protect their family. They like to be the hero. Now, it may be a long time since you’ve seen your husband do that, but he just may need the encouragement from you.
As a woman said to me recently, “I want my husband so badly to pray with me, just to pray with me.” And I encouraged her, and I encourage you. Go to your husband, just in a kind, meek way, look at him, and say, “You know what? I need protection. There are some things I’m struggling with, and it would mean so much to me if you would protect me by just praying over me. I think that would really help.”
When a man feels that he has a safe place, that you need him to pray over you, he wants to step up to the plate and do that.
I hope you’ll communicate to him that, “I need you to be my spiritual protector. I need you to be the warrior in our home. Would you please pray for me in this?”
And this has become such a staple in our lives, such a guiding principle in our lives, that my husband can just recognize it in my voice if I’m having a difficult day, and right then, he’ll stop, and he’ll say, “Let me pray for you.”
Leslie: Kim Wagner has been giving practical advice to women who want to obey the Lord and grow in respecting their husbands.
What comments or questions came to mind when you heard Kim speaking today? She’s going to be a part of the Revive Our Hearts listener blog, so you can post a comment to Kim and read the responses she’s given to our listeners. To participate in the Revive Our Hearts listener blog, visit ReviveOurHearts.com and scroll to the end of today’s transcript.
I hope you’ll continue to grow in the areas we’ve heard about today. One way to keep learning is to get a copy of Kim’s new book, Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior. Nancy Leigh DeMoss is here to tell you more about it.
Nancy: I’m so thrilled that Kim has written this new book. God has taken her on an incredible journey and has transformed her marriage, and He didn’t just do it for her sake. I love the way that Kim is now using her experience to minister grace to other hurting women.
I believe that God has the power to transform your marriage. You could be an example of a heart and a home transformed by His Truth.
Kim’s book, Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior, will show you what it means to surrender your words, your attitude, and your marriage to the Lord.
Leslie: We’ll send you a copy of Fierce Women when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. We’ll also include the booklet, 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband. Ask for the booklet and Fierce Women when you call with your gift. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or get all the details and donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com.
Well, do you ever feel like you pray, and it doesn’t seem to be doing any good, like God isn’t listening or answering? Nancy Leigh DeMoss will talk about it tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.
|A Husband's Crisis of Faith||Sept. 10, 2012|
|An Angry Heart Turns||Sept. 11, 2012|
|Do You Intimidate Your Husband?||Sept. 12, 2012|
|Crying Out to God for Your Marriage||Sept. 13, 2012|
|Restoring Broken Relationships||Sept. 14, 2012|
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