The Best Marriage I Never Wanted

I married a humble, godly, romantic man at twenty years old. Did I mention he just happens to have a phenomenal voice and is a gifted songwriter? He writes me songs, loves Jesus like crazy, and because of his music career, we've traveled the world together. Every girls' dream, right? Yet, exactly two weeks into marriage, I wrote this in my journal:

"Why am I so unhappy? So scared and confused?”

Surprised? I was too. Let me explain.

The Illusion


You see, God saved me early in life. I couldn't get enough of the Word and longed to know as much of God as possible. Yet along with a genuine love for God, an unseen and deep-rooted pride developed in my heart. Maybe it was the subconscious joy I found in the acclaim of people for being such a "good Christian." Maybe I couldn't help but notice how little outward sin I struggled with. No matter how it started, this pride grew unnoticed in my heart, watered with the praise of others and my own comparison to my peers.

Looking to my own ability to be good, I wondered why my I couldn't pull it together.

Like the Pharisees, I was utterly blind to my religious pride. My self-deceit was a textbook example of what Jeremiah and Paul described: "The arrogance of your heart has deceived you. For if you think you are something when you are nothing, you have deceived yourself” (Jer 49:16, Gal 6:3). Had you asked me if I struggled with pride, I would have said, "Oh no! I know that apart from Christ I can do nothing.” It was going to take a miracle for God to open my eyes to see this sickness in my soul.

My miracle came in the form of a husband. Though I knew marrying Jimmy was a gift from God, I had no idea just how good or how painful a gift this would be. Right after our honeymoon, we travelled to Nashville for Jimmy to promote his new record. Surrounded by people who were enthralled with my new husband, I became the recipient of a new kind of accolade.

"How lucky you are to be married to such a wonderful man!"
"Isn't he talented?"
"God has greatly gifted your husband!"

But these compliments were praising Jimmy, not me! In an instant, I grew angry, resentful, and insecure.

What about me?!
I'm pretty awesome, too!
Have you seen how great of a Christian I am?
How gifted I am?
He's the lucky one, not me!

Accustomed to receiving attention, I watched others line up to commend my husband, get his autograph, and take his picture. This monstrous pride that had been lying dormant suddenly reared its ugly head. And boy was it nasty.

The Confrontation

Blindsided by this surge of new emotions, I felt helpless in fighting back. I began to lash out in the only place I could without losing my "good Christian girl" reputation: at my husband. I said hateful things. I experienced levels of insecurity, jealousy, and rage I never knew I was capable of. Confusion and disillusionment followed quickly:

I'm better than this!
Why am I so angry, hateful, and unforgiving?
So insecure and jealous?
I am a good Christian!

Looking to my own ability to be good, I wondered why I couldn't pull it together.

For a while I lived in denial that I had any pride at all. I blamed my circumstances and others: If only Jimmy didn't have a public ministry, if he only understood how hard this is for me, if only people could see my talents. As long as I kept my focus on others, nothing changed. Though Jimmy had graciously and repeatedly tried to point out that maybe I was wrong and maybe I had a pride issue, my heart remained hard.

The Breakthrough

A few months into marriage, a breakthrough happened.

After Jimmy and I had been fighting for a few hours (yes, I said hours) and my heart was particularly hard, God supernaturally opened my eyes. Something in me snapped, and I saw the pride in my heart as clear as day. In brokenness and tears, I fell to my face before God.

"Lord, I have never felt more ashamed of myself. I deserve the depths of hell for this arrogance in my heart. Please forgive me; cover me in your saving grace."

I vividly remember the profound sorrow and humiliation in my heart that night—it was truly a defining moment. I'm convinced there was great rejoicing in heaven that night, because "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and contrite heart” (Ps. 51:17).

God may give you the marriage you've always wanted, but it may be to expose sin that you don't want to see.

The gift of marriage was more than I could have asked for—for none of the reasons I expected. God purposely brought me a very gifted husband with a very public ministry to expose the hidden sin in my heart. It was and often still is God's chosen, tailor-made instrument of sanctification for me.

Whether in a supporting role at a concert or caring for our daughters as Jimmy travels, God is using my marriage to shape me into a servant-hearted, Kingdom-minded, Christ-exalting woman. Though the path has been hard and painful, the resulting joy and freedom from self-love are so worth it! (Not to mention I have the privilege of being the wife of such a passionate, caring, and Jesus-loving man!)

Do you look to marriage assuming it, alone, can make you happy?

Have you considered that your marriage, or future marriage, may be as much for your sanctification as for your satisfaction?

God may give you the marriage you've always wanted, but it may be to expose sin that you don't want to see. Are you ready for that? Let us receive with joy all that God has for us in marriage, trusting in the Only One through whom true satisfaction comes: Jesus.

About the Author

Kelly Needham

Kelly Needham

Kelly Needham teaches the Bible at her home church where she co-leads a Women’s Teaching Program, training women to accurately handle the word of truth. She is the author of Friendish: Reclaiming Real Friendship in a Culture of Confusion and … read more …

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