Can God Love Me If I'm Like This? (A Wife's Letter)
Kathy Gallagher offers comfort to wives struggling to relate to God as they see the condition of their own hearts in response to their husband’s sin.
Kathy, you received a letter from Karen, whose husband had previously been involved in sexual sin. But at the time of her letter, Karen was questioning her walk with God because of the way she was treating her husband. Her basic question seemed to be, "Can I really have a close relationship with the Lord, if this is what I'm like inside?"
You know, this particular woman is probably dealing with a little bit of bitterness from their past relationship and the things that her husband had done. And I know that it's easy to give over to anger and bitterness in the heat of the moment and then to try to go and be with God. You've got this baggage: "Now I just blew it with my husband, so how can I enter into the presence of God?" But we all come to the Lord that way. I think every person on the planet that's ever professed Christ as their Savior has had the same struggle.
By "struggle," are you referring to the tendency we have of thinking we have to clean ourselves up spiritually before we can worship God or spend time with Him
Yeah. And just seeing your heart! We all have to come to grips with what our heart is like, and I know I've said to the Lord a million times if I've said it once, "My heart is so black, Lord!" And I always want to say, "How can you love me?" But that's the beauty of the cross. The blood of Christ has cleansed us from that. So when I've blown it with my husband or with someone else, I can come to the Lord—not in a presumptuous spirit, but in humility. I can ask for forgiveness and know I've been forgiven. I don't have to clean myself up, and I don't have to do 90 hours of penance before I can enter into the throne room of God. I can come just as I am, and I'm forgiven and can move on.
So many of the women I deal with are so sincere; they really want to do the right thing. And they see their failures and their mistakes. Maybe they see how they've condemned their husbands with their mouth or just treated him badly. And they just drag themselves into God's throne room. But I want to encourage these women who are really sincere, who are walking with Jesus and trying to do the right thing. God does see. And He knows what they're going through, and He forgives us when we fail. He doesn't hold it against us. Holding grudges is what we're like; that's how we are. I think that's why we struggle so much with God; we sometimes think he's like we are. But He's nothing like us!
If a woman wants to find her way out of being trapped in a sense of condemnation, can you describe how gratitude can contribute to that victory?
We regularly have people that we're counseling make a "gratitude list"—a written list of things they're grateful for. Because if your heart is full of gratitude, it won't be full of bitterness. Gratitude transcends all the other things that lodge themselves in our hearts.
In your response to Karen, you talked about how spending time with God every day was important for you as you overcame bitterness against your husband Steve. Can you talk more about this and offer wives some practical advice about what having a daily "quiet time" could look like?
It's just absolutely the answer to any sin—bitterness, anger, fear, all of those things that I struggled with myself. I found my prayer time, my walk with Jesus, to be everything I needed. God would give me what I needed. Worship was particularly important to me to overcome all the stuff that wives have to deal with when they've been hurt by their husbands.
I think the most important thing that I could communicate to women is this: it's not that you show up for a prayer time, an obligatory period where you're sitting before God. Rather, you are coming into a quiet, secluded, secret place where you and the Most High will have communion. And that's what it was for me. It was a time when I could get away from the world, get away from myself, and get away from all this stuff that I had to deal with. And I was "closed in" with my Maker. It just became a molding time, where the Potter would get me up on the table and start spinning that wheel, and he was doing things in me. Sometimes it was painful; sometimes it was glorious. But God could shape me, God could mold me, God could change my mind, and God could transform me. And he could give me his thoughts and take away my thoughts that were so often so earthly and so carnal.
It must be really life-changing for people struggling with condemnation to realize that God actually does desire to have intimacy with them!
That's right; He does! Nothing should stop us from coming to God. He does not expect us to come clean; He expects us to come so he can clean us up. And we don't have to have it all together. We have to come in a humble spirit. We have to come reverentially and in a repentant heart. God is the one who changes us and eradicates that condemnation from our hearts.
This excerpt is from our podcast episode, “Can My Boyfriend and I Really Stay Pure in Today's World?” Episode #338
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