After she had waited for ten minutes, Pastor Helen still didn’t attend to her.
“Pastor, I have waited for more than ten minutes. Are you busy or should I come next time? Lisa asked but there was still no response.
Lisa raised her voice, “If I had known you wouldn’t have time for me, at least I would have spent it doing something better.”
Pastor Helen stopped her audio Bible and said,
“Patience is a great virtue in marriage and relationship. Without it, there will be struggle, suspicion and hatred. You concluded I snubbed you because I didn’t answer you on time. Sometimes, we assume a lot in our relationships. You raised your voice because you thought I ignored your greeting and didn’t recognise your presence. We want attention and recognition. The moment we are deprived of it, we get annoyed which may lead to malice. We begin to struggle to understand each other and focus less on the main goals in our marriage or relationship.”
Lisa was dumbfounded by the way she tackled her and the level of her maturity. However, she wasn’t pleased with her straightforward explanation. She couldn’t decide whether to ask her questions or listen to her and leave.
“I have counselled many women and I have realised that there is no single approach to counsel them. Sister Debby told me she called me yesterday in your presence and would want me to talk to you about your marriage and your emotional stress. Am I right?”
“Another thing I have realised is that a counsellor shouldn’t make the final decision based on one side of the story.”
“Is this woman preaching or talking to herself?” Lisa thought despisefully in her mind.
“Were you at fault too?” Pastor Helen asked.
“No! I mean, which fault are you talking about?” Lisa gave a quick response.
“Mrs Lisa, you defended yourself before understanding the question I asked you. That’s another problem in marriage when a spouse is always defending himself/herself. They don’t see anything wrong in their actions or belittle the effects on their spouses. When your spouse hit that particular nerve of incompetence in your life with a comment, it can trigger your insecurity which prompt defensive behaviour. The insecurity plays a negative role in every relationship. They can’t differentiate between opinions and complaints. Opinion is just a view formed about something and it doesn’t based expressly on fact while a complaint is a statement that something isn’t good enough or not right. There is a stark difference between the two. When the foundation of love is shaky, couples tend to attack every opinion instead of seeing the true person behind the words. True love covers multitude of sins but defensiveness and suspicion are parts of the cankerworms in marriage.
Lisa sighed and listened patiently as she saw herself in the narrative. She wasn’t in a hurry to ask questions because the Lord was dealing with her.
“We focus on the faults of others. We blame them for everything that happened to us. We despise them for hurting our hearts but never sat down to analyse our own mistakes and shortcomings. There is no perfect marriage but imperfect couples trusting in a perfect God to perfect their marriage and teach them what to do. When God is out of the equation of the marriage, confusion will be the outcome. Have you wondered why the rates of separation and divorce is on the increase?”
“Because of violence and abuse in the marriage.” Lisa said solemnly.
“You are correct but the foundational problem is lack of contentment. When it graduates, it gives birth to abuse, anger, violence, complaints and so on.” Pastor Helen asserted.
“Lack of contentment? How?”
“When they begin to compare their spouses with other people. It could be in the area of job, money, beauty, properties, education, social status, spirituality, emotions and so on. It could also be when a spouse is feeling threatened or inadequate by his/her perceived spouse’s success. When they see themselves as separate, then the devil can strike. God made them one and they should see themselves as such. If one succeed, the other succeed too. Contentment with godliness is a great gain to the family.”
Lisa became sober and asked her a question,
“How can I pick up the shattered glass of my marriage?”
“If you pick the pieces, you will be hurt and frustrated. If others help you, they might also be wounded or pack everything into the wastebin of condemnation and forgetfulness. However, if you allow God to help you, he will remould your marriage and beautify it with his grace and glory.”
“Grace and glory?” Lisa asked.
“Yes! The Bible says in Psalms 84 verse 11, ‘For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly’
“He will not withhold good things, including my marriage?”
“Yes! He is ever ready to help whoever calls upon him. He is the author of marriage and knows how to re-edit the marriage in his wisdom and power. It is God’s desire and will for couples to dwell together in love, peace and joy. He can restore any broken marriage or relationship.”
“Including a wayward man who abandoned his wife and children for seven years? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven years?” She counted her fingers and sighed deeply.
Pastor Helen listened patiently and prayed silently.
“Pastor, I have lived in pain, struggles, tears and loneliness with my son. I cannot count how many times I have cursed him for abandoning us. Peter took my daughter away for seven years without any contact. Pastor, Jesus called the biblical Peter a rock but my own Peter is a mountain that cannot be removed. He made me stagnant and took away my joy. He never saw anything good in my life. He eloped with Josephine, my chief bridesmaid and messed up. He made me do what I never wanted to do. He brought my life to a standstill. He is wicked and an ingrate. I hate him!”
Pastor Helen smiled, took her right hand and began to squeeze it until she screamed.
“What did I do? Pastor Helen asked.
“You squeezed my hand. That’s unfair.”
“Why did I squeeze your hand?”
“I don’t know.” Lisa answered reluctantly.
“Why did you scream?”
“It pained me.”
“What did you do?”
“I removed my hand.” Lisa said with a puzzled face.
“You removed your hand because it was your responsibility. You didn’t blame me at first but you did the right thing. You didn’t know why I squeezed your hand and you didn’t ask me. You screamed because you felt the pain. In marriage, we assume our spouses ought to know what we need, how we feel and know everything without telling them. We voice out only when we might have been hurt or pained and it may be too late.”
Lisa smiled and nodded in agreement. Pastor Helen continued,
“There are healthy conflicts in marriage which….”
To be continued in Episode 35.