There was a time when my marriage suffered a major trauma. The relationship I thought we had was over, and I was heartbroken. Any joy in my Christian Marriage was gone. I (Rebekah Hallberg) lived in fear of divorce. In fact, the voices that were the loudest were the ones questioning my faith. There were doubt and fear, but there was no more joy.
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As weeks and months passed, I found myself in a pit emotionally. I had to persevere to simply get through the day. But over time, a change began to happen. As my marriage began to heal, I realized I was craving joy. I was looking for some semblance of wholeness after the months of extreme uncertainty. I remembered reading Ann Voskamp’s book, 1,000 Gifts, with the premise being that through gratitude we find joy.
How Can Gratitude Bring Joy in a Christian Marriage?
I’ve learned that to really appreciate the value or fruit of the Spirit, sometimes you have to understand the opposite of it. Because of the extent of our marital issues, I became well-acquainted with fear and doubt, so I knew just how far I was from joy.
I knew that it wouldn’t be an immediate change, but I was longing for something different. How do you will joy in your life when things seem bleak?
You don’t will it, you choose it.
3 Small Steps to Choose Joy
When you’re in the midst of stress and fear that is turning your life upside down, it can be hard to make a “big” decision. So I knew I would have to take small steps, to make small choices if I wanted to choose joy.
I decided to take these 3 steps each day. These were small choices that I knew I could be consistent in choosing joy.
1. Look out the window and thank the Lord for the day.
Each morning, I paused at the bedroom window before going downstairs to start the day. I took a minute to look outside and start my day by thanking the Lord for a new morning. Over 4 years later, this has become a habit, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the day. The noise of the day hasn’t started, and everything is peaceful.
This time gives me just a few moments to focus my thoughts on the Lord, to review a favorite Bible verse, and to prepare my heart for the day.
By the time I was finished thanking the Lord for the day, my husband was up and we were able to start the day together, with joy.
2. Stop by the back door and thank the Lord for our home and our family.
We’ve lived in this house for over 12 years, and I love where we live. Each day, I made the intentional choice to take time each day to express gratitude for our home and our family, and that God kept us together through all the ups and downs.
Generally, this specific step happens later in the day – over lunchtime, or in the late afternoon. Taking this time gives me an opportunity to pause from the pace of the day, to rest for a moment or two, and to refocus on choosing gratitude.
This choice helped me focus on my family and the home that God graciously provided for us. I took time to pray specifically for each family member, even if just for a moment. Over time, God used the times I spent praying for my husband to fill my heart with joy for my marriage.
Because of what happened, anxiety and fear were a very real part of my life. When I found myself with thoughts that were rooted in fear or anxiety, I immediately chose to start rattling off a list of things I was thankful for – even if it was just a silent list in my mind.
I also chose to write down some of the things I was thankful for. The reality, when you’re in a tough spot emotionally, is that you can’t necessarily recall good things in a dark moment. Having this list to refer to gave me a good start on choosing gratitude, which led to joy.
When my thoughts were rooted in anxiety I was stressed and frustrated, and my husband was often the brunt of my feelings. So choosing to replace those thoughts with gratitude put me in a better mood – with joy in my heart. That changed my attitude and made any interaction with my husband much more gentle.
Gratitude Was how I Reclaimed Joy
These are just 3 Simple Ways Gratitude Will Reclaim Joy in a Christian Marriage. Over the years, these have all become a habit, and they continue to positively impact my marriage.
As my marriage continues to heal, I find that focusing on gratitude brings me joy. When my heart is more full of joy than of fear or anxiety, I want to stay connected with my husband.
It’s been a long road for me to Reclaim joy in my Christian Marriage, but by God’s grace, I’ve rediscovered joy through gratitude for all that the Lord has done!
You can find Rebekah at her blog -Sharing Redemption’s Stories- and her testimony that God can redeem and restore any Marriage!
Rebekah M Hallberg has an amazing book: Hope for the Hurting Wife
- Hope for the Hurting Wife is a thirty-day devotional journey that meets hurting and heartbroken wives right in the midst of a difficult marriage and gently encourages them to find hope that truly lasts. Rebekah and Jen know many wives truly wish to avoid divorce, but the pain and suffering experienced when marriage doesn’t go as planned are very real. Through personal stories of heartache and scriptural insight, they address topics such as: Moving forward after trauma
Loving even when you feel unloved
Protecting your heart
Understanding the power of choice
Trusting God while waiting for redemption
Hope. Courage. Confidence.It’s never too late to experience these realities, even in a troubled marriage!
Do you need some encouragement to keep pressing into that Daily Commitment? We could all use a community to help us in Reclaiming Hope & Joy in our marriages!
We just finished a 31 day Series to help us Reclaim Hope & Joy in Marriage by Intentionally Investing in our Christian Marriage. Get the articles Free in this downloadable e-Book. And Be sure to check out the Wives Only FB Group where Christian Wives chose Hope and Joy in every Season
God gave Rebekah a front row seat to the work of His redemption in her marriage. After surviving the initial trauma, she determined to fix her eyes solely on Jesus and trusted Him to carry her through the storm that followed. Rebekah shares not only her heartache, but also her great hope with other wives so they might know God still redeems, even in the toughest of circumstances. Now, years later, she praises God for restoring her marriage. Rebekah is the co-author of Hope for the Hurting Wife: 30 Days of Encouragement for your marriage. She co-leads an online community for struggling wives around the world and shares encouragement for those who face the daunting task of surviving the “for worse” of marriage. You can learn more about her ministry to wives at her blog, Sharing Redemption’s Stories.