My husband and I are originally from Kenya. When we moved to the States five years ago, I expected life to go on as usual. Of course, I expected to navigate a few bumps as we adjusted to life on a new continent, but I still thought life would move on and we would navigate the changes together.
I did not understand the degree to which men are different than women. Oh, I knew he thought differently. What I did not grasp was the level and extent of our differences.
While most women gravitate towards spirituality to try to make sense of difficulties, men will gravitate towards logic and action. The bigger the challenge, the more we hunker down.
I was desperately hoping for spiritual company, while my husband was longing for sense and logic. It was a few months before I began to get it, but over time, God taught me two things.
2 Things I Learned About Spiritual Unity
1. I am not my husband’s holy spirit.
That important fact meant I could not mold him into whatever (I thought) he should be.
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ so they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. (Mark 10:7-8)
That last verse is especially poignant: “What God has joined together.” I am not responsible for our joinedness – that is something God did when we said “I do.” Therefore, I don’t have to fret about this deep spiritual joining; it is not my responsibility. Obviously, I am responsible for fanning and nurturing it, but I should not concern myself with “fixing” something I did not create in the first place.
Notwithstanding, I can interfere with our union, and that happens when I start to take responsibility for how my husband relates to God – how and when he does his devotions, his level of excitement for spiritual matters, what he thinks about certain spiritual themes.
I remember one day being so distraught because he wasn’t excited about looking for a new church. I was hungry for a new church family and desired to be planted in good soil. Being the more extroverted in our relationship, I wanted my husband to display the same kind of enthusiasm. I thought emotional expression was the same as spiritual hunger. But my guy is a laid back introvert who, while he likes people, doesn’t particularly enjoy the work of connecting with strangers.
The Bible does ask us to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24), but I learned that the role does not involve shepherding or mothering my husband.
2. My faithfulness to God will encourage my spouse.
A heart that is not at rest in Christ will find something to be anxious about. I was worried about many other things, and my husband’s relationship with God was just a diversion.
My worry did not make a difference or encourage his spirituality (the one I thought he was lacking). Rather, it kept me busy. It is not that God isn’t bothered about our spiritual growth as a couple. However, He does not want us to be so focused on it that it drives a wedge between us.
No struggling spouse was ever drawn to Christ because their spouse worried, nagged, or manipulated them to Him. However, spouses have been won to Christ because a husband or wife chose to trust God, and chose to pray for and love their spouse right where they were as they pursued God for themselves.
Looking back over these years, I am blown away by God’s sense of humor. I think it is funny how He creates and pairs up two distinctly different individuals and calls them “one.” This unity is mind-blowing when we think about it. It has nothing to do with us, because it is a gift. Yet it has everything to do with us, because a gift has to be accepted and unwrapped and then continuously nurtured – not in the way that naturally occurs to us, but in the way that is pleasing to God.
For us, finding spiritual intimacy has meant releasing each other to pursue God in our distinct ways. We encourage each other but are not militant on the “how.” Being the more expressive of “us,” I have learned to release him to relate to God in his laid-back, logical way. I have greatly benefited from his depth and unique perspective. He has learned to cheer-lead me in my expressiveness (he doesn’t sidle away or disown me when I dance and clap in church!). We pray together most days; we go to church and serve together in ministry. We have learned that our intimacy starts from God and is much deeper than outward deeds and actions. It has to do with who we are in God, first as people, and then as a couple.
Question: What fears do you have about your spiritual connection? How can you submit those fears to God today?
About the author:
Ngina Otiende is a Jesus-loving, tea-drinking girl from Africa. Married to the love of her life, Tommy, they make their home in beautiful southwest Texas. Ngina ministers to earlywed wives at IntentionalToday.com, where they also champion the cause of orphans and missions.