Key Scripture: Jonah 3:6-10
This August, my husband and I celebrated our two-year wedding anniversary. If I’m honest, this has been the most challenging two years of my life. I remember the week after we got married, I scrolled my social media feeds with a hollow ache in my chest and tears in my eyes.
It wasn’t long after the last glass of champagne was toasted before we had our first painful conflict. Marriage wasn’t what everyone told us it was going to be. Everywhere I looked, there were newlyweds posting pictures with lengthy, thoughtful captions and romantic filters.
For everyone else, marriage seemed like a blissful union with gentle ebbs and flows. Months passed slowly, and I was convinced that something was inherently wrong with my marriage, and with me, as a partner. I wasn’t spiritual enough, couldn’t put together a magazine-worthy home, among a dozen other things.
It didn’t take long before I subscribed to the idea that my marriage was something to be ashamed of. I wanted to reach out to women in my community for encouragement and prayer, but my perceived inadequacy kept me silent. Would they judge us? Would they tell me to pray harder or tell me that they simply couldn’t relate?
My fear of being rejected chained me to a cycle of pain and comparison. And there, in that cold, iron cage, I suffered. The deeper issue wasn’t that my brand-new marriage was struggling, but that I gave my heart, identity, and the goodness of my marriage over to social media’s unforgiving expectations.
The reality of that choice? Well, that’s idolatry.
Idolatry is a calculated set-up to kidnap your heart, your attention, and your worship. All my affections, which should have been poured out at the feet of Jesus without hesitation, became knotted in things and people that were cheap replacements for God’s goodness and His love.
God’s grace reveals the sin in our lives that keep us chained down and held captive. His Spirit will show us, with surgical precision, where things need to be cut out of our hearts because they do not belong in the presence of God. Repentance in its purest form allows us to fall to our knees before the gracious, holy, and righteous God of the universe and make the decision to walk the other direction.
To choose holiness.
We don’t do this because we want to be forgiven. After all, that work was finished on the cross. We do this because we want to grow in closeness with God. With repentance, we receive freedom from iron cages and no longer suffer in silence.
When I re-adjusted my heart and priorities, I found authenticity and redemption in my marriage that I didn’t know existed. Seeking genuine repentance allowed the freedom to paint over my perceived inadequacy with colors of truth and grace.
Steps of Faith:
Lord, search my heart and know me. Point out areas in my life that I am keeping covered from your eyes. Search my heart for sin and bring it to the surface—no matter how ugly. God, my heart’s desire is to know you and surrender my life at your feet. God, this process may be painful and difficult, so would you help me trust you with the most broken parts of me?
Deeper Walk Scripture: James 1:12-15 ESV, Psalm 139:23-24 ESV