Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Journey Together

OK, I’m ready to write again. I wasn’t sure I was going to be. Let me explain.

See….. after the last post on God not keeping a list Marshall (Husband) got really concerned for me. He was worried that I was going off into a bit of a ditch and not seeing the whole picture of God. (I’m not going to give his reasons for what he was thinking because that is not really the point of this post. Maybe we will explore that in another post or two as I try and deal with some of his questions about Grace and who God is.)

I listened kindly to his concerns. He was not harsh with me, just concerned that the ditch I was headed toward would become a path away from the truth of the Father – a path he could not walk with me. I totally saw some of the things that I was missing and understood his heart.

I walked away, though, with the wind completely blown out of my sails. I was ready to quit. So many times I just completely go with an idea without addressing the obvious questions that it should bring up. I’m not brilliant at all. I deal with what is right in front of me. I tend to hear something and just jump in with both feet and my mind on auto pilot. Marsh is not that way and so I scare him a bit (a lot) from time to time. So for the past few days I have just cleaned my house, caught up paper work in the business and let the blogging rest a bit. Again, he has been concerned for me. He did not want his actions to result in silencing me.

And the final truth is this: He doesn’t want to end my journey or discovery – just walk it with me.

What is important here in this post is the question of how you walk this journey of faith together as a husband and wife. When we left our “church” and I started questioning everything that I believed, I researched a lot online. It was there that I found stories of many men and women who were not “on the same page” as each other in this journey. One wanted the institution, one didn’t. One was so hurt and mad at God that they had virtually no relationship with Him and the other still wanted to walk with Him. I read of an author who turned away from her husband’s God to follow after other gods. Lately, I read the heartbreak of Michael (I Monk) and his wife and his angst of her decision to walk after God into another religion entirely – one he felt he could not follow.

I don’t want to be one of those couples. I want our lives to be filled with harmony in all the areas of our lives. I’m not judging the journeys of those I mentioned in the last paragraph I just don’t want to live the rest of my married life on separate pages spiritually. I want to walk together with Marshall. I want that walk in every area of our lives - in our finances, in our decisions we make about our kids, in our sexual lives and in our lives with Father.

Now that does not mean that I have to be a clone of what he believes. It only means that as we decide something say in the area of finances, we can do the same in what we are choosing to believe about God or our walk with Him. We can come to the table with the question. See all what we can both see in the factors that need to influence our decision. Sometimes come to an agreement. Sometimes agree to disagree. But the decision to include each other in this process and then walk as one is crucial. It does not mean we will come to the same decisions about God and what He is like or what the Scriptures say about a subject. It does mean that we have not left each other behind and are still walking together.

Has this been an issue with those who read here? Some of you have alluded to it. Would love to hear what your husbands or wives are thinking about what you write. How do you communicate with each other about what you are posting/thinking about?


Tracy Simmons said...

Barb, you simply have the most lovely of hearts. I am so touched at the way you shared here, how vulnerable you are willing to be.

As to your question about journeying together: My husband and I have been really fortunate in journeying together in almost every aspect of our lives. It varies as to which one of us will step out into new territory first, but the other one is never far behind. We seem to track very closely together. I never take this for granted and am so grateful that we have this together. After 24 years of marriage, we still are in sync in just about every area of our lives.

That doesn't mean, though, that there is not sometimes a tension as one of us is heading down a new branch in the path to check it out while the other one stays on the main path and says, "Let me know how it goes, 'cause I'm just not seeing it right now." I think, though, that this makes for good spiritual health. We challenge and question each other along the path, which often keeps us from stumbling because oftentimes one can see what the other cannot. To me, this makes for good spiritual health, that we support each other in our quest and questions, but we don't blindly jump into everything the other one is searching out, either. It sounds like you and your husband are similar in this way. I think it's such a gift, I really do.

Wayward Son said...

Been wondering where you were. Glad to find you back.

It seems I am actually a little behind my wife on where I'm when I blog about stuff, she's all glad I'm "coming around." :D

Maria said...

Thanks for posting on this... it's definitely an issue for us. I tend to be more ready to abandon the institution, yet circumstances in our lives right now keep us from experimenting with other forms of church. Hubby is quite content with church as it is for the moment, but he gets it when I manage to articulate my thoughts on occasion... I think the key thing is maintaining trust in the other person's concerns, judgment and good will. Working out the details of what to do on Sunday morning or other times seems to follow from that.

Anonymous said...

Good thoughts.

It seems to me it is natural for two unique individuals to be at different places at different times for at some some, perhaps for many aspects, of their journey. This is true among the community of followers of Jesus. It is true for the bride of Christ as a whole (the ekklesia) as compared to Jesus the groom.

It is not where we are on the journey or what we believe that binds us together (that is the mistake of many in the ekklesia who want each to fit the cookie cutter mold) but love that binds us together.

In some things my wife is far "ahead" of me in her journey. In others, I am "ahead" of her. It is the iron sharpening iron within the marriage, as within the ekklesia, that helps each one move along further in their journey. (Perhaps it is better to say at different places instead of "ahead".)

In any event, this seems perfectly natural to me. I really enjoy the fact my wife is at a different place. We have some pretty interesting conversations. And, for a guy who likes to think he has it all figured out she regularly helps me see I do not. She also helps me greatly with my blind spots. I think this is important because most of us recognize our weaknesses but by definition we do not see blind spots and need the greatest help there.

Anonymous said...

This is my first time visiting here. My husband has been reading here and sent me a link to this post.
I'm really glad he did---I enjoy reading your heart on this subject and I can hear there is a very strong desire for you and your husband to be together on this journey that you are on.
I can attest to the fact that it is a blessing to be together as you are questioning church and how we relate to and what we believe about God. Steve and I have, fortunately, been very open to hearing one another's questions. Sometimes the answers are different for us, but there is always an openness to hear what each other is saying. And there is an "iron sharpening iron" that takes place. This is a blessing from God. It sounds that in the manner with which your husband raised concerns and the way in which you responded to him, you are doing just that--strengthening your spiritual walk together. I think the key is always being open to hear concerns, thoughts, etc. without taking offense.
Your heart is evident in your writing--may God continue to bless you as you seek Him together.
Christy :)

Anonymous said...

Barb, glad you are back. I was getting ready to send you an email making sure you were okay....and I can relate to this post. On many levels. I hope this post makes Adderall is wearing off and I hope it does not appear to "random"! :)

About 6 years ago, after 15 years of marriage, my husband and I hit a really difficult spot...spent about 6 months apart and 18 months in counseling. Thankfully, God did a miracle - not just in our marriage, but, more importantly, in our individual lives and walk with Him.

The greatest lesson I learned is that my husband's relationship with God is between them - I am not included in that personal walk my husband has with God. It's just that....personal. While my husband and I have different thoughts and belifs on some issues - we do attend church together, as a family. We are members of a Baptist church - but, only because our son (who is in high school) loves the bible studies there and is growing spiritually. When he graduates, we will probably leave the Baptist church all together for a church that is more missional and relevant (that's an entirely different post, right?). We have different views - different ideas of quiet times - even different likes and dislikes in regards to worship. Because I seek out more spiritual depth through bible studies, etc....I supplement the week with women's bible studies, small groups, thought provoking blogs and books etc. - and that fills the void I feel in being unable to talk with my husband and deeper spiritual things. Let me say, it's not that he does not want to talk about these things - or is not experiencing a relationship with God - it's just that while I enjoy reading and discussing what I have read - he just does not "think outloud" like I do. Thankfully, my best girlfriend does! :)

Another reason that I think we have such differences is that up until about 2 weeks ago - I had spent 13 years on staff at the "rival Baptist church" (from the one we are now members of). My husband and I met at the church where I worked - 21 years ago - and moved our membership 18 months ago to the "other" church. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that when you are on staff at a church - you cannot come home and vent about your day. Especially when you attend that church with your husband.

I think it is very possible to have very different PERSONAL relationships with God and still worship and serve God together. We have learned to find a balance and acknowledge that there will be some bible studies, etc. that we may not totally agree about - but, we are both open to what God is doing in our own individual relationship with Him. It's amazing how getting to this point can put you on the "same page" in your marriage.

Barb said...

Tracy, thanks for you encouragement. I'm glad you guys have made it together!

Jeff, fun to see in your life a bit. I bet I would like your wife!

Maria, thanks for letting us into your life a bit too! I don't think Marsh has ever been totally comfortable in our CLB I always wanted him to be ok. He is so ok out of it now.

Traveller, It is true, we have been at different places at different times. You are right, we love each other enough to make this work.

Christy, thanks for commenting. The key to what you all are saying is to keep talking and communicating. thanks so much!

Kelly, thanks for taking the time to respond. You are right, their relationship with God is personal. I learned that early on in my marriage. I just want to walk with him in some of the bigger ways where we both are comfortable in our questions and more so in our answers that we come to.

Erin said...

Hi Barb - I've been waiting to have a minute to respond to this...

Our journeys have not been hand in hand the entire time, but somehow God's brought us onto the same page time after time. There have been times when my husband has said something similar to me about bitterness or what have you, and I have had to take a close look at my heart...but what I found God saying to me was that it was OK to express the "bad" feelings, the pain and anger and bitterness...because it was healing for me.

My point is my opinion, everything you feel is a valid part of your healing...certainly listen to what your husband says because he knows you best, but remember that even if something you're feeling isn't "right" it's still a part of the process. Try not to stuff your feelings, because that often can only lead to more pain later on.

In my personal experience, it is much like the stages of grief, and it's largely two steps forward, one step back. I don't think the anger of seeing God extend grace to those who seem not to deserve it in our eyes is unhealthy, as long as we realize we can't stay in that place. To feel the anger is one thing, to let it consume us is another....

I don't know if I've made any sense here, and please know that I only speak from my perspective...what I've said may or may not apply to you.

... Carole... said...

Hi Barb,

I'm glad you're back! I was starting to have withdrawals! ;-)

I have never posted here before, but have been reading for quite some time. Your blog has been a major factor in helping me walk through my own journey after leaving our church two years ago. Many of your posts have "hit home", as I was dealing with a lot of the same issues that you wrote about.

Now to your question... My husband and I have not always been on the same page as we have walked this path. BUT we have always been in the same book. We have given each other room to hear from God on those issues that we were dealing with at the time. My husband's feelings and thought processes were much different from mine, at times, but he encouraged me in the Lord and loved me unconditionally as he helped me, even when he didn't fully understand what and why I was thinking the way I was. And I hope I did the same for him.

This has been a personal journey as well as a "togetherness activity" (although I can think of other activities that we would enjoy much, much more, rather than this one! :-) ) And I think that's how it should be... after all, I'm a woman, he's a man (just in case there was any question... ;-) ), and we each, because of how God created us, have a different "spin" on how we process and deal with issues.

So we are very much together on this journey, but sometimes the path forks, his going one way and mine another, but always moving in the same direction. We have our own "rocks and thistles" to deal with that the other doesn't necessarily have on their path. But we are calling out to one another and to our God, even when we are "out of the other's sight", so to speak.

And the paths always, at some point, become one again.

God is good, isn't He?!!

Sara said...

Well, my husband and I each keep our own blog, and are reading it other's and we read and post in circles that overlap a fair bit.

We're remarkably similar in lots and lots of areas--ours is definitely a marriage of like attracts like, not opposites. And our journeys have been very much in sync. I suspect that God has and plans to use us as a matched team . . .

My husband has never been anything but incredibly supportive of what I write--indeed, he's usually after me to write more than I do!

Anonymous said...

I have to say that there have been many times when my husband and I have been on different pages spiritually. For many years he believed that he could discover a deeper relationship with our Father through a complete understanding of scripture. He often thought I was a little "out there" because of my relational way of praying and connecting with God.

Recently (within the last 2 years), he has come to the realization that God is much more relational than he thought previously. That said, we give each other enough space to explore that Father-child relationship, while still feeling free enough to keep each other accountable.

I think the key is that as spouses serving God together, we provide a wonderful system of checks and balances for each other. My husband likes to say that I always hear God first, while he has to be beat over the head with a baseball bat before he comes around.

My practice has always been to seek God when we diverge too broadly from one another. I pray that God will show me if I need to change my attitude or that He will help my husband if there is something he needs to see in a different light.

I can say this - prayer changes things. I am constantly grateful that we are walking this journey together. I know people who have spent years praying for their spouses to be saved. I am so blessed that my husband loves God enough to care about my relationship with Him and vice versa.

Gary Means said...

Barbara, I just read your resignation on PDL. I was silently cheering for you as I read. So now envision me standing on a chair, applauding earnestly, and thanking God for bringing freedom into your life.

Joel Brueseke said...

Wow Barb, I'm really blessed with this post and with the comments from others!

Four years ago my wife and I saw a counselor. The one thing he said that gave brand new life to our marriage was the word "identity." As a "good, nice Christian husband," I knew that my wife and I were completely different people but yet I had a sincere desire to try to live in such a way that I was everything she needed in a husband.

However I really struggled in all this. I really felt like such a failure all the time! That's a loooong story made very short! But the counselor helped me to see that in trying to be all these great and wonderful things for my wife - which on the surface doesn't sound like such a bad thing - I wasn't being the man God had wired me to be! I was trying to be who I was not. I was trying to live out of an identity that I thought was good for my wife, but wasn't really me. In doing so, I essentially was robbing my wife of the man God had given her!

The result has been that I've been freed to be who I am, and to let my wife be who she is, and instead of conforming to each others' ways and thinking we have to always be on the same page, we can learn and grow from each other as we live as God created us to live, with our own unique characteristics and on the various journeys and processes we go through separately.

Don't get me wrong, this has not always been easy! We've had some clashes and other disagreements. But the long term fruit of it has been that two people are now much more free to live and to grow authentically.

I've also been freed to be myself within the context of the wider body of Christ. I'm no longer trying to fit into some mold, or to perform as others think I should, but rather I'm walking with Jesus and with others in a much more real way.

I hope I haven't strayed too far from the intention of your post, but the comments here kind of led me into thinking of what my wife and I went through. :)

Barb said...

Thanks Erin, I understand it being part of the process. It is just scary to watch each other sometimes.

Blown Dandelion. thanks for leaving a comment. I'm glad this space has been a help. It sounds as if you have something to say in all of this too. I'll check out your site. It wouldn't let me on the other day.

Sara, I wish Marsh would write. I seem to understand him more fully when he has. He loves it when I do though.

Tiffany, thanks for chiming in here. I'm glad you are finding a way through all of this together too.

Gary, THANKS!! Now don't fall!~

Barb said...

Joel, You haven't strayed from the subject at all. Thanks for your story.

For all of you. I guess what I haven't heard is how you deal with something that truly is "error." I know we here in blogland like to give lots and lots of grace, but there has to be a place to say, "Honey, that just isn't true." We need this in a relationship and also be able to speak it to each other. Many times I have been hesitant to speak up on the forums here where I felt there was just ample evidence to say, "Whoa, wait a minute. Maybe you should consider this." Afirming each other is great in blogs and in marriage. There still needs to be a point where we "sharpen" each other and that may not be to "afirming" feeling.

... Carole... said...


My website (Blown Dandelions) is still a "work in progress" :-)

However, my husband and I launched our website ( last week. Check it out, if you have time. (I hope it's okay to post the site? If not, just delete this comment.)

Barb said...

Blown Dandelions, No problem leaving your site's address. I read through your story today. Sigh....different places....different people....same stuff.

Are you back into another "church" as of yet?
Blessings to you and your husband

Sara said...

oh, ack! I've been working on a comment, and my computer ate it . . .

Sara said...

anyway, it was something about how working through disagreements and how and where we disagree is one of the most intensely individualized and personal and intimate things in each relationship . .. which is to say, I'm really not sure how much of how Rob and I do things really can carry over much to how other people do things--just because you're not us.

I will note this--Rob's pretty secure in God getting me where He wants me--and Rob is relentless in encouraging and harassing me into doing whatever it is that I know that God is calling me to do. In the nicest possible way, he never lets me off the hook from continuing to grow . . .

... Carole... said...

Hi Barb!

Yep... same stuff, different day, only the names change...

No, we are not back in church, at least not in the traditional sense. We have looked around, but haven't found a "fit" yet. I also have some major trust issues with leadership that gets in the way of commitment to a new church. But the Lord is patiently walking me through, leading me by the hand... I am content with that. We will see where He leads us! :-)

But God has been so faithful to meet us and to fellowship with us, to teach us and guide us, to walk with us and gently lead us in His way and into His Truth.

And, as I've said before, your site has helped me so, so much! I have seen your struggles and your openness, and have walked away every time from this forum, pondering something that God has used to prick my heart, or praising Him for His goodness.

It's been a long journey, and I know there's still a long way to go, but walking with my Savior every step of the way... well, there's no better path to be on!

Grace and Peace... and a very thankful heart,

Free Spirit said...

Barb, I thought I'd chime in, too. Like many here, my husband and I aren't exactly on the same page either, but I just thought I'd say that, for me, the greatest thing happened the day I divorced (don't worry, not my husband) myself from the very destructive mentality that it was my job to make him see things my way (you know, the right way). I can now, honestly say that I am comfortable letting him be who he is, right where he is, and without the need to "straighten him out". What made all the difference for me was realizing that basically I was the one at fault for not entrusting him to Father. I wasn't giving Father enough credit (or room to work) for being the One solely responsible for my husband's life and thinking, and/or changing. I was simply usurping Father's role, right , and responsibility. I am able to enjoy my husband SO much more now, and to accept that when and if Father wants to get us on the same page; He'll do it.

Anonymous said...


Your question/comment about "truly error" is an interesting one. I start from the premise that all of us, including me, have some error that needs correction. So, what do you mean by "truly error"? Are you suggesting there are degrees of error? For me, your question is a bit confusing. Would you mind to explain a bit more?

Barb said...

Free Spirit, thanks. I remember finally figuring out that it was ok for Marsh to think differently and not my job to change him. I have told many people that when I shut up and step aside, then he has to deal straight with Father on things. As long as I am inbetween - trying to change him - the fight is with me.

Barb said...

Traveller, I think what I mean is the difference between a matter of opinion - say whether a woman can teach - and believing in the virgin birth or a major tennant of the faith. I know I went through a time where I really doubted the cannon of scripture. I, and I think most christians would call that error if you threw out the inspiration of Scripture - ergo - "truly error".

You are right - we are all in error at many points in our thinking - and we know that. Some seem to be more important to me though because they are what our faith is based on.

Good point though - error is still error. Some just maybe have more consequences or a heavier weight to our faith.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for being kind enough to clarify. I understand better now.

My answer to your question is that, yes, there may be some "truly error" situations. But even if there are it seems to me the process remains the same. It is a matter of loving conversation that relies on the Holy Spirit to teach and correct, with some prayer thrown in as well. So, to use your example of the inspiration of scripture I would say none of us really know what that means even though we try to define and explain it. We may agree scripture is inspired but have different ideas about what that means.

I cannot help but come back to the thought that it is not what we believe but in whom we believe. I would agree that "in whom I believe" does require some "what I believe" as well.

I readily admit this is an area I am still processing but am more comfortable with the idea that I will work in relationship with others so that we all are moved closer to Truth (Jesus) and away from error instead of a more confrontational approach that makes a truth claim of my own that might be erroneous in a different way.

Thanks for provoking my thoughts again.

Anonymous said...

Hi Barb,

Anette and I have been married for 17 years and we've had our ups and downs. Luckily, since we met 20 years ago, Jesus has been the focal point of our shared journey. We read most of the time the same books and we talk to each other about what we've discovered. Sometimes, we have uneven growth. I've went through patches where I doubted God. There were times that she literaly had to drag me to a Sunday meeting :) She experienced burnout in her work. We nearly lost a child.

I think the communication aspect is very important. We SHARE our thoughts and ideas. We use each other as a sounding board to organise the thoughts in our heads. We talk to each other about what our friends believe. She tends to live the christian life. I tend to think the christian life. We need each other in order to grow.

We also have to give the other person space to grow. As much space as possible. We cannot grow fully in a confined space.

Thanks for your thoughts and I'll pray that you will always have a wonderful shared journey.

Anonymous said...

I hesitate to share..but I guess I will.
My husband and I were on the same page for the most part...until about 8 years ago.
As I started to look at my identity, and the fact that I put everything into trying to be the perfect wife to him...things began to fall apart.
The more I became myself, the less he liked it.
I'm not trying to rain on this parade, but to show that sometimes, walking out God's way and will for your life can have devastating effects. Yes, worth it, but hard nonetheless.
I am divorced..and still struggle with it. I want very much to have what you all have with your spouses...yes, even the work...cause it's beautiful.
I remain hopeful that God will bring someone else..and I continue to find out who I am as a Daughter of the King.
I've found that loving God, walking with Him is no guarantee of a pain-free life. Not even a moderately orderly life.
Do I find this all worth it?

Joel Brueseke said...


I personally wouldn't say that you're raining on a parade here. Your story is real, and I think it's a reality of the conflict that can be caused when people truly act as who they were created to be rather than putting on masks and plastic smiles. It's not always comfortable for others! Lately I've been having some great discussions with others about the conflict that can come about due to grace, and people living in their true identities.

In my situation, I began to see how I'd kept myself in such a religious box for so long, going along with all the rules and principles but never really knowing God. I can't say it's always been easy for my wife to understand my process of growing in freedom, but over time she's seen that it's really been a great thing for our marriage and family!

For many couples/families it's fortunate that they are able to extend grace to each other and allow each other to grow into who God made them to be. I'd guess that in most cases its painful but that's often the case with true growth.

And unfortunately situations such as yours are probably all too common. But although you struggle in your situation, I'm so glad that you continue to have hope. Hope is a beautiful fruit of walking in grace and faith. Walking in what we can't see is often hard and sometimes painful, but as you say, it's definitely worth it!

Old Pete said...

I've been married 48 years. We still attend church every week because my wife wants to - a very long story!

I can understand something of Joel's position!

It has been a very traumatic journey - especially since 1995 when the leadership of the church announced that much of our theology was wrong.

I was led to question just about everything I had ever believed (at the time I was unemployed). By 2003 I was very familiar with the emerging church scene and the place of 'out of church Christians' - but my wife just didn't want to know. It's been tough for both of us - recognising that we are on very different journeys, and almost unable to share our thoughts.

We finally found some common ground in July last year when we were able to read "The Shack" - it was a real eye opener for me - and my wife was able to share at least some of that excitement - but we are still poles apart! My guess is that we will continue to travel on separate journeys - the challenge is always to bear in mind that we are following Father in the way that He seems to be calling us.

She has always looked for security while I accepted the challenge of the wilderness. I have to say that I would never have been able to continue the journey without my wife's support. She doesn't understand - and doesn't try to - but she has never stopped being supportive.

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

I've been thinking about this a lot as well, ever since I heard about I Monk's wife's conversion.

I don’t want to be one of those couples. I want our lives to be filled with harmony in all the areas of our lives. I’m not judging the journeys of those I mentioned in the last paragraph I just don’t want to live the rest of my married life on separate pages spiritually.

I know what you mean. I've been so blessed that my husband and I took our spiritual journeys together. I know that there are plenty of marriages where being on different pages spiritually works just fine, but that's something that I would have a difficult time dealing with. God knows how weak I am, perhaps he gave me this marriage because he knew how much I would need the support of my husband to lean on in my walk.

For some reason this post reminds me of this story of being "married on a crucifix." I guess it's that I feel that beautiful spirit in this post, that you and your husband are agreeing to focus on following the true Father, together.

Thank you for sharing.

Joel Brueseke said...

It's neat how this conversation has continued. We're all in various stages of our journeys and it's great to be sharing with each other what we've been through.

One of the things that has helped me is actually something that I was against when I first heard it, but as I grow in grace it makes much more sense to me. I've heard from several sources that the goal of the Christian life is not to be "happy." Rather, a fruit of knowing God and walking in the Spirit is joy, and there's a big difference.

I'm not "happy" being on a different page than my wife, and if we stay focused on the differences, we'll be miserable! (and we were miserable, although I know I did a good job of faking happiness). But if we focus our lives on Christ (as Jennifer's link eluded to), the fruit of love and joy will supersede all of that. In fact, what I've come to do is to focus on God's love, commitment and faithfulness to me, even when I don't feel that for anyone else, and as I've grown in how God treats me, it's become a fruit of how I treat others.

The Bible says that love covers a multitude of sins, and it's been my observation that as we grow in God's love for us, and it translates into our love for others, it covers and supersedes all kinds of differences.

Imagine how "different" God is from us (on such a different page, so to speak), and yet He showers us with love and meets us right where we're at, rather than trying to get us to change in order to have a relationship with us. If we could only begin to see each other like that!

Pete, I've had many conversations with people about The Shack and I'm reading it right now. I'm loving it.