This past summer was one of the hardest summers of our marriage. I had stepped down from a pastor role at a church, and ultimately left a career that I had spent 15 years of my life pursuing. Instead of clinging to my wife, I distanced myself and wrestled alone in my pain. Leila and I fought more in 5 months than we had in 6 years. We were disconnected, and at the heart, didn’t believe the best of each other. It was during one of our intense arguments that Leila said something to me that put a dagger through my heart.
She didn’t belittle me or fling hurtful words out of her emotion. Instead, with a soft voice and tears in her eyes, she said:
“Jerrad, I’ve set my alarm to go off every morning at 2am. I wake up, quietly go into the living room and beg God to draw you back to Himself.”
If I’m honest, I would have rather she cussed me out; I could have handled that much better. But the truth is, I had no idea.
I had no idea of the sacrifice that my wife was making to protect our marriage and family. While I was selfishly pursuing my own desires, and pulling away from my family to deal with pain, she was in the living room pleading to God on my behalf.
I was humbled. Again.
Wives, if there is one thing that you cannot afford to skip out on, it is praying for your marriage, your husband, and your kids.
Let me get a little more practical here.
At the core of Leila’s heart was to see a change in me. She saw that I was hurting, and instead of processing my emotions like a mature man, I was acting like a child. I was being a complete ass; to her and to others. (and yes, you’re reading a Christian blog that said ass). In her frustration, she could have constantly pointed out my short-comings and “nagged” at me until she saw my behavior change.
But she wasn’t seeking changed behavior, she was seeking a changed heart.
We can all change our behavior temporarily. We can fool others, and even ourselves that we are doing better, simply by changing our behavior. But Jesus never set out to change behavior, he set out to change hearts.
This is what is so profound about what Leila did. By waking up every night and begging God to change my heart, she was humbly admitting that she was completely out of control. She recognized that she does not posses the power to change hearts, so she went before the One who can.
Ladies, if you have a husband, boyfriend, child, friend, or family member that is hurting, and as a result, hurting others, fight for much more than changed behavior. Pray for a changed heart. To not pray is to silently declare that you have more power over a situation than Jesus does. I don’t care how strong you are as a woman, you can not change hearts. Humble yourself and go to the one who can. You can’t afford not to.
This post originally appeared at DadTired.com.