An Update to Our Story from the Past 45 Days
“Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, ‘Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?‘
‘You don’t have enough faith,’ Jesus told them. ‘I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move.
Nothing would be impossible.‘” – Matthew 17:19-21
Hopefully yesterday you read Part One of this story. If not, you might want to take the time to stop and do that now. Yesterday I told you what our plan has looked like for the past 45 days and then I told you how God has been working in me to bring healing. Today I would like to tell you what God has been doing in my husband for the past month and half. You guys, I have been praying for this for so long and it is a joy to see all those prayers finally bearing some fruit!
Why Couldn’t We Cast Out that Demon?
Once again, I feel I must set the stage a bit to properly tell this story. As I mentioned yesterday, back at the end of January when we did our week long intensive, we were given a few tests that would reveal whether there were any deeper psychological issues that either of us were dealing with. When the results came back we learned some pretty major things about both me and my love. I told you about my anxiety and depression yesterday. What we learned about my husband was a little more serious.
The testing showed that my love has Generalized Anxiety Disorder, (GAD) which manifests itself in him primarily through a compulsive twitch, a severe lack of focus, and obsessive compulsive thoughts and habits. He also has a full blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder. (If you would like to know more about that, the Mayo Clinic’s website is a great resource.) This means, more or less, that his perception of the world is distorted to include only him. Beyond that, he also had some traits and tendencies from a few other Cluster B Personality Disorders. When we first learned this information it was kind of scary. We both felt a little overwhelmed by the information and worried about what it meant for our future.
This is where the councilor we had seen offered a great deal of help. He put these disorders into perspective in light of God’s word. He said that he believes understanding our personality disorders is really just a way of pinning down our own specific sin natures. The Holy Spirit has the power to overcome any sin nature when it is surrendered at the foot of the cross and covered by the blood of Christ. There is plenty of hope for anyone who is seeking and following Him. The reason these issues had become such a problem for my husband is that he was not seeking and following God. He had lived his life in rebellion. Running from God far more than surrendering to Him. Silencing his “conscience” or the Holy Spirit rather than obeying those urgings and convictions. He had made a real mess! But our God is a God of second (and third and fourth and fifth…) chances! He is slow to anger and abounding in love. Not wanting anyone to perish, but for all to come to repentance. Praise God, that is finally what happened. My love looked honestly at his sin, agreed with God about what it was, and began the process of genuine repentance. He started doing the slow and difficult work of identifying, surrendering, and breaking old habits. It is work that he will have to continue to do for the rest of his life, but as he is obedient, God is so faithful. And as my love is overwhelmed by the miraculous work of God it gives him the motivation he needs to keep doing that work and to never look back.
If You Had Faith Even As Small as a Mustard Seed
There were two steps my husband decided to take right from the get-go of this separation that were intended to both deepen his relationship with God and tear down the massive idol of self he had built through the years. He would get up early in the morning, drive to the house, and make our kids’ lunches for them and then hang out with the two older ones until they left for school. Then he would spend the next 45 minutes before our youngest one gets up reading the Bible, praying, and worshiping God. After our youngest got up, he would spend some time with him and then take him to school.
You see, I am a night owl. We both are, but probably me more than him. I despise the morning and I love staying up late. I read my Bible before I go to bed because that is when my mind is alive and ready to engage with God. When I’ve tried to do a morning Bible study in the past it has always been very fruitless because my mind is so numb at that time. So, when my husband started doing daily Bible study he just did it at the same time I did even though he thought morning would serve him better. As we started this separation he started to think for himself though. He started to seek God on his own and not look to me to show him the way. As he did, it became clear to him that he needed to start his day off in the Word. To refocus his mind first thing each morning on God and on His Truth. To seek God first in order to ensure that the day progressed according to His will. And because he also wanted to find a way to sacrificially serve me and the kids, he suggested that I start sleeping in and let him take care of getting the kids off to school. He knew how much I hate getting up early and he figured he was probably capable of making some sandwiches.
I know these two things seem like such small steps, but for my love they were huge. He was stepping out in obedience, not because I told him he should, but because God told him he should and He was finally listening. It was a mustard seed sized act of faith and it moved mountains!
You Could Say to this Mountain, “Move…” And it Would Move
Those 45 minutes alone with God each morning have been absolutely transformational to my love. He has always been a little intimidated by my relationship with God. He knows how clearly God speaks to me through His Word and that was something he couldn’t relate to. But when his conscience was clear, when his sins had been confessed and forgiven, he began to hear that still small voice too! The first few tastes of that kind of a relationship ignited a hunger in him that had never been there before. He wanted to know God, to really love Him and to experience all the joy and peace that comes from a deep and intimate relationship with his Lord and Savior. He has been devouring the Word of God and it is feeding his soul and changing him from the inside out! What’s funny is, our Bible study plan landed us in the end of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers as well as through the gospels throughout these 45 days. Y’all those are some of the most difficult parts of the Bible to get through! And yet, for my love it came alive! With this new hunger he had for the Word, he saw things in those passages that blew me away. As he shared daily with me what God was teaching him I was overwhelmed! What an answer to prayer! (I will probably dedicate a few posts in the next few months to some of the specifics of what he has shared with me about what he’s learning. So stay tuned! It’s some good stuff!)
As I mentioned yesterday, after receiving the news about my depression I quickly went on an SSRI to help correct the physiological problems in my brain. Well, since we had learned that my love suffered from GAD he too went on the same SSRI. We were both a little skeptical about that diagnosis. He just didn’t fit the mold we had in our heads of an anxiety disorder. He had never even had a panic attack. But just like me, after a few days on those meds he started to notice some subtle changes. His ability to focus on a given task began to improve immensely. He suddenly was getting so much work done. Where before he would find himself getting “stuck” for days as he tried to complete projects, now he could start and finish the same project in only a few hours. But the biggest, most encouraging difference was that he felt completely in control of his mind. Gone were the overwhelming feelings of defeat when temptations entered his mind. He could confidently capture those thoughts and surrender them to Christ, turn, and think about something else. Something good. I believe that God had waited until my love was repentant and surrendered to reveal this physiological issue to us. Once his heart was seeking restoration and redemption, God opened our eyes to this problem and offered a simple answer. Had he gone on the meds years ago, before he was surrendered, before he was repentant, I don’t think it would have offered quite the same results. God’s timing is perfect. I am so glad He’s in control! He works all things together for our good while somehow offering us freewill at the same time. It is the kind of unfathomable power that makes Him God and us not. I am in awe of Him!
Nothing Would Be Impossible
Friends, I do not want to minimize the mountain of work that lies ahead of us. Narcissism and the other Cluster B personality disorders are very serious, very daunting issues to overcome! The more I read about them, though, the more I am convinced that the reason secular psychology offers so little hope to those who suffer from these disorders is because without God there really is so little hope! The only solution is surrender. The only hope is the redemptive power of the Holy Spirit. My love is surrendered! My love is indwelled by the One who holds that redemptive power! Those mountains are moving, and I am trusting God to throw them into the depths of the sea! We are going to spend the rest of our lives doing the work to overcome these mountains as God leads us. We are going to heal. God is going to make something new and beautiful out of the ashes of our marriage. It’s going to be miraculous! NOTHING will be impossible!