Allison is probably the most honest and open person I have ever met. Actually, forget the 'probably' - she definitely is! We had the priviledge to have her live with us for 10 months before she got married to Daniel, and the priviledge of sharing those pre-marriage moments and lots of talk about sex! Now into her second year of marriage to Daniel, Allison has a really powerful testimony of how God has used true repentance in her marriage to bring about incredible blessing. (Please note, Allison's husband, Daniel, has given his permission to the details mentioned in this post) Enjoy:
As those who are married (or who are living in a community of some sorts) are probably well aware of, sharing your life with someone has a way of making you realize the things you do wrong like a slap in the face sometimes!
Indeed, when sharing your life with someone it has a way of making your own personal sin seem a bit more urgent. Like, “Oh, why can’t I just stop doing X? It’s offensive to God and my spouse. Will I ever overcome this?” Well, I believe that God wants us to. After all, He is the One who inspired the Apostle Paul to write:
Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin (Romans 6:6b-7).
What a baffling verse this used to be for me! I would go so far as to say that it was even a bit disheartening, as I saw the progress of overcoming sin in my life to be at a crawling pace at best when this verse seemed to insinuate I should be experiencing it in leaps and bounds.
This changed when the Lord showed me how to repent. Before marriage I ascribed to this prescription of repentance: Do bad thing, repent. Do bad thing again, repent again. Continue doing bad thing and continue repenting. Why did it seem that there was never any heart change even though I earnestly sought it?
The answer was very simple: I had not given the Lord an opportunity to completely search my heart. As far as obtaining victory over sin goes, all of the Bible studies and counselors I had been to were very keen on examining the origins of my sin and handing me some Bible verses that were meant to help. While this is in no way a negative thing to do, I do find it very odd that even the mention of repentance came up very little during these times—instead of asking the Lord what part I had played in developing sinful habits we were always examining how the sins of others against me had been the root cause of those sins. Repentance often, therefore, seemed irrelevant as I was mostly relinquished of the responsibility for those sins. So there I was, always crawling at a snails pace, never feeling like a slave to righteousness but always enslaved to sin.
Several things happened that finally made me feel like I really was on a path towards being a slave to righteousness and they all involve a deeper understanding of repentance.
The first thing was the Lord broke my husband, Daniel’s, bond to pornography. A majority of his life he had fought it with various successes and failures. But still, always that nagging weight of “Why do I feel like such a slave to sin in this area?” One very ordinary day, as he was reading Exodus, it clicked all of a sudden—The Lord showed him that just as the Israelites had become so accustomed to slavery they consistently doubted the power of God to release them, so Daniel had given his identity over as “a slave to sin” and doubted the Lord’s promises of living as “a slave to righteousness.”
Upon repenting of his disbelief, he experienced a night and day difference in his battle against pornography, and the longer he reined victorious, the less frequent the temptation became. What was so surprising to Daniel was that he found that that one instance of repenting for disbelief was worth almost the last ten years of repenting over and over for the more common sins associated with pornography.
The battle did not, of course, end right then and there, but as I said before, even a small taste of freedom like that from a sin that has held you captive for years makes you yearn for more revelation from the Lord. He continued to ask the Lord to search his heart for other sins that had passed unnoticed. I personally think that the Lord loves to answer a prayer like this, and He was very faithful to dig up all that had lain hidden bit by bit. And each time Daniel repented, the Lord poured out increased joy, power, and freedom from temptation. What a blessing it is to repent!
As Daniel told me about the ways the Lord was giving him freedom over pornography, I thought there was no reason why the Lord wouldn’t give me the same freedom in areas of my life that I had experienced habitual sin.
I began asking for the Lord to show me how I was enslaved, but to little avail. For a while, I did not experience any of the same kind of revelatory “ah-ha!” moments as Daniel did, and I became frustrated. I believe that the Lord was going to speak to me, but I didn’t understand why it was taking so long.
After many months I finally realized that the Lord had been answering my prayers, but it did look rather different from how he answered my husband’s. I simply had not recognized the unique way the Lord was speaking to me.
You see, I am a feeler—to the core. One day my mentor said to me, “Allison, when we talk, you often say ‘I feel bad’ when you are feeling conviction from the Holy Spirit. When you get this feeling, there is something you need to repent of, so do it. Right then.” But of course! How simple! The Lord most often spoke to my husband through images and Bible stories while He made me, a feeler thru and thru, “feel bad.” It kind of makes me want to laugh that I missed it for so long.
All of a sudden, often at the most random times—through a conversation with a friend, a fleeting thought on the way home, a sudden memory—I would get this “bad feeling” about something that I had not connected with sin before, and I would seek solitude with the Lord ASAP in order to further investigate.
Every time I have repented of what He has brought to mind He has shown me ways in which I have been in bondage to that moment as a result of my unrepentence. At times I am quite surprised, as the connection to the past sin He has shown me to repent of seems quite unrelated to the sins I currently struggle with.
For example—One of these “bad feelings” (I know this wording makes conviction of the Holy Spirit sound severely dumbed down but truly, it resonates with me more than anything else so I know there has to be someone out there that this will resonate with, too!) I got was when I recently was praying through why I often made fun of Daniel in front of other people knowing that it often hurt his feelings.
I searched my heart and could find no obvious sin that would cause me to act this way. Then I was reminded of when I used to do the same to my best friend in college. Yep, thinking about that made me “feel pretty bad.” Then people from middle school and elementary school came to mind that I had treated the same way.
“Feeling bad” couldn’t even describe how I felt about some of them. I was a downright bully to several “friends” in middle school and elementary school, and although the memories of how I treated them had for many years incurred aching guilt, I had never once even thought to repent. I suppose because I was very young or not yet a believer or felt that calling someone names in 2nd grade couldn’t be that serious of an offense to God, but the truth was that calling people names in grade school was holding me captive to sin, and as a result of my unrepentance I had grown up still bullying people I loved even though by now I absolutely hated that I did it.
Since I knew this was a response to prayer, I repented immediately. I repented to Daniel and then to the Lord for how I had been treating Daniel and for all the people the Lord brought to mind that I had bullied, and we prayed for them by name. But the Lord was not done, He gave me another “bad feeling” that was distinctly different from the rest. It was the feeling of hurt from memories of people that had bullied me, all the way back to elementary school! So after I had spent almost an hour asking for forgiveness, the Lord showed me that it was now my turn to forgive! The feeling when we were done can only be described as lighter, and my temptations to inappropriately poke fun at my husband (or anyone for that matter) have been significantly fewer!
Blabbering on about repentance may seem a bit out of place for a marriage-themed blog post, but for me, and I think my husband would agree, repentance has been the anthem of our marriage thus far. And quite honestly, coming to a deeper understanding of repentance has reaped so much greater intimacy with God and my husband that I feel it has become our “secret” to most every success Daniel and I have had in marriage!
Its caused better emotional connection, improved our communication, encouraged more frequent and more intimate bedroom time, expanded our ministry to the lost and those we disciple, made us better friends to those we care deeply about, and grounded us through several difficulties and challenges we’ve faced together. I am so thankful the Lord has opened our understanding of such an important aspect of our faith and the health of our marriage sooner rather than later, and I am yearning to know what more He has to show us!
Allison lives with her husband, Daniel in Oklahoma City.
She is a Spanish teacher and cupcake connoisseur, and earnestly desires to be the owner of several high-energy dogs and the fluffiest rabbits she can find. Allison and Daniel have been married for only a year and a half and would like you to know that they are by no means experts on the topic!