When my marriage suddenly started to turn upside down in 2008, when pregnant with our first child after being barren for 18 years, I did everything wrong out of my ignorance to get my husband and marriage right side up again. That first year, even though I had been a Christian for many years, I didn’t have that kind of relationship with God where I was confident enough in Him to ask Him for help, and then step aside and let Him do it. I only knew to keep asking Him for help, and continue to keep myself in control and pursue trying to fix it because I only had confidence in my ability. 

Because quitting was not an option, and God had pressed upon me that my marriage would be restored, I was forced into a place of waiting on God, getting my eyes off of my spouse, my situation, and finally come to a place of understanding that I had to submit my circumstance and my powerlessness to God.  It was not until I had fully lost control of my husband and had zero influence upon Him that I was forced into being a Stander.

What does that mean? Being a Stander?

It’s a person picking up a cause that means something to them, which is coming to a place of believing God for the restoration and healing of their spouse and marriage. That is the simple term. But in all honesty, standing embraces SO much more.

Standing in hope against all the lies that come. Standing for the vows you said. Standing against divorce. Standing for the change in your understanding about what this is really about, God’s relationship with each of you. Standing for the truth to come and shed light on all the things that you thought were ok, but are now finding out were not pleasing to God. Standing will evolve and encompass more and more as you grow. A Stander is a person that is not standing still at all but they are standing for a really important purpose. The truth and understanding about marriage and how that is supposed to reflect God’s personal relationship with you and your spouse. 

What did I learn as a Stander?

I could no longer create plans and execute them to get my spouse to listen to me, change his ways, and put me, our marriage, and our newborn child as a priority. While I thought that was the MAIN priority, God had a totally different priority. Getting my spouse through the narrow gate so He would not hear “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”

My rule, reign, and kingdom had come to an end. Only I didn’t realize that God was the one that had approved this and wanted this for me, I really believed God and I were on the same side with the same exact goal. To get my spouse to come back to his senses so we could go back to living the exact way we had been living before…boy, I could not have more wrong!

In that first year prior to my storm, and the first official year I began to Stand for my marriage, I learned that nothing was what I thought it was about. NOTHING. And that is why I have created this list for you. To share with you how I was very much in the dark and how truth began to unfold for me. 

When I entered the storm, I was so brainwashed by the world. Blind, lost, deceived. I was not spirit-led, but flesh and self-led. I was the perfect type of person that the enemy roams about like a lion seeking to devour. Demons can only take what you give and leave vulnerable. And since I suffered with a lot of mental health issues, the enemy came like a beast to torment me and keep me oppressed and afflicted. 

Thank God for my storm. It completely, radically, saved my life! I was lost, but through the storm, I was found because I was forced beyond what I could bear. Paul sums it up perfectly when he says that they endured more than they could bear so it would force them to lean on God and grow to know Him in a way that ONLY this kind of pressure can create. 

2 Cor 1:8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,  about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

Here is my list of transformations. I will warn you, I woke up each day like it was groundhog day and had to remind myself over and over that this was not what I kept trying to believe it was, but something so much greater! Print this out and keep it close if you need the added boost as a reminder. 

New Standers, THIS is something you need to read over and over and I promise, it will start to unfold for you.

1)This is not about MY marriage, as much as it is about MY relationship with God. Were my marriage and spouse more of a priority than my relationship with my Father? Was I really pursuing the Lord to know Him as I should have? Or was my marriage and life lived by my will and not a will surrendered to the Lord. Was I seeking God daily about my life, or just doing as I pleased? WAS I A LUKEWARM CHRISTIAN?

2)This is NOT about my SPOUSE and their relationship with the other person, but about THEIR relationship with their Father. They may be convinced that it’s ALL about this new person, new home, new family, building a new life with them because the life they had with you just didn’t fulfill them, left them empty and made them unhappy, but I promise you…this is NOT about that at all. Unless a person is living in the right relationship with the Father, living in their true purpose and identity, they will feel the void in their spirit and become restless and start to wander to go looking. They think they find it with another person, but give it time…the SAME thing will happen in that new relationship that happened in yours because many blame the marriage/relationship/person as to why they are unhappy and unfulfilled in life instead of realizing it’s their SPIRITUAL relationship that is really in an uproar because they are missing their Father!

3) This is not about NOW, but about our eternal resting place with the Lord. After I said the sinner’s prayer in 1997, I was so sure I was secure with my place in heaven that I never concerned myself with improving my relationship with God. I was happy to get my foot secure through the gates of heaven, and then live my life on earth as a flesh-led, self-centered, all about me first person.  It didn’t bother me one bit that I really didn’t have a relationship with God. I lived knowing that He was there if I needed Him. I actually was angry and blamed Him for being too impossible to connect with and understand. He never made me feel that instant connection that I wanted when I gave Him 1 min to reply to my request. He never gave me the instant answers, relief, direction I was always looking for. So, yeah…I was angry and disappointed in God that He was not conforming to my needs and making being a Christian easy for me. I didn’t understand Him at all, and that I felt…was His fault!

4) What my spouse is doing is not a personal attack on me! When God spoke the words to me “Sheila, it’s not about you.” I had a huge shift in my perspective that helped me start to look at my husband as His son. I was so selfish as this was all about my relationship and my marriage, but when I started to speak out, this is not about me, I was able to make it about God’s relationship with my spouse. And it opened the door to realizing that my spouse needed healing and deliverance from his childhood. There were deeper things going on that I could not possibly help my husband with. Only God could. And THAT is what God was working on with him. Not fixing our marriage, but fixing his heart.  

5) God didn’t want us to go back to what we were. He wanted to make all things new!
Through the storm, I came to realize just how wrong things were. If you would have asked me I would have told you that we had a perfect marriage because we were happy and never fought and got along great.  I would have told you that I respected my husband and that he loved me. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. So while I fought so darn hard to get all of that back, God fought me hard to get me to SEE the truth and give it up. And God won, praise the Lord. I found that our roles were reversed. I was acting as a headship, leading my husband. I took this role, and he gladly gave it to me. I came to see that I was controlling and manipulating and he was passive and didn’t want the responsibility. That was the first thing God had to make us aware of and bring about change too. 

Next, I had to learn how God created and blueprinted man and woman to be. I had to learn about marriage and how God created and designed that to be as well. And then finally, I had to learn what God wanted from me. And that is truly when the scales from my eyes and heart and I found what was really missing in my life. My Father loved me and had a good plan for me and I had been living my life without Him, and being resentful of Him being too hard to reach. When all along it was because I was not willing to make the effort that it took to get to know Him. 

6)Suffering is not your enemy but something that is used to break off strongholds of independence, and mistrust. This is a hard one to swallow but God’s Word shows us that suffering is part of what is used to bring transformation. Suffering is why Christians remain lukewarm, self-centered, prideful, and self-righteous. Because they believe that if they are suffering, then it can’t possibly be God’s will and plan for them. The world says that we are alive to be happy and live a life of satisfaction and fulfillment. And if we get that, then we have accomplished what we were meant to have. But our life was created to love and be loved by the Father, and when that happens, ALL other things get accomplished. So many seek to have that life where they are happy, at peace, living with all their needs met, but yet, they feel SO unfulfilled and empty inside and they can’t figure out why. It’s because they are taking care of two out of their 3 parts. We are 3 in one. Soul/flesh and SPIRIT. And when we are not taking care of our spirit, it will rise up and protest when it’s not ONE with God as it was created to be. THAT is why spouses wander and try to recreate their lives because the spirit in them is crying out to connect with what is missing. Even Christians have this problem. My husband also said the sinner’s prayer and was a believer. BUT he was very far from having a true relationship with God where he knew his identity.

7) Lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 I probably should have started the list with this one because if I had learned this from the start, I would have saved myself so much trouble. To be honest, it was my need to lean on my own understanding, or my need to know, and my lack of just being able to live in peace without knowing what was going on that got me in trouble. I was very determined that God would tell me all the details and share His plans with me. And I didn’t know how to live in peace unless I knew fully of what was going on. And that is because fear ruled my life. 

8)Fear is the driving force behind control. If we can’t let go, it’s because we have not learned to let love overcome and cast out fear. There is an order of things that must happen. You must first come to know how much God loves you. Then you will become secure in that love, and THAT is what helps you trust Him. Through that love, trust, and security, the desire to control will start to go away. The more you come to trust, the less desperate you become to force things your way. We want to force change when we are afraid, and that even means force running away. Wanting to quit when things get tough is sometimes because we can’t control it, it feels too hard, too frightening and the easiest way out of that is to just quit. 

9)Impatience can mislead you into taking matters into your own hands. Most often I took great big steps of progress forward. Learning to rest in God, let Him lead, and have control. But those big steps forward quickly led to 10 giant steps backward when I fell into, and didn’t recognize impatience. When something happened and all of a sudden I was so weary of ‘nothing’s changed.” or “Is this ever going to end?” that an unknown force would rise up in me. And since I didn’t recognize it, I reverted back quickly to my old ways of tried and true methods of handling it when it came at me. When the going gets tough, make that mountain move by taking action that I knew to work. I would pick up the phone and write long texts to my husband. I would corner him when he got home and pretty much lay out the law of what was about to change and how he would pay dearly if he didn’t listen. Then I would spend days crying and devastated and confused as to what just happened. Nothing worked in my favor, in fact, everything got unbelievably worse. I finally came to realize that when I moved and acted out of being impatient, I was being led by the flesh, leaning on my understanding, logic, and emotions, and at those moments, I was not interested in what God had to say unless He agreed with me. I felt, the most often I was rebellious to the Lord was when I was impatient.

10) Time is not your enemy! While waiting for what we hope for, for our promise to come to pass is hard, most likely the hardest thing you will ever endure, the benefits outweigh it all. Because while in the waiting God is dismantling everything that conflicts with His plans for you. And for some of us, we have a lot of conflicting beliefs. For some, He has years of hidden wounds to heal and strongholds to tear down. I find the biggest struggle with time is when we keep wanting to say “I don’t understand.” Instead of “God I trust You with this because there is something far more important and greater You are doing that I am not aware of.” 

When we keep choosing to live in the darkness of “This is not fair, why is this happening, why isn’t God bringing my spouse home. Why doesn’t He do something?” Instead of living in a place of leaning not on your own understanding, but trusting Him, we are choosing to live in a wilderness of unbelief which is dangerous. God wants us to trust Him with what we don’t understand. Trust that He has our best interest at heart, and when we don’t trust Him, we are saying that He is not a trustworthy Character and that our way would be better. This is the revelation that we truly don’t know Him…which is why this is happening in the first place. When two people know Him as they really should, when they love and submit to Him, put His will first…then marriages stay together!

Standing with you,
Sheila Hollinger


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(~Marriage Revealed Ministries Inc. is committed to helping bring healing and restoration to couples who are struggling in their marriage. We do this through the revelation of Who God is and His heart and design for marriage which never intends abuse in any form. If you suspect abuse in your relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit them online at thehotline.org~