LEARNING TO TRULY LOVE AND OVERCOMING STRONGHOLDS | By Raeleine Nabors
In the summer of 2015, I signed up excitedly for LoveWorks, Weyman and Susan Howard’s ministry. I heard how amazing it was, and I thought I needed this to get me out of my comfort zone and motivate me to jump into situations to love others who I feel don’t always deserve it (Luke 6:32-36). Now, how does that saying go, “Be careful what you wish for …”? Well, God knew that in order for me to learn how to truly LOVE someone, it would take LoveWorks to prepare me and would take real life scenarios to express it.
During my LoveWorks sessions, I had some spiritual gut-checks. For example, the idea of doing good deeds out of obligation instead of being motivated by love is really not benefitting me nor the other person. I also learned that strongholds in our lives come in all sorts of forms–perfectionism being one of mine. Also, when our expectations don’t align with God’s expectations, then we can certainly start developing poor attitudes. On the flip side, LoveWorks also emphasized that Jesus Christ does not condemn us, but He covers us with His patient love.
While I was participating in LoveWorks, I discovered ugly sin in my marriage. It was a sin that had resurfaced, one that almost led us into divorce in the early years of our marriage. You see, unless you battle sin head-on, it will transform into a stronghold and eventually envelope the spirit. Without going into full details about the strongholds that were now weapons of mass destruction in my marriage and our lives, let’s just say, I was deeply shocked, hurt and disappointed in my husband’s decisions and behavior. Now I will confess, I didn’t realize that my own decisions and behaviors contributed to my husband’s sin.
I had noticed since my husband’s sister passed away in 2014 that he started to change. While grieving the loss of his sister, he also had to deal with other losses in his life, such as career fluctuations. He is not the type to share his deepest thoughts and emotions, and I’m not the most encouraging person in helping others deal with their feelings. I had hoped that he would eventually get over this dark period of grief and loss and return to his “normal” self. So, ultimately both of our strongholds left my husband feeling unloved and misunderstood by a wife who was just too busy focusing her time and attention on her job and on other people because I was unable to deal immediately with my husband’s negative behavior. Our expectations of each other were missing the mark, and without the desire to communicate to each other, it was only a matter of time until sin and strongholds from our past would impact us again.
Therefore, God revealed all the sin in us and showed us that we need HIS LOVE [1 Corinthians 13] in order to kill the guardians of the flesh, such as envy, arrogance, selfishness, anger, rude behaviors and keeping records of wrongs. I honestly didn’t want to activate God’s LOVE anymore. I wanted to run away from the pain and hurt. I wanted out of my marriage. I prayed and requested God to release me from the bond. However, I already knew what God’s response to me would be; I mean, I was in the middle of a LoveWorks class and learning all about bearing each other’s sins and all burdens with LOVE. I knew God would tell me it was the perfect time and opportunity to apply all his truth, kindness and mercy on my husband. And yes, it would also mean that I would become insecure and doubtful and feel crazy in the process of forgiving him, while allowing God to continue to heal both our broken hearts and to mend our relationship. Yet, I wouldn’t be alone in the process. The Holy Spirit gave me the right words to say at the right time, and after many months of continued disappointment and lies, the Holy Spirit finally gave me the courage to speak the truth, not out of my own anger and accusations, but out of the Word of God. That struck my husband like lightening–to realize that he could not change on his own accord, but that he could only truly change by surrendering to God. This revelation led to confession, repentance and a husband that I finally saw as being sincere in all his efforts to step up and be the husband that I needed and wanted him to be. Finally, by the end of 2015, and for the first time in our marriage, we started praying together and reading books together (such as The Five Love Languages and Victory over Darkness), and he even attended the last session of LoveWorks with me. We were communicating often, and when doubts or troubled thoughts infiltrated our minds, we would address them quickly so that we wouldn’t fall into Satan’s strategy of division again. We both needed Jesus to set us free from guilt and sin in our marriage, to allow his Spirit to transform how we view and treat each other, to encourage each other and to start with loving each other the way God loves us. Our broken marriage was now on the right path and we sprouted feelings for each other that we had not had for a long time. We were so grateful that God didn’t allow us to become another divorce statistic. I love the ending of 1 Corinthians 13 that so beautifully states, “So these three things continue forever: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is LOVE.”
Put HIS principles and HIS LOVE into action because LOVE NEVER FAILS!
Raeleine Nabors is originally from Honolulu, Hawaii. She has been married for 26 years to her husband, Gilbert. They have one daughter (Alisha) and one grandson (Tyrion). Raeleine loves animals, hiking, finding new food places and traveling. She started attending The Father’s House approximately one and a half years ago. She resides in Oceanside with her husband, their dog Vince, and two cats, Skittles and Chanel.