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I Want Change, But I Just Don’t See It!

5 Things that Break the Cycle of Change, and How to Fight Against Them


Are you frustrated?

Do you want your marriage to be different?

Are you thinking: I want change, but I just don’t see it!?

Maybe it seems like every time you see a step of change forward in your marriage, something quickly knocks you and your spouse two steps back.

Surely there are things about your spouse you wish were different, but for change to occur in your marriage, it has to start with you; in your own heart.

If you’re anything like me, that may lead to the next thought: I’m TRYING to change, but I CAN’T!


I hear you; I’ve been there.

And answering that question is what this post is all about.

But first, I’d like to recap, so please put a pin in that and we’ll return to it momentarily.


Recall the last post: Desiring Change? Start Here.

I wrote about how:

  • God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

  • He has loved us from the beginning, and because of that love, we can love others (1 John 4:19).

  • He has invited us to do good works in obedience to Him by loving and serving others (not just be a bystander).

We saw all of this in the Cycle of Change: Take a minute to look at each of the 8 sections. See how one leads to the next; we cannot skip ahead to get further down the road.


To quickly review:

  1. God first loved us.

  2. God calls us to love Him back.

  3. We say yes to His love and salvation.

  4. We now know what love is because we experienced it when we were rescued from death to life.

  5. We draw near to God, to understand Him and His love more deeply.

  6. We obey God because we know His way is best. This knowing provides a natural and instantaneous outflow of obedience.

  7. Our obedience is shown in loving others. Loving others shows we truly know God’s love for us.

  8. We find our truest joy and peace- remembering, knowing, and trusting that God loved us first (1 John 4:19).

We know we can start the cycle over whenever we want: coming back to our First Love, and moving forward in the cycle from there.


That is all GREAT news, but still- do you ever have these thoughts with regard to your marriage?:

  • WHY does it seem like we only get a few “steps” forward before we have to restart?

  • WHY do I mess up time and time again?

  • WHAT'S IT GONNA TAKE TO CHANGE OUR MARRIAGE?!

Read on to find out 5 things that might be breaking your cycle of change…


Listening to Lies

This one belongs at the TOP of the list, in big bold letters. Do you know why? Because the other things that break the cycle of change cannot occur unless this one takes place.

LIES are Satan’s language; his endgame, his M.O. He’s called the Father of Lies (John 8:44), and with good reason. He works tirelessly- your entire life- to make you believe the opposite of what God says, and he’s crafty at it.

How so? Well, he’s very subtle. Sometimes you won’t even notice the lies. They may even seem justifiable or dare I say… true? His lies cast doubt. For example:

  • Do you really think your marriage will change?

  • Your wife is not fulfilling her role, is she? It must be her fault your marriage is so crappy.

  • Did your husband just look at that other woman? He must not love you like he used to.

And so, we MUST be grounded in God’s Word every single day. (For an awesome read- the-Bible-in-a-year plan, check out this resource.)

When we learn to recognize GOD’S voice- His gentle nudging, His loving pursuit, His quiet conviction- we’ll be better able to recognize the counterfeit that is Satan’s lies.


If we’re believing lies, our faith and hope for change quickly turn into…


Feeling the Fear

Fear is a direct result of not believing Truth.

1 John 4:18 says, There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Knowing God and trusting His love for you personally will move you to love others. If you are frozen in fear- afraid to act in obedience- it is NOT that you don’t want to love.

So, what’s holding you back?

FEAR.

And where does that fear come from?

Believing lies.

Fear- fed by lies- has taken the place of trust.

Come back to square one, remember your First Love and how He has loved you.

Only then can you truly love your spouse as you should.


What else may result from believing lies?


Lies allow Sin to Sneak In
What we believe drives our actions.

It may sound simple, but it’s very true.

For example, let's say I’m believing the lie that- because my husband isn’t acting the way I think he should- it means he doesn’t care about me or love me. Brick by brick I start building walls to keep out the hurt. Those little bricks become big walls. The big walls start to look insurmountable. The insurmountable walls become “irreconcilable differences.” What started with believing a lie grows into seeking a divorce.

It’s a slippery slope.

Sin breeds sin.

So, we must be careful.

1 Peter 5:6-10 says: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful [be careful]. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.


Samuel Brengle (a Commissioner in the Salvation Army, and well-known for teaching on holiness) once said: “Sin does not leap upon us fully armed. It steals in through a look, a swift, silent suggestion or imagination, but love and loyalty to Jesus will make you watchful and swift to rise up and cast out the subtle enemy. Do this and you shall live, and live victoriously.”

Once while riding on a subway together, a close friend asked Mr. Brengle: "Commissioner, you've been a teacher of holiness for many, many years. Tell me, what kind of temptations do you have?"

Brengle responded, "Only one."

"Only one?"

"Only one. That is to move out of my intimate relationship with Christ. When by carelessness, indifference, failure to attend to Him and His work, I find myself drifting out of an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus, every other temptation comes in and I am vulnerable."


Slippery slope.

Sin breeds sin.

Submit to HIM.

James 4:7 says: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

When we shut out the lies and listen to God’s Word, we set ourselves up for success.

Rather than listening to our feelings- which typically lead to more sin- we must listen to the Spirit. (Read more on being Spirit-led, not self-led, HERE.)


What happens when we don’t see the results we expected? It can lead to…


Faltering in Faith

When we take our eyes off the Savior, we falter and forget.

The expectations we have are rooted in ourselves; our own desires, plans, and preferences… rather than HIM.

Our dear Father has given us grace upon grace; a gift we didn’t deserve and cannot earn. He says: “Stop fighting to do things our own way; surrender the battle. I have already won it. You need only trust and rest in Me.”


Remember:

  • His timing is perfect. In Isaiah 60:22, God refers to His rescue and redemption of Israel when He says, At the right time, I, the LORD, will make it happen. The same is true of the plans He has for us. He lays them before us in His perfect timing, we need only walk the path He paves.

  • His plans are perfect (Romans 8:28).

  • He IS doing something far beyond our wildest expectations and dreams (Ephesians 3:20-21).

And so, we must stand on His promises. He always keeps them.

When we lose faith in His grace, His perfect plans, and His perfect timing, we…


Flounder in Frustration

And that’s where it’s easy to give up.

The enemy gets us right where he wants us: plucked from the cycle of change and stuck in the cycle of sin.

He tries to keep us there by feeding us lies, which leads to being frozen in fear.

He tells us that our indulgence in sin will free us from the discomfort, disappointment, and shame in which we’re stuck.

Our faith begins to falter when that sin does not provide what we need.

Then, we flounder in frustration and look for the easiest escape (isolation, substitution/idol worship, divorce).

Round and round we go, stuck in the cycle of sin.


But guess what?

GOD.

Psalm 18:16-17 says, He reached down from Heaven and rescued me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me.


HE IS OUR RESCUER!

And He LOVES us.


Just like that, we’re back at #1 in the cycle of change.


Vow to change: an encouraging call to action

Every day we will need to start and restart the cycle of change. Every. Single. Day.

So, let’s do a walk-through now

  1. Remember: God first loved us.

  2. He calls us to love Him, saying, “I want a relationship with you, dear one. I love you, will you love me, too?”

  3. We say yes again (not to salvation- that can never be taken away, nor do we need to ask for it again and again). We say yes to Jesus and His Word, grab hold of His hand, and continue our walk with Him. (For an amazing *free* resource on spiritual growth, click HERE. Or, purchase the book on Amazon.)

  4. When we say yes to God, our heart softens as we understand and recall His rescuing and redeeming love.

  5. Our desire for closeness to Him grows as we understand His love. So, we seek Him every day, experience who He is, and long to abide in Him.

  6. Abiding in Him further opens our eyes to His character, and we cannot help but fall deeper in love. We want what He wants. So obeying His Spirit and His Word is a natural result of our growing love for Him.

  7. In obedience to Him who has captured our heart, we show His love to others.

  8. It is then we discover our greatest joys: First- loving Him, then loving like Him (1 John 4:19).

Think about it:

  • Can we give a heartfelt ‘yes’ to God without first remembering His love for us?

  • Will we want to listen to His Spirit and obey Him if we don’t spend time getting to know Him?

  • Will we want to know God without first taking a step of faith and saying: “Yes, God, Your ways are best. Mine are not.”?

The short answer: No.

And not one of the steps in the cycle of change can occur without embracing the one prior.


If you’re looking to be happy and content (step 8), and your marriage is not delivering that, remember: GOD LOVES YOU (step 1).

Remember Samuel Brengle?

When asked about his secret to holiness, he replied: “Keep in the will of God, obey Him, seek Him daily, waiting at His gates. Read the Bible regularly. Never neglect secret prayer. Keep testifying to the grace bestowed upon you. Help others.”


So...

Seek Him daily. I do this in prayer, reading His Word, and journaling. Your seeking may not look the same as mine. It doesn’t matter.


Just SEEK. You may not find what you expect, but you will find what you need (Jeremiah 29:13, Luke 11:9).


Keep in His will and be obedient. Not sure what that looks like in your life? That’s why reading and understanding His Word is so important. Need a place to start? Read Psalm 18, which shows King David striving to obey God, and John 14-17, which gives a clear picture of how to abide in Him.


No one is perfect. No marriage is perfect. But God’s love and truth is transformative.

His Word is powerful and healing.

HE WILL CHANGE YOU AND YOUR MARRIAGE.


For more information, listen to the corresponding podcast:

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