Stop for a minute.
Think about that. If you want something different, you have to do something different.
Seriously, don’t read on yet. Think about it.
How do you want your circumstances to change?
If you want your circumstances to change, then you have to do something that will precipitate the change. Continuing to do what brought about the current condition will not catapult you to a better place. What’s next, then?
First, you need to find out what God has revealed would be the best place for you. Don’t assume that you know what you ought to do. Our heads and hearts don’t always lead to the abundant life. God’s word is able to thoroughly equip you for every good work, so spend some time reading it (2 Tim 3:16-17). For instance, you might be thinking that the way to change your circumstances is to change your marital status. When Paul addressed some Christians who were married to Christians he wrote, “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife” (1 Cor. 7:10-11). Consider how this command relates to your situation. Remember that the one who hears the words of Jesus and does them is like one who builds his house on a rock (Matthew 7:13-14).
If you discover that your old way of living was sinful, confess it and repent. Tell God that you recognize you were wrong and that you are determined to get right. Should you confess to anybody else? Your confession should be as broad as the knowledge of your sin – at a minimum. If God is the only one who knows besides you, then you can keep your confession between God and you. If your spouse knows about the transgression, he or she needs to know about your sorrow for it. If your kids know, then confess to them, too. If your failure was public and a lot of people know, be wise when you use public means of confession, but still use them. This is not a time for pride. It’s time for humility. God will lift up his children who bow in confession.
Sometimes you might confess to someone who didn’t know about the sin. Often, the more private the sin is, the more difficult it is to “put it to death” (Colossians 3:5). One of the most powerful tools your adversary has is secrecy. Tell one other person whom you can trust. Tell a private group specifically designed to give support with this issue. James encourages us through the Holy Spirit, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
The third step is prayer. You get from James that prayer is a companion to confession. You can also pray for clarity regarding what you’ve read in God’s word. You can pray for strength to follow your Bible-based convictions. Pray that God will begin to remove whatever difficulties he has used to bring you to the point of change. Pray a prayer of thanks for the ways he has blessed your despite your walk outside of his will. Pray all the time (1 Thess. 5:17).
Perhaps you are a little frustrated reading at this point. Maybe you are thinking, “Get on with it. We’re three steps in and all we’ve done is read, confess, and pray. I need to do something!” Don’t neglect or underestimate the significance of reading, confession, and prayer. Real change is not simply about what you will do; it is about who you will be! These first three steps are critical to the renewal of your mind that must precede your transformation (Romans 12:2). When you’ve done them, you’ve done something! It’s likely that if you’ve tried to make this change before but failed, you didn’t give enough attention to the Word of God, confession, and prayer.
Get some instruction regarding the change you want to make. Wise people understand, “Plans fail for lack of counsel…” (Prov. 15:22). Is there a book that could help? What spiritual leader do you know who has had some success in the area in which you want to grow? Is there a video that gives some guidance that would be beneficial? Take everything with a grain of salt, but there are some super internet sources, too. At this point, you are not simply interested in motivation, you are interested in specifics.
Set some SMART goals for change. The difference between a dream and goal is an action plan and a time line. Set goals toward the change that are:
Get going. Don’t procrastinate. The point of James’ instruction “For the one who knows the good to do, but doesn’t do it, sins” is that we can’t be presumptuous about tomorrow (James 4:17). Tomorrow, if there is a tomorrow, might not go just like you think. Good things must be done today.
Guard your emotional, spiritual, and physical wholeness. You need stability emotionally, spiritually, and physically to accomplish this change. Overloading your schedule, forcing the 21st century life of busyness, will hurt your opportunity to change. You’ve heard it before, “Schedule your priorities.” How important is this change to you? Really?
Don’t quit. “Never tire of doing what is right,” (2 Thess. 3:13). “Don’t grow weary in doing good,” Paul wrote. The great harvest will come in due time if you don’t quit (Gal. 6:9).
So what positive change can you make that will impact your marriage for good?