We are going to go back in time on this one to before I was ever married, or even engaged to be married.  We are going back to the days when I was dating my now husband, unsure of what our future held.  Why?  Because those days are what molded who we are now.  Those days are what God used to prepare me to become a wife.  Those days are so, so precious.  Those days were also at times, so painful.  It’s all just a part of our story.

About 5 years into dating my husband, I felt a shift in my feelings toward him.  I was in love with him, but I was desperately missing something.  I thought what was missing was as simple as he just doesn’t love the Lord like I do, and I can’t marry him because of that.  I thought I was a strong woman of faith, needing a man who would lead me and love me the way Jesus does.  I thought “if he would just change, if he would just understand, then everything would be right”. 

I confided in friends and asked them to pray for us.  I told them I needed him to grow in his faith and that was the only way we could move forward together.  I told them all the things he needed to change.  In all of this, I wasn’t once looking inward and seeking God in my own heart.  I was so sure that I wasn’t the one who needed fixing.  I cried, I lost sleep, and I begged God to just fix this man so I could keep him in my life.  I even prayed for God to separate us if it wasn’t right.  That prayer hurt my heart the most.  I was anxious, frustrated, hurt, and sad.  All the time.

That’s when a friend of mine shared a Facebook post with me.  “Praying for Your Husband Dailywith Julie Graham, now Julie Bender.  I thought, well I don’t have a husband, but I do want one, and I want it to be this man I am currently dating, so let me just see what she has to say.  I thought this might somehow be the answer to my prayers on how I could change him.  I clicked the video and listened to this stranger talk about her marriage, her prayers, and a book where it all started.  Julie shared vulnerably about the changes that God needed to first do in her as a wife.  And I am not sure she even knows this part, but as I watched I sobbed.  I knew God was speaking to me through her.  I knew I needed to let God search my own heart.  (Psalm 139:23).

I clicked “follow” and added Julie as a “friend” that day.   I watched her videos and engaged in comments, sometimes simply just saying “I feel this way, too”.  I was influenced by her commitment to daily prayer and used her daily videos as a guide to my own prayers.  I learned how to pray for my husband intentionally and specifically through #prayingforyourhusbanddaily.  Julie prayed for “his friendships”, “his faith”, “his heart”, “his work”, “his wife”, and so much more.  So, I prayed those things too. 

I watched as my boyfriend made friendships with men who loved Jesus.  I watched as my boyfriend started to enjoy church and want to talk about scripture with me.  I watched as my boyfriend’s heart softened and his anxieties fled.  I watched my boyfriend become the man I could marry and did marry.  God did some incredible things in my husband through the power of prayer, but do you know what else He did? He did some incredible things in me.

The young girl I was in my twenties, praying for a husband and thinking I knew it all myself, that girl needed Jesus.  That girl needed guidance.  That girl needed a friend who would be truthful and bold.  That girl needed Julie Bender.  In every one of her prayers for her husband, she also prayed for herself as a wife.  She prayed for me, too.  I was the “wanna be wifey”, as she lovingly called me, who was lost in who she was without that.  I was a girl who felt her worth came from a wedding ring and a title that she didn’t have.  I was a girl who felt unworthy, unloved, and alone.  God sent Julie to show me I was none of those things.

Through her prayers, I felt safe and understood.  This woman, a stranger, is who God used to comfort me, lead me, and encourage me to be more.  I grew into an individual who was confident of her worth.  I grew to understand that I needed to change the way I lived, too, and had so much more work to do.  I grew to be able to give grace and love toward my husband, knowing there are many ways I need the same.  This stranger was used to plant a seed so that God could grow a harvest and create the beauty that is now my marriage.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:6.

Today, Julie is certainly not a stranger.  It took at least 4 or 5 years for Julie and I to ever meet in person.  In those 4 or 5 years a lot has changed for both of us.  God has given us different stories, different heartaches, different redemption, and different reasons for grace.  We have a lot of differences, but one common ground: we are sisters in Christ.  I call Julie my friend these days, but I am forever thankful for the stranger she was and the voice she had when I needed her most.  She didn’t even know it, either.  She just followed God’s calling to her, said “yes” when He put something on her heart, and shared it openly with the world, knowing it would go to exactly who He needed it to go to.  Me.

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8.

That’s the beautiful thing about using our voices, our experiences, our struggles, and our testimony to serve Christ.  He can use us in the middle of our mess, in the deepest valleys, and yes, on our mountain tops.  God can even use our social media posts.  There is hope in knowing you aren’t alone, you aren’t worthless, and you aren’t unlovable.  I am so thankful for the Godly counsel and encouragement, and even conviction, that I have been given through following people like Julie Bender.  She shares her heart, His truth, and does it boldly.  Her “mantra”, as she calls it, is “be bold, and just be you”.  She is the shining example of that and a guiding light. 

Why am I sharing this with you?  Because I want you to understand the value in clicking “follow”.  God uses all things for good, including our social media and online presence, if we let Him.  One hashtag changed the direction of my relationship and my life. Sharing these Christ centered accounts, blogs, videos, or websites with our friends may be the spark that God uses to light a fire in their hearts for Him.  Maybe, you might just reignite a flame that started to go out.  Or maybe you share what God has done in your own life.  Telling the world your story, your testimony, might just be the reason someone else allows God to work in their life, too. You never know who needs your story, your voice, or your love…but God does.

“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:39.

Do you want to learn more about #PrayingForYourHusbandDaily?

You can find more from The Julie Bender here, or by following her on Instagram and Facebook.

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