From Broken to Brand New
By Jen Ferguson
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”- Matthew 7:3-4, NIV
There was a moment in time, in the deep recess of my closet, when I told God I absolutely did not sign up for the marriage I had. After watching my own parents’ marriage dissolve over the entire course of my life, I thought God was clear on my expectations for my life and my husband. But Craig had failed me. God had failed me. And so, I railed against my husband, against God, and against my situation. Our long-lasting struggle had gone on for too long. It was hopeless. I was tired.
But because God is so kind, so compassionate, and so loving, instead of rebuking me for my insolent comments and bitter spirit, He saw me in my mess—and met me there. There was no “I know best for you, Jen, so deal with it!” The words “Just suck it up, Buttercup” did not spew forth from His lips. Instead, there was only a whisper:
“Do you want to try it my way?”
It was as if a mirror passed before me and I, in a few moments, saw the truth of how I had wrestled and assumed control of my marriage. I saw my iron-fisted grip, my arms crossed defiantly across my chest, my foot stamping against the floor. In essence, I saw both a three-year-old throwing a tantrum and a woman with very real and valid wounds that was just trying to make herself safe.
There’s nothing about porn addiction that would cause me to label it as a “speck.” It wrecks people’s lives, their relationships, their careers. I don’t think Jesus was minimizing the sin of others when he said these words recorded in Matthew, but instead, He calls our attention to the devastation our own sin causes. We can become so focused on the sin of others that we are completely blinded to our own. As a result, we become prideful, judgmental, critical, and bitter. We lose the ability to see people in the fullness of who they are and who God created them to be. We lose the ability to love. And isn’t this the most important thing? Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.
Sin causes division. It causes real pain, no matter what type of sin it is. But there’s a good chance that if you’re focusing on the sin of your spouse, you’re missing something Jesus is trying to tell you about you. The truth is, my own judgment and criticism of my husband did absolutely nothing to help him in his healing. In fact, it may have even delayed it, as I was heaping salt into the unhealed wounds of his childhood. Ignoring my own brokenness only served to create more.
Part of God’s way forward in our marriage was bringing me to repent of my own sin, to understand my own great need for grace. Can we really show grace to another if we have not yet understood our own need for it, if we have not come face-to-face with our own shortcomings and weaknesses?
It’s difficult to face ourselves in the mirror. We’re often afraid of what we will see, of what we will find if we look too closely. But know this: When you look in the mirror, you will also find Jesus. You’ll find the Savior you were meant to need. The same one who wants to bring freedom, hope, forgiveness, and redemption to your spouse, also wants to fight for your own wholeness, too. And just imagine what Jesus can do with two people who confess the broken pieces of their lives and work together with the Restorer of all things, to make something brand new.
Jen Ferguson is a wife, author, and speaker who is passionate about helping couples thrive in their marriages. She and her husband, Craig, have shared their own hard story in their book, Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography. Jen is also a mama to two girls and two high-maintenance dogs, which is probably why she runs. A lot. Even in the Texas heat.
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Originally published Tuesday, 10 October 2023.