Please meet my new friend, Kelly Smith.  I met Kelly through the For the Love Launch team and she is smart, lovely and a great writer!  Kelly blogs over at Mrs. Disciple and you should all go follow her immediately. I love the way she weaves her extensive knowledge of scripture into her thoughtful posts.  The one she graciously agreed to share with us here features one of my favorite bible stories about Hagar and the God Who Sees Me. Here are her thoughts on what it means to Be Brave in marriage.  Welcome, Kelly!!

braveoverbitterBy Guest Blogger, Kelly Smith

Most would consider the opposite of brave to be fearful. I propose that, in marriage, the opposite of brave can be bitter.

I could almost taste the bitterness in my mouth. I hung up the phone, having just given another yes when my heart screamed no. My husband had a benign, time-consuming hobby that took up most of his free time. He considerately asked each day, and I begrudgingly consented each day.

From time-to-time, the internal conflict between love and misery would rise to the surface. I would explode about something, usually unrelated. Then I resumed stuffing my emotions and handing out yeses with pretend grace.

I could have been brave. I could have asked him to come home, told him I needed him. Bravery could have led me to discuss the insecurities his behavior fed. Being brave meant being vulnerable and I was too strong and independent to go there.

Instead of bravery, I chose bitterness. I chose to suffer in silence. The negative self-talk grew louder. “You are not enough for him.” “He doesn’t need you.” And the most dangerous thought of all: You don’t need him.

Bitterness drove me to indifference. I began to care less about whether he came home or not. I stopped sharing plans and family life with him. I proved to myself that I didn’t need him any more than he needed me.

My heart almost turned to stone.

God, in His loving grace and mercy, held tight. His hand gently guided me toward bravery.

Like Hagar, He found me hiding in the wilderness.

And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” Genesis 16:8

Sitting by that spring in the wilderness, Hagar bore her broken soul to the angel of the Lord. She poured out the hurt and the bitterness.

God invited me to sit by the spring called Beerlahairoi, “well of the Living One seeing me.” He asked me where I had been and where I was going. I had been in love. I was going to be alone.

God became my El Roi, the God who sees me. My pain, my bitterness, and the deep needs that were invisible even to me were not hidden from His sight.

God asked Hagar to return to her family. It was an act of bravery for Hagar to leave her bitterness by Beerlahairoi. The Lord walked with her to Sarai’s tent; He held her hand as she gave birth to Ishmael, “because the Lord has listened to your affliction” (Genesis 16:11).

God walked with me down the path of bravery. I had to lay my bitterness down. I had to forgive wrongs done to me. I had to acknowledge needs I had denied in the interest of self-protection. I had to gently release emotions stuffed deep. No more exploding. No more bitterness. Instead, brave conversation.

“I can do this on my own. I don’t really need you. But I do not want to not need you. Please make yourself needed.”

In that moment of exchanging bitterness for bravery, El Roi was near. He allowed me to speak with mercy and gave my husband ears of grace.

Bravery brought beauty. Our marriage is not absent of conflict and I still battle the urge to stuff my emotions. I visit Beerlahairoi from time to time and God helps me choose brave over bitter. And it is so much better!

~~~

kellysmithKelly Smith, blogger at MrsDisciple.com, is a small town girl who married a small town man 17 years ago.  She has three energetic blessings ages 1 to 11.  She is a SAHM during the week and an Occupational Therapist on the weekend.  Her favorite indulgences are coffee, reading, writing, and running.  Kelly believes we are created for community and loves to find ways to connect with other women who are walking the same path.