Guard your heart.
Litsa picked up the dishrag, and then put it back down. The ring of tension across her forehead was tightening. She pressed fingertips on both throbbing temples, feeling her racing pulse.
Jack was at it again. His old habits were coming back, in spades.
She could see it in the way he treated her. Was it in the abrasive, superior tone that he used when addressing her? Was it the way he looked past her when speaking? Was it the hard set of the chin or the arrogant look in his eyes? Was it the way he treated her, as if she was a dirty cloth he couldn’t decide whether to keep or pitch?
Either way, it broke her heart. Things had been so good between them.
Lista let her thoughts wander. Remembering the way Jack’s father, Pat, had treated his mother, Linda, did little to improve her state of mind. Once Pat had walked out on Linda to teach her a lesson, leaving her frustrated enough to hurl something at him on his way out. A week later he’d returned only to arrogantly tie her to a chair to show her who was boss. Just as Pat had preferred “domination over relationship”, Jack was choosing the same path now.
It was subtler these days. Done in such a way that she couldn’t charge him with obvious wrongdoing, Litsa wasn’t sure if she wasn’t losing her mind. The constant put-downs, the cross-examining, the way his mistakes were just that - but hers' crimes, the sarcasm disguised as joking, weren’t all these tactics the same as in the past?
Litsa buried her face in her hands.
He knew better. He’d asked for prayer in church about his heart condition just a week ago. His walk with the Lord was slipping; Jack knew what he was doing to her. It was probably easier as usual for him to focus on her faults, than his own.
For days, Litsa’s downcast eyes, the sadness on her face, should have clued him in. But if he was aware of her pain, he pretended ignorance. Hadn’t he promised never to again be the responsible party for the emptiness he’d once seen in her eyes, the flatness, the hopelessness?
Jack was compassionate with the animals, with the baby, comforting them but not her. He’d just let her be, as though nothing was wrong. It was as though he enjoyed seeing her that way. That’s the way it had once been – until Jack had met and become accountable to a holy God who expected better of him.
She paused. Her feelings were numb. Litsa couldn’t feel. The pain of being so devalued – when she’d allowed herself to begin to hope – should have had her weeping, grieving over how he was treating her. But she felt nothing, just empty, worthless.
How could she guard her heart? She should. Their marriage had almost killed her - the strain of it.
Litsa reached for her Bible. Let’s see. Maybe there was something in the familiar scriptures about being a wife she’d overlooked.
In Proverbs 19:13, women weren’t to be quarrelsome. Okay, maybe she, Litsa, had been a bit argumentative. She’d continue to work on that.
Okay, in Deuteronomy 24:5, men were admonished to make their wives happy for the first year after they were married. Litsa liked that. It must tie in with the Lord’s words for men to cherish their wives. But, that was God’s job, not hers’, to tell him. Hadn’t Ruth once advised her to duck, to stay out of God’s way when it came to dealing with Jack? Yes.
Litsa felt like a martyr, and a victim. Yes, Jesus had been both. But in Hebrews 12:3, he’d endured for her, and Jack’s sakes.
Fear? In 1 Peter 3, Sarah had feared, but not caved to it. She’d trusted God who said a gentle quiet spirit is priceless.
Jack liked ladylike women. She’d begun trying, hadn’t she? But then, Litsa remembered, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain. A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” In Genesis 18:15, Abraham’s and in Esther 2:9, Esther’s gentle, quiet, and submissive spirit had won them favor with both God and people. Isn’t that what God wanted from her more than to work her woman’s wiles on Jack?
Litsa’s pacing slowed when she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She smiled at herself dryly. Youth and vanity didn’t hold much promise for long; she’d better do it God’s way.
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