“No love of the natural heart is safe unless the human heart has been satisfied by God first.” –Oswald Chambers
If you looked at the surface of her life, everything was perfect. Juana Mikels was married to a handsome man, Terry. They had good jobs, a brand-new 2,200-square-foot house, nice cars, friends.
And yet, as she says, “Saturday mornings were the worst for me. … The sun would be shining and Terry would be preparing to wash his car and get ready to play golf, and I would be idle and sad.”
At 26, after three and a half years of marriage, Juana was so unhappy with her life that she left her husband, convinced that he was the problem.
She quickly found that living the single life and dating other men didn’t satisfy. For answers about how she could be happy, she tried three counselors and two churches. It was at the second church where a pastor told her, “You’re trying to make a decision about your marriage, Juana. But you’re making the wrong decision. You need to decide what you are going to do with Christ.”
Soon after, her church hosted a marriage conference. Thinking that she hadn’t tried putting counseling and church together, Juana attended. She had never heard the kind of advice that was offered, and it clicked for her.
“I was beginning to get the inkling that a good marriage was not something you found, but something you made. It wasn’t so much about finding the right person, it was being the right person.”
Six months after leaving her husband, Christ took hold of Juana’s life, and she tried to then reconcile with Terry. But he had been so badly hurt that he didn’t want her back.
She knew she couldn’t force Terry to take her back. And she knew that if he didn’t, she might not ever marry again. Nothing was guaranteed except that her life was safe and secure in Jesus’ arms.
Juana had to learn the hard way that choosing her husband all over again really meant choosing Him, Jesus, for the first time.
Juana’s story does end happily, though. After dating each other all over again, and after Juana moved back into their house, the two finally reconciled. Years later, Christ took hold of Terry’s life, too, and today they have four children.
Their story offers hope for marriages that aren’t thriving or are barely surviving. And there’s hope for marriages that are already broken. There’s even hope for those who feel their marriage is beyond repair.
But you need to look in the right place.
We all have an internal need for something greater in our lives, but we can’t expect our spouse to fill that void. Look to Jesus, instead. Only He can fill your deepest need—the need for Him.
Then, you can work on your marriage with hope, knowing that no matter the outcome, God knows what’s best for you and will see it through.
Checkpoints to Refresh Your Marriage
Juana offers 10 practical tips that will help make your marriage better—because there’s always room for growth.
1. I will say, “I love you” to my spouse every day (at least once).
2. I will not bring up my spouse’s past failures today.
3. I will put from my mind any weak points of my spouse, which I cannot change, and concentrate on my spouse’s good points.
4. I will seek to bring laughter into my spouse’s life today.
5. I will give my spouse some little gift today, whether a tangible one, or a word or deed.
6. I will not end this day angry with my spouse.
7. I will practice loving patience.
8. I will practice courtesy towards my spouse.
9. I will seek unity of interest.
10. I will pray for my spouse before the day ends.
You can find all of these checkpoints, as well as more ways to refresh your marriage, in Juana’s new book Choosing Him All Over Again. In it, she tells her story and offers tips on how to bring Christ into the center of your marriage.
Lindsey M. Roberts spent years writing exclusively for secular journalism, including such outlets as The Washington Post, Architect, and Gray magazine, before she first tried to write about Jesus. She’s thrilled to explore in words how everything from cleaning the kitchen three times a day to delighting in the maritime history of Nantucket is an opportunity to meet and glorify God. Lindsey lives with her husband, a pastor and U.S. Army Reserve chaplain, and son in Virginia.