We have a tendency to equate healing with being fixed. If we can fix ourselves, if we can fix our spouses, if we can fix our marriages, then everything will be better. Can I (Justin) share something with you? God doesn’t want to fix your marriage; he wants to heal your heart. The truth is that both you and your spouse bring a past into your marriage. You bring sins and hurts and disappointments. Maybe you were raped in high school. Maybe you had a one-night stand in college. Maybe you were physically or sexually abused as a kid. Maybe you had an abortion. Maybe you cheated on your first wife and are now married to the woman with whom you cheated.

What Trisha and I have come to understand in our marriage is that the depth of restoration and intimacy we experience today is in direct proportion to our willingness to understand our hurts and completely surrender them to the redeeming power of Christ. God promises to re-create you — that is how committed to your healing he is. God doesn’t want you to be better, he wants you to be brand new.

What hinders the healing of our hearts and pushes us to pur- sue being “fixed” is our tendency toward self-preservation. Our own reputations so often take precedence over the wholeness and healing that God longs to give us. For us to develop extraordinary marriages, we have to get to the core of our ordinary lives.

There are so many couples who wear themselves out merely trying to fix their marriages when God longs to heal their hearts.

Maybe that is where you are as you read this book. You are tired. You are exhausted. You have tried everything you know to be a better husband, but it isn’t enough. Maybe you have tried everything you can to make your husband happy, but it isn’t enough. Things get better for a week or a month or a year, but you come back to this place of discouragement or discontentment.

When Trisha and I experienced problems or issues in our marriage, I had always asked the question “what?” I thought, Just tell me what to do. Just give me the steps to take to be a better husband, to be a better father, to be a better Christian.

Maybe that is where you are as it relates to this chapter. Maybe that is where you are as it relates to this book. Just give me the steps to have a better marriage. Just tell me what to do.

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I think one of the great tragedies in the church today is that we’ve too often reduced our relationship with God to a checklist of what we can do to improve, rather than focusing on who we can become as Christ transforms us. “What” might change your behavior, a little at a time. But asking “what” brings something inferior for which we’ve settled for far too long: incremental change.

Incremental change is you and your spouse doing your best and working your hardest to stay married or to not get divorced. Incremental change makes big promises but lasts only a short time. Incremental change is change you are in control of. Incremental change is you working harder to stop the things you keep messing up. Incremental change, at its core, has you at the center trying to be better today than you were yesterday. Incremental change tells you if you try hard enough, you can cuss less, drink less, click on pornography less, eat less, lose your temper less, spend less, lust less, lie less, cheat less. Incremental change is motivated by guilt and shame and feelings of incompetence and failure.

Incremental change convinces you that if you can endure the pain of trying harder to cover up your sin and get better, then no one needs to know; you can overcome this. Incremental change doesn’t allow you to experience grace and forgiveness because you are constantly trying to make up for the sin in your life. Incremental change carries a small price tag up front, but it robs you for the rest of your life of the peace and joy and victory God longs to provide.

There is another option. God offers transformational change. Transformational change is about surrender, vulnerability, and transparency; humility and dependency. Transformational change at its core aims to destroy you, and if you are willing to pay that price, it will totally destroy every part of you.

Transformational change is messy and bloody and it hurts deep and it will cost you everything. It is pulling all of your junk out and laying it on the table for all to see no matter what they think about you. Transformational change is committed not just to dealing with the symptoms of your issues but to peeling back layer after pain- ful layer of your past, your dysfunction, and your sin until the core problem is exposed. Transformational change is recognizing that on even your best day, you are a failure and a sinner and your only hope is grace. Transformational change is knowing you can never try hard enough to overcome your desire to drink, cuss, lust, gorge, lie, and cheat. What you can do is surrender to the God of resurrection power, allowing him not only to destroy you, but also to bring you back to life. In order to be brought back to life, one has to die.

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Taken from Chapter 10 Beyond Ordinary: When a Good Marriage Just Isn’t Good Enough by Justin & Trisha Davis Copyright © 2013 by Justin & Trisha Davis. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.