Saturday, October 1, 2011

Choosing to Do Good

By Amanda Berry

I’ll never forget the first time I made tuna noodle casserole. It turned out to be quite an ordeal. First, I started on dinner much later than I had hoped and was pretty hungry. Next, my can opener broke and I had to borrow one from a neighbor. But I persevered and the recipe made a gigantic casserole, more than enough for dinner and plenty of leftovers for the next few days.

At the time, my husband and I had a general rule in our house: whoever didn’t cook the meal had to do the dishes. Since I had been the chef for the night, my husband handled the cleanup. Or so I thought . . .

The next morning I awoke and found my 15 x 10 tuna casserole sitting out on the kitchen counter from the night before! All of my hard work had been ruined; it all had to be dumped out. Anger boiled within me. I honestly wanted to take the leftovers and rub his nose in them (both literally and figuratively). But mercy won out. As mad as I was, I didn’t respond as my flesh had craved. I threw my masterpiece in the trash and told him about it later.

As with the tuna casserole, the thought of retribution tempted me after I learned of my husband’s pornography addiction. After the reality of it all set in, I wanted him to pay for his mistake and I wanted him to feel as bad as I did.

But thankfully, God allowed me to play out the scenario and visualize the reality of my thoughts. How would repaying my husband for the betrayal bring any good to our marriage or to our family? I acknowledged that further damage would be done if I responded in my flesh.

When I’m looking for encouragement to persevere in my quest to be a godly wife and mother, I often read Proverbs 31. I often wonder how the Proverbs 31 woman had it all together. Recently, I read the following verses and received fresh insight:

“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:12, emphasis added).

Wow, all days mean every single day. Nowhere in this passage does it say that her husband deserved good all the time, I’m sure they had their moments. They likely had disagreements about finances, frustration from the children and just got on each other’s nerves once in awhile. And like us, she probably felt tempted to repay evil for evil when things got heated or when he hurt her in some way. But she chose to do good. She acted with grace and mercy, even when it may not have been merited.

The more I think about it, I think I may understand how she responded in this way. It all depends on focus. When I’m focused on the misdeed that’s been done to me, it’s hard to act with goodness. But when I’m focused on God and how He forgives me when I sin against Him, I can then act with mercy and do good to my husband instead of harm.

I’m thankful that God doesn’t rub my nose in the mistakes that I make. He forgives me and He desires that I extend that same forgiveness to my husband and to others — even when my casserole has been ruined or a relationship has been damaged.

Jesus says in Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
In reading Proverbs 31:12, I see that it’s a deliberate choice I must make to bring my husband good and not harm. There’s a variety of ways that I can do this:

•When my husband does or says something hurtful, I will stop and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide my response instead of acting in my flesh.

•I will choose my words carefully and remember that once I speak them, they cannot be retrieved.

•I will communicate to my husband, instead of expecting him to read my mind and becoming angry when he doesn’t.

•I will remember that God calls me to forgive, even if my husband doesn’t ask for it or deserve it. I will be grateful that Jesus died for my sins and those of my husband. I acknowledge that I am not worthy or deserving of the forgiveness that God extends to me.

•I will pray for my husband and his struggle with pornography. I acknowledge that doing him good and not harm will help to restore our marriage and encourage him in his daily battle of purity.

Even years after my husband confessed his addiction, I still experience painful reminders of the betrayal. They often spring up out of the blue and send my emotions whirling. But lately when I find myself in this place, I recite Proverbs 31:12 in my head, “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”

Writing under a pen name, Amanda Berry desires to see women and their marriages restored from the devastation of pornography. Connect with her at


Barbara Koob said...

Wow! Some very good words here. Thanks for sharing your heart.