MAG 06: Walking Autonomously Doesn’t Work

Have you been following the series?

In part 6 of the MAG Series we interview some friends of ours, Tom and Heidi Celaya, who had a significant role in helping us stay married!

That’s right! These people were faithful to serving the Lord and we met them in a time when our marriage was turning for the worst. They reminded of us that living in isolation does so much more harm than any good. We share their part of the story in The Unveiled Wife and again in our new book Marriage After God because the impact they had was vital. This interview is hopefully a reminder for you of the vital role you play in the lives of others and the role your friends have in your lives.

Order Your Copy of Marriage After God today and join the movement! 

Walking in autonomy is not only dangerous for your marriage, it is also rebellious. Our relationship with Christ cannot be separate from our relationship with other believers.” – Marriage After God, Chapter 6

Dear Lord,

Thank You for the gift of Your body. Thank You for the gift of fellowship and friendship. May we be people who are motivated by love to reach out and be a friend to others. We pray we would have the courage and confidence to be people who welcome others in, who are transparent, who are there for others, who lift others up and who pray for others. Use our marriages to be an encouragement to other marriages. Use us as a team to bring You glory, Lord. Help us to never live in isolation. Help us never to be divided. We pray the enemy and we pray our own flesh wouldn’t get in the way of fellowship. May our desire to participate in Your body increase even more! May the way we treat one another be a light and an example to the rest of this world.

In Jesus’ name, amen!

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[Aaron] Hey, we’re Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God.

[Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

[Aaron] And today we’re on part six of the Marriage After God series and we’re gonna be talking with Tom and Heidi Celaya about the importance of Christian fellowship. Welcome to the Marriage After God podcast where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after.

[Jennifer] I’m Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife.

[Aaron] And I’m Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution.

[Jennifer] We had been married for over a decade.

[Aaron] And so far, we have four young children.

[Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media.

[Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith every day.

[Jennifer] We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life.

[Aaron] Love.

[Jennifer] And power.

[Aaron] That can only be found by chasing after God.

[Jennifer] Together.

[Aaron] Thank you for joining us in this journey as we chase boldly after God’s will for our life together.

[Jennifer] This is Marriage After God.

[Aaron] We just want to invite everyone that’s listening to leave a review. That helps other people find the podcast. It’s how iTunes works, it’s how all the podcast apps work. A review helps us get reach. And also if you would like to support this podcast, we’d love to invite you to go to our store, shop.MarriageAfterGod.com, and pick up a copy of our new book, Marriage After God. It’s what this whole series is about. It’s our newest book and we’re excited to get it into your hands. And yeah.

[Jennifer] Okay. So Tom and Heidi, thank you so much for being with us today.

[Heidi] Thanks for having us guys.

[Jennifer] People don’t know this, but we’ve been friends for a really long time. What is it like nine or 10 years?

[Heidi] Nine years, actually this month.

[Jennifer] Crazy. Okay, so why don’t you just share a little bit about who you guys are, how long you’ve been married, and how many kids you have, what you do for work, that kind of thing.

[Tom] Yeah, I guess this is my part, she said. So, we’re Tom and Heidi. We’ve been married 11 years and three months, four months, October of ’07. So we just yesterday passed our 14th dating anniversary, which she made me feel like garbage ’cause I didn’t get her anything and she got me a couple things.

[Heidi] I did not.

[Aaron] You’re like, I didn’t know we were celebrating our dating anniversary–

[Heidi] I was at Sam’s Club and got him a pair of shorts.

[Tom] Yeah, I didn’t know we were celebrating. And you got me cookies as well. But anyways, we have two kids, a nine-year-old daughter, eight-year-old son. And yeah, we’ve been living in our home currently for five years, and I’m in medical sales for a job and Heidi runs the house here and handles our crazy kids. So yeah, we’re kind of a normal, somewhat normal family I think.

[Jennifer] Awesome. Okay you guys, we’re gonna go into our icebreaker question, which, Aaron, you want to …

[Aaron] Yeah. What is one of your favorite memories of us from our friendship over the years?

[Heidi] Oh man. Favorite memory.

[Tom] I don’t know.

[Jennifer] ‘Cause there’s so many.

[Aaron] ‘Cause all of your memories are your favorite of us.

[Tom] Right, that’s the whole–

[Woman] Yes.

[Tom] I’ve got a few. I don’t know exactly which one I would say my favorite is. Gosh.

[Jennifer] I feel like when we think about this question, I was telling Aaron, all the late nights, all the late nights we spent at your guys’ island eating ice cream and just chatting and laughing.

[Aaron] They don’t own an island. Their kitchen island.

[Heidi] Yep. Thank you. I didn’t understand what she was–

[Tom] I was gonna say, one of my, one of the ones I think of and laugh about, because I think it’s disgusting, is the fact that we would go get ice cream and you would get a shake or a malt with half and half instead of, like, low fatter. I remember just thinking just, oh my gosh, that’s disgusting, I can’t believe he’s drinking that. And we would probably–

[Aaron] Yeah, what was it? Circus animal ice cream?

[Tom] Yes.

[Heidi] Yes, with half and half.

[Aaron] With half and half. Half and half cream–

[Tom] In Clairemont, yeah. And you would just, you loved it and you would feel a little sick afterwards, but it was, we were always just laughing about it for a long time.

[Aaron] It was so worth it though.

[Jennifer] I think that’s really abnormal. I don’t think a lot of people would relate to you on that, Aaron.

[Tom] No.

[Heidi] No.

[Aaron] You’re making me, I want one right now.

[Heidi] I think my most–

[Aaron] That’s a good memory–

[Heidi] Story of you two is how we were kind of desperate for friends, married couple friends, and when we met you at Fuse kind of offering, hey, if you guys ever want, we are about 20 minutes away, but we’d love to have you over for dinner. And you actually took us up on the offer and I think–

[Tom] A lot–

[Heidi] What was it, three to four times a week over at my house, and I loved it. I think when you throw out that, hey, we should have you guys over sometime, it never really ever happens and you kind of feel a little bit hurt that they didn’t take you up on the offer, but to have you guys take us up on the offer and for us to get so close and dive so deep into both of our marriages was definitely my favorite because I mean, we both put ourselves out there and opened up so much that–

[Aaron] Yeah, we loved that–

[Heidi] It couldn’t have happened otherwise.

[Jennifer] And I think we were in a place in our marriage where we really needed it too. So I think that’s really cool.

[Aaron] We definitely were, yeah. That’s what this episode’s about, actually.

[Jennifer] Yeah, this episode is all about friendship and fellowship and so we’re gonna dive into a quote from Marriage After God from this chapter.

[Aaron] And it’s walking in autonomy is not only dangerous for your marriage, it is also rebellious. Our relationship with Christ cannot be separate from our relationship with other believers.

[Heidi] So true.

[Aaron] Yeah, so that’s from chapter six of our book, Marriage After God, and the chapter title’s called Walking Autonomously Doesn’t Work. And when we thought about who we can interview for this episode, you guys were the first people that we thought of because in our life when we needed fellowship the most and when we were afraid of it the most, we found you guys and you found us.

[Jennifer] Well, yeah, I was gonna say, it was that you guys wrapping your arms around us and inviting us to your table at that marriage bible study, which Heidi mentioned earlier, it’s called Fuse. That was a turning point in our relationship and our marriage, and it just stands out to us and I think it forever will. And I’m just really excited about this because other people listening will be able to hear your guys’ side of the story because if they read Unveiled Wife or if they’re gonna read Marriage After God, we mention you guys and we mention your impact in our lives surrounding fellowship with other believers. And yeah–

[Aaron] Have they read what we wrote about them yet?

[Jennifer] No. But now you’re here and they get to hear from you guys. So I love that.

[Aaron] Awesome. And you guys haven’t read the chapter yet, right?

[Tom] No.

[Heidi] No.

[Aaron] Okay, good. It’s all good stuff, I promise. Yeah.

[Jennifer] Okay, so speaking of that night at Fuse where we showed up, our marriage was in turmoil and we were just looking for that last ditch effort, kind of like, what are we doing? We step into this bible study, there’s a lot of marriages and people there greeting one another and we’re like freaking out on the inside. Kind of look at each other like, let’s get out of here.

[Aaron] It was terrifying. Walking into that big old, a huge open room, and how many people were there when we came? It was like probably–

[Heidi] Probably 600.

[Tom] No, no. Probably about 350.

[Heidi] You think so?

[Tom] Yeah.

[Aaron] Yeah, 350 people. It was a lot. It wasn’t as full as it got, but it was pretty full when we came.

[Tom] Yeah.

[Jennifer] And anyways, we were trying to sneak out. We were trying to find a way to just walk back out the doors and Tom comes up and sticks his arms around Aaron and I and he’s like, hey, you guys new?

[Aaron] I remember getting startled by it actually. ‘Cause we were walking backwards, which I know is–

[Heidi] And he’s not a small guy either, so, big old mitts on your shoulders.

[Jennifer] So you guys brought us to your table and that was kind of the beginning of our friendship together. So Tom, you’ve mentioned that Aaron’s appearance at the time, he had plugs in his ears, he had a beard and–

[Aaron] Yeah, tattoos on my wrist.

[Jennifer] Not the typical guy you would have been friends with back then. But can you just share, what was going through your mind at that moment?

[Tom] Yeah, let’s state for the record, clearly I’m not a very judgmental person. At least I don’t think though, but yeah, at the time, just, here’s … I am the non-talkative one of Heidi and I’s relationship. To be very clear, Heidi loves the talking and doesn’t stop. So, and that’s just not my style. And so God has placed us in this marriage, which is a story in and of itself or in this marriage ministry where we took over this table at this marriage group, and he just blessed it. It became a huge group of probably around 30 people, so about 15 couples, and they really, what they wanted was 10 couples or 10 people at each table, five couples. And so we were big and it was, it’s something I loved. Most of those people are still friends to this day, but it was a lot for me and just how I like to operate, so yeah, I look up that night and see these two. And we are also one of the younger tables there at the time.

[Aaron] Yeah, I remember that.

[Tom] Seeing you guys walk in, I was like, oh gosh, they’re our age group. They’re probably our life experiences as of right now, whether it’s young kids or no kids and some are looking over there and thinking, uh, no thanks. I don’t know this girl who is an all American gal is standing next to this guy who’s got plugs in his ear–

[Aaron] A little weird–

[Tom] Short hair, a beard, all these things, I’m looking. Like I am 100% as I said a minute ago, I’m not judgmental, I was 100% judging and thinking, I would never hang out with that guy. That gal looks like a great friend for my wife, but I would never hang out with that dude, we’ve got enough people at our table, I’m good. And there’s those times that God whispers and you’re not sure it’s God, and there’s other times where you just kind of move. You’re like, what the heck is happening, because I don’t really want to be doing this and perfectly honest, that’s what was happening. Is I just felt the nudge and the pull, and so I got up and walked over and yeah, and you guys were ready to move out. You actually were on the way out.

[Aaron] You saw it.

[Tom] I remember Jen’s face was one of sheer terror, of, oh God, we almost got out of here and this guy just ruined it. And Aaron’s was more of a, okay, okay, good. This, okay, we’ll do it.

[Aaron] I needed it. I was, I needed someone to hold my hand in that moment because like, I wanted it, but I didn’t know–

[Tom] Yeah, so we moved towards the table and that was literally one of those, it changed our life, changed our marriage, and it was one of those things, I’m darn glad I got out of my seat and went and did it. Because not only was that good for us, but I can also speak to others who have zero desire to include other people or you know, you hear a comment a lot like, I have enough friends or whatnot, which I think is a bad comment to make. One I’ve probably made my own, but it moved me out of my comfort zone and changed our lives for the better.

[Jennifer] I love that you shared all of that. And so much of this book is about saying yes to God in moments like that where he nudges you or he pulls you out of your chair and you say yes to him and you do it anyways. And I’m just so you guys know, we still really appreciate that you did that for us.

[Aaron] Yeah, and we not only have written about it extensively, but we share the story often and we, a part of the, what we talk about in this chapter, specifically with what you guys did in our life is when you, Tom and Heidi, said Yes to God in that one little moment, which was a series of yeses, becoming the leaders of that table and wherever God had led you before that, you wouldn’t have known back then what kind of effect, lasting effect it would have in the fact that that one moment would not only turn into a lifetime friendship and relationship with us, but would also impact thousands and thousands of other marriages and people through your one act of obedience.

[Tom] Yeah, there’s–

[Aaron] So I, go ahead–

[Tom] We’ve met people, or not met, I shouldn’t say that. Actually, we have. People we’ve met and then also people we knew that years later we talk to or run into or Heidi meets randomly in a grocery store and like I said, she talks to everybody. We’re mentioned right, as you helped our marriage or you were instrumental and perfectly honest, we did nothing. We were fools, of sorts, used by God because we didn’t even know we had any impact on these people, let alone strangers, but then people we knew years later say, you have no clue what you did for us. It’s just, it’s humbling, it’s neat, and just to understand that if you allow God to use you, you have no clue what he’s gonna do. And probably by the time Heidi and I are in graves, we’ll have no clue what impact we had. But that’s what we’re supposed to do, we’re supposed to be used by God for his greater good.

[Aaron] Yeah, and I hope those that are listening right now, and that’s exactly why I wanted to interview these people like you is because people don’t know. They may think, what can I do? How can God use me? And you simply got up and said hi to us. Now, it’s lots of laughter and tears after that, but still just that one act of obedience, the fruit from that is exactly what God’s looking for from all of us and that’s, I just love that you highlighted that. So, man, I’m loving this interview so far. Is this the one we want to go with? Okay. So what kind of barriers do you think keep believers from close fellowship with other believers? Because that’s what we had. We grew in close fellowship with each other. What do you think it is that stops believers from making that deep connection and walking in obedience with fellowship with other believers?

[Heidi] Oh, man. Honestly, I’d have to say pride. A lot of times, especially with social media age, you want to give your best face, you want to show pictures of your kids perfectly dressed and their hair perfectly done and you’ll move things out of the background of the picture just so that way the background looks nice. But I think, unfortunately, I think people don’t want to share their stink. They don’t want to say, we’re going through this issue or I have this deep seated issue or they just don’t want their stuff out there for people to judge or question how perfect they thought their life was. And I think it’s uncomfortable for people to let down that wall and share who they really are and share what their marriage is really going through.

[Jennifer] Yeah, you guys have been really good at being an example of how to live transparently with other people, ’cause you guys were open with us and that opened the flood gates for us to be open with you guys because of that example. And I think it’s so important for people to hear, how would you encourage someone to walk transparently with one another? How do you do that?

[Tom] I think there’s another aspect to it too, is from a good friend who joined the group as well that said he was tired of bible studies with people that weren’t like him. And not necessarily weren’t like him as in same exact life experiences, but as I kind of said with Aaron, looked at him and thought I’d never hang out with that guy. He was always turned off by, well, I tried this group, I tried that group, it didn’t work. All those guys were nerds or none of those guys played sports or things of that nature. And there’s a constant, I get that part, but if you’re open to it, you might find that, as I tell my kids, right now in school, you may, there may be differences and clicks or different things like that, but as you get older, those things really do melt away. And especially if it’s a brother or sister in Christ, you have a really deep bond that many don’t understand. But there’s a part to it too, when you hang out with those who aren’t like you. For instance, Aaron, when you and I were in the men’s fellowship group together, gosh, you were obviously younger than me, but we were both vastly younger than anyone else in that room and just–

[Aaron] Yeah, I remember that.

[Tom] Stuff that we picked up from those guys who one was divorced, one was married, he was married but they were both from divorced families and kind of had a Brady Bunch type of union now. The things that I learned from that group, including on how not to talk to my wife and ended up actually causing some stress in my marriage when I told her how I shouldn’t be talking to you, even though I have been, then all of a sudden she picked up on what a jerk I had been.

[Aaron] She’s like, yeah, you shouldn’t talk to me like that.

[Tom] Yeah, it was a total backfire move on my part. But it just, the things you learn from people when you continue to give it a shot and be open to it. If you go in with walls, you’re gonna come out with walls. If you go in–

[Aaron] That’s good–

[Tom] Being willing to hear or listen, I think everybody can find that community and like Heidi said, if you’re willing to lower your walls and lower your pride, you’ll find out everybody’s just as jacked up as you are. It’s just different levels, ’cause no marriage is perfect.

[Aaron] Oh, I love that. And it’s like the, it’s this idea that recognizing what we do have in common, which is Christ, and being okay with that being the thing that we connect on because that’s what God wants anyway and being able to throw out those preferences of like, well, I only want to spend time with this kind of person, which is hard to find the right person. It’s rare that we have that kind of relationship, right. So I love that. How have you two navigated being a part of fellowship with the body of Christ?

[Jennifer] And maybe how are you currently fellowshipping with other believers?

[Tom] I got nudged, so this one’s mine. So we no longer attend a church where it’s facilitated by the church. So we met via a group that was facilitated by the church. And to be honest, thank God for them, they made it easy, right. Childcare and a building and all those things. So that doesn’t exist where we live anymore, and so, and we don’t attend a church that really has that. So now it’s become harder work. It’s no longer the ease of high school, seeing your friends every day and then you become an adult and go to different colleges or go to different jobs. It takes work for those relationships, and so that’s where we are now. It’s a lot of work to continue this. And so there’s an aspect of that that’s more rewarding. There’s also an aspect that’s more frustrating. So we totally get the part where continuing in this type of ministry or this type of group is not easy, but it’s so important. When we take breaks from it, I don’t want to call it a toll because it sounds negative or like it’s destructive, but the toll it takes on our marriage is seen. It’s very easily seen in that we just don’t vibe as well. A marriage becomes more difficult than it has to be when we’re not in fellowship with others.

[Aaron] So even if it’s not as easy as it was, you guys recognize that it’s still a necessity and a vital part of your Christian faith is that you must be in fellowship, whatever that looks like.

[Tom] Yeah, there’s something to it when people ask, I work with so many people who will ask like, how often do you and Heidi fight or what do you do this, or how do you handle this? And yeah, and I explain that to them. There’s a part where you share life with others and these can be people who are non Christians. Just when you share life with others and share your experiences, your victories, your struggles, that’s what we were created for. And again, if I’m talking to a non Christian, I don’t have, I throw God in there, but there’s an aspect for them too, that even if you’re not a believer in Christ, if you’re not fellowshipping with people who help you get better or can take some of the load off or even just share life with, you’re missing something. And so, yeah, there’s a definite need for us every day, if not at least once a week, like a marriage group that we have now, we have to do it or else there’s just a hole and there’s a window that–

[Aaron] So you’re saying is it’s just a basic, it’s the way God created us as humans is we need deep human connection, we need deep human relationships and that we can’t just walk autonomously. And then especially for the believer, we need Christian fellowship to be around other Christians to sharpen us, to grow us. That’s what I’m hearing you say.

[Tom] Exactly what I’m saying–

[Aaron] Is that it’s not something we can just, we can’t just throw it out. Right, that’s what, which is what a lot of Christians do. I use this word autonomous. A lot of believers are totally fine with autonomy because that seems easier. Like, oh, just, you can have what Heidi said. You can have this facade and long as you, let’s be cordial and we’ll be nice and all, we’ll hug on Sundays, but then you’re not allowed to know who I am, you’re not allowed to see the dirt in my life, you’re not allowed to call me out on anything, you’re not allowed to know that the dark parts of me.

[Jennifer] How do we grow and mature if we’re not letting people see who we are?

[Aaron] Well, we can’t.

[Heidi] We don’t.

[Aaron] That’s the point is, I don’t want to grow and therefore I don’t tell anyone or show anyone who I am.

[Jennifer] But a marriage after God wants to grow.

[Aaron] Exactly.

[Jennifer] So a marriage after God’s going to be doing this. You touched on a point about your church not facilitating that easy fellowship time currently. And so for people who are listening right now, what would you say is an action step for them to be an initiator in this, so that they’re not waiting around, waiting for an invitation or waiting for it to be easy. What can someone do today? What can a couple do today to–

[Aaron] Be the starters–

[Jennifer] To be the starters of–

[Aaron] Be the initiator.

[Jennifer] Yeah.

[Aaron] Do what Tom did and get up and walk over and put his arm around us.

[Jennifer] Yeah.

[Tom] Yeah, I think the first and easy start for me would be at a church you’re at, you obviously, if you don’t, if you go in and out of that building and don’t connect or talk to anybody, you’re doing yourself and that body a disservice. So it’d be just connecting very simply with people at the church. Again, maybe somebody that you have, when you pick up your kids from childcare, obviously there’s somewhere you can connect. There’s so many spots to just start there. The other might be just friends in general. And Aaron, you brought up a point, the autonomy. There’s something to it, right, where there’s a couple of good friends of mine who I’m not as extreme as this, but literally don’t like to talk to somebody. And it’s funny though when you ask the question, well, what happens when you’re out in public and there’s a Christian connection of sorts, like somebody mentions something or you see somebody praying and somebody mentions it to you. There’s an instant spark, there’s an instant connection because out in the world when you find somebody who has that fearlessness of being able to say, yeah, I’m a Christian, or lives it out in front of you, there’s a spark that you automatically have a bond. And so at your church, I think it’s the easiest spot to have where it’s reached out, somebody needs somebody or friends that you have now that you know are believers. Talk to them about getting together in a marriage study, whether it be one of your guys’ books, whether it be something on DVD where there’s a series going on, just starting somewhere or getting together on a bi-weekly basis just to hang, to chat. Because from that, as you guys know we used to do, we used to have dinners at the house, from that just hanging out, will spur those conversations and start something that you can then morph into, hey, why don’t we start getting together on a weekly basis or bi-weekly basis.

[Aaron] So true. I’m gonna take one of your guys’ strategies. You guys had an open invitation to us to come over to eat with you guys. And not everyone is gonna, like you said, not everyone takes you up, but you said, hey, come over. And we said yes. So there was times that we went over and you didn’t even know we were coming over. We just, we just texted you when we were around the corner. Was like, hey, hope dinner’s ready.

[Tom] You guys make it sound like that’s the exception. That might’ve been the rule, that it was, you guys popped in a lot, and again, we loved it. It was not, we do it to people now. We’ll just show up at their house with ice cream or something.

[Aaron] They’re like, uh–

[Tom] Yeah, their faces, they’re not happy to see us. And then it ends up being a half hour, hour visit and laughing and fun and then we leave, and we’ll get a, hey, thanks for stopping by, even though we showed up at the door. There’s been many wives who looked at me like, what are you doing here? So yeah, it’s–

[Aaron] Yeah. I think it’s just the, it’s not common for people ’cause we think like, oh no, you don’t want to bother, you don’t want to invade someone’s privacy. You don’t want to. But I think that’s what we’re supposed to do as brothers and sisters. Now, we don’t want to step over boundaries and be rude and be, but like actually go into, hey, I’m in the neighborhood, would you love, I’d love to bring you a coffee. Hey, I’m grabbing a doughnut, you want one? Or a breakfast sandwich or whatever it is, just to spark that. You guys were a great example of that, opening up your home to us, giving us an invitation to be over and actually following through with it and making a meal with us and making it a night. Like we would stay at your house until two o’clock in the morning sometimes.

[Woman] Sometimes we–

[Aaron] This was before kids.

[Woman] Yeah.

[Aaron] But yeah, I think that’s a great idea. Just starting where you’re at, looking around at you and saying, hey, there’s a bunch of believers around me. I should not be hiding. There should be no reason that I can’t go spark up a conversation and say, who are you? How can we know each other more?

[Jennifer] And in this chapter of the book, I share a story of when Heidi invited me over to her house for one of the first times that we would actually spend girl time together–

[Aaron] This is a good story, yeah.

[Jennifer] And I don’t want to give too much away because I want them to read it, but I basically said I was busy and felt the conviction of the Lord prompt my heart to call you back, Heidi, and I had to apologize for lying and I did go over there. And so I just want to share that briefly because I think so many times, we do excuse ourselves or justify why we can’t hang out or maybe we’re afraid or maybe it’s too uncomfortable. But I just want the people listening right now to know it is so worth it. It’s worth it to get out of your comfort zone and it’s worth it to build these friendships and these relationships with other believers because they will impact our lives for the better.

[Aaron] Yeah, just like you guys have impacted our life. And in what you’re saying, Jennifer, it makes me think of this. How many times have I said, hey, why don’t you call so and so and see if they want to hang out, and you say, no, they’re doing this thing today or they have this–

[Jennifer] I give other people excuses.

[Aaron] And I tell them, I’m like, did they say that? And she’s like, well, no. And I’m like, so they didn’t tell you no? So I think sometimes when we feel that nudge, that Holy Spirit draw to reach out and to call or to connect with, and we say, no, they’re probably this or they’re probably that, and we say no for people before they say no. And to avoid that, to let the person say no.

[Tom] To this day, that’s me and Heidi. I think one of the better compliments she was given, whether it was a compliment or not, was you’re a spiritual nuisance, because she doesn’t let, she won’t let you off the hook.

[Jennifer] That’s true.

[Tom] She’ll keep coming–

[Aaron] It’s true, Heidi’s got a gift.

[Tom] It’s truly a gift of God to her. It annoys the heck out of me sometimes. But especially when we’re trying to be somewhere.

[Aaron] But look at the fruit in your life because of it.

[Tom] Yeah, exactly. So I have to balance that when I do get annoyed and remember how it’s blessed me. But yeah, I mean, she’s very good at this and doesn’t, kind of tracks people down.

[Aaron] So cool.

[Jennifer] Awesome. Okay you guys, well, as we wrap up this awesome interview, in your own words, what is a marriage after God?

[Heidi] Honestly, I think a marriage after God is putting God first and not your spouse and not other people, not celebrities, not your own image, but putting God first in your marriage to bless yourself, bless your marriage, bless other people. Just really living for God and not for the world.

[Tom] What does that look like? I had a conversation with our daughter two days ago. We were driving back from somewhere and she says, so you love God first and then mommy and then us. And I said, yeah, it doesn’t make sense, does it. And she says, no, it doesn’t. Because one time I was a stupid dad and I answered the question honestly when she said, well, who’s your favorite girl? And I answered mommy immediately. To an eight year old at the time, that was a really stupid answer on my part. But I mean, it was just not smart because it broke her heart and I had to try to come back and explain that to her because she’s eight, she’s not supposed to completely grasp that yet–

[Aaron] I don’t have faith like that yet–

[Tom] But yes, sure, and a couple of days ago in the car, I said, it doesn’t make sense and here’s why. It’s because God wants your focus on him. But in doing that, he opens you up to everything else and gives you a greater appreciation, gives you a greater understanding and gives you a greater love for other things. And so by mommy and daddy focusing on God first, it allows us to be better husband and wife to each other and allows us to be a better mommy and daddy to you. Even though a lot of times you probably don’t think we’re that great, that’s what it does. And I said, and it’s hard for you understand, I understand that, and you won’t until you are married or have kids, but in the end, people have asked, why have we had such a great marriage. And it hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been the best decision I ever made in my life. And for a male to say that to another male, in our day and age is, Aaron, I’m sure you see it on people’s faces when you do it. They look at you like you’re crazy. And yeah, it’s the absolute best thing I ever did in my life, and we just, if we focus on God first, right, though Sunday mornings you don’t feel like getting up and going to church and you do and you walk into a sermon that’s on marriage and you get, and God just talks to you there. It’s putting him first whether you want to or not on that particular day. None of us are perfect. And then it just, everything else unlocks. Churches, I know I’m rambling. Churches know this fact. If they want to grow their church, they can get the wife, that’s fine, and you’ll get the kids maybe. But if you get the husband, you get the entire family and that’s how you grow your church number, and that’s a different topic, but again, if as a husband–

[Aaron] No, what you’re saying is husbands need to be leading spiritually and setting the tone in their home. That’s good.

[Tom] Yeah. Before you rudely cut me off, what I was saying is, if we as husbands lead, it’s infectious. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s infectious. The wife then follows, then the kids then follow and it’s a beautiful thing. And I’ve noticed for me, if I slip and I’m not focusing on God, my house slips. So long winded answer to your question is both of you focusing on God, it’s funny how the rest just seems to, not easily sometimes, but it does, it falls into place.

[Aaron] Good. Thank you, that was really good.

[Jennifer] That’s so good. Thank you guys so much for sharing with us today. We just want to invite everyone to take a moment to join us in prayer. Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of your body. Thank you for the gift of fellowship and friendship. May we be people who are motivated by love to reach out and be a friend to others. We pray we would have the courage and confidence to be people who welcome others in, who are transparent, who are there for others, who lift others up and who pray for others. Use our marriages to be an encouragement to other marriages. Use us as a team to bring you glory. Help us to never live in isolation. Help us to never be divided. We pray the enemy and we pray our own flesh wouldn’t get it in the way of fellowship. May our desire to participate in your body increase even more. May the way we treat one another be a light and an example to the rest of the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

[Aaron] Amen. So Tom and Heidi, we love you guys. We miss you guys.

[Tom] Thanks for having us.

[Aaron] We need to see you soon.

[Tom] Sincerely.

[Woman] Miss you guys.

[Aaron] And thank you so much for giving us some time today and in blessing everyone that’s listening. So hey everyone that’s listening, thank you so much for joining us on this sixth week of the series, and we look forward to having you next week. Did you enjoy today’s show? If you did, it would mean the world to us if you could leave us a review on iTunes. Also, if you’re interested, you can find many more encouraging stories and resources at MarriageAfterGod.com, and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

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