Family Bytes

When Your Marriage is Spiritually Mis-matched : A Hope Member's Story

Relationships are messy, because people are messy. Add in different belief systems and the relationship puddles become especially muddy -- especially within a marriage.

Being in a spiritually mis-matched marriage is hard. But it's a scenario many Christians around the world live in.

Read Hope Church member and small group leader, Christy Edney's story of finding Hope within a spiritually mis-matched marriage.


I met my husband at eighteen years old, married by twenty-one, and I became a mom by twenty-two. The moment my son was born I knew that I wanted to raise him differently than I'd been raised. That meant finding a church home.

"But women will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety." (1 Timothy 2:15)

I asked my husband for permission to find a church and take our son with me. He agreed, but promised that he would never come along or participate.

That conversation happened over twelve years ago.

I visited only one church before I was invited to Hope by my parents who were attending with their friends. I still remember that first morning, nearly twelve years ago. I sat in the gym and listened to the worship songs then Craig stepped up to preach and God spoke directly to me. I knew that I was home.

There was an upcoming IHS class and I signed up that very morning. The next week I walked alone into that classroom and sat down as a shy and frightened young mom. At the end of IHS we were asked to share a little of our faith story, and I openly talked about coming to church alone. That's where I met Terry Hoff and his wife, they were both so kind to that shy little mom.

In the following weeks and months I packed my son up every Sunday and headed to Hope on my own. My parents had stopped attending, so it was just myself and my son. During those early days I would sit in the chair, look at the happy couples surrounding me and cry.

One morning, after crying through every worship song, a lady in front of me turned around and handed me a stone with the word “Hope” printed on it. She smiled with kindness that reaffirmed I was still home.

One other Sunday during those early years Terry Hoff appeared, sat next to me and said,

"that chair next to you may seem empty … but it's not. The Holy Spirit is always here with you."

That bit of encouragement gave me strength to walk through those doors alone again and again.

I will admit, those early years were hard – really hard. I tried plugging into the Hope community through volunteering in the Children's Ministry, but out of respect for my husband, I limited time spent in church activities. The problem was if I volunteered then I would not hear the sermon that day and I was in desperate need of God's Word. In an effort to find community where I wouldn’t miss the sermons, I looked through the Hope website for a small group or community that could help me navigate my journey as a spiritually mis-matched wife.

But I never found it.

I continued to come to Hope every Sunday but I sought community and biblical education through daily reading in the Bible or studies by authors like Lysa Terkeurst, Beth Moore and many others. After I had read just about every book I could find on the spiritually mis-matched subject, God led me to one called Winning Him Without Words: 10 Keys to Thriving in Your Spiritually Mist-Matched Marriage. Through this book and the word of God, I learned that if I was willing then God would use me to positively impact every area of my marriage and home.

"For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:14-16)

Eventually, my husband slowly noticed a change in me and came to accept my new identity as a Christian. Around that same time, God pushed me out of my comfortable, but solitary Sunday morning seat. He directed me to a women's ministry small group.

I only attended three of those meetings before I was plucked out and encouraged to lead a group of my own. Through that role as a leader, I have learned the value of community. God uses my small group structure to grow authentic friendships and spiritually mature those with a teachable spirit. (Matthew 18:20, Proverbs 27:17)

It is one of the most important commitments that I've made along my spiritual journey. Second only to my decision to become a sold-out follower of Jesus Christ.

There is not enough room on this page to tell you how God has transformed my character and my marriage. I can say with complete conviction that God alone has saved me, my marriage and my children. God-willing, one day, my husband will make the same decision to follow Christ and he will join me in that Sunday morning seat at Hope.

I can also say that if you're like me, attending without your spouse, please know that you are not alone! Hope is a place for all of us and you can find community within our congregation. You are welcomed and wanted – with or without your spouse!

Whether your story is similar to Christy's or not, we believe every family needs at least one Christian leader. So join the Marriage & Family department this November for a two week series called "Becoming the Christian Leader in your Home." More information coming soon.

Becoming the Christian Leader in Your Home
Nov. 6 & 13th - Room 224 at 11:15am

Posted by Freddie Albaugh at 6:00 AM
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