The Atad Tree in Our Marriage
Two decades ago I sat in the counselor’s office, hearing that I was not respecting my husband well. The counselor was very kind and gentle as he pointed this out to me, but it felt like he was taking a hold of my stomach, squeezing, and turning it inside out, until I could no longer breathe. I could feel my eyes welling up with tears as we spoke. My husband and I were in marital crisis, and now I was hearing how I contributed to it.
This was a pivotal moment in my life. I loved my husband dearly; he was the one person who had spoken the truth of God’s redeeming love to me when I was 18 years old. He shared with me a life altering way, a life of forgiveness and love because of Jesus’ sacrifice. Together we have journeyed down this path of growth and forgiveness. I desired more than anything to know and learn about God; to honor and respect my husband; and to be a great wife and mother.
Yet there I was, in a counselor’s office, hearing how I had contributed to our destructive marriage.
This past weekend, Brad Gray, presented us with a very important challenge as he told us of Abimelek who murdered 70 of his brothers, minus one named Jotham, who got away. Jotham stood on Mount Gerizim, and shouted a fable to the people of Shechem (Judges 9.1-15). It told of a thornbush or atad (ah-todd) tree that was anointed king.
The atad tree, native to Israel, is real and a menace. It destroys and sucks the life out of anything that grows near it. The challenge I heard was “Are there any areas of your life where you function like an atad tree? Are there any atads that need to be uprooted in your life?”
The words of my counselor echoed in my heart again.
“You are not respecting your husband well,” he said, “As a Christian woman and wife, you have assumed that to honor and respect your husband well means to not cause him hardships and pain. You are trying to protect and rescue him by doing everything in the home yourself. You believe that you are helping him because you know how stressed he is already at work. However, what you are really telling him through these actions is that he is not strong enough to handle situations at home. When you take care of everything yourself, you deny him a chance to grow into the man God has created him to be. You are his partner, his ally and his helper. Allow him to be the strong leader God wants him to be.”
I have worked hard on getting rid of this atad root. I am not trying to solve all the problems at home on my own. Together we share in life. I respect my husband enough to believe that he is strong enough to handle the stress of things here at home.
Have I uprooted that atad completely? I would say I am about 95% there. Every once in a while that atad takes root again.
However, our marriage and our relationship are 100 times stronger and so much better than 20 years ago. I thank God for his healing of our hearts and marriage, and how he didn’t give up on us!
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1.6
Janette Felder | women’s ministry events
Janette Felder is co-director of women’s ministry events at the Cascade Campus of Ada Bible Church, and she and her husband Stan also mentor couples within the church. For years she has loved working with others who are seeking a new and deeper relationship with Christ. They also enjoy watching their two grown children parent their own kids. Their four grand children, all boys, light up their hearts. Janette relaxes by caring for her flower garden, and being a motorcycle mama with her husband on his Harley Davidson.