Marriage Resoration from Michael & Paula Elliott

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Michael and Paula Elliott have been attending Calvary Baptist Church since 2013, and reside in Grand Prairie, TX with their two children.  You can find Michael ushering, and Paula singing in the choir, or serving together in kid city as well as any other ministries God calls them toward in the future.  In their spare time, Michael and Paula like to watch movies, play board games, hunt, travel, hike, kayak, and camp with family.  The Elliotts are also Group Coordinators and volunteers with Family Life Ministries, and have been for eight years.

God’s Restoration in Marriage

Paula and Michael Elliott celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary on July 21, 2016.  It’s an especially exciting milestone as the Elliotts almost didn’t make it into their seventh year of marriage.  Paula had been very vocal about her unhappiness, but before she decided to end the marriage, Paula wanted to be sure she had exhausted all her options; including marriage counseling. A police chaplain suggested the Elliotts attend a Family Life “Weekend to Remember” event.   Paula felt this was their last chance and was thankful that she didn’t have to convince Michael to go; he was willing.  Michael thought “sure why not?” Maybe Paula would learn something.  Michael says he ended up learning a lot about himself and his role as a Christian, husband, father, etc.

The Elliotts pinpoint that retreat as the moment their lives changed forever! For Michael, it was a work session where they go off by themselves to pray and write a letter to their spouse. At that time, Michael was going to church regularly by himself and "doing all the right things” (according to the checklist so many Christians make). While he was praying God revealed to Michael that he was doing life his way and not His. Michael said the prayer of salvation when he was in the 8th grade, but this was the first time he felt Christ's arms around him.

During another part of the conference, there’s a specific time when people can pray for salvation and or re-dedication. Paula had been under the impression that because she had been “saved” as a teenager, she was still a Christian. After she and Michael married, they attended church only once a year at Easter with her parents.  Paula realized that something had to change and it was then that Paula signed a card pledging to re-dedicate her life to Christ and turned it in.

Paula said God quickly gave her relief, healing, humbleness, oneness, and strength.  Michael admits it took about two to three years before things really started clicking for him. He had many personal issues to overcome that took a while; there was much that needed to be reprogrammed.   Since then Michael knows he has to pray daily, "today I commit myself to You," and if he doesn’t, he won't.

God illumined several verses for the Elliotts as they went through the restoration process.  Paula recognized her thoughts were so negative towards Michael and believed that she had married the wrong man.  Then Philippians 4:8-9 showed Paula that she should think about the positive things only.  Michael saw the verse as a reminder to focus on what is right with your spouse. Sometimes you need to make a list to remind yourself all the things that attracted you to them in the first place. Only thinking of the negative is like a splinter festering beneath the skin.

Ephesians 5:22-23 has been like a commandment for Paula to submit to her husband; trust in him and have confidence.  She tells herself, especially when she is upset with Michael, that when she submits to her husband, she is ultimately submitting to God and that makes it much, much easier. Michael points out that if you read it correctly, 99% of the burden is placed upon the husband to make sure everything goes right in the household. There's a lot of responsibility, and it can become overwhelming. The hardest part is loving your spouse even when you are feeling disrespected. 

During this time, Michael also said Ephesians 4:22-24, where Paul talks about taking off the old man and renewing your mind to think like Christ, became clear for him. That action is what we are called to do as Christians, and if we do, everything else will start falling into place. Simply put: work on our shortcomings, and don't focus on the shortcomings of others.

Paula says that God has brought her closer to Him as He restored her marriage.  He has not only made the Elliotts marriage better than it was before, but also blessed them with a daughter, and now she and Michael are building a legacy for their children.  Beyond repairing the relationship, Paula is more appreciative and thankful for her husband and this life God has given her. She is glad God chose her to be married to Michael, and a mom to their two children.  Michael points out the main thing is that they both now understand that happiness is fleeting and that joy is something different; they realize that another person cannot bring that joy but only share in it. True Joy only comes from a daily relationship with God.

Paula and Michael both emphasize the need to make God number one in your life and household. He’ll take care of the rest, your spouse, and you.  Michael points out that if you study the relationship of Christ to the Church you learn how your marriage is supposed to work. Marriage is what God gave Christians to learn about those relationships.  If we try to do it our way, and only look at what makes us happy, we will fail. Only when we live life God's way, we draw closer to each other; we need to focus on our shortcomings instead of focusing on our spouse’s. Paula knows she still has a long way to go to be the servant that God created her to be, but she believes she’s on the right path and He’s given her the right tools and continues to help her.  Paula says she had no idea that marriage was going to be so hard, but God restored the importance of seeking His face, daily.  We have to pray for our marriages every day, especially if they’re in trouble.

Michael says God restoring his marriage has taught him to love others where he previously didn’t.  That's what the two Great commandments are about; love God and love others. The main focus on restoring a marriage is focusing on God. There's a triangle illustration that is often used that shows the closer you grow to God the closer you grow to each other.  We all need help making it in this world, and God created the church to help with that. Part of what Michael suspects are missing for many couples is the mentoring or disciplining from today's church. Whether it is with marriage, parenting, work, or any other relationship; we all have something to contribute, and we all have something to learn from one other.  The hardest part is sharing your pains with someone you don't know very well, but sometimes the worst thing is to look for someone who only reinforces the negatives by taking your side, by agreeing with you, and not correcting you.

All the great marriages have two things in common: (1) Christ is at the center of the marriage, and (2) they all went through much suffering before they came to that point.  Although Michael and Paula endured five to six years of significant suffering; it’s when things seem to be at the lowest point that you have to dig in the hardest. Michael wouldn't trade those years for anything because he knows now what happens once you come out of the flames.  

If you are interested in learning more about the Weekend to Remember® by Family Life you may visit the official website or contact The Elliotts with questions at melliott2112[at] or via Facebook

Our mission is simple: Become whole-hearted followers of Jesus Christ. The people of Calvary Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, TX seek to fulfill our mission by accomplishing these four actions: See God - To experience God in fresh ways every week. Share Life - To enjoy biblical community with our church family. Serve Others - To manifest God’s love in tangible acts of service. Stay Connected - To remain in supporting fellowship during the pains of life.