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The Respect Dare, Day 17 – Life-Giving Words

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Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.  Proverbs 16:24

We all need genuine affirmation and words of encouragement.

Nina Roesner shares a beautiful story in today’s dare about a wife who was going to The Daughters of Sarah classes that Nina Roesner leads.  This wife was thinking about not going that night because she felt like she hadn’t changed much in the five weeks since she had been in the class. She saw so much failure in herself.  Her husband encouraged her to go and very sweetly pointed out a LOT of ways that he had seen that she had changed already.

Wow.  That was a huge boost for this precious wife!

Don’t we all long for that kind of blessing from our husbands?  That they might notice all that we are doing to seek to be godly wives and praise and affirm our efforts?

  • Nina suggests asking your husband how you are doing as a wife.

I personally did not talk with my husband about what I was doing for many months.  He knew what books I was reading.  He saw me changing.  But I didn’t discuss it, I just prayed and prayed and studied and asked God to change me.

Keep in mind that it may take months before husbands notice the changes you are making – and some changes you make, he may not notice himself – but they are still important if you are seeking to align yourself with God’s Word and become a godly woman and wife God’s way. 🙂

A WORD OF CAUTION

I have walked with hundreds of wives through this process in the past year and a half or so – and, of course, I have been on this road myself.  Nina has walked with THOUSANDS of wives and has been on this journey much longer than I have – so I greatly respect everything she has to say.

But I know I personally messed up in this area = A LOT.  So I want to be sure you are very careful here if you ask for your husband’s evaluation of how you are doing so far.

When I had just read Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs – I started sending my husband LONG 2000-3000 word emails every day about all the things I admired and respected about him.  Then I would get REALLY, REALLY upset – to the point of being in tears – and feel unloved – when he didn’t send me an email back.

If you send a text/email/note about what you respect about your man, but you are in tears when he comes home and angry at him because he didn’t send you anything in return – the words of respect pretty much lose any significance.  Trust me!

  • Almost all of us want our husbands to notice every little change we make and make a big deal out of what an awesome job we are doing.
  • We want them to praise all of our efforts.
  • We want to know that we are getting an A on our “wife report card” now

Allowing God to completely renovate our souls and regenerate our hearts and minds, dying to self, being a living sacrifice for Jesus – that is all VERY tough work.  It is painful.  This is a life long process of sanctification that God desires every believer to go through to make us more mature and to refine our faith and character. It requires a lot of sacrifices to obey God.   Well… let me rephrase.  It seems like we must sacrifice everything at first when we begin to really commit to living for Christ as Lord.  But, the amazing thing is, we give Him all that we are, totally submitted to Him – and then He gives us all of Himself.  So, eventually, I realized that it was no sacrifice to give up the trash that I had in exchange for the riches of heaven.

But it is VERY, VERY tempting to want our husbands to give us a lot of praise and recognition for all the hard stuff we are doing to learn to be better wives.

In fact, it can be really hard not to say something like, “Honey, did you notice that I didn’t criticize you or say anything hateful to you ALL DAY TODAY??!?!?!?!?  Aren’t I the BEST WIFE EVER?????”

Or – “I wanted to say something super sarcastic just now, but I didn’t!!!!!  Aren’t you so proud of me?!?!!?!”

The thing is – not all husbands are going to be able to give us the verbal affirmation we desire.   And many husbands won’t praise the absence of negativity.  That is kind of the “minimum requirement” of respect (as Laura Doyle says in the Surrendered Wife- read in light of God’s Word, please, this book is not necessarily from a Christian viewpoint).  Doyle says –  “If you always used to run late for work, and suddenly, you begin to come to work on time – would your boss praise you for being on time every day?  No.  That is one of the minimum requirements of the job.”

WHY WON’T MY HUSBAND AFFIRM ME?

  • Some husbands are too wounded and still shut down.
  • Some husbands are afraid to trust that this change could be real, and they are going to wait MANY weeks, maybe months to believe that this new wife they are seeing could actually be reality.
  • Some husbands get more angry when we apologize for our disrespect and begin seeking to be respectful.  They FINALLY feel like they can say what they have been thinking and bottling up for years, many times.  All of that anger was there before, but we didn’t hear it.  They had lost hope.  Seeing anger in your husband when you begin to learn respect is often a normal reaction.
  • Some husbands are spiritually dead.  It is unreasonable to expect a corpse to sit up and give you a pat on the back.  If your husband is an unbeliever, or is very far from God and essentially “spiritually in a coma” – expecting him to meet your emotional/spiritual needs is very unrealistic.  By God’s power, you can focus on meeting his needs and you can take your needs to God.  But it may be necessary to drop expectations of praise if your man is far from God.
  • Some husbands get really excited and there is a honeymoon period – but then when they realize their wives keep messing up and aren’t perfect at respect right away – they get more critical.  That can be really tough for wives to deal with.

To me – it can actually be a blessing when our husbands do NOT give us accolades of praise as we are learning to be godly wives.  Why?  Because it forces us to examine our motives and to only do this to please God not to feel like we can control our men!

You can ask your husband how he thinks you are doing – but let me say – PLEASE DO NOT expect him to say awesome things.  If he does not praise you the way you think you should be praised – please accept whatever his response is graciously and allow God to work in his heart.  Just keep focusing on your accountability to please Jesus.

If your husband is a very godly man, he may be able to give you real affirmation and praise because he may understand how difficult this journey is.  But other husbands are not going to realize just how deeply disrespect and control go in a woman’s soul – to the very core of her understanding of herself and of God, and of her ability to accept God’s sovereignty.  Most husbands think we should just be able to “flip a switch” and suddenly be respectful all the time.  Not so!

This is a LONG process.  It involves the deepest core parts of our soul being radically changed.

MY SUGGESTION:

Do this with the sole motivation of pleasing, honoring, loving, respecting and obeying Christ.

If you don’t get the results you want in your husband, and you are disappointed – take that disappointment and use it as a signal to tell you to keep your eyes on pleasing Christ alone.  That is what I try to do whenever I sense disappointment welling up.

If you need affirmation and encouragement – look for it in a godly mentor wife you can trust, leave me a comment and I will give you affirmation and encouragement, and many other wives probably will, as well.

One day, when your husband is strong and healthy spiritually and emotionally – he will probably praise you.  But you can be content, even if he doesn’t.  Because you are NOT learning to respect him and honor his leadership to change him.  You are doing it to receive the praises of God when you stand before Him one day.

This is really all about you and Jesus.

Jesus counts the way you treat your husband and other people as if you are doing whatever it is you do to Him and for Him.

How scary is that!?!?!

Look past your husband’s shoulder – and see Jesus behind him.

Your marriage is really a test.  It is a place where you can learn to love like Jesus does.  It is a place where you learn to live by faith in Christ and where  you learn to respect and reverence Him.

Your level of respect and willingness to honor your husband’s God-given leadership have almost NOTHING to do with what your husband does or does not do – and it has almost EVERYTHING to do with your relationship with Jesus Christ.

  • Your husband doesn’t make you disrespect him.
  • He cannot make you respect him.  He can make it easier or harder!  But ultimately – this is about you.
  • You are responsible for your emotions, your thoughts, your attitude, your behavior, your obedience to Christ and your sin.
  • His behavior and sin against you just reveals what is already in your heart – whether the sinful nature is in control or God’s Spirit is in control. (Galatians 5:19-22)
  • You would act the same way towards any man you were married to – because that is what is in you.

The way you treat your husband is a tangible indicator of the level of submission and respect you have for Jesus!

THE DARE

Let’s give words of life and affirmation to our husbands!

Write down some good things your husband often does for you and your family and your home.  THANK HIM in writing today with 5 brief notes about 5 of his strengths.  ie:

  • going to work everyday = strong work ethic.
  • still being there with you = “commitment”
  • spending time with the children = being an involved dad
  • being careful with money and the budget = responsibility
  • talking with the children about character, behavior, etc = being a spiritual leader

Give him one note today (it can be a text/email if necessary) and one each day for the 4 days after today.

Men usually like BRIEF messages.

DO NOT EXPECT HIM TO SAY OR DO ANYTHING FOR YOU.

Just think of this as you are “watering his soul” and blessing him without any strings attached.

SHARE

Let me know how you are doing!  What are some things you admire about  your husband?  How do you plan to build him up today?

LUKE 6

41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

A Tree and Its Fruit

43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

The Wise and Foolish Builders

46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.49But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

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