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Stages of This Journey – Part 2

Dirt Road with Maple Trees in Winter Sunrise

In Part 1, we talked about the beginning stages of the journey to becoming a godly wife

  1. Conviction
  2. Repentance
  3. The Frustrating Quiet Phase
  4. Seeking God First (tearing out idols and making Christ Lord)

Today, let’s continue on…  But please know that these stages are not always linear.  We cycle through some of them over and over again at times as we grow.  Some of them happen at the same time.  This is a refining process. We stumble at times.  We may not always be moving forwards.  That is normal.  But we continue to repent, get back up, seek God first and desire to obey Him above all else.  This is a LONG journey of many thousands of miles that we walk by foot.  It is not an instant thing.  You will not be the most godly wife in 1 day or 1 week or 1 month.  This is a process of many, many months and years.

5.  GIVING HIM SPACE

Giving our husbands more space is not usually a permanent phase in some ways.  It is possible it could be a long term thing, but once your husband begins to approach you and close that gap – then it is time to find a new balance and level of connection.

  • The permanent part is that we don’t make them idols again – as soon as we notice we are feeling disappointed in them, we check our motives to be sure we are only seeking our contentment in Christ, not in our husbands.

At first, we may give a little “too much space” – but that is ok.  It is important for us to do this, in my view, as we spend more time with God and try to learn and figure out how to stop disrespect and control and how to begin to be respectful and learn to be godly followers.

Giving more space is part of tearing out the idols of “trying to control our husbands,” “wanting to feel loved” and “wanting them to meet the needs we have that only Christ can meet” as well as our idols of “romance.”

If you had been smothering your husband, constantly calling/texting/emailing, expecting him to call/text/email/pursue you… if you have been pursuing him constantly and are being rejected often – then you may need to give him space so that he can breathe and begin to hear God’s voice himself again and so that you can be sure he has the freedom to make his own decisions.

The Separation-Leads-to-Greater- Intimacy  Paradox

6.  FEELING TOTALLY OVERWHELMED

Eventually, every wife feels overwhelmed in this process – not just once – but many times.  This can happen at any point along the way.

When you feel this way.  It is actually a good thing!  It usually means that

  • it is a flag that you are attempting to do this in your own strength
  • you may be allowing perfectionism to take over (that is an idol in and of itself, too!)
  • you may be trying to tackle too much at once – there is only so much you can learn and change at one time usually
  • you NEED Christ to be able to do this!!!!!!  Discouragement, discontentment and frustration are signals to set our eyes back on Jesus.

So, it’s time to slow down, breathe, and focus on Jesus.

  • You are going to basically have to “eat an elephant” on this journey.  You can’t do it all in one day or one week or one month.
  • Absorb what you can.
  • Allow God to change you.
  • Take a nap if you are exhausted
  • Take a break from studying about respect and biblical submission for a few days or a week or two as you regroup, but continue with Bible study and prayer and submitting fully to Christ.
  • Focus on a few things at a time.  If possible, you can ask your husband for the 3 biggest things he’d like you to stop doing and the 3 biggest things he’d like you to start doing.  Don’t argue.  Don’t justify yourself or explain why you were doing what you were doing before.  Thank him for his wisdom and insights and then get to work focusing on those things.  He may need a few days to think about those things, that is ok.  If he can’t verbalize what he needs, you can look at the lists at the top of my home page about what is disrespectful and respectful and begin to tackle those.  Some wives print out the lists and ask their husbands to check the things that would be the most meaningful to them.
  • If you are doing this in your own strength or you find ungodly motives or idols, repent and fix your eyes back on Christ

7.  LEARNING TO USE WORDS AND EMOTIONS TO BLESS – coming out of the quiet phase

As we get better at  NOT saying the negative sinful things, we can also begin to learn to speak this new language of respect.  We begin to learn to use words that genuinely and sincerely affirm, encourage, praise, build up and bless.   We are beginning to be able to speak with wisdom and discretion and to know when it is best to be silent and how and when to use words to edify.

This is going to feel foreign and awkward.  Much like learning to speak a new language.  At first, you will want to go back to your “native language” of disrespect because it feels normal and natural.  But, in time, as you practice this new language, eventually it will feel normal and natural and  your old sinful language will feel awkward and foreign and awful!

We still may not talk as much as we used to when we were stressed, worried, afraid, trying to control everything.  But we begin to find beautiful things to talk about, good things, and we begin to verbalize our positive feelings:

  • I’m so glad you are here
  • I love being your wife
  • I feel so full of joy today
  • I am overwhelmed by how blessed I am
  • I feel like the happiest woman on the planet!
  • I love  spending time with you
  • Thanks for listening to me
  • Thanks for eating supper with the kids and me
  • I appreciate how hard you work and how well you provide for us.
  • I love your strong work ethic
  • Thank you for your godly influence on our children
  • Thank you for being such an involved, loving father
  • I appreciate your wisdom and your willingness to share your ideas with me
  • Thank you for your leadership

By the way – I began to thank Greg for his leadership long before he began to lead.  I stepped down first.  I began to thank him for carrying the weight of responsibility, accountability before God and leadership before God in our marriage.  I thanked him for carrying that weight that was too heavy for me.  I told him I trusted him to lead us.  I told God I trusted Him to lead me through Greg and if God wanted me to do something, He would figure out how to lay it on Greg’s heart.  I told God I would not run ahead or take control anymore but just wait on God and Greg to lead me.  I told God I would be content to wait right there until I was 80 years old if I had to, but I was going to follow Greg, not lead anymore.

This involves A LOT of waiting.  I was pretty awful at waiting and possibly one of the most impatient people on the planet before.  But, thankfully, there is much to learn in the waiting and, eventually, waiting becomes sweet.

8. FINDING CONTENTMENT IN CHRIST ALONE

We begin to recognize disappointment, discontent and negative feelings as flags to help us evaluate our motives and set our eyes back on Christ to find our joy.

9. DYING TO SELF

We lay down our desires, our dreams, our plans, our goals, everything we have, everything we are, our wisdom, our lives – at Jesus’ feet.  We nail our old sinful nature to the cross to die with Christ and to be buried with Him.  We give Him all that we are.  We are “living sacrifices” for Him every day.  We learn to say in sincerity in every area of our lives, “Not my will but Yours be done.”

We put on our new self in Christ.  Then, we pick up Jesus’ desires, His dreams, His plans, His goals, His priorities, His wisdom, His identity, His heavenly riches and we seek His greatest glory.  This becomes the focus of our lives.

Now, our lives are all about Jesus, not about us.

  • We do lose our old sinful selves.  We die to that old self. (Eph 4:20-24, Romans 6:6, Galatians 5:24)
  • But we gain our new selves in Christ.  We put on “the new man” in Christ.

10. DEVELOPING A GRATEFUL HEART

We focus on Philippians 4:8 and on being thankful in everything.

  • Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

We focus on obeying God’s command in Philippians 2:14-16 to do all things without complaining or arguing.     Complaining comes from an ungrateful spirit.  That does not ever honor God.  Arguing comes from pride – thinking I am always right.  We focus now on humility and thankfulness as we learn to praise God in every situation and trust His sovereignty and His wisdom not our own.

  • Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Phil.2:14-16 

We learn to look for the good and focus on the good in our husbands and in life in general.

We begin to speak up about the things we are thankful for, the things that are good, the things we admire, the things we see that are beautiful and praiseworthy in our husbands, in our children, in those around us, in our day, in life – and we begin to become genuinely thankful women.

The sinful thoughts happen less and less frequently and when they do pop up, we recognize them more quickly and know how to shoot them down and not dwell on them when we have God’s Spirit empowering us.

11. TAKING EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE

The only way to truly become a godly wife is to allow God to change your mind, heart and soul completely.  A big part of this is learning to capture each thought and evaluate it against the truth of God’s Word and reject sinful thoughts, only holding on to the godly, biblical thoughts.

This means you will have to recognize your thoughts.  For me, I had to write down the “tapes” that would play over and over in my head.  Then I had to compare what I was saying to myself with God’s Word.  I had to replace the lies and sin with the truth of God’s Word.

Eventually, the sinful “tapes” stop playing in our minds all the time.  The worry, resentment, fear, bitterness, etc… go away as we kick them out and as we replace those thoughts with meditating on God’s Word, memorizing scripture, meditating on worship songs that exalt Christ…

One day, you realize that there is no constant chatter going on in your head and that you are not worrying anymore – and there is this amazing calm in your soul – God’s peace!

WOW!

God is REALLY addictive!  In the BEST way! You will want to do anything to keep God’s peace flowing in your heart.   We can do this by staying in God’s Word, seeking Him first, repenting of every sin as soon as we are aware of it, and focusing on learning more about God’s sovereignty and being thankful.

12. FEELING DISCOURAGED BECAUSE YOUR HUSBAND “ISN’T CHANGING”

When our husbands don’t change right away, we can easily think, “Respect doesn’t work on my husband.”  But this long time of focusing on becoming a godly wife while not seeing changes in our husbands is often good for us.  God refines our motives during this time.

As soon as you think, “Why should I do all this work and he doesn’t have to do anything?!?!”  or “Why should I have to change first?” Let that be your flag to remember why you are doing this.

  • You are doing this to please and honor and obey Christ.  You are doing this to bless your husband.

If these are not our only motives, there is work to do in prayer. It is a good thing to desire a healthy marriage and close intimacy with our husbands. But our ultimate goal must be Christ!

God and your husband will handle your husband.  Husbands will not instantaneously change in most cases.  That’s ok.  We can decide to accept, love, respect and honor our husbands as they are right now – even if they never change.  That is the kind of love God desires us to have toward everyone.  We learn to love unconditionally and respect unconditionally just because God asks us to, not because we think the other person “deserves it” or because we will get something in return.

This is a fantastic opportunity to commit yourself to obeying God’s commands for you as a wife no matter what your husband does or does not do.  And it is a great chance to learn to love with the unconditional agape love of God.  It is also quite a peek into God’s heart to see how He loves us even when we don’t love Him in return.

This is also a good chance to look to see if there are still ways you may be unintentionally disrespecting your husband (tone of voice, pressuring him to do things, body language, scowling, sighing, rolling your eyes, etc…)

STAGES OF THIS JOURNEY

Part 1

Part 3

Part 4

RELATED:

Nina Roesner’s description of stages of this journey to become a godly wife

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