I am extremely thankful for Kayla’s post yesterday – how I wish I could have read it during the first few years of my journey! I know it would have helped me so much! We have different perspectives and ways of looking at things, and I love that! I like to share as many different wives’ perspectives as possible.
This is my perspective on my journey.
The first 2+ years of my journey felt like complete emotional and spiritual contortion every single day.
It was VERY difficult, awkward and totally foreign. I felt like I was having to reinvent the wheel and figure out almost totally on my own what respect, disrespect, biblical submission, godly femininity and being a godly wife meant. It seemed like learning a foreign language without a teacher many days! After about 2.5 years, I began to not have to struggle as much to know what was respectful vs. disrespectful and I began to be able to do/say the respectful thing a lot more naturally without having to go through a big battle most of the time. BUT – I spent those 2.5 years studying, reading, praying, begging God to teach me for several hours every single day and I read over 30 books on godly marriage during that time and biblical femininity. I felt like I was getting a college degree in this stuff!
In the past two years, I have probably spent way over 4000 hours (I would guess a minimum of 30-40, but many times 50 hours per week) writing about the subjects of respect, biblical submission, godly femininity and godly marriage. So – that has probably helped to keep me extremely focused on this topic, I would daresay.
Every wife’s story is different. Every wife’s timetable is different. I have seen some women for whom all of this seemed to “click” within WEEKS. But I have seen some women for whom it has taken 10 years or longer for things to really settle in their minds about becoming a godly wife and woman. There are MANY factors involved! Please check out this post to see how the stages often go (by Nina Roesner, author of The Respect Dare).
- Sometimes struggling on this road can come from sin we are still cherishing in our hearts: unbelief, disobedience to God, idols, bitterness, gossip, control, unforgiveness, pride, self-righteousness, etc that we don’t realize are still there. As long as we hold on to sin, ANY sin, we cannot have God’s power full blast in our lives.
- Sometimes we THINK we have stopped all of our disrespect (or some other sin like bitterness), and don’t realize that we are still doing disrespectful things we don’t even notice that are keeping us stuck.
- Sometimes it just takes time to learn and absorb so much. I often talk about, this process is kind of like “eating an elephant.” You can’t really eat it all at once. We can only absorb so much at a time.
- Becoming a godly wife is part of the process of sanctification, too – which lasts our entire lifetime – as God’s Spirit makes us more and more like Christ. We will not be “perfect” until heaven!
- My willingness to obey God and submit to Him plays a huge factor here. If I balk and rebel against what God asks me to do – I will definitely slow the process down dramatically – wandering in the wilderness until I am willing to obey Him.
- Other times, we struggle because of intense spiritual warfare – none of us are exempt from that.
These things are all part of the journey. It can be slow going at times. Or sometimes we may have to be totally still, waiting, for a long time.
For me, it is like I was trying to push a car in my own power before. But now, I am in the car and there is gas in the car and power that I didn’t tap before – God’s power. Of course, it took me a long time to figure out how to get into the car, to figure out where the gas pedal was and how to use it and how to use all the controls. I am sure there are still things I don’t know are even there! There is still need for caution and care as I drive and there are dangerous road conditions, car problems, storms, problems and obstacles.
Is respecting my husband and biblically submitting to him now easier than it was those first 2-2.5 years?
When I say “easier” what I mean is, I understand very clearly now, usually, what is respectful and what is disrespectful. I don’t have to agonize for days over if something is disrespectful or not like I used to. It doesn’t feel like complete contortion anymore. I feel much more fluent in understanding men, Greg, respect, biblical submission and godly femininity. Doing the respectful thing comes pretty naturally now. But I do need the power of God to do all of this. I cannot do it on my own! As you know, I reached my saturation point of how much time I could put into ministering to others a few weeks ago, realizing, my time with God was suffering too much and I was losing my power source. I HAVE to have Him and be filled with His Spirit every moment or I am unable to do anything good.
- Do I spend much time listening to my sinful nature/demon now?
No, not usually. Of course, that answer would change if I don’t resist his voice in God’s power or if I don’t abide in Christ! Or, there may be new temptations that come up later today for all I know. I know that temptation will come. I am not exempt from temptation. I am not exempt from being able to sin. I am completely capable of falling in any way if I don’t have my Power Source – God’s Spirit. If I am far enough away from God, I am totally able to crash and burn.
That voice is still there. Yes. But usually now, I immediately recognize the source and resist him and submit to Christ as soon as possible. I may have to take a break and stop what I am doing and go pray. That is ok! I seek to take each thought captive immediately and not allow those evil thoughts to marinate in my mind for hours or days or weeks or months like I did before. Only through the power of God’s Spirit working in me, I can see the lies for what they are and see the attacks and realize that if I cave in to those temptations, I will grieve my Lord’s heart so greatly and I will destroy my husband, whom I dearly love. I so do not want to do that! It is not worth it!
Now, I am able to see the price tag on my disrespect, and it is usually just not much of a temptation to disrespect Greg or try to control Greg when I have God’s power in my heart. I don’t feel tempted to belittle Greg, criticize him, yell at him, demand my way, try to control him, lecture him, try to be His Holy Spirit, demean him, berate him, scold him, etc… I know now that if I were to give in to those things, I would cost myself SERIOUS intimacy with Christ and with Greg and I cannot afford to do that. I would set us back months, maybe years if I allowed myself to luxuriate in accusations against Greg like I used to or if I went off on him like I used to. When God’s Spirit is filling me up – my old sinful ways repulse me, they do not tempt me.
Usually, within a few minutes (or sometimes seconds) of internal dialogue, I recognize sin and seek to nip it and turn to Christ and His truth immediately. There is greater temptation when I am exhausted, in pain or hormonal. And, I am sure, if there were some major crisis, the temptations could be greater as well. The old temptations to disrespect Greg are not as strong most of the time. I have new temptations now that are bigger issues.
- Is God’s Voice a Lot Stronger Now?
God’s voice is MUCH stronger now for me – but that doesn’t mean His voice is loud. I hear it more clearly now. I am LISTENING much more now. His voice is not loud at all. The voice of sinful temptation for me often gets progressively more LOUD, obnoxious, urgent, incessant, unrelenting and pressing if I keep listening. It feels SO IMPORTANT to act on that voice ASAP! The sinful voice tells me to do things that I would really LIKE to do – to “vent” or to “give him a piece of my mind” or say “your idea is way better than his!” or to “make things happen my way.” The quicker I can stop listening the better.
I can only hear God’s voice when I am very still – soaking in His presence, walking in the power of His Spirit, living in obedience, seeking Him with all my heart. Many times, what He asks me to do is stuff that I don’t want to do at first. Sometimes I don’t hear Him about certain things – like right now, I have not heard Him about exactly how to publish the book I wrote. So I am waiting until I have clear direction. I know He may lead me through Greg on this issue. So I just wait for God to speak to Greg or to make things more clear to both of us. I don’t want to run ahead of Him like I used to do all the time! God tends to say things softly like:
- “Go repent to Greg/his parents/your parents/your family/your children for your disrespect/pride/control.” I REALLY didn’t want to do any of that, but I knew God was asking me to, so I did!
- “Trust Me on this.” Sometimes if Greg made a decision I didn’t agree with, I would hear God tell me that He has it, and then I could just rest in His sovereignty and love, trusting the outcome with Him.
- “Stop reading your Bible and being mad that Greg isn’t doing a devotional with the family right now and go cuddle with Greg and the kids and enjoy them.” (That was SO OBVIOUSLY God speaking to me that night about 2 years ago. I didn’t want to stop reading my Bible. I hated watching TV. I wanted to make the whole family read the Bible and pray with me. But, I went and cuddled with my family and enjoyed them, reluctantly. How sad is that!? But it was the right thing to do and I have been focusing on being much more intentional to relax with and enjoy my family – not a big strength of mine!)
- “Write about this topic on the blog for tomorrow.” Sometimes, in the spring of 2012, I would say, “God, are You sure? I mean, if I write about THAT, no one will ever want to read my blog again? But this is Your ministry and Your blog and these are Your people. I trust You to bring whomever You wish to the blog and trust You to give me the messages You want me to share from Your heart. I won’t look at numbers to measure my success, but only my obedience to You.” I would expect the numbers to drop the next day as everyone decided not to read my blog anymore, but every single time that I believed God specifically wanted me to write about something very difficult and “controversial,” the numbers would surge later. I didn’t understand it. But I learned to trust God and to be willing to write about whatever He impressed on my heart to write.
- “Relax and be still. Stop being so busy. Just be still and know that I am God.”
- “You are spending way too much time in ministry, and not enough time with Me.”
- “Keep your eyes on Me, not on Greg, not on anyone else.”
- Many times, God speaks to me through His Word, or through a Christian song, or through Greg, or through other believers.
Tomorrow, I will talk about my struggles.