I want to address a very common and extremely important concern that I hear from many, many wives.
When we as women have a history of being controlling, dominating, overly responsible, overly “helpful”, mothering and we tend to take over in our marriages, thinking we know so much better than our husbands – at first, we often approach the concepts of respect and biblical submission as tools to give us what we want.
- We may see these commands of God in Ephesians 5:22-33 as things that will “guarantee” us the godly marriage we dream of and long for.
- We may look at these new skills as a way to control/manipulate our husbands to make them love us and to change them.
- We may think that this is a guarantee that if we do these things, we can control God and He will HAVE to give us what we really want.
It is almost impossible for us not to do this at first, in my view, if our real goals all along in life have been to control our husbands and have a godly marriage by our definition and to feel loved. Then, when our husbands don’t change in a few days or weeks or months, we may get angry and really disappointed – multiple times. This is a very important part of this journey, in my mind.
If you find yourself wondering things like:
- What is the point of me having to change so much if HE doesn’t have to change?
- Why do I have to do all the work and my husband doesn’t have to work in himself at all?
- I don’t see progress. My husband is still distant and unloving. There is no benefit to me to work on my side of this marriage or my obedience to God whatsoever.
- I’m doing “everything I am supposed to do” but my husband is still the same.
… You are not alone. Most wives ask these questions at some point. The answers to these questions are extremely important. If we don’t answer these questions with truth from God’s Word, we will miss the ENTIRE point of this whole journey. THIS is a critical part of this journey where God refines our motives over and over and over.
If I am asking questions like these, which I have done on numerous occasions, it is a huge red flag to me. These questions reveal my true motives. WHAT AM I REALLY TRYING TO MEASURE? WHAT ARE MY GOALS? WHAT IS MY PURPOSE HERE? Until I clearly see my true motives, I am stuck and cannot keep growing and I can’t have the power of God to transform my mind and soul or begin to heal my marriage.
Do you see what my priorities and motives are if these are the questions I am asking? My discontentment because my husband is not changing and not being who and what I want him to be when I want him to be it and my anger about my having to work so hard without any “progress” reveal:
- My true goal is to change my husband.
- I am trying to USE God to get what I really want – a godly marriage, a more loving husband by my definition, my own personal happiness, control over my husband, to feel loved, etc…
- My measure of success is my happiness and my analysis of how my husband is treating me.
If these are my goals, I am probably still dealing with idolatry. My motives are still sinful. I am probably putting these things before Jesus in my heart. I want a godly marriage or my husband to change more than I want God. This is part of the process we ALL must go through. It is time to do a very thorough spiritual inventory of my heart. I will have to do this continually along the way on this road. God will continue to reveal more and more layers of sin and evil motives to me.
*** A reminder – if you are dealing with uncontrolled mental illness, drug/alcohol addictions, infidelity or physical abuse or some other serious issue in your marriage, please seek godly, experienced counsel ASAP instead of reading my blog!
What does it mean to see “progress” on this journey? Well – I think we have to decide what our goal is and what our definition of progress is to know if we are progressing:
Becoming a godly wife is ALL about my relationship with Jesus. It is not about my husband or what he is doing at all. It is about me realizing that Jesus is the Greatest Treasure in the universe. It is about me completely submitting to His Lordship. It is about me turning away from my sin and allowing Christ to radically change me for His glory.
Like David Platt says,
“We don’t come to Jesus to get ‘stuff.’ We come to Jesus to get GOD!”
In our Spiritual Warfare class this week, our Bible professor told us,
“The only way to overcome the strongholds of sin and of the devil and to resist him and his attacks is ABSOLUTE and TOTAL SURRENDER TO CHRIST.”
And I love what God said to Abram in Genesis 15:1 decades before God gave Isaac to Abraham and Sarah:
After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”
Until I get this… I am missing EVERYTHING.
My goal has to be to know God more and more. My purpose must be to have God! My motives have got to be to love, please and honor Christ (out of pure thankfulness and joy for all the mercy, grace, love and forgiveness He has lavished on me so generously) and to love and bless others. That is it. This takes time. It doesn’t usually happen in a few days, a few weeks or even in a few months. This is a lifetime process of me allowing and begging God to transform me to be more like Jesus.
SOME DEEPLY SOUL PENETRATING QUESTIONS TO CAREFULLY AND FERVENTLY PRAY OVER OFTEN ON THIS JOURNEY:
- Have I ever actually received the love, grace and mercy of Christ? Have I received Him as my Savior AND as my LORD? Have I yielded all control to Him? If not, I have got to start here!
- Is Jesus what I desire more than anything else in life?
- What are my deepest motives?
- What is the purpose of my life?
- What do I need to have to be truly happy?
- What is most important to me here?
- What are my emotions and priorities telling me about my real beliefs about God and His Word?
- Am I building my life completely on Christ and His Word and truth and getting rid of every ungodly thought that sets itself up against Christ in my heart?
- Am I willing to learn to be content with Christ alone? Are there other things I am still clinging to that are more important to me than Jesus?
- Am I clinging to bitterness? I have to choose. I can have Jesus and the power of His Spirit and all of the blessings that come from abiding in Him and obeying Him – or I can have bitterness. I can’t have sin and Jesus. Bitterness opens a wide door for Satan to enter my thought life.
- Am I clinging to pride, thinking I know better than my husband or I know better than God or God’s Word doesn’t apply to me because my circumstance is “unique”?
- Am I clinging to hatred? God’s Word says that I cannot love God if I hate a person, and that if I love God I must love people, too with God’s kind of love. I John 2 and 3.
- Am I clinging to materialism? Do I think I have to have money or stuff or luxuries to be happy in life?
- Am I willing to allow God’s Spirit to shine His light into the darkest corner of my soul and am I willing to lay EVERYTHING before Jesus on the altar and sacrifice it all to Him, holding NOTHING back? What am I afraid to trust God with? Am I willing to ask Him to help me to lay it down?
- Am I willing to face and hash through my deepest fears, deciding one by one that God is able to handle each fear and that I can trust Him and stop trusting myself? (this is a process)
- Am I willing to forgive my husband (and anyone else) who has wronged me, trusting God to help me to begin to work through that process?
SIGNS OF PROGRESS:
- If I am progressing, at first I will begin to see more and more of my sin as God reveals it to me so that I can mourn over it and ask for Him to forgive me and change me and I will want to turn from sin to God.
- If I am moving towards God, I will humble myself before Him and begin to see my sinfulness and His holiness in greater and greater contrast.
- If I am progressing, I will eventually see less and less sin in my heart and more and more of the fruit of the Spirit of God. I will repent of and turn away from bitterness, pride, self-righteousness, resentment, selfishness, impatience, losing my temper, criticizing my husband, humiliating my husband, disrespecting my husband, putting my husband down and me trying to control my husband. I will see an increasing amount of God’s supernatural love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control in ME.
- If I am making progress in God’s sight, I will begin to be very grieved over any trace of sin in my heart.
- If I am progressing, I will be less and less concerned about MY will, my desires, my plans, my dreams and my goals and I will be more and more concerned about God’s will, his desires, his plans and His goals.
- If I am progressing, I will seek to and begin to actually desire Jesus much more than anything else in life.
- If I am progressing, I will become much less judgmental of my husband and other people
- If God is at work in me, I will want to crucify my pride and eagerly embrace humility.
- If I am progressing, I will have a deepening understanding of what a wretched sinner I am.
- If I am progressing I will have a much deeper understanding of exactly how much my sin cost Jesus on the cross and I will be so filled with thanksgiving to Him that I will WANT to obey him and do anything He asks me to do out of joy, gratitude and love.
- If God is working in me, I will be THANKFUL that God is willing to change me first and trust Him to work in my husband’s life in His way and His power and His timing.
- If God is working in me, I will be able to accept my husband and love him even if he doesn’t change (I may not be able to trust him, if he has broken my trust, until we rebuild trust) – but I will begin to see him with new eyes from God’s perspective. I will begin to see him as a dearly loved son of God.
- If this process is “working,” I will be focused on what I need to change and do, not on what my husband “should” do.
- If this is working, I will see that I need to change the way I relate to everyone in my life! not just my husband.
- If I am learning what God desires me to learn, I will realize I CANNOT do anything good on my own and that I HAVE to have lots of time with God, in prayer and in His Word every day or I am going to mess up and sin a lot.
- If I am progressing, I will be facing my fears and overcoming them by deciding to trust Jesus no matter what happens.
- If I am progressing, the things of this world become less and less important and the things that are of heaven and God become more and more important.
- If this is “working” I will see God radically change my heart, my mind and my soul over time.
- If I am making progress, I am learning to take my thoughts captive for Christ and don’t keep dwelling on worry, fear, anxiety, what ifs, bad things or sinful thoughts.
- if I am progressing my love will look more and more like I Corinthians 13:4-8 towards my husband.
- If I am progressing, I will have an increasingly gentle and peaceful spirit because of what God is doing in me.
- If I am progressing, I will begin to hate sin because it grieves the heart of God and I will want more and more to please him and bring Him joy.
- If I am making progress, I will eventually feel the weight of sin and idolatry lifted off of me and I will begin to experience the freedom and spiritual abundant life of Christ living in me.
- If God is working in my heart, He will change my desires to be more and more like His desires.
- If I am making real progress, the things of this world will become less and less important to me and Jesus will become more and more important to me.
If I am making progress, I will see that Jesus is the Greatest Treasure there is!
I will realize that if I have Him, I have everything that matters! And I will know that if I had everything else in the world but did not have Him, I would have nothing.
Be sure to check out the scriptures J gave us a few days ago in the comments (I have pasted them on today’s comments also) about our identity in Christ
Learning to Respect and Give Up Control is a Process – by Nina Roesner, author of The Respect Dare