I am so excited to share this precious sister’s story! I cannot begin to imagine if I had a chance to start to learn these things BEFORE marriage. What a blessing!!!! I cannot wait to see all that God has in store for this young bride-to-be and for each of you, my precious sisters. 🙂
Thank you April for the opportunity to share what I am learning! Your blog has been such a blessing to me! It is honest, practical and refreshing and gave me the insight I needed to develop my spiritual self in preparation for marriage. I am grateful!
So a little about me.
I am really good at doing stuff. I am the first child. I am the child that came after miscarriages so I have also subconsciously felt the need to double my efforts. I like knowing stuff, arguing about stuff, learning new stuff. I am a lawyer. My siblings call me, “bossyboots.” I like to be in control. I have a plan for everything (which I document in Excel spreadsheets – totally over the top!). I overplan, I overpromise and I over-deliver. I am your typical Type A chick. 🙂
I met the most excellent man (hubby to be – aka HTB) and we fell in love and are planning to get married later this year. I have been consciously praying towards marriage and reading and preparing and asking married people questions. Typical Type A diligence. So I was not expecting to become undone! As we got closer to the wedding, cracks started to show. HTB started becoming angry easily. I would suggest things and he would snap. I would wear something and he would comment negatively. In turn, I became sensitive and started putting my guard up. In my hurt I said things (“fine lets break up” – yikes) and did things that I look back on with shame. In my hurt I allowed myself to be overwhelmed by fear:
- “this is not going to work”
- “this was too good to be true”
- “he doesn’t love me”
- “he is like my ex- he is panicking about marriage”
Mostly I got angry at God – I didn’t understand how this man had become “weird”. So I asked God to sort it out and change him.
I am not saying he is perfect – he is human and of course some of the miscommunication is attributable to him. That’s for him to deal with. God showed me quickly that I had to deal with me.
- I had learn what it meant to respect specific to HTB.
- I had to learn what it meant to be preparing to share my life with someone and be vulnerable to that person and to respect his vulnerability while respecting his free will and embracing who he is not who I want him to be!
- And mostly I had to learn to trust God. Like REALLY trust him.
Imagine trying to hold a prickly hedgehog that sounds like clanging symbols. Can you picture it? Yes- that’s what I sounded and looked like. HTB retreated and the more he retreated the pricklier and louder I became.
- I tried reasoning
- I tried faking it (“Okay, Darling, whatever you say.” Until he says the wrong thing, then I am back to prickly)
- I tried long legalistic arguments (he hated them)
- I tried (self-righteous) anger
- I tried tears (terrible),
- I tried Miss Independent (I don’t need you, so there!!)
- I tried ignoring him.
And finally after I exhausted me and him, I gave up and lay it all down and said “God- I give up. I need you. I love this man I want to be an amazing wife but I can’t even seem to make it as an amazing fiancé! I am hurting, I am lost, and I am confused. I need you.”
With hindsight, I wish I had started there – surrendering to God first. But we are never too late for God. He was so gracious!! As I lay there broken He started to show me things.
I read first about Hannah – and was moved by her honest cry to God. The consistency and focus of her prayer and the way God blessed her with more when she gave her all to Him. From Hannah I was led to Esther – how she replaced beautiful Queen Vashti because Queen Vashti refused to respect her husband. I looked at Esther – her patience, her use of deeds before words, the beautiful way she displayed honor and respect. And that gave me the breakthrough I needed to start hounding the bible on respect. I had read about submission and marriage but I did not truly understand respect. Then I found peacefulwife’s blog – and I started to learn, grow and change in huge leaps!
Although I love and respect HTB, I was unaware of the layers of respect I was missing. I never obviously disrespected him but I was oblivious as to how I portrayed disrespect in other ways. I would hear critic instead of his coded pleas for respect.
- When he said “I think your top is too low,” I heard “I don’t like the way you dress, I am going to control you.” What he was communicating was, “you are my pride”.
- When he said “You ask for people’s opinions before mine,” I heard “you must do what I want. Don’t talk to anyone, I must control you.” What he was communicating was, “I want us to be best friends”.
- When I tried to go around him to get something he asked me to wait for I heard, “you don’t love me. You don’t want me to have it so I will get it myself”. What he was communicating was, “trust me on this please”.
In all these ways I was undermining him and being disrespectful without being fully conscious of it! He was afraid of loving someone who could not respect him. I learnt the HARD way that respect was the gateway to love for HTB which is so different from me! Love is saying “I love you”, physical touch, quality time and all the cute things he gives/does to show me he loves me. For him, respect was love.
I loved Peacefulwife’s feature on fear – that really challenged me. I really had to come to terms with the unhealthy fear I was holding onto and with two terrible sins I was carrying – self-sufficiency and self-righteousness. It was so hard to have them revealed and yet so freeing. I am still working on them – undoing years of trying to be “in control”. I love that God is merciful and loving and kind and He reveals to redeem. I praise Him and thank Him for every small change! Some examples of my changes:
- I reviewed what I believe about God. I focused on his awesomeness especially in the book of Job. God presents Himself in all His glory!! He says at one point to Job 39:1 “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?” I love that line! Had I even considered the mountain goat? No! What do we really know about anything? Really? In the greater scheme of things what do we control?? I am no more significant than a pimple on an ant! I had to put me into proper perspective and worship God for who He is. The huge, magnificent, omnipotent one, the creator of the universe, the savior who died on the cross for me, the holy one, Alpha and Omega. When you consider Alpha and Omega v little pimple on ant girl, it is very clear who should be the center of my life, my praise and my worship!
- I had to make time for God. For me it meant making more effort on my quiet time which was a half-hearted attempt before. Now I do quiet time first before I speak to anyone. It’s not something I squeeze in to my day – it’s how I start the day. I also started waking up at midnight to pray – even if its 2 seconds of prayer my alarm rings and I say thank you Jesus you are awesome. I love how Peacefulwife covers her head! I think we all need a reality check on how we honor God!
- I learned to let things go!! If I get hurt HTB (or anyone else) I first picture my sins on the cross. My stinky horrible sins. And I choose to forgive and love quickly because I got the hook up from Jesus first. At the end of the day nothing anyone says can take me from God’s love (Romans 8:35-39). I have to find my security there and if He (God) is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow then that’s where I am going to investment all my hope. So in the greater scheme of things – something can hurt (i.e. HTB doesn’t call when he says he is going to) but I won’t allow it to linger. I move on – there are so many things to do for God’s glory, getting angry and planting seeds of unforgiveness is not one of them.
- I am quick to acknowledge if I have done something wrong AND not beat myself up about it. Type A chicks are their worst critics. I dropped the self-flagellation. I am not perfect but I am growing. I don’t need to be perfect. When I am weak then I am strong! The hardest part was asking for forgiveness from HTB when I saw how my disrespect had been so profound. It was humbling and he was gracious in his acceptance. And now it’s so much easier for me to say sorry and not carry the weight of guilt around with me.
- I am careful with words. I used to think and talk at the same time – half processed information pulled together into a babbling stream! What a headache! Now I follow the Esther rule: if I need a decision from HTB or have something important to say/discuss: I sleep over it for at least one night, gather my thoughts, make sure he is a good place (Esther was hardcore!! I mean two nights of fasting!) then say it honestly, succinctly and without obligation on how I want him to respond. Then pray about it and not nag. There are two core verses that I keep reminding myself of DAILY: 1) 1 Peter3:1-4 (win your husbands with your deeds not words and that your beauty should come from the “unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit”); and 2) Job 38:2 when the Lord says to Job: “Who is this that obscures my plans with words with knowledge”. Words without knowledge. Yikes. Babbling stream!!
- I focus on respect – hearing not just absently listening to what HTB says but really opening my heart and ears to hear him when he communicates. It has been awesome. I am learning to see him not my version of him. And to tap into his heartbeat.
- I am conscious of what I wear. I love how Peacefulwife talks about her skirts and wearing things that honor God and her husband. I am so much more focused on it now – I love clothes but now question what I wear and seek to make sure my outfit is worth of being HTB’s pride.
There is so much to learn but I am so excited to see what God is doing with my surrendered heart. I am so grateful that I fell apart so that I can be put together with all my brokenness into a vessel that is filled with God’s spirit. I love that I am not changing who I am – I am still a type A – but learning to use my strengths for God’s glory and to honor HTB.
I love this conclusion from Peacefulwife:
“When my faith is totally in Christ, good things are blessings for which I can praise Him. And when my faith is totally in Christ, bad things are opportunities for God to demonstrate His sovereignty and goodness and to teach me and to use me for His glory. I always “win” in Jesus. His perfect love casts out all fear. I John 4:18.”
How amazing is that? That’s a Type A’s formula to success!!