(In case any of you are feeling discouraged after the posts about being an ungodly woman, and godly femininity part 1 and part 2)
I don’t want any of you to think that I am perfect or to put me, my husband, our marriage (or any sinful human) on a pedestal.
I am nothing and can do nothing apart from Christ.
I am a long way from where I was 6 years ago. PRAISE GOD!!!!! I have thousands of miles to go on this journey myself. I will always be learning and God will continue to refine my faith and to work in me to make me more and more mature in Him. God continues to work in Greg and in our marriage. I’m so thankful. We won’t be perfect until heaven – BUT – God can empower us to live holy lives where sin becomes more and more out of character and becomes more and more rare. Isn’t that the best news!?!? God will always be the expert. I will always be the student.
My goal is not to be perfect, but to love Jesus with all my heart, mind soul and strength and to seek to please Him because I love Him so much. It is all about RELATIONSHIP with Him.
Also, please keep in mind, there are some things about my marriage and my thoughts that I keep very private – things that I don’t even share with Greg or my prayer team, much less with y’all. Certain prayer requests, desires and some of the wrestling I do in my heart, mind and soul are just between me and God. Only God has the full picture of what is going on with each of us. If you try to compare yourself to me – you won’t have all of the information. Plus, you weren’t there to see how difficult the struggle was for those first 2.5 years. You are seeing me almost 6 years into this journey. I am in a very different place now than I was those first few years. And in a few more years, I will be in a very different place from where I am now.
I try very hard to be as transparent as I possibly can. But I only share my own sins here. Greg doesn’t sin a lot against me. But we are both human, of course. You are not going to see me talk much about his sins or weaknesses and any wrestling I do about that specifically. I try to be very careful about what I share and how I share it to guard my marriage and respect Greg and God. I seek to even careful how I speak about Greg to God and in my own mind and heart.
- I don’t ever want to discourage any wife who is beginning this journey. I don’t want women to condemn themselves or feel like failures or beat themselves up. That is not productive, and it is not of God.
If the blood of Christ is effective to cleanse me from every sin in God’s sight, then I must accept that His blood is sufficient for me to forgive myself, too. Otherwise, I am pridefully putting myself above God and saying that Jesus’ blood is not enough to cleanse me of my sin. That is sin! There is no need to flog myself anymore. When I belong to Christ, His payment for my sin was more than adequate. I don’t have to try to punish myself. Praise God for godly sorrow – that we can see our sin, turn from it and receive full forgiveness in Christ and we can be made right with God!!!!!! All because of Jesus!
(You may read more about what I was like before God opened my eyes and how He opened my eyes in the “about” section at the top of my home page.)
THE FIRST 2.5 YEARS OF MY JOURNEY
I struggled and wrestled with God and His Word for literally HOURS almost every day. I journaled. I examined all of my thoughts and motives under the blazing light of God’s Word. I cried. I prayed. I read around 30 books about being a godly wife and about godly femininity. I begged Him to change me to make me more and more like Jesus and to make me into the woman and wife HE wanted me to be.
During those first 2.5 years, learning to respect, to give up control and to submit to Christ often felt like extreme spiritual contortion or like learning Chinese without a teacher. I had no mentor except for the the books I read. It was SLOW progress. I hope I can explain this better this time.
As God changed me and His Spirit filled me more and more, temptations began to be more obvious – eventually.
- Before, when I was walking in darkness, I didn’t even notice the snares of temptations or realize why I was so miserable. I was blind to my sin.
- As God’s Light shone in my heart, I began to see temptations more quickly. In the Light of God’s Word, I was able (at first) to see temptation right after I stepped into it. Then I would repent right away.
- Over time, as He continued to transform me, God helped me to began to see temptations right before I stepped into them many times. And God gave me the power to stop before I stepped into the snare – sometimes, stopping my words mid-sentence!
- Then, in more time, God helped me see the temptations from farther away so I could avoid them completely many times.
- Sometimes I mess up. I want to repent to the people I offended and to God as soon as possible then get back up and move on. I want to keep short accounts.
THE PAST FEW YEARS
I have spent the last 3+ years writing (for 20-40 hours/week) about godly femininity and being a godly wife. I have the things of God on my mind and heart constantly. When I am not writing, reading God’s Word, singing praise songs or hearing sermons, I am talking with God or thinking about things God may desire me to write. That is a GOOD THING.
It helps me continue to grow, learn and mature as I write about these things, keep them in the forefront of my mind, meditate on them continually and teach them. God, His Word, Greg, believers and unbelievers continue to sharpen me. It has been a very good thing to know I am accountable to God, to Greg, to my children and also to my readers for what I think, say and do in my marriage. Knowing that I have hundreds or thousands of people watching my every move and motive helps increase my awareness of the importance of my decisions and how significant the consequences of sin could be. Do I really want to have to explain falling into a sin to thousands of people? YIKES! I also know that plenty of people will rebuke me if they see sin in me – and that is a good thing, too! I try to share when I get myself into sin – often on my Peacefulwife Blog FB page, but also sometimes in posts here (like the one about Triggers for Sinful Thoughts), so that I am transparent.
- I constantly monitor my thoughts as I seek to abide in Christ. I examine every thought, holding it up to the Light of the Bible and God’s Spirit to check it for sinful motives or sinful desires.
Often now, after just a sentence or two – God’s Spirit puts His finger on a potentially sinful motive or thought. When I see a potential sin or temptation, I stop. Here is an example: “Ooh. That thought sounds prideful. Lord, I repent of all my pride about this issue! I humble myself before You! I do not know best. You do!” I go to my prayer journal if I need to and write out my prayers and any confessions, temptations or struggles. I also share temptations I am wrestling with either with Greg, my prayer team or on my blog. I make myself accountable.
Repenting is WAY easier when sin is just a few sentences or a few minutes of thoughts rather than months or years of sinful thoughts, sinful words and sinful actions.
Of course, if I stop receiving nourishment from Christ, His Word and God’s Spirit, or if I simply allow my sinful nature to take over – I am perfectly capable of sinning. I can quickly take my sinful nature out of the tomb where it was buried with Christ, rip it off the cross, if I choose to – and it can go crazy. But when God’s power is flooding my soul, I hate sin. It repulses me. It doesn’t look very tempting at all. I long to please my Lord and to obey Him no matter what it costs me.
WHAT TEMPTATION LOOKS LIKE WHEN GOD’S SPIRIT IS IN CONTROL
- Now, a temptation looks like a bear trap that has a piece of juicy meat on it. The meat may look and smell good, but I can see the metal jaws of the trap. I can picture exactly what will happen if I try to take the meat off of the trap or step in the trap. I rehearse all of the consequences of that particular sin in my heart. Then God can give me the power to turn away from the temptation and to choose to obey Him.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21
Does that mean that I will never fall to temptation or sin? Nope! If I react in my flesh, I can sin. We all can. Is it possible for some temptation to blindside me and for me to fall? YES! I am very aware of exactly how capable I am of sin, how deceitful my sinful heart can be, and I seek to be vigilant to guard my heart and thoughts. Is it possible for God to empower me to walk in victory over sin? Praise God, YES!
I believe we will all always have wrestling to do. And that we will all need to evaluate ourselves spiritually on an ongoing basis – really, a daily basis – but then periods of even deeper self-examination. And we will all have temptations for the rest of our lives. Of course, temptation doesn’t = sin. The sin only comes if we choose the wrong response to the temptation.
Normally, the wrestling process happens more quickly these days than it did at the beginning of my journey, although a major trial may necessitate a lot more wrestling. My faith is much greater now – and that is a God thing, too.
MY GREATEST STRUGGLES AND TEMPTATIONS NOW:
- wanting to rush ahead of God and Greg and DO MORE STUFF for God. Sometimes it is a challenge for me to be still and wait. But then I remind myself that God can bring these things about in His time, and I don’t have to try to pressure Greg about them. God may have reasons why I need to wait. I rest in His sovereignty.
- handling those who oppose me in a godly way
- making sure I don’t put ministry above God, Greg or our children
- watching for idols in my heart
- whenever I find myself feeling disappointed or upset – I go write down what I am thinking and feeling to clarify my thoughts and examine my motives and pray before acting on things whenever possible
- watching for prideful, self-righteous motives
- monitoring against allowing any little root of bitterness – in fact a month ago, I struggled with some bitterness for days. That was unusual. But it inspired me to write about triggers for sinful thoughts.
- there are times when I speak a few sentences to Greg – then realize – OH NO! Wait, that might have been disrespectful! I apologize right away and try to have some time in prayer before addressing that topic again. I know I need to check my motives.
- when someone sins against me – depending on the severity of the sin – I may have to wrestle quite a bit with this, but I go through the scriptures and the process I need to go through to work through my emotions and thoughts and to extend grace, mercy and forgiveness
- when I focus on my needs and desires too much, I can easily get ensnared into sinful thoughts of entitlement, pride, bitterness and self-righteousness,
- thoughts sometimes pop into my head, “I wonder what it would be like to be married to so-and-so…?” And then I quickly think, “Ack!!! What am I doing!?!? I can’t go there!” And seek to quickly focus on being thankful for the blessing my husband is to me and for all that Christ is to me.
- responding to people in real life in a godly way who attack me with criticism and contempt is a much bigger challenge for me than responding online because I don’t have hours to pray before I respond.
- knowing that thousands of people are going to read the posts I write keeps me extremely humble. I am in awe of this opportunity. But the weight of responsibility and accountability is very heavy. I allow God to carry that weight. I know I can’t do this on my own. I am totally dependent on Him to speak through me. I don’t want to mess this up. I don’t want to hurt or discourage anyone. I don’t want to misspeak or mislead people. I want so much to point people only to Christ and His Word.
- when I am rushing and hurrying, I am much more prone to sinful thoughts, words and attitudes
- I do feel the temptation to want to control or pressure Greg at times (not constantly like I used to, just occasionally) – but usually God quickly helps me realize how counterproductive that would be before I say something – what a praise!
- responding with the right balance of God’s truth and love to those who are hurting – I agonize over this at times
- honoring Greg’s request of me when he asks me to stop being in contact with someone who may be consuming too much of my time. I hate to “give up” on anyone. This is hard for me!
- making sure I don’t allow myself to become overly emotionally/spiritually attached to other men – guarding my heart. One way I do this is to copy Greg on any emails to men. But, I also try to keep other men at arms’ length. I love my brothers in Christ deeply. I want very much to bless them. But I don’t want to foolishly fall into temptation
- balancing my time wisely
- not getting upset when we are running late (Usually, I stay totally calm, but there are exceptions! I know I need to be extra careful about my tone of voice and facial expressions in these moments.)
- figuring out how to begin to transition into treating our almost 13 year old son with more respect and less directives
- wanting to try to open someone’s spiritual eyes myself. It is frustrating at times. I have to consciously redirect my focus to God’s sovereignty and trust the person to Him, allowing Him to carry the weight of that situation and to determine how and when He opens each person’s eyes.
- being patient when the kids are whining/arguing a lot – finding the right balance of love, nurturing, discipline and firmness.
- men trying to flirt with me occasionally, I don’t want to entertain any ungodly ideas
- I think I do a lot better with tone of voice, attitude and body language these days – but Greg and our children would probably be better judges of that than I am!
- when I am exhausted, in pain, sick, or very sleep deprived, I know that sin will be a lot easier to fall into – the flesh is certainly weak!
- when someone is disrespectful to Greg, I want to jump in and defend him and have to wrestle at times with holding my tongue and allowing him to handle the situation himself
- sometimes, I struggle to come up with exactly how to express my feelings or needs in a respectful way to Greg on very sensitive topics – I have to pray a lot about this
- responding with grace when someone is screaming/cussing at me (at work or on the blog)
- figuring out how to avoid listening to gossip that someone is intent on sharing when I cannot leave
- when someone falsely accuses me of sin or wrong motives in the blogosphere or accuses my husband falsely, that is hard! I want to defend myself, but that just tends to make things worse – so I have to learn to leave it alone
And please keep in mind, if I was being abused or severely sinned against by someone – I would be wrestling over that a lot right now! Or if I was facing a tragedy or great trial, I would be wrestling for weeks, months, or years depending on the issue. Also, if I had been abused as a child or had a lot of baggage from my childhood or teenage years or an abusive marriage, I would have a lot more wrestling to do. Also, our children are not teenagers – yet. That is coming very soon at our house, though! And I haven’t entered peri-menopause yet. With each new phase and stage in life, there will be new obstacles, challenges and temptations. I want to put my trust squarely in Christ, not in myself!
Please pray with me that God might cause me to be faithful to Him and that I would be a good steward of all that He has entrusted to me. I appreciate and need your prayers! And I will continue to pray the same for you. 🙂