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"Being Vulnerable and Direct Feels Wrong!"

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I’m going to share one wife’s “gut reactions”  to the list I gave of ways we can speak and communicate directly and honestly. It’s worth the time to really hash through these objections in our self-talk together. My original statements from a post last month about how to directly communicate our needs and desires are in bold. Keep in mind, when you read the statements I am sharing – that I am talking about a wife sharing these statements with pure motives, respect, a genuine smile, and a pleasant tone of voice. I am also talking about a wife sharing difficult things only after much prayer and in the wisdom and direction of the Holy Spirit. I don’t intend to say that we should share out of selfish or sinful motives.

I greatly appreciate this wife allowing me to share her thoughts – (they are in red):

 

1. “I need this, please.”

(Yikes! Do not tell anyone what you need or you will sound needy! And whiny. And do you really need it? No. Be grateful for what you already have.)

If I were being whiny, I would repeat myself over and over again and verbally try to force other people to do what I wanted and I would continue to verbally pressure them until they did what I wanted them to do. That is not a godly approach. But to share my desire or need one time in a pleasant way (or to share when needed, not in a nagging way) – is perfectly acceptable. There are a lot of verses that tell us to ask for what we need and desire – but that we are to do so with godly motives, not sinful motives.

Verses about asking for things

There are times we genuinely do need things. I think it is important to differentiate between a need and a want. There are things I want that I can live without. But there are some things I truly need – or that others truly need. We all do have legitimate needs – air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, shelter, love, acceptance, purpose, forgiveness, grace, help, etc…

2. “I would really love to do that.”

(Maybe someday. Maybe after everyone else has their turn it would be okay to say what you’d love to do. Otherwise you risk upsetting someone who wants to do something else. But do not tell anyone or you’ll sound selfish and demanding.)

Perhaps you are thinking of this passage:
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

But let’s read that closely. The key is that we don’t do something from selfishness, not that we have needs or desires. We are to think about others and their needs, considering other people more than we consider ourselves. But look at the last part, it doesn’t say, “don’t look out for your own interests and only look out for the interests of others.” We are allowed to look out for our interests – but we are not to do so in a selfish way or with sinful motives. And, ultimately, we are to seek God’s will above our own.

3. “I don’t like X.”

(So what? Am I queen of the world? We all have to deal with things we don’t like. Deal with it!)

God never says that we cannot have our own opinions, desires, preferences, and emotions. We are free to express them to Him and to others – again, as long as we do so with pure motives and we don’t try to force our way on others.

It is not sin for me to say, “I prefer Japanese food.”  Or “I don’t like being around a lot of cigarette smoke.” Or, “I don’t like for my children to see movies that are over PG.” Or, “I don’t like that color for the dining room – I like this other color the best.”

If others don’t agree, over the color of the paint for the walls at church – I can submit myself to whatever they would like and not cause a fuss. If my husband and I don’t agree on a paint color, I can decide to selflessly allow him to choose the color he prefers. But there is nothing wrong with me stating my preference calmly and respectfully. If we can’t agree, I may decide to acknowledge that the color of the room isn’t a big thing in the light of eternity.

4. “I want Y, please”

(Oh my goodness! This is the worst one on the list. Do not tell people want you want. Again, selfish. Begging. It’s worse than being forced to tell someone what you’d like for a gift. Who begs for gifts? This list is insane! This list is starting to frustrate me…)

God invites us to share our desires with Him. Jesus certainly expressed that He didn’t want to go to the cross. But then He submitted Himself to God’s will. Prayer is about our praising God, thanking Him, confessing our sins – but then it is about our sharing our desires and our seeking to line up our desires with the desires and will of God. As we approach God in prayer with our desires and seek His desires above our own, He helps transform our desires to match His own. But there is nothing wrong with us asking God for what we desires if our motives are pure.

James 4:1-10 is all about this. We don’t have because we don’t ask God, and when we do ask, we ask with wrong motives, that we might spend what we get on our own pleasures. The problem is not that we shouldn’t ask for what we want. God invites us over and over to ask of Him. But we do need to watch our motives.

Those who came to Jesus for healing, He often asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” And then, whatever they asked Him for, He would do for them. He healed them. There is no one I can think of who asked Jesus to heal them whom Jesus ultimately refused.

I can say,

  • “I really want another baby.”
  • “I want to spend some time together this week, Honey.”
  • “I want to think about changing careers. Would you pray about that with me, please?”

Verses about desires

5. “I feel scared/sad/upset/angry/happy…”

(Keep your feelings to yourself. Smile. If you share your real feelings you will be judged. People may get upset. You will look weak).

There is nowhere in Scripture (that I can think of) where we are commanded to be fake or told not to have or not to express our feelings. We are told not to “give full vent” to our every emotion – that would be foolish. We are not to share in sinful anger or in sinful manipulation. We are not to try to make other people do what we want. We do need to watch our motives and attitudes. Our feelings are not the source of absolute truth. We don’t have to be slaves to our feelings and emotions. But we are responsible to share our own feelings and concerns with God and with others when appropriate.

David shared all of the range of human emotions with God in the Psalms. Did God consider him to be weak because of that? No! God said David was “a man after My own heart.”

Sharing feelings and being vulnerable is  not “weak” – it is essential! Apart from vulnerability, there is no true intimacy or authenticity.

Verses about emotions

In the next post, we will address the issues of people pleasing that this wife voiced.

SHARE:

Do you feel safe to be vulnerable and direct in your marriage and relationships? If not, what fears do  you have that keep you from feeling like you can share?

 

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61 thoughts on “"Being Vulnerable and Direct Feels Wrong!"

  1. This was so good for me to read today. Normally I don’t struggle so much with these things, but lately I have started to feel guilty for talking to God about my desires even though my prayers are in supplication, ultimately knowing that God’s will is best. Sometimes I feel guilty for having any specific desires that are outside of direct ministry, which, like you said, isn’t biblical.

    1. Kristin,

      I pray you might experience the freedom we have in Christ – not freedom to sin – but the freedom to be our new selves in Christ, to be authentic, to be real, and to bring all of ourselves before God and before our husbands without fear.

      Praying for God to continue to help you grow in Christ and for you to have courage to express your desires to God and to allow Him to lead you in His will for each area of your life. 🙂

      Much love!

      1. Kristin, thinking of what you wrote made me think of something when it comes to God and us asking Him for fulfillment of different needs. If my english sound funny, it’s because I’m Swedish, so it becomes somewhat swinglish every now and then. Just sayin’. 😉
        Also your post, April gave me this thought and Kristins comment gave me a confirmation to share about it!

        For a time I’ve been feeling God is with me and is so good to me. I got a job that is a gift from Him alone, and I know it. Don’t take it for granted. But still, now I have that nagging feeling that it’s not alright to ask for more; He already gave me so much! But just now, God convicted me, and showed me a comparison to a situation at my working place, which could be an example how He thinks of me/us when I come to Him in prayer-time and devotion.
        At work-introduction, my employer had the great idea of putting into my schedule, specific times/appointments for guidance. Here I get to see a skilled person and sort of give her all my questions and we go them through one by one. While going through them, other areas where I need guidance show, and I get to ask about them as well. It is indeed a time when we sit down and are not bothered and she wants my questions! The next appointment of course she wants new questions and more questions! Then the LORD told me, our prayer time with Him, the Heavenly Father, is similar. This is the appointed time for us to come to Him and just put all our needs before Him; like
        “LORD, please help me with my temper. Tomorrow x is planned and I need your help to keep calm and balanced in You”.
        or my prayer outside of the second hand shop:
        “LORD, I would like to find a modest skirt, please help me”. (and the LORD answered me. 🙂 I Found 2 of them for under 10 Euro:) Inspired by wearing modest feminine clothing, b-cause of the Holy Spirits work in me, though this blog partly)).
        And then, we can still come back for more! We can still ask for more! More of Him, more help, more favor. It’s all just for His glory when we ask and He gives us.

        So I though the Lord wants us to realize we are His children. I would also say, we have a narrow picture of God as a Father and of Gods creation (=us and everyone around us incl. spouses? :)), if we’d always believe the lie, that no one’s interested in our desires and thoughts. I still have to exercise the principle of asking people for help, esp. those that are closest. But asking is like a muscle; exercise it and it inevitable becomes stronger:)
        Love in the Risen Son, the Spirit of life and the Father of love!

  2. Hi there.

    I really love your posts and they have been helpful to me in so many ways that I won’t go into right now. I just wanted to say, that I definitely do not feel the way this wife expressed. God gave us the abilities to feel, to express ourselves, and to communicate our needs and desires. A healthy relationship is one in which both partners are safe to express ourselves. And you’re right, it needs to be done in an honest and loving way. My feelings and desires are so important to my husband as his are to me! One of the things I treasure most about him is that know I can be vulnerable and honest with him and he receives it and responds to me with love and grace.

    Thankful for the wisdom with which God has blessed you to share!

    Nina

  3. This is so wonderful, April! I felt this way, too, in our first year when I was learning and being reminded that men need women to be direct (but kind) with them in helping them understand what they need or want at the moment. It just felt so unfeminine and unnatural, but in a relationship with a man, we need to sometimes meet him halfway, realize we’re not relating to a girlfriend.

    So awesome and love your blog!

    1. Dragonfly,

      If you want to share how you learned to embrace vulnerability and directness and how it feels feminine now, I would love to hear about it. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your story! 🙂

      1. Sure, there are many incidences where this would apply in our marriage in the early stages, but I’ll focus on that first year.

        We got married in 2007, and we were so young (I was 20 about to turn 21, he was only 23), and still in school. I was lucky that in our first year, I had a job at a Christian bookstore, so I had endless access to great marriage books that I read when the shop was super slow or on my breaks. I ended up buying a lot of the books, and they are still in our library now, although some I’ve given away to other women I was encouraging in their marriages. But it was mostly from these books and some books I brought from home when I moved out that helped me understand what I was doing wrong in my communication style.

        In that first year, I was taken back by how my husband would wait to do chores, and wouldn’t do them when I thought they needed to get done (which was as soon as I wanted them done – no matter what else he was working on or focusing on). So instead of trusting him to get them done on his own time, I nagged him, and when nagging didn’t work, I’d get angry and start a fight. I’d nag more and tell him that he wasn’t helping me out and then I’d jump to the conclusion that he just “didn’t care about me!” LOL it was a funny cycle that just repeated itself whenever I got fed up with not getting things done my way. Thankfully, since I was working at the Christian bookstore, I was already reading marriage books trying to learn about how to have a good marriage, and almost all marriage books cover a section about nagging, and explain why it doesn’t work.

        So once I understood and remembered from reading The Fascinating Girl (a book about how to be fascinating to men, how to meet their needs and communicate effectively with them), I started to simply just ask him to do something that needed to be done, and ask him in a respectful, kind way, and then give him the time and chance to do it. If he procrastinated, he would realize it on his own a couple of days later, and then apologize to me and do it. He apologized and did it right away (faster than when I nagged) because he actually felt bad about not doing it when i had asked in such a sweet, kind, respectful way, and my not nagging him (which was disrespectful) made him want to do things right when they needed to get done.

        Now when I really need his help (which is a lot more often with two boys), he is so faithful and helps me so well and much quicker than that first year when I’d nag and nag and nag. The nagging would create such a hostile, awful environment that I think it made him just drag his feet doing anything that I wanted to get done. But now he helps me immediately because I treat him with respect.

        I realized that nagging him was actually dishonoring him, giving him the message that I didn’t feel like he was responsible enough to do and get things done on his own, without me standing over him. I didn’t believe he would be responsible enough to do things on his own. Nagging him was me treating him almost like a child, like an incapable man – that message was SO disrespectful!

        There were also times when I’d just expect him to help me with something I needed to get done, or I’d be girly and feminine, and **hint** that I expected him to get something done by some vague time frame, and then I would get angry and even resentful when he didn’t do it. The marriage books I read in that first year also covered this topic of being direct with men, even though that felt masculine to me, and not like how women communicate with each other, it was actually what was needed for better communication in our marriage. Being direct really is a more masculine style of communicating, so even though it feels awkward and unnatural for most women, it’s helpful to teach engaged couples or young wives that this is what their husbands will need from them. It’s not wrong, it’s not being demanding if you say it in a nice, respectful, gentle way.

        Expecting our husbands to act more like a woman, to read our minds and understand our feminine hints concerning what we want, and then getting angry at them for not knowing, isn’t helping to create a healthy relationship within a marriage.

        After we got those things figured out, we’ve still had tricky situations where I didn’t know how to breech a subject without sounding disrespectful, but now it’s MUCH easier to understand what each other needs or is thinking because we’ve learned how to communicate openly and honestly. It’s been a beautiful journey and I’m so grateful we’ve learned so much.

        1. Dragonfly,
          I love this!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂 Would you consider allowing me to share as a post, please? I think this may be such a blessing to many of our sisters and their husbands.

  4. I wonder if the unspoken fear beneath all the objections to being direct and vulnerable, is really more about facing the (perceived) pain of being vulnerable AND ignored.

    For example, saying ‘I want this…” only to have it ignored, or laughed at, or to have one’s character attacked because of it (Your so needy, whiny, weak, etc.)

    This, for me, was the underlying issue .I came by it honestly, as character attacks and emotional neglect were what was understood as parenting in the house of my youth.

    The freedom came, I believe, after naming each fear to the Lord and asking him to show me the lie that was in it. When I could see the lie like needing something ever is wrong – compared to the Word (even the Lord knows I have need of things! And He remembers that I’m made of dust!) Then, prayed up and asking for His strength and dependant on His Direction – I just did it. Said out loud “I want this…”

    It. Was. Scary.

    But, you know what? I didn’t die . Well, at least not physically. But the “old” me – the old man, as it were- the coward (I can’t do that – its going to hurt!) he died some more. And good riddance! He was (spiritual) death!

    And Christ came so that I might have life and Life more abundantly!

    Allejuiah!!!

    Over time, and with some notable hiccups, I learned to extend Grace and forgiveness to those who knowingly and unknowingly ignore the gift of my vulnerable heart. After all, this isn’t really about them, though they have been blessed in it (praise God!). But this is about letting the power of Christ work through me to do what He wills be done .

    And in that, There is Victory. 😊

    Praise God.

    1. Amber,

      Ooh! This is super helpful! Thank you for sharing the fear beneath the objections. That is very key. Breaks my heart to hear that character attacks and emotional neglect were parenting methods in your family. 🙁

      I’m so glad God helped you name each fear and lie and receive His truth! THAT IS AWESOME!

      Much love!

      1. Thank you, April, for your reply.

        I didn’t really begin to understand how these things 1) were different from other people’s experience and 2) affected my perspective – until, I was reading your blog, I believe.

        You were writing something about some people “paradigm’s” being different and that causing them to hear things other than what is intended. We are the ones who hear: Do not have an opinion when what is said is Learn to value your husband’s opinion. These things are vastly different to many people but for those of us whose very foundational understanding is misinformed the idea, at least for me at that point, I cannot value him unless I de-value myself . It is quite a battlefield and the enemy, I’m sure would like to keep us in chains to the miserable, twisted up reasoning that will keep us from experiencing true joy, and peace, and freedom, and forgiveness.

        These are mighty testimonies, I believe .

        At any rate, as the Lord causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose – he worked that circumstance -I remember feeling your own pain over these wives pain- that blessed me, too – to see someone care (I have tears as I write this!). As an encouragement, my dear sister, the Lord is using you and Greg and this ministry in ways we cannot even fathom.

        Glory to God.

        1. Amber,

          It is these very deep core beliefs and understandings (and misunderstandings) – that I want to address. I believe that many of us develop warped ways of understanding relationships, ourselves, God, marriage, and others as children. We get some wrong way of thinking about something important – and it goes uncorrected – then we build our lives on that messed up, unbiblical misunderstanding and things eventually come crashing down.

          I know it is so painful to question and confront our fixed beliefs and core beliefs – but this is what must be done so that we can tear out the wrong thinking and replace it with God’s truth and wisdom.

          It breaks my heart to think that any wife would hear, “Don’t have your own opinion,” when I am talking about learning to value our husbands’ opinions. Thankfully – we can respect our husbands and ourselves and God. We don’t have to choose just one person to respect. Then it is a win/win/win!

          I wonder how we can dig deeper and address this more effectively? Please pray that God might give me wisdom to directly address the major lies that affect our precious sisters – that we might be able to tear down the lies with the truth and power of God’s Word and rebuild in accordance with His thoughts and His wisdom.

          Of course I care very much whenever my sisters or brothers are in pain! Especially unnecessary pain due to misunderstandings. I long to see every misunderstanding cleared up and all of us to think rightly according to Scripture. I long for each one here to find healing and freedom in Christ!

          Please continue to pray that Greg and I might be obedient and faithful to God and that He might speak through us and to those who read. Please pray God’s kingdom’s work might be done here and that it might be done well.

          Much love, my precious sister!

    2. Wow Amber. Sounds like me. Well, the beginning part. I haven’t quite mastered the healing part yet. I need to get over the fear of bothering God with my unimportant issues.

      When others are starving, does my lack of confidence really matter? Not so much. Wouldn’t my time be better spent helping others than focusing on me?

      You know what used to drive me crazy as a kid? Something would happen, say, someone (but not me) would spill something and not clean it up well. And here is what came next.

      Dad: did you spill milk under the table and not wipe it up?
      Me: no, I didn’t have milk today.
      Dad: are you sure?
      Me: yes, I’m sure.
      Dad: really. Well, I didn’t do it, and your mother didn’t do it, and we already asked your sister and she said she didn’t do it, so who does that leave?
      Me: but it wasn’t me!
      Dad: well it wasn’t anyone else, so it had to be you.

      But the crazy thing is, it really wasn’t me! My sister would just lie and I’d get in trouble. Because they believed her more, even though she often lied and I rarely did. I would feel too guilty. But they didn’t believe me. I didn’t get a say. No value, no vote. It was very upsetting, but it taught me that some people matter, and others don’t.

      I know I matter to God. I just need to learn to focus on that. But I’m not gonna be expressing my needs or sharing my feelings with any other humans anytime soon! 🙂

      1. Becca,

        How about this – let’s all go back in time to those moments when your Dad believed your sister’s lies instead of your truth. Let’s all sit there in your kitchen with you. And let’s replay this scene the way it should have happened:

        Dad: Did you spill the milk under the table and not wipe it up?
        Becca: No, I didn’t have milk today.
        Dad: Are you sure?
        Becca: Yes, I’m sure.
        Dad: Really. Well, I didn’t do it…. so who does that leave?
        Becca: But it wasn’t me!
        Dad: Hmmm… Let’s get to the bottom of this. I’m going to get your sister so we can find out what really happened. Honesty is greatly valued in this family. I want to be sure that I am really addressing the person who actually spilled the milk and didn’t clean it up.

        Then, when your dad questioned you both a bit more, hopefully, he would realize eventually that she actually spilled the milk. Then he would make her clean up the spill and discipline her for lying.

        I am so sorry that your parents didn’t believe you and that they believed your sister’s lies over your truth. I can see how that would be so hurtful and would shape the way you felt about yourself, about relationships, about trust, and about sharing your heart.

        And when you were afraid of anthrax at work and you were pregnant – (I was pregnant during 9-11-2001, also, and totally understand that fear) – someone should have said, “This is a scary time. What can we do to help you feel more safe?”

        With the paint color and the wedding – it would have been awesome if someone had said, “You would really like that? Okay. How about if we do this thing that you would really like, and this other thing that I would really like and compromise?”

        It is okay to share your feelings and needs here. 🙂

        You are precious to God and you are precious to me!

    3. “For example, saying ‘I want this…” only to have it ignored, or laughed at, or to have one’s character attacked because of it (Your so needy, whiny, weak, etc.)”

      Yep! Sounds like my raising exactly. Only addition I can think of to add to your list is, getting spanked/whipped as punishment for daring to state what you want or need. All the things marked in red were the teachings drummed into me and the punishment was pretty swift along the lines of the thoughts written in red in the post. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called “Christian” or “traditional” homes are like this, probably way more than we imagine. And they use very prominent books as parenting books, and unfortunately the books advocate it. I won’t mention titles because I know a number of people here probably like the books and I’d get in HUGE trouble if I mentioned names.

      When you marry a man who does the same stuff, then it’s like a part of you has died…..you kind of go through life with half a heart beating. For a while I was in a deep depression, but got the necessary mild antidepressant to get over the edge, then good counseling. The purpose of which was to help me move on and create a healthy life in spite of surroundings, which, I’m happy to say, worked well.

      1. Another thing — there are a lot of women who rebuke women EVERY SINGLE DAY about how selfish they are, about putting everyone else first, etc. And people like Becca and me and any number of people end up reading it, taking it hook, line and sinker, and then when we’re depressed we’re verbally beaten up for “not having a servant’s heart” or “not being right with God” or something like that. This is why your blog is a MUCH better one, as it gives a balanced perspective, not a 24/7 scolding.

        1. zbexrel,

          I don’t want to scold anyone. My hope is to point everyone to Christ no matter what their personality or background. Those with really severe spiritual/emotional wounds may require additional help, as well, I believe.

          Much love to you! 🙂

          1. Which is why I wanted to tell you that yours is a breath of fresh air! 🙂 Precisely because you don’t. It is nice to get a balanced perspective.

      2. xbexrel,

        This is NOT what any healthy marriage or family should be like. 🙁 It breaks my heart that anyone would tout these kinds of things as “Christian teaching.” I pray for continued healing for you my precious sister! Glad to hear you are doing better. How are you doing with this kind of thinking? Have you been able to replace the unhealthy ideas?

        Sending you a huge hug!

        1. Well, not really. I have learned that when I hear “I disagree” it is code for “this conversation is over”. “Maybe tonight we should continue this….” (I’ll just leave it at that) means “Absolutely no, and stop bothering me this minute.” This is after experiencing the consequences and learning from experience, so that’s why things are a lot quieter because I learned the code and learned to adapt to it.

          One thing I know is that when I go back to a few marriage books and of course the Bible, then I at least know that I’m not some horrible selfish evil person, just a normal wife who would like an intimate relationship. And a normal Mom who gets tired and wears out. So that’s a start and a big leap for me.

          You’d be surprised at the number of people who DO tout these things as “Christian” teachings…..yeeks.

          1. zbexrel,

            I pray that God might draw you closer than ever to His heart and empower you with His power, wisdom, love, and strength to know exactly what will most honor Him in these difficult situations. It is not wrong for a wife to desire an intimate relationship. That is what marriage is supposed to be, after all! My prayer is that God will empower you to handle the strain and distance in a way that pleases Him even if your husband is not honoring Christ in how he handles things. But I also pray for God to bring your husband to Himself and to bring healing individually for each of you and healing for your marriage for God’s glory!

            Much love to you!

          2. I completely agree with what you are saying…whenever I express my opinion on anything, my husband gets defensive and says that I am arguing with him…I have learned to not express my opinion on ANYTHING, because it just causes strife. It is an unfortunate situation, and I am not sure what I can do to change things, but I have learned to bring those things to God… he is the light of my world, and he is so good to me!
            I can only deal with me being respectful and cheerful, and not have any expectations of how my husband behaves… it really has nothing to do with his behavior, because then I am just taking things personal…
            Thank you, April, for this great website… you have a huge heart, and it is awesome to have your experience be used for such good… God is generous even with our deepest pain!

            Gratefully, Erika

          3. Erika,

            I’m so sorry that you feel like you can’t express any differing opinion. That makes me so sad!

            Praying for God’s wisdom for you and for His healing for you both, my dear sister.

            Yes, God does tend to use our deepest struggles for His glory and to bless many others. So thankful He can take a big painful mess and make something beautiful from it. 🙂

            Much love!

  5. Hi April,
    This is a great post and I’m sure it will help others. I always thought I came from a healthy family and had healthy relationships. I’m beginning to question that. I cannot believe some of the ways these women think! I mean, it’s great for them, and it’s great they feel they deserve to be so expressive, but I don’t think I am ever going to get there. I’m trying to take this all in, but some of it just sounds so ridiculous. So “motivational speaker-ish” if you will.
    But Nina who commented above, wow! What an abundance of confidence!! I wish I felt my needs and desires were important to my husband, but they’re not. Not really. He says they are, but his actions never back that up. My husband is all about words and saying things, but words are empty to me, if not backed up by action. Anybody can blather on all day long and maybe even start to believe themselves, but it means nothing unless you back it up.
    Here’s an example of a simple conversation between my husband and I, and why there is no point in expressing my desires.

    Him: what color do you want to paint the bathroom?
    Me: I don’t know. Whatever you pick will be fine with me. (Note: he is better with color – with everything – than I am and we both know it.)
    Him: no, I want you to pick.
    Me: no, really, whatever you pick is fine.
    Him: but I want it to make you happy.
    Me: okay. I was thinking blue.
    Him: really? I was thinking green.
    Me: okay, green is fine.
    Him: okay, which green?
    Me: whichever you think is best.
    Him: please pick! I really want to do this together.
    Me: okay, something in this shade?
    Him: really? I think that’s too yellow. How about something more in this color family?
    Me: okay, that’s fine.
    Him: well which one? Pick one from the paint sample strip.
    Me: I like this one.
    Him: really? That’s gonna dry way too dark. What about this one a shade lighter?
    Me: fine with me.
    Now, did he really want my opinion? NOPE! He just wanted to waste both of our time trying to talk me in to what he wanted when he just could have picked what he wanted from the beginning. But now he can say, “but I asked you first” if it ever comes up. See, words are meaningless.
    And this isn’t a one time paint thing. It happens over and over in many different situations. I ALWAYS have to answer, even though we both know we are going to end up doing everything his way. Lesson learned? My opinions and even feelings are unimportant, Just as they have always been unimportant. Even my entire wedding was hijacked by my MIL. If I heard it once I heard it 1000 times “but it’s HIS wedding, too!” And every decision I made was tossed out for what she “knew” was better. Back then he NEVER stood up to his mother. Lesson learned? I don’t even matter as a bride, and I rank way down on the list of special people.

    Point number 5 “I feel scared…” Ha! I am not allowed to feel scared. Ever. Here’s a perfect example. I live very close to where Sept. 11 happened, and the following anthrax attacks. I was pregnant, very scared, and very on edge. I did not want to touch the mail. Seriously, the mail carriers were delivering everything while wearing masks and gloves. On top of that I had an office job at the time which required me to process a great deal of mail. I was scared. What did I get told when I shared my feelings with anyone? “Get over it. Grow up a little. Why are you such a worrywart? All you ever do is worry. Stop acting like a baby. You can’t act like this, it’s not healthy.” And it’s not like I was acting all crazy. I still went to work, I just tried to talk about my feelings. My fears. But no one wanted to listen. No one even wanted to validate the fear. Because I am not worthy enough to have feelings. Some people are, and others like me, are just told to “knock it off.” One afternoon I got to work and my building was surrounded by the police, the FBI, and the ATF. It turned out to be a false alarm, but everyone around here was so edgy. I pulled into an adjacent lot and called my supervisor who told me to just go home, since no one was allowed in or out at that point. Yes it shook me up. Know what I was told? “It’s no big deal. Stop worrying. Get over it.” I was so scared I started throwing up a lot, every day. And I told no one. Because no one cared. It was the most scared I’ve ever been. And NO ONE CARED. They just acted like I was stupid.
    So… Lesson learned from all of that? Do. Not. Share. Your. Feelings. Do not let people see your fears or weaknesses. Hide your pain. Cry alone, always.
    My friends today are sometimes amazed that I never cry and I see it as a form of weakness, to cry in public. I do cry, but I do it alone. Because for some reason my family, even my husband, can not tolerate my tears. Because some of us aren’t worth having emotions.

    My sister can stomp and scream and everyone tiptoes around so as not to upset her. My SIL screams and even throws things and goes into hysterics, and again, everyone needs to meet her needs and be careful not to get her upset. These are both grown women, both older than me. I am not going to act like them. It is not who I am. And just being me, well, people have taught me my entire life that my thoughts, feelings, and opinions do not matter. My happiness is unimportant.

    So while this idea of expressing yourself is a nice one, it’s not for me. I’m not one of those women who gets to have feelings. Well, I have them, but they don’t get shared. It’s not worth it.

    Sorry for the long comment, but thanks for the outlet. It feels good to finally discuss it.

    1. Becca,

      In relationships and marriage – both people’s feelings, concerns, ideas, wisdom, insights, needs, and personhood should matter. It absolutely tears me up that you have decided that your feelings don’t matter. That you are not worthy to have and express feelings. In fact, I am crying for you right now. I can’t wrap my mind around a sister of mine believing that she is not a “real person” with real feelings that matter and are important. I know there are many women (and men) who tell themselves these kinds of things. But this is not what I want for anyone! And certainly not for you. I believe this is a very big part of why you are so wounded spiritually and emotionally.

      Your paint color conversation brings back some memories for me of a conversation I had with someone where I truly did not care what the choice was and she tried to make me choose, and no matter what I said, it was wrong. I can relate to that! It does make you think, “Why on earth are you asking me for my opinion when you already know what you want and my opinion means nothing to you?”

      Your opinions may not have mattered to your husband. They may not have mattered to your MIL. They may not have mattered to your parents or your sisters. And they may not have mattered at work – but my goodness, I can understand why you were worried with all of that craziness going on!

      But your feelings, desires, opinions, needs, and personhood matter to God. They matter to me! I’m so sorry for the responses you have received when you shared your feelings, your fear, and your concerns. I wish I could give you the biggest hug!

      You are welcome to cry with me anytime. I’m glad to cry with you over whatever hurts you.

      I don’t think your sister and SIL’s behavior is the goal – from what you are describing. Those approaches are not healthy or godly either. It is possible, though, to share your feelings, desires, needs, and concerns in a loving, respectful way that is not sinful or demanding. God doesn’t ask us to be subhuman.

      I’m glad you are sharing your feelings and expressing yourself here! God uses you so powerfully in my life to help me better understand how some women may be thinking. I need your input. I need to understand your mindset and paradigm. I want to extend hope in Christ and healing in Christ to you and to all of my other hurting sisters (and brothers).

      Much love, my precious sister!

      1. May I throw out another possibility with the paint color selection conversation? It may be that it’s a difference in conversation style.

        My siblings and I often had conversations that sounded more like negotiations when choosing what we were going to do together.

        For instance, if we were going to go out to eat one of us might say, “Where do you want to go?” That actually was understood to mean, let’s make this decision together but you tell me first what you want and then let’s talk about it more. It was never tense or argumentative, but just a friendly way of each person’s opinion being stated and heard and then talked about until a final decision with compromised was reached. I think we all enjoyed it.

        When I got married, I quickly discovered that not everyone made decisions that way. If my husband asked me where I wanted to eat, he didn’t want to have a conversation about it. He just wanted my opinion to be our decision. It was sad to me that we couldn’t decide together. But if I asked his opinion, it frustrated him if I gave mine that was different. It wore him out to talk at length about where we’d eat. I was just so used to the “dance” my siblings and I played. I never stopped to analyze that others did it differently. I eventuslly learned what I was doing naturally and innocently created problems with my husband.

        1. J,

          This is a great point! I know that my husband and I have conversations that start like this – but we each really do want to know what the other prefers, and we don’t have a hidden agenda to push. For us, it means we want to make the decision together. Or that one doesn’t have a big preference and wants to do what the other will enjoy.

          There are all kinds of different “cultures” in families. It can be tricky to decode everything when we get married. Sometimes we think we understand, but what a statement/question would mean in our childhood family may mean something totally different in our spouse’s childhood family.

          I’m glad that God helped you see what was happening so you could communicate more clearly. That was a blessing! 🙂

    2. It sounds like you are surrounded by abusive, dysfunctional people and in that case you are right to put up boundaries to protect yourself. But it would be great if you could pray and find a couple of healthy women that can love and value you like you deserve. One of the ladies God has used to help me is in a nursing home and has dementia, but she needs the company and she can say,”I love you!”. I have learned so much from her. The Bible says that the older women should show the younger women how to love their husbands and families. In your case, it would be like taking a vacation from a dysfunctional world to be around women that can show you the love of God. God bless you!

    3. Becca,

      Just noticing what you said at the top of this comment. I do want this post to help others. But I REALLY, REALLY want to reach you. 🙂 I’m praying for God to help me understand all of the lies that have you imprisoned and ensnared so that I (in His power, love, and truth) can kick the props out of every lie. I want to see God expose the lies to you and to see you embrace His healing and truth, my precious sister. I don’t want to see the enemy continue to have you. Any part of you. I want to see you wholeheartedly yielded to Christ and healed in Him. 🙂

  6. Sharing feelings. This is touchy for me. I used to share ALL my feelings. Every one of them. It crushed my husband and kids. Now, after I realized how powerful my words are, I am very hesitant to share much of anything. I find so much less to complain about…which is good, but I have a husband who doesn’t care about my feelings. I am thankful I have some family and friends, this blog and lots of time to share my feelings with, but after a while I start to feel that I am being a drag.

    This morning, after thinking, praying, and agonizing over whether or not to tell my husband how I am feeling, it finally came out. After weeks of ruminating on it, at 4am. I told my husband that his emotional neglect is affecting the kids. I understand his pain. I am in pain too, but learning to let it go, separate the past from today and I want to help him. I have been so reluctant to talk for a few reasons
    1) I wanted to make sure what I wanted to say was not for selfish gain….I think I did okay here. My motive was to restore our relationship and to encourage him to check in and be part of the kids lives, even if he can’t plug in as a husband yet.
    2) I had to get a handle on my own emotions and feelings of neglect, and abandonment from my husband. God has helped me set those aside and seek that attention and love from Him and other safe relationships in my life.
    3) I am told over and over that he doesnt care about my feelings and I am being selfish when that’s all I talk about.
    4)This is the issue I struggle with the most….I am afraid of piling onto his guilt. I already suspect he is living in shame. He says he knows he is being a bad dad and husband but doesn’t mean to. He is in total self-protect mode and doesn’t want any relationships out of fear of getting hurt again. Even if I was a perfect wife now, he says he could not accept me because I hurt him so bad. The thing is, he has lumped me in with people who gossiped and accused him and took advantage of him. He thinks I purposefully hurt him, he he says he is not purposefully hurting us. I truly understand his pain..both because I understand what I did wrong, and from the pain I feel from him currently doing the same to me. But I am so fearful of making him feel worse, that I just sit on my feelings and deal with them with the help of God. I only spoke up this time because it is really affecting the kids and I am angry at him for neglecting and abandoning and lying to them every day. This is what drove me to speak. But I am still worried that he will just go deeper into depression out of guilt. I told him I couldn’t just stay quiet about what the kids say. My daughter thinks she did something to make him “leave and check out” 5 years ago. My son is afraid to talk to his dad because he doesn’t want to make him mad, so he asks me to teach him how to bring up touchy subjects in a respectful way…cause he wants a grantee he won’t hurt his dad’s feelings when he tells him he misses him and wants to spend time with his dad. Ugh! This is breaking my heart! My kids think he’s been like this for 5 years at least…they are right! I hadn’t seen the slide down when they sid, I just kniw he got more and more angry and irritable.
    I thought it was fair to him to let him know how they felt. How I felt. I didn’t yell, scream, cut down, or berate. I appologized when I said “If our daughter gets promiscuous and our son gets hooked on drugs to feel something, I’ll never forgive you” (yikes. Not my best moment, but I did appologize, that was my fear coming out about kids being raised with neglectful parents, this is playing on me hard right now)

    But I did point out that he isn’t moving forward, that time is running out with the kids, that I’m trying to be patient and give space, but I see it getting worse, not better. I told him I wanted to help him, but I realize and respect he may not want help from me. I urged him to talk to someone, educate himself, read a book that might help…all a no from him. He agrees he has gotten worse. It’s so easy for him to sit still in self pity. I don’t know what else to do.

    I prayed to God that my heart message gets through to him. I prayed to God in hopes that I did the right thing. I know I struggle with letting my feelings out, but I have felt for a while that God is trying to teach me something. I don’t know if it how to wait on God for his timing or how to respectfully communicate to my hurting husband. I don’t want to be like the 3 friends of Job who thought they were helping but didn’t understand what God was doing in Job’s life. I want to comfort and encorage, but I can’t seem to know when to call out sin and what is just my own opinion of sin!

    I pray daily to God for wisdom. For discernment. For strength, understanding, patience and forgiveness. I ask God to convict me quickly of my wrong doing so I can set it straight and appologize and repent to those I have hurt.

    I know there is only so much I can do or have control over. I try to be very careful here. Maybe too careful??? I just don’t want to shove a drowning man’s head under water. How can I know if I am helping or hurting here? Advice is much appreciated. I tried to be short.

    1. LMSdaily115,

      There is a delicate balance in sharing feelings. We should probably talk about that a bit more. I used to also share every thought that was in my head, with no discernment, no filter, no questioning my motives – and I crushed my husband, too. Then, there is a time, especially in the beginning of this journey, after we have caused so much hurt, when silence about our feelings can be wise for a time. But then it is possible to go too far toward silence and not move back to a balanced place. That takes the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit for us to know exactly what to do, what to say, how to say it, and when. Especially if we have a very broken, wounded husband. If he is drowning in shame, it can get even more tricky.

      I love that you prayed about things for a few weeks. I love that you examined your motives. I love that what you want is healing for him and for your children. I pray that God’s Spirit might reach your husband and that he might receive God’s power, love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and healing.

      Much love to you!

    2. In my experience people who have a difficult time sharing their emotions with their loved ones have feelings of worthlessness that were passed onto to them through someone in their lives. If your husband is struggling to be there for you and your kids emotionally, there is probably a specific reason (as you mentioned). It would be great if you feel like you could be his “safe place” which means give him a place to share his past experiences and hurts in a place where you don’t take any personal offense. I know it is really difficult because you feel neglected, but it sounds like your husband really needs someone to ask in a caring and respectful way what is causing the emotional distances between himself and others and offer to pray with him about it. It is very important to bring all our cares and concerns before God (which we hope your husband is doing), but healing comes through confession to God and to others (which could be you). Praying for you!

  7. From a wife who believed this same mindset and paradigm for decades – but whom God has healed in the past year and a half:

    I totally thought like the wife who had objections to speaking in direct, vulnerable ways my whole life.

    This way of thinking makes you a victim and voiceless then you freak out all over someone when they put that teeny straw on top of your huge anger that you aren’t allowed to admit or have or own or do anything about. And it makes you jealous of wives who “have because they ask,” annoyed that they are so unapologetically “demanding” as you see it. My old way of thinking was about righteously refusing to have needs, emotions, demands.

    It makes you really sick!

    Also can’t receive good stuff. I think it’s this false humility that simultaneously says you don’t deserve anything good, and being proud at how humble and unneedy you are. Then it’s about being a victim because no one understands how hard your life is. I felt I should have enough faith to be above struggles and emotions myself, even though I would never say anyone else should be. Part of it is the idea that “everyone else is more important than you, it’s in the Bible.” So being humble is not needing or asking or demanding. That’s for others.

    If someone says good things about you they are obviously lying or have a distorted perception the only thing that can be true is self-attack. Also, if I criticize myself enough, hopefully no one else will. If someone does criticize me, I am a complete failure and have nowhere to stand and collapse inconsolably. People’s approval seems to be the only gauge of hope, but then you don’t receive it either. Nothing is ever enough.

    So all time is spent trying not to need, trying to meet all others needs, trying not to mess up, attacking self with every mistake, guilt fear and failure. Trying to find life in dead works, which puts you under a curse. All this rule following and no joy or good results. Baseline it is unbelief. Hebrew 4. Can’t enter His rest if you hear the truth not mixed with faith.

    It’s saying Jesus saved me so I should be able to obey all of his commandments. It’s trying to please God without faith. Hebrew 11:6 says you can’t. Trying to please God by obeying without believing anything he says, receiving anyt hi ing but the most anemic salvation, not receiving His love, grace, forgiveness, power, mercy. Having no idea all of thr good qualities mentioned about him could somehow be directed to include you, too.
    It’s also being totally blocked by anyone who disagrees or says no to you, but not ever being aloud to say no or your dislikes to them. It’s remembering what caused someone to be upset at all, and making an inner vow to never mess up or cause a problem again.

    It’s not believing anyone could ever enjoy your company or love you because you don’t feel it, so it can’t be true. Biggest fears are being a burden, a failure and demanding. The only truth you hear are these accusing lies and and it somehow intertwines itself into the gospel to make it a non gospel. You buy into it completely.

    Idols in this mindset are false humility and martyrdom. No faith at all except the initial conversion from what I can figure. And even then, we can grow in faith, be set free from quite a few things, and fall right back into this prison. Behind the false humility is immense pride – pride, saving ourselves, and being wise in our own eyes. Pride that we are following rules, astonishment when we can’t follow rules that we weren’t successful since we should be. We are Christians! How can we fail God like this? So we attack and punish ourselves trying to help God with His disappointment in us. We try harder. Until we can’t try literally. Then we sink into depression and can’t be pulled out.

    Faith is the ability to receive from God. So we cry out and try to serve and love Him and repent and feel guilty, but we don’t actually exchange that guilt for forgiveness.

    – We cry to him that we feel alone and unloved and abandoned but we don’t receive that He really is here with us and will never leave us.
    – We complain to him that we can’t do what he asks us to, and basically say he is mean and cruel for not helping us, but we won’t receive his help. We don’t believe he will help so we don’t ask. And when we do ask we are full of doubt and therefore don’t receive, and validate to ourselves that He doesn’t care.
    – We are proud that we don’t burden God or others. We aren’t rude and don’t ask for stuff. We are busy getting things done for God and praying for people and trying hard to follow our rules. Until we fall apart.

    Then we are angry at God, ourselves and everyone around us except we can’t be angry, so this awful feeling stays general, unknowable and unfixable a and is more evidence of how God has abandoned us.

  8. So here’s a perfect example. There’s a place nearby with a drive through Christmas light display. I love Christmas lights. My family, except maybe my youngest, could care less about lights. I’ve mentioned it in the past, got blown off, or we always “run out of time.” This year my husband tried acting like it was a good idea. No thanks. I know nobody wants to go. But I tried being positive, and even kind of started warming up to the idea.

    But, in the back of my mind, I knew nobody really wanted to go. I don’t want to do anything unless it’s going to make everybody else happy. I can handle my own disappointment far easier thank knowing someone else doesn’t want to do something, or is doing it just to make me happy. My happiness is not of importance. I’m not being martyrish, I actually mean that. I’ll be totally fine if we don’t do what I want. I’m used to it.

    So, of course, one of my teens asks if he can go hang out at a friends house. I said “oh, I guess, but I thought we were going to go to the Christmas lights tonight.” He says he’ll go to the lights, because my kids are pretty respectful, but I know that’s not what he wants to do, so now I don’t want to go to the lights, knowing that my husband is just going because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and my son will be silently pouting in the back seat. So I tell him, no, go ahead and go to your friends house. “But,” he says, “I want you to get to go. I want you to be happy.” But here’s the problem. I want him to be happy. So even if we go, I won’t be happy knowing that he doesn’t want to be there and he’s just doing it to make me happy. So why go? Why waste the time, the money, and the gas just so I can see some light display nobody else could care less about? So now I really, really don’t want to go.

    So he’s at his friends, and he’s happy. Why should we all be unhappy? I’d rather them be happy than do something to make me happy because that makes me feel like a whiny, selfish baby.

    But anyhow, no lights for me. No big deal. I’m more upset that I even brought it up because, see? My thoughts, feelings, wishes, etc. just cause grief for everyone else. I prefer being the unimportant one. I’m used to it. It’s who I’ve always been. And I actually enjoy making other people happy.

    So this need or wish sharing thing is not for me. It just causes major issues. Not to mention my husband trying to act like he’s sad that he didn’t get to take me when we both know he’s majorly relieved that he didn’t have to go. ** sigh **

    1. Becca,

      I know that it is going to feel strange to ask for things you would like. It may not always work out – we can learn to be flexible if it doesn’t work out. We don’t have to push for our way no matter what.

      But here is something you may not have thought about – what do you believe you are teaching your children about marriage and relationships when you won’t allow them to do things as a gift for you to make you happy sometimes? How will your children and husband get to have the blessing of making others happy if you deny them that opportunity?

      Children pick up on the message that their mom doesn’t believe she is worthy of attention, time, effort, love, respect, honor, etc… It distorts the way they relate to others. It distorts their expectations in relationships and in marriage. They need to know their mom is a real person with real feelings, needs, concerns, and ideas – even if things don’t always go her way – and that she can roll with things if they don’t. When we grow up with a mom who doesn’t seem to have needs or desires, it is easy for children to become selfish and to assume that lots of other people don’t have needs or desires and that others’ feelings are not important.

      Even if you are truly not concerned for yourself – which I believe you should be – this issue impacts your children’s future happiness and relationships whether you want it to or not.

      1. There are a lot of times when it is totally appropriate and God-honoring to be selfless as wives and moms. But there are also times when it is totally appropriate to demonstrate that we are also whole people and that we have personhood. To know when to do which requires the wisdom of God’s Spirit.

        But if we are “so selfless” that we are filled with resentment and bitterness – that is a problem. Now we are dealing with sin that separates us from God and we are not walking in His Spirit’s power because we have grieved Him.

        Perhaps someone else might be able to explain this better than I can? Y’all are welcome to give it a go!

    2. Oh Becca, I’m so sorry that you feel this way. I’ve been praying for you for awhile, I think ever since I saw a comment of yours on April’s post on Insults & Rebukes (not completely sure that was the name).

      I understand a little of where you’re coming from when you feel like doing what makes you happy, and ONLY you, is not fun for you.

      But when your son wanted to go with you to see the lights, even though he wouldn’t have completely enjoyed it, he was trying to tell you that he wanted to ENJOY making YOU happy. It’d be like if he got you a gift, and wrapped it beautifully, and gave it to you with heartfelt feelings of hoping you’d like it, only to have you tell him you didn’t want it, put it back in his hands, rejected, unopened.

      A gift is picked out for another person to like, and is not always something the giver would like or enjoy themselves. So just like your son wanting to give you the gift of seeing the lights, it doesn’t matter if he wouldn’t want that gift, it’s meant for you in this case!

      You reject him and a relationship with him when you don’t let him bless you and get to see you happy. You teach him that you aren’t important, that mothers aren’t important, that wives aren’t important when you continue to relate to him this way.

      I know this can be hard to understand and might make you feel unsure and confused, it is a very foreign concept that you’d have to learn slowly, over time. It won’t happen overnight, so don’t feel bad that you don’t understand the feelings of it yet.

      I’ll keep praying for God to surround you in His love, to bless you immensely this season of Christmas… there are still MANY opportunities to go see some lights! Try picking a night next week, if it doesn’t work out at first, that’s ok, it can be so tricky to get schedules arranged for things like that. But with your family, pick a night that all of y’all can go together to see the lights. If one of the family members maybe can’t go, that’s ok, if your husband would like to take just the two of you, LET him 🙂

      Try this challenge, try asking for what you’d like to do or would enjoy, give them gift of getting to meet this desire for you. I’ll be praying for you to have courage and openness to letting the people in your life love you this way 🙂

  9. Hi Becca / April,

    Something along this lines happened a while ago between me and my boyfriend, and it helped me understand him a lot better. I am wondering if maybe your husband and kids may operate in a similar way.

    There was a movie I wanted to see and that I was really excited to see with my boyfriend and that he was going to take me to see. A few hours before he was going to pick me up, he texted me saying that he would be happy to take me if I wanted to go, but that if I didn’t care, he’d like to not go. I said fine, we won’t go, and I cried for a long time. Later that night, I talked to him about it and asked him why he didn’t tell me earlier if he didn’t want to go.

    Then he said something that gave me huge insight into the way he thinks. He said that he gets a lot of happiness from doing something that he knows will make me happy. He said that the movie was okay, not something he’d hate, but not something he’d personally pick out to see. But he said that going with me and seeing me happy to go would give him a lot of happiness. He said he likes doing things with me that make me happy, because he gets a lot of happiness from seeing me happy, and from knowing it was something he did that made me happy. He explained that he wasn’t trying to get out of seeing the movie with me, he was trying to figure out if seeing it would bring me happiness. I had NO idea. I thought I had been ridiculously clear that I was so excited to go. I thought his text message had been the unclear one! He explained that how much happiness something brings me dramatically influences how much he wants to do something. He explained that, for something he’s ambivalent or not excited about (like the movie), knowing that seeing it would make me really happy changes his ambivalence to a genuine desire to go.

    But anyway, just as you got happiness from knowing that your choices make people happy, maybe your husband would have been happy if you had gone, knowing that it was his choice to go that made you able to do something you were really looking forward to? Is it possible that he didn’t pretend to be disappointed at all, that he was genuinely disappointed that he couldn’t give you something that would have made you happy? Is it possible that, had you all gone, his happiness at seeing you happy would have far overshadowed his dislike of the display itself? And that, overall, he would have been happy? Is it possible that now, his disappointment at not being able to make you happy far overshadows his relief at not going?

    Your son also said he wanted you to get to go. Is it possible that his happiness at making his mother happy would have far overshadowed any disappointment at not seeing his friend? Is it possible that your son, like my boyfriend, was just trying to figure out how much you wanted to go when he asked if he could see his friend? Is it possible that, despite your obvious signals that you would really enjoy it, he actually wasn’t sure? Is it possible that he was thinking, “well, I’ll ask if I can go and if she doesn’t care much about going, she’ll say yes, and if she does really want to go, she’ll say no”? After you mentioned going, he did say he wanted you to be able to go. Is it possible that he genuinely wanted you to be happy? And that your husband also genuinely wanted you to be happy?

    You seem to be really good at picking up what makes other people happy. It sounds to me like your husband and kids would like to see you happy, but they’re not really sure (for whatever reason) what makes you happy. When you told your son that he could see his friend, I think you may have implied to him that you didn’t care a lot about the lights in the first place. If you’re telling your husband now that it’s not a big deal, he may also interpret it to mean that you didn’t really care about going in the first place.

    Wishing you all the best,
    Flower

    1. Flower,

      YES! Awesome explanation! Our family loves to have the chance to see us happy just like we love to see them be happy. It is a gift to them when we allow them to do things that we enjoy sometimes. Especially if we are really excited about it.

      I know women who get SUPER excited about Christmas or gifts – they are SO much fun to give things to! Seeing them excited and happy is such a blessing! Just like it is such a blessing to see our children’s faces light up on Christmas, or to see them enjoy a roller coaster at the amusement park. Our family enjoys seeing that they can do things that light us up, too.

      1. Thanks, April!

        Becca, I just thought of something else – if you had all gone, you say you would actually have been unhappy, knowing that your son could have been at his friend’s house and that your family don’t like the lights for their own sake. So your family wanting to make you happy wouldn’t have even made you happy. If you frequently feel guilty after wanting something, your family may get the impression that even the few things you say you want don’t actually bring you happiness. They may not think there’s anything they can do for you that would make you happy. I know I have sometimes felt like there’s nothing I can do to bless someone – it’s not a good feeling. If they feel like there isn’t anything they can do that would truly make you happy, they may stop trying to make you happy, because they think they’ll fail. They may even stop caring about trying to make you happy for this reason. You mention that you don’t feel like they care about making you happy – they may think that giving you the things you say you want won’t actually make you happy, if you constantly feel guilty after wanting something.

  10. Here is something I didn’t understand about men for a long time. Unless the man is seriously emotionally/spiritually wounded, mentally ill, or involved in major addictions/sin – most men are wired to LOVE to see their women happy. Men tend to measure their success as men, as husbands, and as fathers by the happiness (or unhappiness) of their wives. I don’t think they should use this as a gauge, personally. I would rather them seek to please Christ and seek to bless us – but not be too dependent on our happiness. But this is how a lot of men measure their success. When their wives are unhappy a lot – many men believe that means they are failures as men, as Christians, as husbands, and as fathers.

    We have a LOT of power and influence here, sisters. I pray we will be filled up with Christ and His joy and that we might greatly bless our husbands and families. A side effect of us knowing Jesus and abiding in Him is that we are joyful and content. This inspires our men to be better men, too. It is a win/win!

  11. This is a really good post. Something that jumps out at me is how all our self talk objections, (similar to those written in red,) revolve around seeking people approval, rather then Christ’s favor. They are all fear based responses based on what other people will think of you, how you imagine they will perceive you. The thing is “perfect love casts out fear.” That is fear that gives us that anxiety.

    We also cannot serve two masters at once, so if our minds are filled with other people’s words, other people’s approval or disapproval, real or imaginary, we can’t hear His voice and what He wants from us.

    1. insanitybytes22,

      YES! VERY, very well put. When we are seeking the approval of people and are living in fear of others’ opinions – we are making them more important in our lives than God. That is idolatry. And it is also unbelief in God and maybe a lack of proper reverence and holy fear for God – at least, I know those things were issues for me in my people pleasing.

  12. Ladies, thank you for taking the time to comment. You’ve given me a lot to think about. Our Pastor preached a bit on this (seeking the approval of man) in his sermon today. I have a lot to think about.

    This is all very confusing to me. I have never liked having people mad at me. I always thought my motives were pure. I mean, I truly want OTHER people to be happy. I don’t want to be the reason someone is angry, sad, or disappointed. So in that way, yes, I guess you could call me a people pleaser.

    What I’m having trouble understanding, is – why is this wrong? As Christians, aren’t we supposed to be humble? Aren’t we supposed to put others first? Aren’t we supposed to sacrifice our wants/desires/even needs for the happiness of others? I’m not trying to be difficult, I really have trouble understanding all sides of this.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to blatantly sin to make someone else happy. I have had people get mad at me, I mean really, really mad at me, because I do not believe in evolution. As a former biology major, I can argue the errancy of evolutionary theory from a strictly scientific standpoint. (I can do it without even bringing the Bible into the argument, although we know that true science supports the Bible anyway. But that’s a topic for another day…) My point being, I’m not going to change my stance just because someone is going to get mad at me. Or a lot of someones.

    But… I have sat through many an excruciating holiday meal with family that doesn’t seem to want me around and yet gets really angry if I don’t show up. Because… my MIL is “she who must not be upset and you must not do anything to make her unhappy.” I do not want to be that person. And I feel like some of you are telling me the exact opposite. That if I do not stomp and pout and demand what I want, that my children will think mothers are not important. Okay, maybe not stomp and pout, but be like “we are doing this because it makes ME happy.” I don’t want to do that.

    It’s a mess. I have so much to sort out. I do not doubt my salvation, no matter how many commenters try to make me do so. I am NOT a perfect Christian, but thankfully God loves me in my imperfect state. I know who I was before I was saved, and who I am now. I’m growing. So I have a long way to grow. Maybe others do, too.

    We are in a healthy church now. We weren’t before. It was very legalistic, and very confusing. It was where we all got saved, and I believe that’s why God put us there when He did, and why He led us out when he did. The people are good people, but their message beyond the basic gospel is confusing. Many, many man-made rules. And if your convictions don’t match their convictions, they question your salvation. I’m not talking biblical doctrine, I’m talking things like clothing, hair, schooling, music, etc. So it was a very confusing place to be a “baby” Christian. There was a lot of man made stuff piled on top of the gospel. I got sucked into a lot of it, but thankfully my husband did not. But again, another story for another day.

    I am sorry! I start every comment intending to be quick, and then go on and on. And I feel like I always say “I have a lot to think about” – but so often I do.

    Love to you all, Becca

    1. Becca, something that really helped me, we are actually commanded to love ourselves. The greatest commandment is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

      As thyself! That reflective nature of our relationship with God and the love we receive compels us to also love ourselves, which then spills over to loving our neighbors. We must love ourselves first. It’s a bit like being on an airplane and they instruct you to put on your oxygen mask before you go to help your kids. That doesn’t “feel” right, but if we don’t take care of our own needs first, we’ll pass out long before we can help anyone else.

      “….why is this wrong? As Christians, aren’t we supposed to be humble? ”

      Well for me, I used to think I was being humble because I was always putting the needs of others first. God really flipped that around on me and taught me that it was actually pride, not humility. I wanted people to like me, I wanted to make them happy, I didn’t want to be the reason for someone else’s anger. Those are all “I” statements, however. Too much of me in the equation and not enough of Him. The more I was able to humble myself to Him, the more He filled me up, the more He met my needs, and then how other people responded to me became less important.

    2. Becca,
      I’m really glad you are commenting. I know that this is very confusing, especially when you are dealing with major fixed beliefs you have had for many decades. I totally welcome all of your questions and concerns so that we can hash through this stuff together. That is what it is going to take – along with the power of the Holy Spirt and His healing – to break free from the destructive mindsets and warped ways of thinking into the freedom and truth of Christ. 🙂

      What I believe you may be thinking is that there are only these two extremes – doormat/people pleaser vs. controlling, disrespectful, selfish tyrant. Both of those extremes are destructive. There is a place high above the center of these sinful extremes, like I talked about in the Pendulum Effect post that is in a healthy place where we are neither of the two sinful extremes.

      We are supposed to be humble. Yes. We are supposed to consider the needs of others before our own needs. Yes. We are to live in a selfless way. Yes. But I think it is important to define what these things mean. If we have warped definitions of these biblical concepts – we will get really messed up.

      There is pride and on the opposite end of the spectrum there is false humility. Both of these are sinful. In the center, where we soar on wings like eagles by the power of the Holy Spirit – there is genuine, godly humility. False humility is about things like – playing the martyr, holding onto resentment, being bitter, expecting people to read our minds, refusing to ask for what we want and need, acting like we are supposed to suffer and having a chip on our shoulder about it. It is actually fueled by pride. We stubbornly and self-righteously refuse to receive love from God and from others. We can’t love ourselves and we truly can’t love God or other people, either. It is about believing our own wisdom is greater than God’s. That is very prideful. We trust self not God.

      Godly humility is about knowing how big and holy God is and knowing how small and inherently sinful we are. It is about realizing that there is no good in us. It is about realizing that we are 100% dependent on Christ for there to be any good in us. It is about being able to receive God’s love, mercy, grace, and truth. It is about allowing God to have control and allowing Him to completely change our hearts, minds, and souls as we trust His wisdom and His truth and we reject our own wisdom and truth. We trust God not self. Then we open our hearts to receive all that God has for us. We receive it graciously with thanksgiving and we allow God to pour through us to others. It is not about self-effort or self. It is ALL about Jesus.

      I’m glad that you are not willing to bend on certain Scriptural principles like creation. That is awesome! 🙂

      I don’t want you to be a controlling, selfish, rude, demanding, contentious woman. That is what I was. It was awful! But you can have the power in Christ to see your MIL with God’s eyes and love her with His love and be relatively unaffected by her idolatry of self as you pray for her and trust God to change her and as you seek to bless her. You don’t have to change yourself for her to make her happy. You can allow God to empower you to love her the way He wants you to and to approach her in a way that will please and honor Him even if she doesn’t like it. Not that you will purposely try to upset her. But you can set healthy boundaries with her and you can refuse to play her controlling mind-games.

      I don’t doubt your salvation at all! This is not a matter of salvation. It is a matter of sanctification and spiritual growth. We ALL have thousands of miles to go on this journey and tons to learn. I know I do!

      I’m so glad that you are not in that legalistic church anymore. That is such a blessing!

      You DO have a lot to think about. I am excited that you are willing to think about it. Take your time. Prayerfully mull things over. See what you believe God’s Word says and be willing to reject anything that is not of Him, my beautiful sister!

      Much love!
      April

  13. Hey Becca,

    My understanding is, we are supposed to care for and seek to bless others, but not to be so focused on this that we don’t allow others to also care for and seek to bless us.

    Also, I don’t think that putting your husband’s needs or your children’s needs before your own means that your own needs can never be prioritized. Like in school, if you had two classes and you prioritized one above the other, you still did the homework for the one you didn’t prioritize. You haven’t failed at blessing your husband and kids if you ask nicely for something you’d like, allow them to do it for you, and thank them for it.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on evolution sometime – I have thought for some time that there were holes in the theory and I would like to know more from a scientific perspective what they are. 🙂

    Much love,
    Flower

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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