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