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How Can I Seriously Count Painful Times As Joy?

I was planning to write this post a few hours before my father-in-law suddenly died August 4th. It is the sequel to my post from last week about Is Real Joy Possible for Me?  I am honored to share these precious spiritual treasures with you – as it so happens – from the midst of a significant trial in my own life.

We live in a fallen world and we all face many kinds of trials in our lives. None of us are exempt. I may not have much control over what trials come my way. But I do have control over my response and attitude.

I am so excited to share some amazing truths with you – truths that will radically change your life and perspective if you are willing to embrace them.

JOY IS MY CHOICE IN TIMES OF TRIAL

I can choose to depend on God’s wisdom, His strength, His sovereignty, His power, His goodness, His love, and His vision. I can choose to trust Him and His Word. I can willingly yield to His Lordship and let Him lead me.

This takes the power of the Holy Spirit. It takes close fellowship with God. It takes practice. It is a discipline we can learn as believers with God’s help. I can begin to see hard times as spiritual tests and opportunities for growth.

When I face difficulties, the Holy Spirit empowers me (if I belong to Christ) to choose to respond in:

  • Faith
    • I don’t know the answers, but I trust that God knows what to do and that He will lead me through this. (Isa. 30:21, Ps. 23)
    • I don’t have the wisdom to solve this dilemma, but I trust that God has wisdom and power in this situation. (Isa. 40:28)
    • I know God is sovereign, good, and loving even now and even over this. (Jer. 29:11-13)
  • Joy
    • I know that God promises to use this specific trial to help me grow in my faith and in spiritual maturity, and that brings me great joy. (James 1:2-4)
    • Jesus invites me to ask for things I genuinely need – according to His will – and to receive from God, that my joy might be full. (John 16:24)
    • A joyful heart is good medicine. (Prov. 17:22)
    • God calls me to rejoice in Him at all times. (Phil. 4:4)
    • I have so many reasons for joy in Christ, even in the midst of my trials (the following is excerpted from www.gotquestions.org).
      • The joy of my salvation.
      • The joy of anticipating God’s deliverance.
      • The joy of God’s presence.
      • The joy of spiritual maturity.
  • Anticipation
    • I can’t wait to see how God will use this awful situation to create something beautiful and good in my life and bring glory to Himself!
    • I want to go much deeper with the Lord! (Eph. 1:15-23)
    • God wants to use hardships to help conform me to the image of Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:29)
  • An Open Heart
    • What does God want me to learn and how does He want to help me to grow in this painful trial?
  • Spiritual Treasure Seeking
    • It is only in the dark caves where people can find diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and gems physically, it is similar spiritually. The greatest treasures are found in the darkest times, if we are willing to look.
    • I don’t want to miss any of the gifts He has for me here.
  • Prayer
    • Lord, I give this situation to You. You see all that I am going through and my suffering. I trust You are with me. I trust You are sovereign and good.
    • I invite Your provision!
    • How should I pray about this situation?
    • Not my will but Yours be done! (Luke 22:42)
    • Is there anyone I should ask to pray with me/for me about this?
    • What step do you want me to take next?
    • I only want to see Your greatest glory!
    • I want Your perfect will.
    • What miracles do You want to do here?
  • Peace
    • In the world, I will have tribulation. But Jesus promises to give me His peace. (John 16:33)
    • God will keep me in His perfect peace when I trust Him and my mind is focused on Him. (Isaiah 26:3)
    • I can lay all of my concerns, worries, and fears before God because He cares for me. (Phil. 4:6)
  • Assurance 
    • He is going to make a way for me to make it through this. (Isa. 43:16-19)
    • He is with me and He will never leave or forsake me. (Deut. 31:8)
  • Rest
    • Jesus invites me to come to Him when I am weary and He will give me rest for my soul. (Matt. 11:28-30)
  • Strength 
    • His grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in my weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)
    • God promises I can do all that He calls me to do through the power of Christ in me. (Phil. 4:12-13)
    • The Lord is my strength and my song. (Ex. 15:2)
  • Thanksgiving
    • I can look for the blessings and provision of God in the midst of my trial. (1 Thess. 5:18)
    • I can give thanks to the Lord for He is good! (Ps. 107:1)
  • Focusing on Positive Things 
    • I can focus on the good things, the Philippians 4:8 things, because whatever I focus on tends to grow in my field of spiritual vision.
  • Receptivity to His promises
    • I learn about God’s promises theoretically as I read His Word. But it is during a crisis that I actually get to rest the weight of my life on God’s promises and experience them in reality.
    • I want to keep all of God’s promises in my heart and stand firmly on them and His Word.
  • Ministry
    • How does God want me to shine for Christ in the midst of this yucky situation? (Phil. 2:14-16, Matt. 5:13-16)
    • How might He want me to be an example, blessing, and witness to others? (1 Cor. 7:16, Acts 1:8)
    • How does God desire me to overcome evil with good here? (Rom. 12:17-21)
    • I can rest assured that God will use my pain – and the comfort He brings to me – to bring comfort, healing, salvation, and to strengthen the faith to others in the future when they hear about what He did for me and how I responded. (2 Cor. 1:6)

This doesn’t mean I won’t have feelings of sadness. I will! I am human, after all. I will have sadness and grief, at times. I will feel frustration and anger, at times. I will hurt. I will have emotions. It is important to feel my emotions and to identify them. But I don’t have to be a slave to my emotions. And I don’t have to be a slave to my circumstances.

Things may look hopeless from a human perspective…

Thankfully, I don’t have to see from a mere human perspective if I know Jesus!

THE BLESSINGS OF TRIALS

Scripture is full of encouragement about the spiritual benefits of our trials as followers of Christ. Here are a few of the blessings my trials can produce in my life as I trust God:

  • Lamentations 1
    • Suffering for sin may help me repent of sin and return to God if I have strayed.
    • God disciplines those who belong to Him for our good, so that we will turn from death and embrace His Life.
  • Matthew 5:10-11 and Acts 5:41
    • Suffering for my faith in Christ means I have been counted worthy to suffer in Jesus’ name.
    • I am blessed if I am insulted, punished, and/or persecuted for my faith in Jesus.
  • Romans 5:3-5
    • I can glory in my sufferings because of the good they will produce
      • perseverance
      • character
      • hope
  • James 1:2-4
    • As I trust God during suffering, He will use my trials to produce good things in me:
      • endurance
      • greater faith
      • greater spiritual maturity
      • spiritual completeness
      • I will lack nothing
  • Hebrews 12:4-12
    • I am to count hardships as discipline from God that will help me learn and grow. His discipline:
      • is verification of my adoption as a child of God
      • brings greater respect for God
      • yields peaceful fruit
      • brings about righteousness
      • is guaranteed to be for my benefit
      • allows me to share in God’s holiness

NOTE – “Counting trials as joy” does not mean that I need to try to create trials for myself, that I should be purposely combative or argumentative, or that I should try to prolong trials. It also doesn’t mean I must stay in a dangerous, abusive situation where I am being severely sinned against if I am able to get somewhere safe.  

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If you have experienced God’s supernatural joy and/or blessings in the midst of a difficult trial, or you have learned something helpful about how to “count it all joy when you face trials of many kinds,” we’d love to hear about it! I’m so thankful we can walk this road together and encourage one another.

RESOURCES

Verses about trials – Open Bible

Verses about God’s wisdom – Open Bible

A list of all of God’s promises – Bible Gateway

Verses about peace – Open Bible

Verses about suffering as a believer – Open Bible

Verses about being persecuted and hated for faith in Christ – Open Bible

Verses about God’s Sovereignty – Open Bible

Verses about finding God’s direction – Open Bible

Verses about strength – Open Bible

“The Peaceful Mom – Building a Healthy Foundation with Christ As Lord” has one chapter on counting trials as joy and one chapter on having an eternal perspective. Most of the chapters in the book would be a blessing to all women, not just moms.

Top 5 Pitfalls on This Journey

Photo by Raúl Nájera on Unsplash

On this lifelong journey as I seek to become the woman, wife, and mom God created me to be, there are some common snares. I have fallen into them myself, at times, and I have seen other women fall into them, too.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matt. 7:13-14

It is a very narrow, counter-cultural, politically incorrect, difficult path to follow Jesus – not just in the area of being a godly wife and mom, but in every area. His ways go completely against our old sinful nature and our human wisdom. It requires the power of the Holy Spirit every moment. But God’s path is more than worth it in light of eternity!

One of the most helpful things can sometimes simply be to know where some common pitfalls are. Here is my top 5 list.

  1. Having a Divided Heart 

I must seek the Lord first in my life. He must be my greatest desire, my greatest Treasure. If I put other things/people/desires above Christ in my heart, even good things like – a strong marriage, my husband, romance, feeling loved, my children, my happiness, or self – I am living in idolatry. Idolatry never satisfies. It leads to heartache, loneliness, frustration, disappointment, discontentment, depression, anxiety, and spiritual death. (Sometimes, idolatry even leads to suicidal thoughts or even death if we follow it long enough.)

The Prince of Peace, Jesus, must be firmly on the throne of my heart and He must have no rivals. It is very easy for me to slip into wrong motives and not even realize it. So if I notice that I am feeling stuck, frustrated, resentful, negative, or disappointed, the first thing I want to do is a throne check of my heart. I invite the Lord to shine His light into the darkest places of my heart and expose any toxic thinking.

I want to confirm to myself and to the Lord that He is my greatest priority, my greatest desire, and that He alone is worthy of all of my love, worship, adoration, reverence, trust, faith, and hope. I remind myself to seek my identity and security in Christ alone. When I am walking in right relationship with Jesus, He gives me His supernatural power to relate in godly ways to other people.

2. Starving Myself Spiritually

I can’t possibly be a godly woman, wife, or mom if I am not receiving proper spiritual nourishment. Just like I have no strength physically if I starve myself more than a day or so, the same thing is true spiritually. I must have serious time with the Lord on a daily basis as much as I need food to eat and water to drink every day.

This is more challenging in some seasons than in other seasons of life. But I can pray, “Lord, I want to make You my first priority. Show me where I can carve out the time I need so desperately with You. Help me to get rid of distractions and things that may be good, but that are keeping me from what is best.” I need to do anything it takes for me to be filled up with the Lord, myself. Then I will be overflowing with God’s power, love, and Life and can pour these blessings into my marriage and family.

Spiritual nourishment involves:

  • reading, studying, and meditating on the Bible with the desire to apply and obey God’s truth.
  • praying and being still before the Lord.
  • memorizing verses/passages of Scripture.
  • praising and thanking God.
  • repenting of sin ASAP.
  • replacing any lies and unbiblical thinking with God’s truth.
  • fasting of various types.
  • fellowship with other believers.
  • avoiding things that are spiritually toxic to me – things that distract me from God, things that encourage me to be afraid, things that entice me to sin. These may be books, movies, types of social media, the news, certain friendships, tempting situations/people, certain topics of conversation, a specific train of thought, etc…

I need some amount of space/time where I can completely focus on the Lord and be still and allow Him to speak to me and to transform me.

3. Attempting to Be Godly in My Own Strength

I need time with the Lord in prayer and in His Word, but I also need the power of the Holy Spirit. If I am trying to be a godly woman, wife, or mom in my own power, I will fail. Every time. I don’t have the ability to do this in my own strength. Some telltale signs that I am trying to do this whole thing without the power of the Spirit are things like:

  • exhaustion
  • frustration
  • legalism – trying to follow a long list of rules
  • lack of joy and peace
  • resentment toward my husband/children for not changing
  • resentment toward God for not doing what I want Him to do yet
  • coldness in my heart
  • irritability
  • self-righteousness/pride
  • worry/fear/anxiety
  • depression/discouragement
  • hatred of self or others
  • hopelessness

Here is a post about how to tell if I am trying to do this in my strength or in God’s strength.

4. Changing Myself Only If Other People Will Change, Too 

I am willing to change IF my changes will make other people change like I want them to. If they don’t change quickly enough, then I get upset that “this isn’t working!” I feel tempted to give up and go back to my old sinful ways. Ultimately, my obedience to God is all about getting what I really want from other people/relationships, not about being close to Him.

This is actually an attempt at manipulation and control on my part. When things don’t go my way, my real motives are exposed.

“I have been doing so much to try to change. My husband hasn’t changed at all. My children haven’t changed at all. This is NOT fair! I want them to work just as hard as I am working and I want them to change, too. Why should I try so hard when no one else is doing anything to try to bless and love me like they should? Following God isn’t worth it!”

Now, instead of getting frustrated when other people aren’t changing, I realize this is a spiritual test for me. I can ask myself:

  • Why am I doing this journey, really? Am I doing it to honor and love the Lord or to get what I want from other people?

If I am doing this for the Lord, then I will be committed to doing things His way and to continue on this narrow path no matter what anyone else decides to do. My goals are to honor, love, and reverence God and to bless others. Challenges will crop up that force me to have to re-examine my motives at times. That is actually a blessing. It is an opportunity to undergo the refining fire of God. In Jesus, there is contentment even in painful trials.

As I double down on my desire simply to obey and follow Christ, my faith will grow and God will bless me spiritually. Then I will have His power to pray His healing, blessing, and Life into my family in His way and in His timing. Not for my selfish desires but for His glory!

It is tempting to expect and to desire everyone else to change first. Here is a post about why I want to deal with my sin first and allow God to change me first.

5. Allowing My Feelings and Thoughts to Go Unchecked

Taking my thoughts captive for Christ is an essential daily discipline on this journey. I can’t allow just any old thoughts and feelings to run rampant in my heart and mind. That is a recipe for disaster. If I realize there are sinful thoughts – bitterness, fear, resentment, unforgiveness, pride, self-righteousness, discouragement, lies, etc.. in my thinking – I must do something about it. Otherwise, I give room to the enemy to take territory in my life. I am responsible for my own emotions and thoughts.

In Christ, my emotions and thoughts do not rule me, Jesus rules them.

God instructs me, as a believer in Christ, to reject any sinful or wrong thoughts and motives and to replace them with His truth from His Word. As I learn to immediately shoot down sinful thoughts and motives and replace them with God’s truth, I will be able to walk in greater fellowship with Him and experience so much more of His love and abundant spiritual life in my everyday challenges. Here is a video about how to take your thoughts captive for Christ.

PRAYER

Lord,

We choose to have You, and You alone on the throne of our hearts. We submit ourselves to Your Lordship. You are the only true God there is. You are the only one worthy of all of our love, adoration, reverence, respect, awe, and submission. Your love for us is beyond our ability to fathom as we look at the cross and all You have done for us. Please help us be wholeheartedly devoted to You. Help us have eyes to see these pitfalls and help us to turn to You for the power we need to walk in obedience and in right relationship with You. Jesus’ power is what we need every moment. Transform our hearts, minds, and lives for Your glory! Help us to walk in the reality that we are new creations in Christ and that we are dead to our old sinful selves and this world. We are alive to God through Jesus!

Amen!

RELATED VERSES

My Motives:

  • I am your shield, your very great reward. Gen. 15:1
  • “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matt. 13:44
  • ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ Mark. 12:30 (The Greatest Commandment)
  • “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26 **

My Need for Time/Fellowship with God:

  • Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Ps. 119:105
  • But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matt. 4:4
  • “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matt. 5:6
  • “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” John 4:34
  • Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35

Being Filled with the Spirit:

  • He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Matt. 3:11
  • It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. John 6:63
  • The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Rom. 8:6
  • Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Gal. 5:16

Taking Responsibility for Myself:

  • Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Prov. 28:13
  • And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:31
  • For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 2 Cor. 5:10
  • Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal. 5:19-21
  • Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Gal. 6:6-18

Taking My Thoughts Captive for Christ:

  • We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor. 10:5
  • Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil. 4:8
  • For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Eph. 6:12

** Note on Luke 14:26 – The Second Greatest commandment is that we love other people as ourselves. So Jesus is not actually saying we are to hate our family members. The meaning of this verse is that our love for Jesus is so much greater than our love for our closest family members that our love for them looks like “hate” compared to our love for Him. Paradoxically, it is only when we truly love Jesus infinitely more than others that we truly can love other people in healthy, godly ways.

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What are some of the general areas that have been pitfalls for you on this journey? What godly wisdom have you learned that may be a blessing to other women?

My Commenting Policy

RESOURCES

How to Have a Saving Relationship with Christ

Are You Giving the Enemy Authority in Your Life?

Stages of This Journey – This is a lifelong process of growing and maturing in our faith in the Lord, not an instant thing.

The Peaceful Mom – Building a Healthy Foundation with Christ As Lord has much more info on:

  • how to do throne checks.
  • creative suggestions about how to get the time with God in that you need when you have young children at home or you are in a time crunch.
  • how to get rid of distractions so you have the time you need with God.
  • how to take our thoughts captive for Christ

NOTE – If you are experiencing severe problems in your marriage (uncontrolled mental illness, severe spiritual oppression, unrepentant immorality, addictions to drugs/alcohol/gambling, abuse, etc…) please seek appropriate, experienced help.  Contact a trusted godly counselor, a trusted pastor, the police, a doctor, or whoever would be able to get you the help you need right away.

The Cure for My Compulsion to Control – Part 2

We are continuing a series that started earlier this month:

Once I see that God is God and I am not and I begin to rebuild my thinking on His Word and truth alone, I am ready to begin the next phase of healing from my controlling ways.

GOD’S TRUTH WILL SET ME FREE IN EVERY AREA

I allow God’s Light and Truth into the the deepest foundations of my spiritual beliefs about every topic. I invite Him to help me completely tear out my old foundations and fixed beliefs that I have cherished for so long. Then I invite the Lord to help me begin to build on Jesus Christ and His Word alone.

  • Anything that is not from Him has no place in my life and has to be trashed. It is poison.
  • Anything that is from Him, I must embrace wholeheartedly even if I don’t understand it or like it at first.

I have to be ruthless about this. And yes, it is painful. But extremely necessary.

This is the path to peace and miraculous spiritual healing and deliverance. If I don’t do this, I will suffer a lot more pain in the long run. This is not a one-time-and-done thing – it is the path I will continue to take for the rest of my life. There are layers that God will reveal to me and I deal with each one as I see it. It is part of the refining and pruning process.

I have to be willing to question the things I have believed – maybe things I have thought were true since I was very young. I need to question the things I learned and absorbed growing up and even as an adult. Just because I have thought something was true for a long time, doesn’t mean it is true. Just because it feels familiar and feels safe, doesn’t mean I can keep it.

It is ALL about Him from now on and about what He says and how He sees me and everyone and everything.

I read my Bible with new eyes, inviting God to:

  • Teach me!
  • Change me!
  • Heal me!
  • Show me Your wisdom!
  • Empower me to obey whatever You ask of me!

I commit that I will obey God and do things His way from now on – with any passage I can clearly understand. And if I don’t understand something in scripture, I will seek to understand and obey. I commit to learning sound doctrine and to handle scripture rightly. Whatever God asks me to do, I know it will be the best thing for me, for my marriage, for my family, for the kingdom, and for His glory. Bringing Him glory is my highest purpose!

For me, the next step in healing was to see God’s design for authority for His people.

GOD DESIGNED A SPECIFIC AUTHORITY STRUCTURE FOR ALL BELIEVERS

Authority

When Christ is Lord, I also yield to His structure of authority in my life according to 1 Cor. 11:3, Rom. 13:1-3, and other scriptures. I don’t buy the world’s messages or trust my own human reasoning.

God chooses to lead me (and all believers) through His Spirit, His Word, prayer, circumstances, and also through people in places of designated authority in my life: church leaders, government leaders, police officers, managers at work, my husband at home, and parents for underaged children. He provides people in leadership positions to protect, provide for, bless, lead, and create order for His people.

Of great importance – in God’s design, positions of authority/roles have nothing to do with a person’s value. This is the opposite of the world’s system where greater authority = greater value.

Every person has equal value in His eyes. Each of us are made in His image (Gen. 1:27). Men, women, different races of people, older people, young people, and babies are all precious and dearly loved by the Lord. We are all co-heirs with Christ (Gal. 3:28). If anything, God has a special place in His heart for those with the least amount of authority – children, babies, the unborn, orphans, widows, refugees, migrants, and the poor. The purpose, in God’s kingdom, for this authority structure is that those who have the most strength and power are supposed to use their gifts to bless, provide for, nurture, and protect those under their care. And those who are in positions to lead are held to higher standards by the Lord.

For more on the concept of God’s structure for authority in every area of our lives, please check out these foundational posts:

I need to know who has the God-given proper authority in various areas of my life.

I know that God has ultimate authority and sovereignty over the universe. Then when I understand what humans are in places of God-given authority and what their responsibilities are vs. what my responsibilities are – I learn to stay within my healthy boundaries and I don’t try to take on authority/decisions that don’t belong to me. If I usurp someone else’s position of God-given authority and try to do someone else’s God-given job or if I disrespect those in positions of God-given authority, I will bring judgment on myself according to Romans 13:1-3.

When I honor God’s design in any area of my life, including this one, it leads to so much weight being taken off of my shoulders and leads to His peace as I trust Him, honor His will for me, and don’t try to control things that are not mine to control. Then I am cooperating with and submitting to God rather than fighting Him. I can’t please Him if I am opposing His methods.

God leads His people through human leaders to teach us to trust Him and to increase our faith. He did it with Moses. Some men rebelled against the authority of Moses during the exodus – and they paid a hefty price (Korah’s rebellion) because:

God counts rebellion against people in positions of God-given authority as rebellion against Himself.

God also led His people in the New Testament through the apostles and then through elders, deacons, pastors, prophets, and teachers. He accomplishes His will through kings, queens, presidents, and governors. He works through our managers and bosses at work. He works through our police officers and military leaders. He works through our husbands – even unbelieving ones – to lead us into His will. And He works through our parents and teachers when we are children.

God always has a clear authority structure for us to follow. It is His choice and part of His wisdom to lead us in this way “through cords of human kindness” (Hosea 11:4). If a person in a position of God-given authority abuses that position or asks us to defy God or His Word, then we must choose to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). We don’t blindly follow people. We must use discernment. We don’t follow people into sin or away from God. God is the only one we can trust absolutely.

God uses our willingness to honor human God-given authorities to help us learn humility – which is one of the most important virtues in His sight – and to grow spiritually. Until we learn to properly submit to a person in authority, we can’t act as a person in authority in godly ways.

Note – I don’t want to allow people to abuse authority in my life and I don’t want to allow other people to take over the decisions and responsibilities that belong to me. If someone in a position of God-given authority is abusing his/her position, there should be other authorities over that person to whom we can respectfully appeal.

BEING IN A POSITION OF GOD-GIVEN AUTHORITY

When I have a position of God-given authority – I am a boss, a government official, a police officer, a teacher, or a parent of underage children – I must humbly always keep in mind that the purpose of God giving me such a position is always to accomplish His will and His purposes. It is not about me. It is about taking proper care of His beloved people and about doing His will. It is about dying to self, not becoming a tyrant.

Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions act as tyrants over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Matt. 20:25-27

 

 

Note – I have a whole chapter in my new book, The Peaceful Mom, that is releasing March 27, 2018 that may be a blessing. It is all about how we develop skewed thinking and how to correct it. There is a very helpful chart with a large number of lies we may be tempted to believe, the truth of the Bible, and scripture references to support those truths.

RELATED

Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced

 

The Cure for My Compulsion to Control – Part 1

Photo by Ashton Mullins on Unsplash

Last week I shared about how we can develop a compulsion to control other people, situations, and the Lord in this post. I thought I “had to try to control” other people and situations. I truly believed it was my responsibility and that everything would be a disaster if I didn’t make sure it all worked out right.

When I try to be in charge of things that are out of my control, I am trying to carry a very heavy weight that I was not designed by God to carry. This leads to extreme stress, frustration, depression, discouragement, anxiety, and a feeling of being completely overwhelmed. It is not the path to peace.

THE CURE FOR MY COMPULSION TO CONTROL IS VERY SIMPLE

meinchargeI need to have proper thinking about God, events, other people, and myself. I need truth.

In my old way of looking at things – subconsciously – I saw myself as very big and God and other people as rather small and mostly within my sphere of control. I would never have articulated it like that – because it sounds audacious. But this is how I lived. You could see it in the fruit of my life.

I am not saying it is painless or necessarily “easy” to give up control – but it IS simple when I see the differences between:

  • God’s responsibilities
  • Other people’s responsibilities
  • My responsibilities

Here is reality:

Goddiagram

 

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Ps. 8:3-4

When I understand who God is and the place of people in the universe, then I can begin to properly relate to God, people, and myself.

THE TRUTH

  • God alone is God, I am definitely not God. Not even close.
  • God sent Jesus, His Son, to be the only Savior people need. I am not a savior.
  • God’s Spirit is the only one who can open blind eyes and convict people of sin. Not me.
  • God sits on the throne in the highest heavens. Every knee will bow to Him alone.
  • God has put all authority under Jesus’ feet.
  • Angels bow down to God, even the demons believe and tremble.
  • God alone is worthy of worship. I am not.
  • God reigns over the universe. I do not.
  • God has all power and all wisdom. I do not.
  • God loves me, and all people, very dearly because He IS love.
  • I have value because God loves me and I am created in His image.
  • My purpose is to love and obey God and bring Him glory – and to love others with God’s love pouring through me.

I can influence God, people, and circumstances to a degree, for bad, or for good (if I allow God to work through me). But I can only control myself – my attitude, my motives, my sin, my responses to others, my words, and my actions. And even then, I can only control myself in a healthy way with the power of the Spirit.

Just to recap, my actual responsibilities are to:

  • Control myself with God’s power.
  • Love, obey, and worship God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength – which brings glory to Him.
  • Love others with God’s love.

God3

 

I can be set free from my illusion of control. And that is definitely all it was – an illusion.

God’s truth truly does set me free! I can repent from my pride – my huge pride – thinking I was so big and important. And humbly receive God’s truth. What freedom!!!! I seek only to control the things that are truly mine and I trust God with circumstances and other people.

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND WILL

Within God’s sovereignty is His permissive will and His perfect will. God’s permissive will is larger and accounts for people’s free will, their sin, the effects/consequences of sin, and Satan and his influence. But all of these things operate in the confines of God’s sovereignty and only what He allows can happen. And He uses all that does happen ultimately for His glory and for the ultimate good of those who love Him – to help conform us to the image of Christ.

He doesn’t make choices for us or violate our free-will. That is a good reminder for me that it is not my place to violate other people’s free-will either. God wants us, more than anything, to have the choice to voluntarily love Him or to reject Him. People need that choice in their relationships with me, too. The price of our free-will is very high. For us and for God. We experience earthly and eternal consequences of our choices. But we can never fall outside of His sovereignty and even Satan can never do anything without God’s permission. 

freewill3Godsperfectwill

This is how, in Christ, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He does the heavy lifting. He takes responsibility for the big stuff.

THE FIRST STEP ON THE PATH TOWARD PEACE

I can step down off of the throne of my life and invite Jesus to reign as Lord over every part of my life.

This means total, humble, absolute surrender to Him, His will, and His control. I hold nothing back from Him.

This feels pretty terrifying at first because I have only really trusted myself before. But as I taste and see that God is good, I begin to realize He is much better at being deity than I ever could be and He is trustworthy. Infinitely more trustworthy than I am! He is the only one who is truly worthy of all of my faith, obedience, and submission. I also begin to realize that trusting Him is wise and safe and trusting myself is the most dangerous place to be.

NOTE – Don’t just take my word for anything. Dig into the Bible yourself. Find out what God’s Word has to say about these important issues and choose to build your life on Christ and the Solid Rock of His Word!

RELATED

How to Have a Relationship with Christ

The Spiritual Healing That Is Available to Each of Us in Christ – by Radiant

7 Keys to Finding Real Peace

Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced

The Pain That Pushes Us to Control

Surrendering the Burden of Controlling My Husband – by Shannon Popkin

 

RESOURCES ABOUT GOD, HIS CHARACTER, PEOPLE, AND FREE WILL

The Attributes of God – by www.gotquestions.org

“Who Is God?” – Secret Church series by David Platt

In the Image of God – by John Piper

A Beginner’s Guide to Free-Will – by John Piper

 

RELATING PROPERLY TO GOD

Humility – by Andrew Murray

Absolute Surrender – by Andrew Murray (free download or audio version)

 

The Pain That Pushes Us to Try to Control

Photo by Civalias Kune on Unsplash

In my experience with women who feel they have to be in control of situations and other people, there is usually some level of trauma or hurt in her past. The level of trauma can vary. But usually something happened that caused her, as a young girl, to develop the following kind of thinking:

  • The people who are supposed to be in charge are weak. (Maybe they are incapable, absent, traumatized, or addicts.)
    • My parents can’t even take proper care of themselves. I have to be the adult and take care of them.
      • I have to be the savior for my parents.
    • My parents can’t/won’t take care of the household. I have to take care of it.
    • They are not able or willing to take proper care of me. So I have to take care of myself or no one else will meet my legitimate needs.
      • I have to be the savior for myself.
    • I have to protect my  younger siblings or something awful will happen (maybe something awful did happen, and I felt I should have been able to prevent it but I failed).
      • Our parents have failed my siblings.
      • My brothers and sisters need me.
      • I am the only one who can help them.
      • I am responsible for their lives, safety, and wellbeing. I am the parent now.
      • I have to be the savior for my siblings.
  • I am responsible for other people.
    • I am responsible for my parents.
    • I am responsible for my siblings.
    • I am responsible for other people in the world.
  • I have to take some of God’s sovereignty on my shoulders because if I don’t, everything will fall apart.
    • People who are in positions of authority in my life have failed me.
    • They seem wimpy and weak.
    • Everything is up to me.
    • It is my duty and responsibility to be sure things go right.
    • It would be irresponsible of me not to take care of other people because I am the only one who can.
    • I can’t be irresponsible and cause other people to suffer like I suffered.
    • I can’t be irresponsible and cause myself to suffer again.
    • Yes, this weight of responsibility for everything and everyone is way too much, but if I set it down, it will result in catastrophe like I have experienced before.
    • Stress, worry, anxiety, and bitterness are just the price I have to pay for having to be in charge. There is no way around those things. This is what love is.
    • I can’t trust anyone else. They will fail me.
    • People in positions of authority represent God to me, and so I have to conclude that God must also be weak, incapable, or absent.
    • I can’t really trust God.
    • I can only trust myself.
    • I have the wisdom that people need. Only I can help everyone.
    • I have to be the savior for everyone.
  • I am not secure financially, emotionally, relationally, or physically. 

Some Things That May Have Been Triggers:

  • Someone got hurt and she took full responsibility and believes it was completely her fault (even if it really wasn’t). She can’t forgive herself. She feels compelled to prevent something like that from ever happening again. She feels overly responsible for other people because of this.
  • Perhaps her dad was very passive or absent and her mom was completely in charge and had a controlling personality and being a controlling woman/wife/mom just seems “normal.”
  • She may have been the oldest child and was given, or felt she had to take, extra responsibility for her siblings and felt she had to act like a parent more than a sibling.
  • Her pastor or parents may have taught, or she may have misunderstood, that people’s free will is huge and God’s sovereignty is very small.
  • She may have heard that she is responsible for making sure people go to heaven or it will be her fault they end up in hell.
  • She may have witnessed some horrific tragedy or accident at school or somewhere else and blamed herself for not being able to stop it or for not being able to save everyone.
  • She may have been taught that God does not exist and she can only depend on herself.
  • She may have personality traits tend to lean toward being a fixer, doer, and in charge.
  • Her sinful nature is happy to help promote control and pride.
  • She may have bought some of the messages of radical feminism, even if she didn’t study it, just by absorbing it from our culture.
    • Women should be in charge.
    • Men are evil.
    • Women are goddesses and are always good.
    • Men are idiots.
    • Women are very wise.
    • God either doesn’t exist or He is a woman.
    • You can’t depend on the God of the Bible.
    • The Bible has no authority over our lives as women.
    • The Bible is not true.
    • The church has no authority over our lives.
    • No God-given authority in scripture has any right to guide, lead, or direct women.
    • Everything rests on your shoulders as a woman to take care of yourself.

The bottom line is this:

  • She believes she must make sure everything turns out okay and that it is her responsibility to do so.
  • She has a small, wimpy, or non-existent picture of God and a picture of herself as big, strong, and powerful.
  • Self is on the throne of her life, not God.
  • She is ensnared by pride and unbelief.

She develops some skewed thinking about God, others, relationships, and herself. That skewed thinking becomes the foundation of her understanding for how to relate in marriage and family later.

When someone’s core beliefs about God, other people, relationships, and themselves get skewed (and all of us experience this to some degree) – the only way to heal is for that person to be willing to examine these core beliefs against real truth. We must learn to take our thoughts captive for Christ. That is a scary thing. A painful thing – at first. But it is a necessary pain that leads to healing. Kind of like the pain of having a wound full of gangrene debrided. It is necessary to get rid of the toxins and the lethal infection. As we tear out the faulty foundations in our thinking, we can invite God to help us build all of our fixed beliefs about important topics on His Word and truth alone.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matt. 7:24-27

 

We all tend to develop wrong thinking as children. Then we build our lives on those messed up beliefs. But when we build on anything other than the truth of God’s Word, we are building on sinking sand. Things begin to collapse the farther we go along in life because the foundation of our belief system is faulty.

It takes great courage to be willing to examine our fixed beliefs and to question them. And to allow the Lord to show us His infinitely higher way of thinking. We have to tear out the old foundation and rebuild a new foundation for our belief system on Jesus and His Word. It is hard. But it is worth it.

As we do this, we have the incredible blessing and gift from the Lord of finding spiritual, emotional, and relational healing in Christ.

Next week we will dig further into the cure for a compulsion to control.

SHARE:

If you struggle with control, is there a specific event or situation in your past that you can link to this struggle? You are welcome to share with us.

Much love!

RELATED:

Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced (My new book, The Peaceful Mom, will have a whole chapter on this issue with a chart of lies we tend to believe vs. the truth of God’s Word – the book releases March 27th, 2018).

Healthy VS Unhealthy Relationships

Fear Fuels Our Need to Control

The Spiritual Healing That Is Available to Each of Us in Christ – by Radiant

25 Ways to Be a Safe Place for Your Husband Emotionally

Taking Our Thoughts Captive for Christ – VIDEO

Facing Our Deepest Fears

Experiencing God’s Victory over Fear

But I’m Right! I’m the Better Leader. I Should Be in Charge.

Why Won’t My Husband Lead?

My Husband Is Not a Good Enough Spiritual Leader

Ways Husbands Lead That Wives Often Don’t Notice

My Husband Doesn’t Speak My Love Language

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

The book, “The Five Love Languages,” by Gary Chapman (which has sold over 11 million copies)  can be a wonderful tool to help us better understand our husbands and ourselves. It has been a blessing to countless marriages and he has written a number of books in the same vein that have helped many people, as well.

The five love languages Chapman writes about are:

  • Words of affirmation.
  • Quality time.
  • Receiving gifts.
  • Acts of service.
  • Physical touch.

From my perspective, it is ideal if both spouses seek to show all of these kinds of love to each other. There are always ways we can grow in showing love.

The book is most helpful, in my view, if we approach the issue like this:

  • X is my husband’s love language, so I am going to learn to start speaking love to him in ways that are more meaningful to him.
  • I also can begin to receive the love language my husband speaks and learn to receive love from him the way he tries to show love.

I have no problem with a wife respectfully asking for what she would like at appropriate times (without making demands or pressuring her husband):

  • Honey, it would mean so much to me if we could spend 30 minutes together tonight talking about our day. I feel so emotionally connected to you when we do that.
  • When you share words of affirmation with me, when you tell me when you see me doing something well, or you share verbal appreciation, that really makes me feel loved.
  • I am so excited that you got me a new coffee table! It is beautiful! I feel SO loved when you pick out a sweet gift for me.
  • Babe, I appreciate it so much when you take the trash out when it starts to get full.
  • I love when we get a chance to cuddle at night and when you play with my hair and show me a lot of physical affection.

However, a pitfall I have seen for some wives (with this or almost any book that talks about marriage) is that it can be tempting to start thinking things like:

  • X is my love language, and my husband isn’t speaking my love language.
  • My husband needs to start doing what I want him to do or he isn’t loving me enough and he isn’t being a good husband.
  • It is my husband’s job to make me happy. He is responsible for my emotions and for me feeling loved enough.
  • If my husband won’t speak my love language when and how I want him to, I’m justified in feeling resentful and bitter.
  • I may even feel justified to sin against my husband if he doesn’t show me love exactly the way I would like for him to.

The enemy would love to use anything, even a great book with many biblical truths, as a springboard to sinful thoughts in our lives. How we must guard our hearts!

CHERISHING RESENTMENT LEADS TO DESTRUCTION

It is very easy to focus on what we want our husbands to do to change. But when we do that, we begin to set up a bunch of expectations – some of which may not be very realistic. Unrealistic expectations invariably lead to resentment. And once we are cherishing resentment and bitterness, we tend to believe we can justify practically any sin against our men. This sin, when it is unchecked, snowballs and gets worse and worse. We may engage in things like:

Once we get into this mode, we are operating in the fruit of the flesh rather than the fruit of the Spirit. It is a recipe for pain and misery. For our husbands. For our marriages. For our children. And for ourselves.

TAKING PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY IN CHRIST LEADS TO ABUNDANT SPIRITUAL LIFE

I know this is not a popular thing in our culture. But when I try to make my husband, my children, or anyone else responsible for my emotional and spiritual wellbeing – I am living in a dysfunctional relationship – or sin. This goes by several names:

As a believer in Christ, my spiritual wellbeing is dependent on my relationship with Jesus alone. I am responsible for abiding in Him and being filled up with Him. I am personally responsible for confessing any sin and for finding my contentment in Jesus alone. I know that if I am experiencing the fruit of the flesh (Gal. 5:18-21) – it is about my character and my walk with the Lord. And I know that if I want to live in the power of His Spirit and have His fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23)- that I am responsible to the Lord for turning away from every sinful thing and for yielding myself to the Lordship of Christ.

The way I act, the way I treat my husband (and other people), is about whether my sinful old flesh is in control or whether God’s Spirit is in control of my life at this moment.

In Jesus, I can be content in all circumstances – whether I am receiving love in exactly the way I would prefer or not – through Him who gives me strength (Phil. 4:12-13).

ASKING GOD TO CHANGE ME, MY PERSPECTIVE, AND MY HEART

It’s easy to pray, “God, change my husband!” And there are times when it is right to pray for our husbands to change – to have God’s victory over sin, to have more of His Spirit, to have His wisdom, etc…

But there is such a need for us to first pray most fervently, “Lord, change me!”

If my husband can’t or won’t change or won’t do what I would like for him to do, I can still live in the power of the Spirit. I can still live in God’s peace, joy, patience, and self-control. I can focus on the things God calls me to change – myself. And trust God to work on the things I can’t change – my husband.

I can invite the Spirit to work powerfully in me, my my marriage, and in my husband’s life for His glory, not for my own will. Here are some examples of how a wife might approach this issue in prayer:

  • Lord, help me learn to appreciate and receive the ways my husband does show love to our children and me.
    • He fixed the sump pump last week. THAT was real love right there. I can receive that act of service as a massive gift of love for me and our family.
    • He went with me somewhere even though it wasn’t his favorite place. That was a gift to me.
    • He asked my son to send a picture of my grocery list when he stopped by Walmart and he picked up everything on the list. Wow! He is my hero!
    • He took all of us to the movies over break. He is so generous. What a thoughtful gift.
    • He helped me take my car to the shop today.
    • He replaced my dead car battery last month.
    • He takes the kids to church on Wednesday nights when I am at work.
    • He sits on the outside of the pew at church on Sunday mornings so that he can try to protect us from harm if something were to happen.
  • Lord, help me not get so fixated on “my love language” and what I want that I miss the beautiful ways my husband expresses his love to me and to our children.
  • Lord, my husband isn’t as verbal as I would like. He only gives me a compliment once every year or two. I really love words of affirmation. But maybe You have things for me to learn in this situation. Help me to be open to receiving the lessons and spiritual growth that I can receive from You as I have a husband who is not super verbal. Help me realize that even though words of affirmation are beautiful and powerful, the way my husband shows love to me and our children is just as beautiful and powerful – maybe even more so.
    • Would words of affirmation have been as helpful when the sump pump was messed up and the toilets wouldn’t flush? No, not really. I do like having toilets that flush!
    • Maybe giving gifts is not my love language, but look at all of the thought and research my husband put into the gifts he gave our children, our extended family, and me. He is SO talented at that! It is not my gifting. But I can certainly appreciate that it is his gifting.
    • Maybe my husband doesn’t write me love letters or send loving/flirty texts or emails. I would like it if he did that. But he comes home every night and eats with our family. He is a good provider and a hard worker. He tries to protect us spiritually, financially, emotionally, and physically when there is danger.
    • He doesn’t give me a lot of compliments, but he also doesn’t give me much criticism. That is sure a blessing!
  • Lord, help me to learn to give love (and respect – because feminine respect speaks love so powerfully to men) to my husband in the ways that matter most to him. And if something I do to show him love doesn’t really do much for him, help me to see how I can change my approach.
  • Lord, thank You for my husband. He is a gift to me from You. I’m going to write down all of the good things I can think about regarding his character and the things he has done for my children and for me in my quiet time this week.
  • Lord, help me to be a blessing to my husband simply out of a desire to please and honor You.

SHARE:

How has God spoken to you in this post or about these issues in the past? You are welcome to share insights you have learned or struggles you are having so that we might encourage and pray for you.

Much love!

 

 

 

 

How Marriage Books/Blogs/Seminars Can Be Dangerous

There are all kinds of wives who read marriage blogs and books with all kinds of histories, bents, personalities, tendencies, and marriage dynamics. There are many different levels of spirituality. Some are unbelievers, some are baby Christians, and some are in various other stages of spiritual growth in Christ.

I think of there being a continuum in a lot of areas of our personalities and approaches – things like:

Too Quiet <——> Too Talkative

Passive <——-> Controlling

Self-harming <——-> Other-harming

Doormat <——> Bulldozer

Conflict Avoiding <——-> Conflict Starting

This is very simplistic – I realize that real life and real people aren’t always that black and white. But it may be helpful for the sake of illustration.

When it comes to reading about marriage and finding what is most helpful to point us to Christ and His healing, truth, and love – sometimes what one person on one end of the extreme needs is the opposite of what someone on the other end of the line needs. The healthiest place of balance is usually a thin tightrope in the middle of these fleshly extremes. We get there with the help of God’s Spirit’s power and the truth of His Word. But we may need different approaches to our marriages depending on our particular bent, filters, wounds, marriage dynamics, and personalities.

Some resources will be helpful for all wives, especially things about our walk with the Lord. We all want to get to the same end result – becoming the godly women and wives God calls us to be. Finding healing and hope for our marriages and families in Jesus. God’s Word and promises apply to us all equally.

NOTE – There are also some marriages where one or both spouse is also abusive – emotionally, verbally, financially, physically, and/or sexually. That can impact how wives hear, or mishear, things even more – especially about topics like respect and biblical submission. This is why sometimes those who have experienced abuse may do best reading resources for wives specifically designed for those who have suffered from abuse or talking to a specialized godly counselor in person one-on-one.

TWO BIG DANGERS

If a wife who tends to be a strong, Type-A, take-charge personality reads resources designed for wives who tend toward passivity and being too quiet, she may tend to hear:

  • “Stand up more for yourself, insist on your way more than ever, be even more strong against your husband and even more dominating. All that matters is your opinion and what you need. Don’t let your husband have a voice at all. Your husband is entirely at fault for 100% of the problems in your marriage.”

Of course, that is not the message that was intended in a biblically sound resource, but that is sometimes what Type-A wives might hear from resources designed for wives struggling with passivity. This is what strong personality wives especially tend to hear if they read resources for wives who are being emotionally abused by their husbands – when they are truly not being emotionally abused themselves. We have to be really careful.

If we Type-A wives read something and then feel emboldened to be more controlling, more disrespectful, more harsh, and more condemning toward our husband, that is probably not be the best resource for us. We may do best focusing on dealing with our own sin and our own obedience to the Lord rather than how to change our husbands or how to try to address our husband’s issues, at least at first. We may need to address our husband’s sin at some point, but we will need to deal with “the beam” in our own eye first, in most cases.

If a wife who tends to struggle more with being too passive, too quiet, too respectful, and too submissive to her husband reads material for wives who are more controlling, she tends to hear:

  • “Be quiet and say nothing All that matters is your husband’s opinion and what he needs. You don’t get to have a voice at all. You are entirely at fault for 100% of the problems in your marriage.”

Of course, that is not the message that was intended in a biblically sound resource, but that is sometimes what certain wives might hear from resources designed for wives who do struggle with control.  If we think we hear that we need to be oppressed, completely quiet, doormat-like, and to take all the blame in the marriage – that resource may not be the best resource for us.

We may do best focusing on receiving God’s love, healing, and truth into our own hearts first, and learning to think rightly about God, others, and ourselves first, rather than focusing on respecting our husbands first. And we need to be able to get rid of the toxic messages we have received and learn to use our voice and influence. Eventually, after we have healed a good bit spiritually, and we understand our influence authority and godly femininity better, we can begin to understand the concepts of respect and submission in a healthy way, rather than a toxic way.

There are some resources we may need to avoid, at least for awhile.

OTHER POSSIBLE DANGERS

  • If we don’t know Jesus personally as our Savior and Lord, His Word and principles will not make sense (1 Cor. 2:14).
  • Of course, we need to evaluate any resource for sound doctrine and compare it to scripture. Not all resources labelled, “Christian,” are doctrinally sound.
  • We have to know scripture for ourselves and we need the Spirit to help us handle God’s Word rightly. Otherwise, we can twist God’s Word or accept teaching that has been twisted – false teaching.
  • We have to guard our hearts and minds because we could misunderstand or misinterpret correct teaching and sound doctrine in the Bible and/or from Christian teachers. (Ideally, we would have a godly husband we could check with on these things, or a trusted godly mentoring wife to ask about anything that seems confusing.)
  • It is possible for us to try to make changes in our own power without God’s Spirit, even if the teaching we read is biblical, this will not work.
  • It is possible for us to focus on what our husbands should do and ignore what God calls us to do, and that we could develop an entitlement mindset.
  • It is possible for us to read only about what wives should do and ignore the big picture and to enable an abusive husband to continue in his abuse or to leave our husband’s sin unaddressed when we really should address it biblically in a godly, respectful way.
  • It is possible to want to change ourselves in order to try to get our husband to change – which could be manipulation.
  • We can sometimes make a human author’s writing more important than the Bible.
  • We could submit to a particular teacher rather than appropriately submitting to our husband.
  • We can let Christian resources/teaching replace our time with God, the Word, prayer, and our walk with the Lord.
  • We can get legalistic about books, lists, posts, and suggestions from human authors.
  • We can expect a human teacher/author/blogger to spoonfeed us and not invest ourselves in our walk with the Lord.
  • We can make wanting a godly marriage an idol.
  • We can make wanting our husband to be saved an idol.
  • We can focus too much on our marriage, and even pray too much for it. Jesus and our walk with Him have to be first by a long shot.
  • Sometimes abusive husbands can take material written for wives about respecting our husbands and biblical submission (even in the Bible) and try to cram that down their wife’s throat in extremely selfish, ungodly ways as they totally ignore all of the rest of the Bible and all of the instructions for them about how to live for Christ and about being godly husbands. That upsets me beyond words!

If our motives, our hearts, and/or our understanding are not right, any resource (including the Bible) could be dangerous because we are likely to misunderstand and misapply what we read.

SOME SIGNS THAT A RESOURCE MAY NOT A GOOD FIT

It causes us to feel:

  • Emotionally/spiritually crushed and hopeless.
  • We are being pushed more toward an extreme. (i.e.: Your marriage problems are 100% your fault, or everything is 100% your husband’s fault. Rather than realizing we are responsible for our sin, our thoughts, our motives, and our obedience to God and our husbands are responsible for themselves.)
  • Guilt, shame, and worldly sorrow that leads to death rather than godly sorrow that leads to repentance and life.
  • Entitlement and/or sinful empowerment to do things in selfish, destructive ways.
  • We are moving farther away from the Lord and His healing.

This requires wise discernment from the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes we may feel legitimate conviction about sin. That is a good thing, even though it is painful at first. Then we can repent and allow God to heal and restore us. But if we are sinking into a terrible depression from the enemy or we feel completely paralyzed, confused, or stuck, we may need to reach out for help or look for other resources, at least for a time, to find the healing we need in Jesus.

SOME SIGNS THAT A RESOURCE MAY BE A GOOD FIT

It causes us to:

  • Realize legitimate sin, wrong thinking, toxic lies in our lives that God wants to remove and help us heal from.
  • Hate sin more.
  • See more of the love, grace, mercy, truth, holiness, and wisdom of God.
  • Love God more.
  • Love others more with His unconditional love.
  • Think more biblically.
  • Understand other people’s perspectives better.
  • Understand our own perspectives, motives, and thinking better.
  • Find tools to help us deal with our sinful tendencies.
  • Look to the Holy Spirit for help.
  • Depend on God’s Word more.
  • Grow in our faith.
  • Grow in the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

WE ALL NEED THESE THINGS FIRST

A saving relationship with Jesus Christ as not just Savior but also Lord.

Spiritual Healing in Christ – by Radiant

The power of the Holy Spirit

A Renewed Mind – by John Piper

Time Alone with God – by Francis Chan

Time in the Word of God

PRAYER

Lord,

We all want to be close to You. We all want to think rightly about You, our husbands, and ourselves. We all want to experience Your healing and Your power in our lives. Help each of us to find the resources that best fit us and that most help us plug into Jesus and His healing, truth, and love.

Amen!

SHARE

What are some resources you have found you need to avoid, and why? What are some resources that have been a blessing to you?

————————-

RESOURCES

Wives who tend to struggle more with being doers, fixers, and taking over often do best reading about things like:

Wives who tend to struggle more with being too quiet and passive, especially with husbands with very strong personalities tend to do best reading about things like:

Sometimes, as we are learning, we may swing too far one way, then the other. So there may be times we need to read some other resources to help balance things properly. Some resources are helpful for all of us no matter where we are in life at the moment. And, always, we need the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit to direct and guide us and to give us the ability to be godly women and wives.

Wives whose husbands are truly emotionally destructive/abusive (narcissists, psychopaths, sociopaths, etc…) tend to do best reading resources like:

Note – I could have, in the past, used Leslie Vernick’s material to destroy Greg if I had read it years ago when I was steamrolling over him. That would have been a harmful resource for me. But for a wife who is in specific circumstances, her material can be exactly what she needs.

 

 

 

 

Am I Too Quiet with My Husband?

The past two Mondays, we have examined the topics, “Am I Too Chatty with My Husband?” and “What Do I Do with My Desire for More Verbal/Emotional Connection?” For some of us, we struggle with talking too much. Others of us struggle with not wanting to talk to the point that our silence is deafening and not healthy for our marriages. Some of us try to correct one imbalance and overshoot  and end up on the other side of the pendulum for awhile and just keep swinging back and forth between the two. I have done that.

Today, let’s tackle the issue of times when we may be too quiet and examine the heart issues that may be going on behind the scenes. It’s helpful to do a motive-check with the help of the Light of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. Prov. 8:21

WHY DO I WANT TO BE QUIET?

Some Not-So-Productive Reasons to Be Quiet

If these issues are going on, I may want to spend some time with the Lord to deal with my spiritual issues so that I am not hiding from God or from my husband. If things are severe, I may need to reach out to a trusted godly counselor or female mentor.

Some Reasons That Require Godly Discernment – talking may be wise, or being silent may be wise

Some Good Reasons to Be Quiet

  • Talking a lot is exhausting for me – it is just my personality.
  • I want to avoid talking too much out of humility and a desire to honor the Lord with using my words carefully to only speak Life.
  • My husband is not a believer (or is far from the Lord) so I want to focus on 1 Peter 3:1-6 to “win him without a word” and not preach, lecture, nag, or explain too much about spiritual things but set a godly example by my attitude and actions.
  • I am seeking to give him the gift of respectful space that I know he would appreciate.
  • He doesn’t want me to talk too much or he is in a bad place spiritually and unreceptive right now.
  • I am thinking carefully about what I want to say so that I say it wisely.
  • I want to pray over what I want to say first so that I respond in the Spirit and I don’t just blurt something out in my flesh.
  • I am focusing on thanksgiving and praise in my heart to the Lord.
  • I want to just be available to listen to him for awhile if he wants to talk.
  • I am silently praying in my heart.
  • We enjoy being together without talking sometimes.

RELATED VERSES:

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. Prov. 17:28

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. Ps. 62:5

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Eph. 4:29

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. Matt. 5:37

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Prov. 12:18

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. Matt 12:36-37

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Ps. 19:14

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Eph. 5:4

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Prov. 25:11

SHARE:

What are some reasons you find yourself being really quiet? When is talking and speaking up a struggle for you? Is there any wisdom you would like to share on this topic?

Much love!

April

RESOURCES:

If you have a very difficult marriage, please check out the healing you can find in Christ for yourself (and maybe your marriage) in Nina Roesner’s eCourse Becoming a Woman of Strength and Dignity.

Approaching My Husband’s Sin Issues – by LMSdaily

Is It Possible to Disrespect Myself?

25 Ways to Respect Myself – (or to think rightly about myself)

Isn’t Loving or Respecting Myself Wrong or Selfish? – by Radiant

The Spiritual Healing Available to Each of  Us in Christ – by Radiant

I Can’t As for Things. I Shouldn’t Have Needs, Desires, or Emotions – By Radiant

Cinderella and the Gospel – by Radiant (about how many of us reject the love of Christ instead of graciously receiving His amazing gift)

Healthy VS. Unhealthy Relationships

17 Tips to Ask for What You Desire Respectfully

Handling Political Disagreements Respectfully

Responding to Insults, Criticisms, and Rebukes

Overlooking Insults

Am I His Prosecuting Attorney?

Me in 2003 – 5 years before the Lord opened my eyes

MY OLD WAYS

Ugh. This describes me for so long in our marriage. I would often decide we had an issue. I would think nonstop about it all day – determining all the questions I would ask Greg so I could verbally nail him to the wall. I was completely sure I knew all kinds of evil motives he must have had toward me. I spent hours carefully gathering my evidence against him so I  could prove to him how wrong he was with all of my strong arguments.

When he would get home – there was no happy welcome or smile from me on those days. I lit right into him. I was in “prosecuting attorney mode”  – determined to get him to admit how wrong he was and how right I was about any and every little issue as I cross-examined him under a microscope. That was all that mattered to me at the time – being right. I had no idea what I was doing to Greg or our relationship.

Of course, if he dared to address an issue in my life, even the smallest thing, I would all-out viciously verbally attack him. I was the only one allowed to do the questioning. I was the only one allowed to confront. Not him. I could disagree with him. But he best not disagree with me or he would suffer my wrath.

I was dumbfounded that I would ask all of my carefully crafted questions and he refused to say anything. Oh, that made me so mad! Fighting mad. I escalated my volume and vitriol when that happened, thinking he would surely answer me if I increased the intensity of my attack. I would make him answer! I thought he didn’t say anything because he knew I was right and he had no ability to defend himself against my superior reasoning abilities and character. I thought he was quiet because he was guilty of all of my accusations against him.

Many years later, after God opened my eyes to all of the sin to which I had been so blind for over 14 years in our marriage – I was able to finally see. Almost nothing about my husband matched up with what I had wrongly assumed for so many years.

Greg didn’t answer me because I put him in a no-win situation.

I had misunderstood his heart, thoughts, words, and actions completely. I was determined that I knew the truth and was right and that he was wrong. That was the only paradigm I would accept all of those years. And how could he even have started trying to explain anything – even if he wanted to – when my vision of him was so distorted?

It turns out, I didn’t know his heart at all. I didn’t know his motives. I was completely in another book – not just on another page.

What I thought was true all that time – really wasn’t. I had deceived myself. I was emotionally and spiritually completely exhausting to be around. I was verbally abusive. I didn’t call him names, generally. And I never cussed at all. I just took many verbal shots at him to undermine him, to label him, to condemn him, to blame him, to attack him, to show him how everything was his fault, etc… Then I resented him for being emotionally unavailable to me. He should love me more!

God! You need to change this man and change him RIGHT NOW! He is hurting me by not loving me the way I want him to. How could he be so cruel to me to unplug from me like this?

I don’t know if I could have understood back then if Greg did try to explain even if I had been willing to try to listen. I had no idea how different Greg’s perspective and mindset was. Usually, if he started saying something, I cut him off. I was convinced I completely understood the situation without ever hearing his side of things. I thought I already knew what he was thinking and what he would say. How I wish I had stopped attacking him and tried to listen.

To answer before listening– that is folly and shame. Prov. 18:13

GREG’S DILEMMA

So his choices at the time were:

  1. Try to explain himself, knowing I would refute anything he said that didn’t match my pre-conceived (and extremely inaccurate) notions.
  2. Fight me verbally.
  3. Say nothing to defend himself and just let me rant on by myself and continue thinking and assuming the absolute worst lies about him.

He knew it was futile to explain himself to me. He didn’t want to fight me. So he often chose #3 – which seemed like the lesser of all of the evils. He withdrew from me. He shut down. He became a shell of the man he was when we got married.

Turns out – husbands don’t really like to feel like they are coming home to a verbal firing squad or to an interrogation. Really, no remotely emotionally healthy person enjoys that. No one revels in the stress of feeling like a criminal defendant who is being cross-examined by a prosecuting attorney who has already judged him/her to be guilty. Most husbands want to have peace, harmony, joy, and contentment at home. They want to feel safe with their wives emotionally. Isn’t that honestly what we all want in our relationships?

WHOSE INSTRUMENT AM I?

How might we come across as if we are cross-examining a witness at a trial?

It is often our tone, our facial expressions, our emotional intensity, and our constant barrage of pointed, accusing questions.

It is extremely hurtful and frustrating to be utterly misunderstood, vilified, falsely accused, and wrongly condemned by someone who doesn’t actually know your heart and who isn’t even interested in trying to understand the truth or in trying to heal the relationship.

Ultimately, we long most for our husbands to share their hearts with us, to emotionally connect with us, to cherish us, love us, and adore us. So – let me just mention, my precious sisters – this “prosecutor” approach repels our men (and anyone else). It causes them to shut down their hearts to us. It does not make them want to open up to us and be vulnerable. They know they are not safe with us when we act like this because they are not safe.

It was sobering for me to realize that I was not acting in the power of God’s Spirit when I acted like a prosecuting attorney, like an accuser. In fact, I was acting like Satan and cooperating with him. “The accuser of the brethren.” I had actually allowed the devil to get a huge stronghold in my life. I didn’t realize it. I was blind to my sin back then.

I unwittingly invited him to set up a base camp in my heart and mind by holding on to pride, resentment, unforgiveness, etc… And I gave him free access to my thoughts, heart, mind, mouth, and body. I thought I was living for Jesus. My words often said I was. But the Holy Spirit was not in control. The fruit of my life was the fruit of the flesh not the fruit of the Spirit. I had allowed myself and my mouth to be an instrument in the hands of the devil to try to destroy my husband.

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own
hands the foolish one tears hers down. Prov. 14:1

How I NEVER want to go back to that awful place again! I had a lot of repenting to do – to the Lord, to Greg, and to other people in my life, too.

 

Thankfully, there is so much hope for all of us in Jesus! We don’t have to stay in this awful toxic place where we destroy ourselves and our husbands and other people. Jesus can set us free from this snare. We can turn away from our sin and turn to Him to let Him cleanse and heal us by His work on our behalf on the cross! The Lord graciously healed me, and in time, He eventually also healed Greg and our marriage. How can I ever thank Him enough?

That same healing is available to you. You can have peace with God and you can live in peace, as far as it depends on you, in your relationships with people. The key is to know the Prince of Peace and to allow Him to be the Lord and Savior of your life. He has to power to change us as we yield to Him in faith, trust, humility, and obedience.

I have so many posts that may be a blessing to you if you find yourself in this place where I was years ago. If you are ready to stop cooperating with Satan’s plans to steal, kill, and destroy in your marriage and you are ready to cooperate with God’s good plans for your life and marriage, check out some of these resources. He can set you free from Satan’s prison just like He set me free almost 9 years ago.

RELATED VERSES:

A constant dripping on a day of steady rain and a contentious woman are alike; he who would restrain her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand. Prov. 27:15-16

Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife. Prov. 21:19

 

NOTE – This post is not designed for women who are truly in danger with abusive husbands.

RESOURCES:

How to Have a Saving Relationship with Christ

Posts about husbands being our idols – being enmeshed with them, expecting them to meet our deepest spiritual needs that only Jesus can really meet.

Posts about being enmeshed

Posts about being a controlling wife

A Fellow Wife’s posts

23 Signs Your Husband Is Beginning to Trust You Again

Posts about fear – which is often the real motive behind my control

Posts about bitterness

Healthy VS Unhealthy Relationships

25 Ways to Be a Safe Place for Your Husband Emotionally

What Is Disrespectful to Husbands?

What Is Respect in Marriage?

How to Stay Filled with the Holy Spirit

If you have a very difficult husband, please check out Nina Roesner’s Strength and Dignity eCourse, or seek one-on-one private counseling with a trusted, godly counselor.

 

What Do I Do with My Desire for Verbal/Emotional Connection?

This is the second part of this series on talkativeness and wives. The first post was, “Am I ‘Too Chatty’ with My Husband?” It is primarily for wives who believe they talk too much or whose husbands would maybe prefer less talking. Next week, I plan to talk about the issue of wives being too quiet.

At first, when I realized I was talking way too much for my own good, it was painful. I felt sad, oppressed, upset, resentful, and lonely to think about cutting down on my words to other people. I didn’t know how to stop talking too much or what to do with all of my emotions and self-talk.

I find that it is helpful to take these kinds of discouraging thoughts to the Lord. He is always ready to listen to me. He can help me hash through my thinking even better than any husband or best girl friend could. He wants me to abide in Him every moment – always completely one in Spirit with Him – and to “pray continually.” That is very encouraging! Plus, He can transform my thinking and my heart. He knows how to restore and heal my soul, if only I will come to Him and allow Him to work powerfully in my life.

Interestingly – that pain I feel when I want to talk more or connect more with my husband can remind me that God’s heart hurts when I neglect him. And His heart rejoices when I come to Him to fellowship and connect with Him.

ADOPT A NEW PERSPECTIVE

I can:

CONNECT WITH GOD EMOTIONALLY/SPIRITUALLY

I can:

  • Praise God.
  • Journal my prayers and thoughts. (This seriously helps me, as much or even more than talking to another person.)
    • Write down my emotions – all of them. And all of my self-talk. In a very raw way. I can shred the paper up later if necessary.
    • Take my thoughts captive for Christ.
    • Develop a list of things for which I am thankful and continue to add to it daily.
    • Work on a list of all the things I respect about my husband.
    • Invite God to work on my sin, motives, and thought life.
    • Pray for myself.
    • Pray for others.
  • Sing praise songs in my mind or in another room out loud.
  • Listen to or read sermons, podcasts, Youtube videos, the Bible, or books about the Lord and about growing in Christ. (When I do this, I feel so close to the Lord and so loved. I know I am not alone at all.)
  • Listen and be still before God. Stillness is most necessary for me to learn to hear His voice and leading.
  • Take a walk in nature and soak in the beauty and wonder of God’s creation.

DEVELOP A NEW UNDERSTANDING OF MY HUSBAND

I personally was amazed to discover that Greg said he always felt connected with me and bonded to me, whether we were talking a lot or not. He doesn’t connect with words. He feels just as connected to me when we are together talking as he does when he is at work. His love and sense of connection are, essentially, constant. Wow! That was a shock. I always thought we are only connected when we are talking and communicating verbally.

When Greg explained his perspective to me, it helped me to rest in his love and in the firmness of our connection. It helped me to see that I don’t have to grasp and struggle to feel connected. I already am connected to him. I can just enjoy that bond. Perhaps your husband may have a similar perspective?

Perhaps our amazing God thinks this way, too, when it comes to being connected with us, that we are always connected to Him and in fellowship with Him? Every moment of the day. (Unless there is sin blocking the way.)

BECOME A SAFE PLACE FOR MY HUSBAND

If I am willing to focus on treating my husband well and being a safe place emotionally and spiritually, he may feel a lot more open to sharing and connecting with me, in time. This requires a lot of patience and maybe a lot of waiting. In the time of waiting, I can focus on what God wants me to learn during that time. Waiting truly can become sweet with the Lord. So things may change to some degree with my husband’s willingness to talk as I change my approach. I know Greg is much more open to me talking with him in recent years since he feels safe and honored.

FIND MULTIPLE SOURCES OF CONNECTION

First, I have Jesus. He is my greatest source of verbal, emotional, and spiritual connection. He is truly enough! But then, as an extra bonus, I also have family, friends, and other believers. We can have godly mentors who can help us to grow in our faith and in our marriages. And then, in time, as the Lord leads, we may be able to mentor other women. What a priceless blessing that is!

I don’t have to feel deprived at all, even if my husband isn’t as talkative and verbal as I am. I can be content in all circumstances through Christ who gives me strength! (Phil. 4:12-13)

If I Have Jesus, I Have EVERYTHING!

EXPERIENCE A SHOCK

I actually found out – I need times of silence, too. It’s good for my soul. Now, I can enjoy silence in a friendly way. It’s peaceful and relaxing. I am in a much better place of balance than when I talked non-stop. I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn about the wisdom and gift of silence.

SHARE:

What wisdom has God given you in this area. Or what struggles do you have and where do you need some encouragement?

RELATED:

The Frustrating Quiet Phase

Bitterness of Soul – I Want to Be His FIRST Priority! – by A Fellow Wife

Oneness in Marriage: Not Too Close, but Not Too Far Away

Closeness in Marriage Looks Different from What I Expected – by A Fellow Wife

A Fellow Wife Thinks about Giving Space

When Your Man Needs Space

Why Space Can Be a Gift

How I Became Enmeshed with My Husband – by LMSdaily

20 Simple Ways to Enjoy Your Man

23 Signs Your Husband Is Beginning to Trust You Again

Finding Contentment in Christ Alone in Painful Trials

 

 

 

 

 

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