“I Won’t Give up My Bitterness!”

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We Have All Been Hurt by Others:

Sin against us HURTS. Deeply.  Sin is always wrong. God always hates sin. He hates every sin people commit against us – whether it is in thought, motive, word, or deed. He hates the sin people commit against Him. He hates our sin, too – even the ones we think are “trivial” or that we justify to ourselves. God is absolutely holy and cannot tolerate any sin at all. (Verses about God’s holiness)

We all have reasons to be bitter – reasons not to forgive – that the world would say are “justified.” The more mistreatment we have endured, the more “right” we have to cherish our bitterness. We may even (wrongly) think we have the right to be bitter against God if He allowed something awful to happen and didn’t stop it, or He didn’t answer our prayers the way we thought He should have.

  • The problem with this worldly wisdom is that our bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness is major sin against God. 

God Commands Us to Let Go of Our Bitterness:

If you want to see where bitterness leads – observe someone who has been holding on to bitterness for many decades. Unrestrained bitterness leads to hatred, contempt, malice, a desire for revenge, and a desire to hurt or even kill another person. It completely consumes a person’s life and becomes their sole idol, many times.

There are few things that can kill a relationship as effectively as bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. In fact, God can and does often heal marriages from infidelity, pornography addictions, alcoholism, and drug addictions when people repent from these sins and allow Him to change their lives. But unrepentant bitterness causes a marriage to be unable to be healed. I held on to bitterness myself for many years, until God showed me that I had to choose – Jesus or my bitterness. I could not have both.

We may think that if we forsake our bitterness, we are saying that another person’s sins were okay, or that it didn’t hurt us. But that is a lie! God never glosses over sin – and yet He forgives, though He is perfect. We are certainly not above God. We can affirm that someone’s sin against us was very wrong, hurtful, and destructive and that it was not at all okay. And then, in God’s power, we can forgive. If we don’t forgive, we open a door for the enemy to enter and conquer our souls.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-27

A wife wrote to me a few years ago, “Don’t take away my bitterness! It’s all I have left!”

Bitterness Is a Deadly Poison to Us:

Bitterness must be quickly tended to as soon as it sprouts. It is evil – and it grows rapidly. The longer we allow it to grow and the longer we water, feed, and nurture it – the more painful it is to tear it out later.

Bitterness is a terrible trap, my dear sisters (and brothers)! It is a device of our enemy to attempt steal the gifts Jesus has provided for us through His death. Bitterness grieves the very Spirit of God and we lose His power in our lives – then our sinful nature has more and more control, not God. Bitterness hardens our hearts until we can no longer even hear God’s still small voice.

God commands us to forgive and to let go of bitterness – not because the person who sinned against us deserves to be let off the hook, but to bless US so that we can stay in close fellowship with Him and experience all the fruit of His Spirit and abundant spiritual life (Gal. 5:22-23).

We forgive because God forgives us. It is a decision of the will – not the emotions. We forgive because we love God and want to obey Him in everything. We forgive because we need to be forgiven by God. We forgive because forgiveness sets us free from Satan’s snare! Our goal MUST be to get rid of every trace of bitterness so that we can experience the power of God’s Spirit working in and through us to enable us to live holy, godly lives.

In releasing those who have hurt us and what they have done, and in deciding not to make them pay us for their sin – we can have God’s peace in our hearts. God says that it is His place to take revenge, not ours. (This doesn’t mean we trust unrepentant sinners or stay if we are not safe or the other person is not willing to rebuild trust.)

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse… Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:14, 17-21

  • Either those who sin against us will turn to Christ and Jesus will pay for their sins against us with His innocent, perfect, holy blood – and He will change their hearts and they will grieve over their sin.
  • Or those who sin against us will pay for their sins themselves in hell forever.

There will be justice, ultimately, for the wrongs we have suffered. And there will be justice for the wrongs others have suffered at our hands, as well. God never ignores sin or sweeps it under the rug. He is just. He is righteous. He is holy. 

Replacing Bitter Thoughts with Godly, Holy Thoughts

We must take each thought captive for Christ. Every time I realize I am thinking a bitter thought, I must repent, turn away from it, confess it to God, and replace it with the truth of the Bible.

ie:

Bitter thoughts: “My husband doesn’t really love me. He hasn’t done X for me in years! If he loved me, he would know I want him to do X. I’ll show him! I’m going to give him the cold shoulder for the next 3 months. Let’s see how he likes that!”

Holy thoughts: “Let me write down the ways my husband has shown love to me lately. (If he is in unrepentant sin and has truly not been loving, I may need to write down that he is ensnared in sin and that he needs deliverance and needs me to pray for him. I may need to pray about confronting my husband about his sin if he has not repented. It is not a godly thing to pretend that sin doesn’t exist.) I can also write down what God says about me and my identity in Jesus. I can focus on all of the good things God has done for me. I can sing praises to God. I can write about my pain. I can pray about my pain and ask God for healing. I can ask God to show me how He might want me to bless my husband and how He might give me the power to overcome evil with good. I can ask God to help me better understand my husband if I am misunderstanding his masculine perspective. And I can seek ways to do good to him just to please Christ.”

When we realize just how much God has forgiven us and the great price for which He paid for our sins – Jesus’ death – we cannot help but respond with humility, true repentance, and gratitude. And when we have received the mercy, grace, and forgiveness of God for our billions of dollars worth of sin debt – we cannot help but respond with mercy, grace, and forgiveness toward those who sin against us (Matthew 18:21-35 – the Parable of the Wicked Servant).

God Uses a Believer’s Forgiveness for His Glory!

What an incredible witness for Christ it is when believers extend mercy, grace, and forgiveness, rather than hatred and bitterness. Think about the example of the church in Charleston, SC a few months ago. What a glorious testimony to Jesus that these believers forgave the man who murdered their loved ones. That didn’t mean that what he did was okay with them at all. What he did was awful – the very epitome of evil! But what they did was supernatural. Because of their beautiful example, the gospel was proclaimed and exalted around the world on secular news stations!!??!? Are we ready to allow God to use us to shine for Him, too?

What miracles might God have in store in our lives and for His kingdom and to bring the lost to Himself if we are willing to obey Him and not hold on to bitterness?

SHARE:

Is bitterness ever attractive to others?

How have you been tempted by the enemy to cling to bitterness, hatred, resentment, or unforgiveness?

Was it worth it?

Can we possibly bless others with the Gospel and love of Christ if we are consumed by bitterness?

How has God empowered you to experience His victory over bitterness, if you have experienced His deliverance? We’d love to hear your story!

RELATED:

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Bible verses about bitterness

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A Daughter’s Incredible Story of Forgiveness

Righteous Jealousy and Anger

The Dirty Garage Epiphany

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From a wife who has experienced great difficulties in her marriage and has continued to abide in Christ:

You know, I was cleaning out our garage today (part of me working on my own habits), and it taught me some lessons. One was on that question that always pops up…

“How do I respect my husband if he doesn’t deserve it?”

So my husband likes his stuff. He has boxes of stuff that he never touches and won’t part with. Much of it sits in our garage, but he is often aggravated by the messy state of our garage, as am I. God has been speaking to my heart about the appearance of my home and my physical appearance. That it would convey respect to my husband if I kept up with these things. And, we’d all be happier.

So I cleaned and organized and donated for 5 hours today. And in the end, the garage looked 100x better. But – a good 30-40% of the floor space is still covered with his stuff, stacked and arranged as it may now be. Old books, DVDs, exercise equipment, etc.

It’s not as good as it could be. And, it’s his stuff to clean up. Only he can do it.

And so goes respect. You can and should clean that up and keep it up the best you can. It’s 100x better than a disrespectful relationship. But. If he still has junk (sin) to get rid of, it will prevent both of you from enjoying the beauty and freedom of a truly working, effective environment. One that is in order–as it should be.

But I’d say the chances of him cleaning up his stuff now that I’ve cleaned the rest of the garage are much much greater! I mean, it’s not all scattered around and mixed in with all the other stuff. It’s a clean, neat garage with a big pile of stuff in the middle!

And that is just what happened to us as I tried to respect him. After about a year and a half, he really hit his bottom, and really was not able to blame anyone for his poor choices.

Respecting a man in sin is quite, quite difficult. Kind of like cleaning a garage around a big pile of junk you know will still be there for an indeterminate amount of time afterward.
But, I’m still so very glad I did it. The respect and the garage. 🙂 It was the right thing to do.

 

RELATED:

Why Do I Have to Change First?

My Husband Doesn’t Deserve My Respect! – VIDEO

My Level of Respect Has Nothing to Do with My Husband – it is about my character and God working in me

Godly Femininity

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Am I Really Justified?

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Well, my husband did X, so – it’s ok if I do Y.

Some fictional examples:

The temptation is always there – to focus on my husband’s sin (or just ways he is different from me) and what HE needs to change in my view. As long as that is my focus, my sinful, wicked and deceitful heart will have a field day. I can convince myself that any sin in my life is totally justifiable. This is the whole premise of that Carrie Underwood song where she sings about how she trashes her boyfriend’s truck because he cheated on her. It’s ok for me to destroy property and cause thousands of dollars of damage because he hurt me. I can take vengeance in my own hands. Never mind what God says about “Vengeance is mine” and “I will repay.” (Romans 12:9-21)

  • If my husband sins against me in some way, then it is totally fine for me to resent him, humiliate him in public, refuse to forgive him, hold on to bitterness, disrespect him, dishonor him, undermine him as a father in front of the children, be self-righteous, have tons of pride in my own heart, look down on him, try to control him and force him to submit to me, condemn him, commit adultery, scream at him, disobey God’s commands for me as a wife and believer in Christ, boss him around, threaten him, hit him, throw things at him and treat him however I want to. I’m sure God is totally fine with that, right?  I mean, HIS sin is obviously MUCH WORSE than my sin! My sin doesn’t really bother God. It’s only my husband’s sin that offends God, really.

YIKES!!!!!!!!  This is exactly the kind of reasoning I used to have to justify my sin and to be blind to my own sin. Oh it is so ugly to look at now!!!!!  How I cringed writing those examples!

The thing is – God doesn’t give us a”get out of sin free” card under any circumstances.

I AM WITHOUT EXCUSE BEFORE A HOLY AND RIGHTEOUS GOD

When I am sinned against, God does not excuse my sin. Jesus was sinned against – and He responded without sin. He wants us as His children to be so full of His Spirit that we always respond in the power of God in obedience to Him, too.  He commands us to be holy as He is holy. When I am sinned against, I am definitely most tempted to sin in return – Gary Thomas “Sacred Influence.” But God will judge me for my sin alone.  There will be no excuses for sin that will hold water in His holy presence. God hates sin. All sin. I may think “my sin is not as bad as my husband’s sin” or so-and-so’s sin, but –

God does not look at sin the way we do. He hates it all. It is ALL utterly repulsive and offensive to Him.

My sin is between me and God, primarily. My sin has nothing to do with what other people do to me. My sin is about my character, the power of God working in my life and my willingness to joyfully obey God and allow Him to fill me with His Spirit to give me the power to walk in obedience. PRAISE GOD there is forgiveness, mercy, grace, healing and cleansing in the blood of Jesus. We ALL desperately need Him!

Spoken by King David after God showed him his sin of murder and adultery:

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in Your sight;
so You are right in Your verdict
and justified when You judge.

Psalm 51:3-4

** If you are in actual danger, please find help and get somewhere safe!

So, even if my husband cusses me out, cheats on me, sins against, me, wrongs me, cheats me, says hateful things to me, ignores me, is unloving to me, is selfish, unkind, rude, mean, disrespectful, etc… God calls me:

  • not to “repay evil with evil” but to “overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:9-21)
  • to forgive (For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15)
  • to find the way out from temptation that God promises to provide for His children (I Corinthians 10:13)
  • to respond in the power of the Spirit of God with His supernatural love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • to refuse to hold on to bitterness (Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32)
  • to respond with the agape love of God (Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. I Corinthians 13:4-8)
  • to love others sincerely and genuinely  (Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart. I Peter 1:22)
  • to “endure hardships as discipline” (Hebrews 12)
  • to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 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.” Philippians 4:8
  • to love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and love all other people (including my husband and my enemies) with the love of God (Luke 10:26-28)
  • to not to hate my brother. (We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. I John 4:19-21)
  • to not live in fear. (There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. I John 4:18)
  • to live in His peace. (You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3)

I have no excuse before God. My life is to be free from sin. I cannot cling to pride, self-righteousness, gossip, hatred, resentment, bitterness, idolatry, unbelief, rebellion against God, worldliness, greed, materialism, lying, stealing, lust, adultery, murder, arguing, complaining, etc… All the sin has to go. Every trace of it. It grieves my Lord’s heart! How can I bear to cause Him pain? After He died to free me from the penalty of all my sin and wretchedness? How can I continue living in sin and not be greatly grieved myself?

My precious sisters, let’s repent of every sin, confessing them all to God, and find forgiveness, cleansing, wholeness and healing in Christ through His blood shed for us!!!! And let us live lives of obedience by the power of God flowing through us. May He continue to make us more and more like Jesus. May our lives bring great glory to His Name!

Let’s apply these commands of our Lord to how we treat our husbands!

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. 41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

These are just a few of the commands God gives us as believers in Christ. May we walk in obedience to our Lord Jesus and may He empower us to be faithful to Him no matter what our circumstances or how others may sin against us.

SHARE:

You are welcome to share what you are learning, prayer requests, encouragement for other wives, questions and struggles. We are all in this together, my sweet sisters!

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Grace Filled Marriage by Dr. Timothy Keller

Why Do I Have to Change First?

Greg and me on our wedding day – May 28, 1994

We are continuing the series of FAQs that I hear from wives.  This has to be one of the most common questions I hear.

He’s the one who is being so unloving!  He’s the one who is far from God.  He should have to change first.  This isn’t fair that I should have to ask God to change me first!

BLAMING IS EASY

It’s much easier to point at my husband and tell God, “He needs to change!  Look how sinful he is!”  In fact, that is exactly what I did for over 14 years in my marriage.  Guess where it got me?

My focusing on my husband’s sin caused me to be a foolish wife who tore down her marriage and her husband. My approach was destructive to him, to our marriage, to our children, and to myself. I can’t think of ONE good thing that me focusing on my husband’s sin while ignoring my own sin accomplished.

NOTE – If your husband has extreme issues (abuse, infidelity, addictions, uncontrolled mental health/spiritual issues) please seek an experienced, godly counselor or appropriate resources right away. Me focusing on my own obedience to God and repenting of my sin doesn’t mean I need to “stay and take abuse” or stay when a husband is being unfaithful and breaking our marriage covenant. There are times in severe situations where a godly wife does need to prayerfully consider separation.

THANKFULLY, GOD IS WILLING TO GIVE ME ABUNDANT GRACE, RATHER THAN WHAT IS “FAIR”

Let’s talk about what is “fair” for a moment.  If I want “fair” – here is what is fair:

  • For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23
  • The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)  The things I have done wrong in God’s sight have earned me hell.  If I have even just one sin in my life (like Adam and Eve did) – according to the holy God and Judge of the universe – I deserve death and separation from Him forever. Or, to use another word for it, hell.  God cannot tolerate sin – any sin – in His holy presence.  He cannot ignore it.  Someone has to pay for it in blood.  And I have infinitely more than just one sin in my heart.  I deserve condemnation.
  • As a sinner – I don’t “deserve” anything good from God at all.
  • Because I am a sinner, I have no “rights” before God.

Maybe “fair” isn’t really what I want to pursue.

THANK GOD that Jesus was willing to step in on my behalf and take upon Himself all of the sin of my entire life and stand in my place, receiving the full wrath of God that my sins deserved.  That is crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It is insane that Jesus would love me that much!  I did NOTHING to deserve His love. I owe Him MUCH.  I have been forgiven MUCH. Not only has He forgiven me. He has given me the right to become a child of God if I receive His gift and live for Him as LORD!

Now, I am free from the penalty of sin. God has given me eternal life with Him through Christ – not because I deserve it. I don’t! He does this because of His great love for me and because Jesus paid my massive debt to Him in full – and I have received that gift by faith.

This is so much better than if I had won $400 million in a lottery!  I truly GET this now!

I am no longer condemned before God!  

Now – because of my overwhelming gratitude, thankfulness and joy – I am His servant, ready to do anything He asks of me!  There is nothing He could ask me to do that I would not be willing to do after all He has done to rescue me from the gates of hell and to give me abundant spiritual life here and life forever with Him in heaven.

  • I don’t obey Him to be made right with Him.
  • I don’t obey Him to try to earn heaven.
  • Jesus alone earned heaven.  God now sees Jesus when He looks at me!  Just because I put ALL my faith in Him and made Him my LORD.
  • I obey Him because of what HE has done for me and the scandalous grace, mercy and forgiveness He has lavished on me, a wretched sinner.

Whoever “wakes up first” spiritually is responsible before God to be the one to change first.

IF HE IS MY SAVIOR AND LORD, I WANT TO DO ANYTHING HE ASKS OF ME OUT OF LOVE

Why on earth would I not be willing – after all that Christ has done for me – to humbly and joyfully do ANYTHING He asked me to do?  Why would I want to sit around in my own sin and not repent of my own sin and demand that God must change Greg first? That just doesn’t even make sense at all! It would be a completely inappropriate response to Christ.

Jesus calls on believers in Him to deal with our own sin first:

  • “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matt. 7:1-5

Why do I have to deal with my sin first?

  • This is what Jesus commands me to do and He is my Lord.
  • I am getting stumbling blocks out of the way for my husband.
  • I will have much clearer vision to deal with my husband’s sin if my own sin has been completely taken care of.
  • I have no godly influence when I am continuing to sin against my husband. He won’t want to listen to my concerns about his wrongdoing to me if I am purposely hurting him.
  • I will then have the power of the Holy Spirit to help me rightly deal with my husband in God’s power and wisdom.

If I really and truly “get” what Jesus has done for me – I am going to be raising my hand as high as I can saying,

“Oh, Jesus!!!!  Pick me!!  Pick me!  Change ME first!  Get rid of all of my sin first! Don’t let me stay in this filth and nastiness another minute!!!!  Show me what you want to change in my heart!  Make me the woman You desire me to be!  I don’t care what it takes.  I don’t care what You ask me to do.  I don’t care how much it hurts or what the cost is to myself – I want to please and honor You with all my heart and life!!!  You do whatever You want to with my husband.  I trust him to Your hands.  Just don’t leave me here.  Change me!”

What if God wants to change me first and wants me to obey Him until…. Until the day I die. Until the day my husband dies. Ok – if that is what God wants – that needs to be ok with me.  I want to trust Him and obey Him no matter what the future holds and seek His highest glory.

What if His greatest concerns with me are for me to be conformed to the image of Christ and to reach my husband and others for His kingdom?

WHAT IF GOD KNOWS I NEED TO CHANGE FIRST SO THAT HE CAN REACH MY HUSBAND?

What if I am standing squarely in God’s way in my husband’s life?  What if my sin (pride, disrespect, contentiousness, self-righteousness, idolatry of my husband/happiness/romance, or control) is keeping my husband from hearing God’s voice?  What if God wants me to change first because I am causing destruction and damage in my marriage and in my husband’s soul?

In my marriage, that is exactly what was happening.

Here is why God wanted to change me first – one of the reasons, at least.  I am sure there are many I don’t even know about:

  • Greg told me years later that when I stopped all the criticism, negativity, lecturing, telling him what to do, all the disrespect… that it was like someone “turned off the static on the speaker in his soul that had God’s voice.”  He began to hear God’s voice again for the first time in many years.
  • Then, he said, when I began to add the positive things – the encouragement, the praise for what he did right, the genuine admiration and building him up with my words – it was like someone put an “amplifier on the speaker with God’s voice.”

What if God knows that He needs to change me first in order to reach my husband?  Isn’t that totally worth it?  If there are things I can do to become God’s partner and to cooperate with Him in drawing my husband to God and to myself –  I would be crazy not to be willing to do those things – whatever they might be.

Here are God’s prescriptions for us when our husbands are far from Himself:

This is ALL about Christ, my precious sisters.  It is all about HIS glory.  It is not about us. 🙂

Much love to you!

FAQs

  • This seems like more than I can handle (part 1)
  • When do I get to the “peaceful” part? (part 1)
  • I don’t want to lose my voice in my marriage. (part 2)
  • I feel like I am losing myself. (part 2)
  • I feel so lonely. (part 3)
  • I don’t know how to say things respectfully to my husband, so I am just not saying anything at all. (part 3)
  • My husband isn’t changing at all.   (part 4)
  • Respect doesn’t work on my husband. (part 4)
  • But I’m right! (part 5)
  • I’m so scared to give up control!  I should be in charge. Everything will fall apart if I don’t take charge! (part 5)
  • He doesn’t deserve my respect! (part 6)
  • My husband doesn’t love me and is not on board with this marriage. (part 6)
  • Why can’t HE change first?  Why do I have to change when he’s the one who is so far from God and so unloving?

RELATED

A Wife Asks, “Why Does It Seem Like the Wife Always Has to Change First?”

How to Have a Relationship with Christ

A Wake Up Call for Wives

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We all hear in the news about cyberbullying and how many teenagers commit suicide over being bullied online as well as in person at school.   I know that all of us want to see bullying stopped and all of us want to see all suicides and suicide attempts stopped.  We don’t ever want anyone to feel that suicide is a good option.

BULLIES  DO THINGS LIKE:

– call people awful names

– insult people

– assassinate people’s character, worth and dignity as human beings

– say negative things about them to others

– bash their victims verbally on Facebook or in social media

– try to make their victims look dumb, incompetent or bad in front of others

– send frequent messages to people to devalue them, put them down and ridicule them

– use condescending words, tone of voice and body language to try to humiliate their victims

– try to turn other people against their victims

– act like they are “better than” those they hurt

– try to cause as much emotional pain as possible to others

– show no remorse, in fact, they seem to delight in inflicting as much pain as possible

  • We as moms and women want our children – and all children – to feel safe, accepted, loved, respected and precious.  We want them to know that God loves them and that He has amazing purpose for them.  We want them to know that they are image bearers of God and that their lives are important and sacred – not to be trashed and wasted.

Most of us would do almost ANYTHING to keep our children from being bullied.

What about our husbands? 

I believe most of us DEEPLY love our husbands.  You wouldn’t be reading about becoming a more godly wife if you didn’t love your man.

What if we found out that someone was using these same bullying tactics on them?

Take a look at that list about what bullies do to their victims again.   Think about how you would feel if someone was mistreating your husband in these ways.

Now…

Let’s think about how WE treat our husbands.

Yikes.

I am ashamed to say it now,  but I did some of these things.  I didn’t see it at the time.   I felt unloved. He was so shut down, I felt justified in how I treated him because of my own pain. I didn’t think he had feelings.  He never verbalized that  I hurt him.  I had no idea my husband was shut down and unplugged mostly because my behavior wounded him. 🙁

If you are using even one of these bullying tactics on your husband, today is the day for this behavior to stop.  It is NOT right for us to treat anyone like this!

The tongue has the power of life and death. Proverbs 18:21a

HUSBANDS ARE IMPORTANT PEOPLE, TOO

There are husbands out there, even in Christian marriages, who feel extremely unappreciated,  disrespected, unloved, unvalued, depressed and hopeless.  I don’t want ANY of our husbands to feel that way – not if there is anything we can do about it!

We are not responsible for our husbands’ feelings and emotions.  Each person is responsible for himself or herself before God.

We ARE responsible for how we treat our husbands, how we speak to them, how we act around them, making our marriage our first human priority and becoming more and more the godly wives God desires us to be.  God commands us to treat our husbands with honor, respect, godly love and cooperation – working toward unity on our end of the marriage.

  • I pray that we will all desire our husbands to feel safe, accepted, respected, loved and precious.  I pray that we will want them to know that God loves them and that He has amazing purposes for them.  I pray that we will want them to know that they are image bearers of God and that their lives are important and sacred – not to be trashed and wasted.  They are sons of God if they are believers.  If they are not believers, Christ still died for them and desires them to come to Him and become sons of God. 

I pray that our husbands will see in the way we treat them that they are valuable and greatly treasured by us and by God – not only for what they do but mostly for who they are.  Let’s think about how God might desire us to treat His sons, whom He dearly loves.  And let’s remember that Jesus counts the way we treat our husbands as if we are doing and saying those things to Him.

SOME RISK FACTORS I BELIEVE EVERY WIFE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

I heard some very sad news recently – that inspired me to want to write about this topic. So, let’s talk about something that is very serious.

I don’t know if you have looked at national suicide statistics recently.   It is a most unpleasant topic, to be sure.  I am going to list a few suicide risk factors our husbands may have that might surprise us as wives (These are risk factors for both depression and for suicide.  Not everyone who experiences these issues will be depressed and not everyone who experiences these situations is at risk for suicide – but some men are. I think it is worth a minute or two of our time to really think about these issues.):

  • unemployment – facing unemployment is more difficult for many men than facing terminal cancer. (Sadly, I cannot remember for sure which book this is from.  I will add the name of the book when I can think of it!). Men tend to find a huge part of their identity in their careers and ability to provide financially.  Unemployment is often a time of serious depression for men.  Our husbands are especially spiritually/mentally/emotionally fragile during this kind of stress.   They need our support, faith, understanding, love and respect more than ever in these kinds of situations!
  • marital tension – If he believes his opinions, desires, feelings and ideas don’t matter or aren’t important to his wife, that is demoralizing for a man.  If he tries to fulfill his God-given role as leader of the family (I Corinthians 11:3), but his wife won’t cooperate with his leadership or usurps his authority and takes over, insisting she is always right (like I used to) –  it is a lose/lose situation for a husband AND for the wife, too – although she cannot see it at the time.   He may allow her to do as she wishes to try to keep the peace, even if he strongly disagrees with his wife’s decision- but he knows he is not fulfilling his role as the leader, protector and provider for his family.   He knows he can’t force her to follow him.  Even the best leader on the planet has to have willing followers.   If he desires to please his wife but she seems impossible to please and is never happy with him, that is extremely depressing for many men.  If all he sees from his wife is contempt for who he is, that she thinks of him as a failure, that she looks down on him and that she doesn’t respect him – that is a very heavy, lonely, painful burden to bear for most men.  If he longs for physical intimacy with his wife, but she often refuses him – that can be another source of excruciating pain for many men.
  • separation and divorce – divorced men are four times as likely as married men to commit suicide.  They have often lost most of their income, their children, their home, usually their friends, many times their church, their wives… and they often have very few people they can go to for emotional/spiritual support.  Men do not like to be “failures.”  “Failing” at marriage can be more painful to many men than any other pain they ever experience in their lifetime.  Marriage is supposed to last “till death do us part.”  When we divorce, it is like tearing out half of our souls.  The damage can be incalculable – and, men are often much less able to handle that kind of pain than women are (Check out the CBS news report link at the bottom).

These are not remotely all of the risk factors that could trigger a man to feel very depressed or to consider suicide.  Some other things that increase risk factors are substance abuse, isolation, family history of suicide, personal history of suicide attempts and having access to a gun.  This is not a comprehensive study of depression in men or all the reasons why men commit suicide.

But this is, I hope, a wake up call, to us as wives to consider how we might bless our men and not hurt them, especially if they are already in a dark place.

SOME OTHER IMPORTANT POINTS

  • Men often have different symptoms of depression than women do:  (From WebMD – Common symptoms of depression include loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities, fatigue, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, and apathy. In women, depression may be more likely to cause feelings of sadness and worthlessness. Depression in men, on the other hand, may be more likely to cause them to be irritable, aggressive, or hostile.)
  • If your husband talks about wanting to die, wanting to kill himself, wanting to hurt others, wanting to end it all – please take him seriously and try to get help!
  • Men can be extremely depressed and not talk about it.  This makes it easy for some wives not to realize the seriousness of the problem before it is too late.
  • If your husband says that he feels hopeless about your marriage, disrespected, unimportant or like he doesn’t matter to you – please take his feelings seriously!  Please listen to him just as attentively as you would want him to listen to you if you told him you were feeling unloved.
  • If a man has multiple risk factors going on at once – he is at greater risk for depression and possibly suicidal thoughts.  Be sensitive to the strain that is on him – be his partner and teammate and helper to work through the issues together instead of turning on him.
  • When men are stressed because of marital conflict/separation/divorce, they are also more likely to have heart problems, high blood pressure and physical health issues than women are.

Men tend to measure their success as men by the happiness of their wives.  

I am not saying they SHOULD measure their success as men by our happiness.  But they often do.

  • I wish they would measure their success as men by seeking to please Christ alone and seeking His approval alone – just like I desire to see wives measure their value and acceptance by the love and grace and mercy of Christ not by what their husbands do or do not do.

I know men seem SO BIG and tough.

They ARE on the outside.

But men have tender hearts.  They have emotions and feelings, too!  They may not verbalize them like we do.  But they hurt and hurt deeply when we disrespect them, treat them with contempt, laugh at them, bash them in public, make fun of them in front of others, undermine them as fathers, minimize their concerns and ideas, belittle them and use sarcasm to cut them down.

A man’s wife has the power to hurt him emotionally and spiritually in ways that no one else on the planet has the power to do.  She is past his walls and defenses.  She has the ability to destroy him with her words, her disapproval, her rejection, her self-righteousness, her withholding herself sexually from him and how she talks about him and to him – if she chooses to.

Or – a wife can use her incredible power over her husband to bless him and do more good to him than anyone else on the planet can do. She can build him up, encourage him, honor him, admire the good in him, see the hero in him and inspire him to be his very best self!

*** If you have SERIOUS issues in your marriage – if one or both of you are depressed, if there is physical abuse going on, substance abuse, uncontrolled mental health disorders, infidelity or you are considering separation/divorce – please find appropriate, godly help ASAP!

RESOURCES:

CBS News – Men Wear Divorce Badly

WebMD – Depression in Men

National Institutes of Mental Health – Suicide Statistics and Prevention

Protective Factors to Help Prevent Suicide (CDC):

Protective Factors

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical, and substance abuse disorders
  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for help seeking
  • Family and community support (connectedness)
  • Support from ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, and nonviolent ways of handling disputes
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support instincts for self-preservation

CDC Statistics

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

Could My Disrespect Contribute to My Husband’s Depression?

Being a Good Follower

Dealing with Financial Stress in Marriage

Supporting My Husband’s Leadership

Ways Husbands Lead that Wives Don’t Often Notice

Husbands Share What is Disrespectful to Them

Signs that Your Husband May Be Feeling Disrespected

I Want a Divorce

“Chicken One Day, Feathers the Next”

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From the wife who wrote the post about being the bride of Christ:

That phrase is a “backwoods” euphemism I heard more times than I can count growing up from my grandmother who very much tended to concentrate on the negative side of life. Often she had a scowl on her face resulting from the blows of widowhood and poverty.  She seemed to expect the worst and often got it, living a very defeated life.

This phrase,Chicken One Day and Feathers the Next” was used by my grandmother to express how life was always giving her something that looked real good, hence the “chicken” and then spoiled her good fortune (or what she perceived as good) with nothing more than the “feathers”.

At times I’ve gotten the “bait and switch” – when it seems that the “chicken” is mine all cooked up and ready to enjoy, I look around to find that it has quickly been devoured and I’m left with a pile of “feathers”. Yeah, I’ve been cheated out of a lot of things that could have and should have been mine in my marriage.  I’m tired of it. Tired of the well-doers that quote scripture and the hypocrites that keep some kind of drama brewing at all times. They have no understanding of my plight and honestly I get really angry when people like that try to give me shallow advice having no understanding that me and Jesus have quite a few talks during the week that far outweigh a star on the attendance chart on Sunday morning.

Even though I guess I am correct in some of my interpretations of the hurt I’ve experienced in the last few years, I also know that God seeks to change me first before He considers my marching orders for Him to change my husband, even when I am sometimes right in that  he really needs to change!  Changing “me” when the other person has done wrong does not necessarily change the circumstance, but it does change my attitude and makes me more capable to act like God wants me to when He gets ready to work on them.

That’s when God does things like bring out the “chicken” and the “feathers” in a different perspective than that of my grandmother.

See there was a certain circumstance that God watched happen years ago that hurt my husband’s feelings and He did nothing to fix it or intervene. It may have seemed very trivial to others, but to my husband, it was just another sign of carelessness and disrespect to add to many other such instances over a period of several years.
My husband owned a feather pillow that he had used for years and was quite attached to. Then, the day came without warning or notice that the familiar feather pillow was discarded, never to be seen again. It had been replaced by the “finer” pillows of life. The (now) ex-wife had carelessly and thoughtlessly thrown it away because it didn’t meet “her” needs or decorative taste.  Of course he felt disrespected and mad that the pillow was gone. Now good grief, its a pillow you’re thinking! Get over it!   He did, but never forgot the disrespect. Maybe because it was just one in a long, long line of examples of times that she discarded his feelings and his property in more than one way.
God didn’t force the (now) ex- wife to respect her husband and didn’t make her stay committed to the marriage. God didn’t break her heart over the years of disrespect and unfaithfulness to her husband nor force her to change her ways, but He did make some chickens for me and that man who is now MY husband.  Chickens that would give us “feathers.”
Before my husband knew who I was he had three big poofy throw pillows. Like any woman would do I retired those pillows to the basement when I moved in because I didn’t want ANYTHING in our bedroom that was left over from his or my previous marriage. Yeah, it’s a woman thing. I had the pillows stacked up with full intention to take them to Goodwill….but I kept forgetting. I forgot for 2 years.
I have been trying to figure out how to redecorate our bedroom on “no budget.”  I have been without a job for two years so, as with many households these days, money is tight. Despite my perceived constraints, I decided I wanted new decorative pillows on our bed. That’s when I remembered the throw pillows in the basement. I reasoned with myself that I would remove the fine fabric, launder the pillow forms, find remnant pieces of fabric, and recover the pillow forms.  No one but me would know the origins of the pillows and it would be like new pillows with no ties to the past. So, I promptly ripped open the fine fabric to find, you guessed it….feathers…there were NO fluffy pillow forms, just tons of chicken feathers still encased in the protective lining that had kept them clean for many years.
That’s when God began to speak to me.
He reminded me of my husband’s story of his discarded feather pillow.  In just a few minutes time, “my” plan for the pillows in the basement changed and He formed a new idea for the pillows in my mind giving me an urgency that “today” was the day to get the pillow finished and ready to give my husband that night.  I had 5 hours to get it all together…..and it happened without a hitch.  God showed me how the three throw pillows had been packed so tight with feathers that there would be more than enough for not only a pillow but a “king” sized pillow.
I remembered that a few weeks ago we had bought a new set of sheets for our bed which is queen sized, but for some reason the sheets came with king sized pillow cases…just the size I needed.  I took one of the pillow cases to a local embroidery shop and had my husband’s initials placed on the pillow in the simple font I knew he would prefer costing me only $5.
As I carefully stuffed the pillows with the freshly fluffed feathers, God gave me lines of words to actually write on the pillow.  In my best handwriting, I carefully wrote each letter on the pillow protector with a laundry marker so they would not fade:
My husband, 
“This feather pillow was made just for you.  It will never be taken away or carelessly thrown away.  
 
I made this pillow to bring you comfort and rest, and to remind you that I appreciate
how hard you work mentally and physically for ME and our family.
 
I chose to use a King-sized pillow case to acknowledge & remind you that you are, & I want you to be
THE well-respected leader of our marriage and our family.
 
This pillow will have to be cared for & sometimes even mended, but it will never be cast aside or
thrown away.  I want that to remind you AND me that sometimes this pillow, like our
marriage may suffer wear & tear, but the pillow & I will always be yours. – even when 
restoration is needed.
 
I also chose to make a King-sized pillow because it is the proper size for a “man”.  You always
have been & still are a real “man” to me.  Period.
 
I take no credit for the idea of this pillow for you.  God gave me the idea & all the words &
details because He loves you- and He knows how much I love you too.
Your Wife
Soon everything was finished and my husband’s NEW feather pillow was ready.  Everything had come together and each component had significance.
  • The laundry marker formed letters that “would never fade” through wear or laundering.
  • The King size would remind him of my desire to respect him.
  • Even the initials on the pillow case would shout loud and clear that his pillow belongs to him and it is not to be taken away.
 
As simple as a feather pillow may be, God used it to minister to my husband, to me, and most especially to our marriage.  Like I said, I’ve been hurt and have felt for so long the sting of being cheated out of so many things and experiences.  I’m sure my reactions  – whether just or not – have left my husband feeling disrespected and useless.  It’s human nature for people to focus on their own pain and minimize that of others.
Sometimes it’s hard to feel empathy for someone when you feel like they have “made their bed”.  Hurt feelings and so many attacks have been sent our way that were meant to leave our marriage in  shambles……..  But, God made some chickens.
God made those “chickens” and they gave up their “feathers” years ago before my husband knew that I even existed.  God knew that the first marriage that was put together by two “people” and would not last.  He saw it all ahead of time.  What was meant for evil in my husband’s life, God worked out for good.  God didn’t intend for my husband to have an unsuccessful marriage with an unfaithful, disrespectful wife.  That’s what she chose.  That’s what decisions outside of God’s direction chooses for us.  We’ve all been there.
But, God didn’t allow that to bury my husband despite the hell on earth he has faced in the past.  God brought us together out of the ashes of heartache and mistakes to give me and my husband a marriage that He is working out for my husband’s good and for my good as well.  The way God intended it to begin with.  When the Bible says that He will give us ‘beauty for ashes’, I think that means that those who have been burnt emotionally will be given something beautiful if we allow HIM to put it all together and not keep trying to put something together ourselves or make something work that He didn’t have anything to do with from the beginning.
The effect that pillow has had on our marriage the last few days has been a quiet one, but full of unspoken healing.  Don’t you just love how God knows every minute detail?  Clear down to the size of the pillow cases that would be enclosed with our new sheets that would be the exact thing those feathers needed to accomplish His plan?
Now I won’t say that we have a perfect marriage.  It’s not.  There is still work to be done in the marriage. There is still work to be done in my husband.  There is still work to be done in me.  Just this evening, a slip of the tongue on my husband’s part drudged up old feelings of hurt in my mind but we got through it which was not the norm of the past.  I believe that now we are truly trying because God has enabled us and that feather pillow refueled some of the love and respect that needed to be restated.  He made the “chicken” a long time ago. He’s already worked out all the details and paid the price for our marriage allocating to us the “good” in advance.   He gave us the “feathers” last week.  From now on, I think I will remember to thank God for “Chicken One Day and Feathers the Next.”
Tonight I watch my husband sleep with HIS feather pillow as he has since I gave it to him.  I will never forget him saying that it was “awesome”.  And by the way….it was my anniversary present to him.
I entertained the idea earlier today to make another feather pillow since I had plenty of feathers left over and I also grew up with that kind of pillow under my head.  I was making my list of items to pick up at the store, adding “king sized pillow protector” to my list.  That’s when God reminded me that the king size was reserved for my husband as a reminder to him that I respect him.  Given that, I’m happy to stuff the left over feathers into a “queen” sized pillow protector.
God has strongly affirmed to me that what I do and the respect I show my husband (even when he does not deserve it) I am actually doing for God himself.  He’s also reminded me that sometimes wives have to just hang out with God for a while and let their husband’s “catch up”.  We will wait for my husband in confidence that he will continue to make me the “queen” God intended me to be.

The Respect Dare, Day 17 – Life-Giving Words

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Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.  Proverbs 16:24

We all need genuine affirmation and words of encouragement.

Nina Roesner shares a beautiful story in today’s dare about a wife who was going to The Daughters of Sarah classes that Nina Roesner leads.  This wife was thinking about not going that night because she felt like she hadn’t changed much in the five weeks since she had been in the class. She saw so much failure in herself.  Her husband encouraged her to go and very sweetly pointed out a LOT of ways that he had seen that she had changed already.

Wow.  That was a huge boost for this precious wife!

Don’t we all long for that kind of blessing from our husbands?  That they might notice all that we are doing to seek to be godly wives and praise and affirm our efforts?

  • Nina suggests asking your husband how you are doing as a wife.

I personally did not talk with my husband about what I was doing for many months.  He knew what books I was reading.  He saw me changing.  But I didn’t discuss it, I just prayed and prayed and studied and asked God to change me.

Keep in mind that it may take months before husbands notice the changes you are making – and some changes you make, he may not notice himself – but they are still important if you are seeking to align yourself with God’s Word and become a godly woman and wife God’s way. 🙂

A WORD OF CAUTION

I have walked with hundreds of wives through this process in the past year and a half or so – and, of course, I have been on this road myself.  Nina has walked with THOUSANDS of wives and has been on this journey much longer than I have – so I greatly respect everything she has to say.

But I know I personally messed up in this area = A LOT.  So I want to be sure you are very careful here if you ask for your husband’s evaluation of how you are doing so far.

When I had just read Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs – I started sending my husband LONG 2000-3000 word emails every day about all the things I admired and respected about him.  Then I would get REALLY, REALLY upset – to the point of being in tears – and feel unloved – when he didn’t send me an email back.

If you send a text/email/note about what you respect about your man, but you are in tears when he comes home and angry at him because he didn’t send you anything in return – the words of respect pretty much lose any significance.  Trust me!

  • Almost all of us want our husbands to notice every little change we make and make a big deal out of what an awesome job we are doing.
  • We want them to praise all of our efforts.
  • We want to know that we are getting an A on our “wife report card” now

Allowing God to completely renovate our souls and regenerate our hearts and minds, dying to self, being a living sacrifice for Jesus – that is all VERY tough work.  It is painful.  This is a life long process of sanctification that God desires every believer to go through to make us more mature and to refine our faith and character. It requires a lot of sacrifices to obey God.   Well… let me rephrase.  It seems like we must sacrifice everything at first when we begin to really commit to living for Christ as Lord.  But, the amazing thing is, we give Him all that we are, totally submitted to Him – and then He gives us all of Himself.  So, eventually, I realized that it was no sacrifice to give up the trash that I had in exchange for the riches of heaven.

But it is VERY, VERY tempting to want our husbands to give us a lot of praise and recognition for all the hard stuff we are doing to learn to be better wives.

In fact, it can be really hard not to say something like, “Honey, did you notice that I didn’t criticize you or say anything hateful to you ALL DAY TODAY??!?!?!?!?  Aren’t I the BEST WIFE EVER?????”

Or – “I wanted to say something super sarcastic just now, but I didn’t!!!!!  Aren’t you so proud of me?!?!!?!”

The thing is – not all husbands are going to be able to give us the verbal affirmation we desire.   And many husbands won’t praise the absence of negativity.  That is kind of the “minimum requirement” of respect (as Laura Doyle says in the Surrendered Wife- read in light of God’s Word, please, this book is not necessarily from a Christian viewpoint).  Doyle says –  “If you always used to run late for work, and suddenly, you begin to come to work on time – would your boss praise you for being on time every day?  No.  That is one of the minimum requirements of the job.”

WHY WON’T MY HUSBAND AFFIRM ME?

  • Some husbands are too wounded and still shut down.
  • Some husbands are afraid to trust that this change could be real, and they are going to wait MANY weeks, maybe months to believe that this new wife they are seeing could actually be reality.
  • Some husbands get more angry when we apologize for our disrespect and begin seeking to be respectful.  They FINALLY feel like they can say what they have been thinking and bottling up for years, many times.  All of that anger was there before, but we didn’t hear it.  They had lost hope.  Seeing anger in your husband when you begin to learn respect is often a normal reaction.
  • Some husbands are spiritually dead.  It is unreasonable to expect a corpse to sit up and give you a pat on the back.  If your husband is an unbeliever, or is very far from God and essentially “spiritually in a coma” – expecting him to meet your emotional/spiritual needs is very unrealistic.  By God’s power, you can focus on meeting his needs and you can take your needs to God.  But it may be necessary to drop expectations of praise if your man is far from God.
  • Some husbands get really excited and there is a honeymoon period – but then when they realize their wives keep messing up and aren’t perfect at respect right away – they get more critical.  That can be really tough for wives to deal with.

To me – it can actually be a blessing when our husbands do NOT give us accolades of praise as we are learning to be godly wives.  Why?  Because it forces us to examine our motives and to only do this to please God not to feel like we can control our men!

You can ask your husband how he thinks you are doing – but let me say – PLEASE DO NOT expect him to say awesome things.  If he does not praise you the way you think you should be praised – please accept whatever his response is graciously and allow God to work in his heart.  Just keep focusing on your accountability to please Jesus.

If your husband is a very godly man, he may be able to give you real affirmation and praise because he may understand how difficult this journey is.  But other husbands are not going to realize just how deeply disrespect and control go in a woman’s soul – to the very core of her understanding of herself and of God, and of her ability to accept God’s sovereignty.  Most husbands think we should just be able to “flip a switch” and suddenly be respectful all the time.  Not so!

This is a LONG process.  It involves the deepest core parts of our soul being radically changed.

MY SUGGESTION:

Do this with the sole motivation of pleasing, honoring, loving, respecting and obeying Christ.

If you don’t get the results you want in your husband, and you are disappointed – take that disappointment and use it as a signal to tell you to keep your eyes on pleasing Christ alone.  That is what I try to do whenever I sense disappointment welling up.

If you need affirmation and encouragement – look for it in a godly mentor wife you can trust, leave me a comment and I will give you affirmation and encouragement, and many other wives probably will, as well.

One day, when your husband is strong and healthy spiritually and emotionally – he will probably praise you.  But you can be content, even if he doesn’t.  Because you are NOT learning to respect him and honor his leadership to change him.  You are doing it to receive the praises of God when you stand before Him one day.

This is really all about you and Jesus.

Jesus counts the way you treat your husband and other people as if you are doing whatever it is you do to Him and for Him.

How scary is that!?!?!

Look past your husband’s shoulder – and see Jesus behind him.

Your marriage is really a test.  It is a place where you can learn to love like Jesus does.  It is a place where you learn to live by faith in Christ and where  you learn to respect and reverence Him.

Your level of respect and willingness to honor your husband’s God-given leadership have almost NOTHING to do with what your husband does or does not do – and it has almost EVERYTHING to do with your relationship with Jesus Christ.

  • Your husband doesn’t make you disrespect him.
  • He cannot make you respect him.  He can make it easier or harder!  But ultimately – this is about you.
  • You are responsible for your emotions, your thoughts, your attitude, your behavior, your obedience to Christ and your sin.
  • His behavior and sin against you just reveals what is already in your heart – whether the sinful nature is in control or God’s Spirit is in control. (Galatians 5:19-22)
  • You would act the same way towards any man you were married to – because that is what is in you.

The way you treat your husband is a tangible indicator of the level of submission and respect you have for Jesus!

THE DARE

Let’s give words of life and affirmation to our husbands!

Write down some good things your husband often does for you and your family and your home.  THANK HIM in writing today with 5 brief notes about 5 of his strengths.  ie:

  • going to work everyday = strong work ethic.
  • still being there with you = “commitment”
  • spending time with the children = being an involved dad
  • being careful with money and the budget = responsibility
  • talking with the children about character, behavior, etc = being a spiritual leader

Give him one note today (it can be a text/email if necessary) and one each day for the 4 days after today.

Men usually like BRIEF messages.

DO NOT EXPECT HIM TO SAY OR DO ANYTHING FOR YOU.

Just think of this as you are “watering his soul” and blessing him without any strings attached.

SHARE

Let me know how you are doing!  What are some things you admire about  your husband?  How do you plan to build him up today?

LUKE 6

41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

A Tree and Its Fruit

43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

The Wise and Foolish Builders

46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.49But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

The Wash Cloth Incident

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An email I received from a wife – thank you to this wife for allowing me to share!
Hello April…
Wanted to share something funny.

Our bathroom has been torn up for over a year now. So, I have bathroom stuff in 3 rooms (the kitchen, my bedroom and the tiny spare bath). I already caught my daughter using my face wash cloth (in the kitchen) to wipe up balsamic vinegar. yuck, it left a huge brown stain on my white wash cloth. Today, I caught my husband using a new wash cloth to wipe up coffee spills.

“AAAAaaahhhh don’t do that!” I squeal!

He momentarily freezes, totally shocked.

“That’s my face rag!” I explain (with boldness)

“Well, you’ve got your stuff all over, how am I supposed to know?” he retorts angrily.

“Well, IF the bathroom would be done, I wouldn’t have to have my stuff ALL OVER THE PLACE!!” proudly defending myself.

(((((Yikes….))))))

Then I hear YOUR voice reminding me that an unsubmissive wife is prideful. That the way we speak to our husbands reveals how much better than them we think we are.

I guess I was thinking ‘I deserve a bathroom. Shame on him for not having a nice bathroom for me. I’ll make him feel stupid for not having the bathroom done BY NOW!!’

I apologized to him (and I praise God that He is faithfully showing me attitudes of pride and entitlement in my heart).

It’s so freeing to let it go…just let God take the junk and replace it with joy and peace.

 

You are right, He died for me, I didn’t deserve that. I deserve hell. I don’t deserve my nice life today and I should stop acting like I do. (I go to a church that teaches this fact, but sometimes we need to see where it really applies: to me, I’ve really got some “I don’t deserve this” issues going on.)

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

I am so excited about what God is doing in this wife’s heart! She caught the pride right after she spoke and apologized. THAT was wise – and it honored Jesus.

She is beginning to realize that intimacy with her husband and with God is more important than being “right” about the bathroom, or her face rags. WHAT AN IMPORTANT THING TO SEE!!!!

You begin to get used to eating humble pie as you learn to do things God’s way. And, you know what? It’s really not that bad. The taste kind of grows on you!

Eventually, God’s Spirit will help her to catch things BEFORE she says them.

Over time, God’s Spirit will transform her mind and replace the negative thoughts and pride with humility, peace, joy and thanksgiving – so one day, she won’t even think the prideful thoughts. There will be some slip ups – but God can give us many victories over sin!

It is ok to say, “I can’t wait to see how beautiful the new bathroom will be! Thank you for working on it. I really appreciate your willingness to make our home beautiful!”