The Respect Dare, Day 25 – Responding as a Godly Wife

937120_23240615

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.   I Peter 3:8-9

Sometimes, I really love to take a verse and apply it specifically to my marriage.  Somehow, it has so much more impact for me when I do that.

This instruction in I Peter 3:8-9 is for all believers, in all situations.  I love the wisdom God gives us.  It is LIFE-GIVING, FREEDOM-PRODUCING and INCREDIBLY POWERFUL when we apply it, embrace it and determine to live by it, asking God to empower us to do these things.  I am inserting my husband’s name here – but please insert your own husband’s name – or the name of anyone else for whom you want to learn to love with God’s love.

BE LIKE-MINDED WITH GREG

Obviously, I can’t be like minded with sinful things.  But in areas where I can be like-minded – I can strive for unity, relationship, emotional/spiritual oneness, a team-spirit.

When I say “strive for unity” – let me clarify.  I used to think of unity as him changing his mind to agree with me – since I was always right, and all.  Yep.  Seriously.  That is how I thought.  Now I know that striving for unity involves ME going towards HIM and seeking to understand him better and look for the wisdom in his unique perspective.  And, ultimately – I pray for God to make us one mind in Christ – in God’s way, not mine.

One thing that has really helped me is to ask questions and learn how Greg thinks.  IT IS SO DIFFERENT FROM HOW I THINK!  The more I understand how his mind works and what it means to be a man – the more I can stand in awe and wonder of God’s design for him instead of being angry that he is not me.  Shaunti Feldhahn’s book For Women Only  greatly facilitated my understanding of Greg and of other men.  That gave me a place to begin asking questions – in a friendly, caring way – not an interrogating way. And it helped me get into his shoes and see the world more from his perspective.  How I wish I could experience life in his mind and body for a day or two – how amazing would that be!?!  But since I can’t do that – I can ask respectful, gentle questions about how he thinks, how he processes his emotions, how he feels, how he sees life and I can appreciate his unique masculine perspective and allow it to broaden my own understanding of the world.

BE SYMPATHETIC TOWARDS GREG

If he says/does something hurtful – I can assume the best instead of the worst.  I can find out if he had a bad day or if he is sick, tired, hungry or in pain.  I can ask if I did something disrespectful.  I can listen to him talk about his work and his day and the concerns on his mind – and offer empathy and sympathy to him.  I can seek to understand his mindset and perspective instead of assuming he did something because he “obviously doesn’t love me.”

I can accept that he is an imperfect human being just like me and that is ok.

LOVE GREG

I Corinthians 13:4-8 – I love to put my name in those verses.  This is how God loves us and this is how He wants me to love Greg:

April is patient,

April is kind.

She does not envy

She does not boast,

She is not proud.

She does not dishonor others,

She is not self-seeking,

She is not easily angered,

She keeps no record of wrongs.

April does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

April always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Wow.

This is the kind of love God desire me to have for my husband and for everyone!  I need His Spirit to fill me with His power to be able to do this!  I cannot love like this on my own.

BE COMPASSIONATE TOWARDS GREG

I can have a huge supply of mercy, grace, love and forgiveness at the ready for Greg – and for other people – because of the massive quantity of mercy, grace, love and forgiveness God has lavished on ME!  I have been forgiven MUCH… so I can love much.  I can love God much and I can love people much and I can extend the gifts God has given me to others.

BE HUMBLE TOWARDS GREG

I can admit that

  • I am a big time sinner.
  • I am not always right.
  • I do not possess all the wisdom of the universe.
  • God DOES possess all the wisdom in the universe
  • Greg has wisdom, too.
  • God may be trying to teach me or lead me through Greg if I will listen.  Since He did place Greg over me as my protector, leader and provider and all. 🙂  (I Cor 11:3)
  • My way is not necessarily “better than” his.
  • He is not automatically “wrong” just because he thinks differently from the way I think.
  • He may have a different idea about what God’s will is than I do – and he may be right!

DO NOT REPAY GREG WITH EVIL WHEN HE HURTS YOU

If he rolled over and went to sleep without cuddling with me, saying goodnight or kissing me – I used to take that as a very clear sign that “he doesn’t love me!”  Now I know it means, “he’s really tired.”  So there is no reason to plot revenge.  Later, when he is awake and not exhausted – I can say (in a pleasant tone of voice and with a smile on my face), “It means so much to me when you cuddle with me, tell me good night and give me a kiss before you turn out the lights at night.”  But, if he forgets – I can assume the best and I can put my hand on his back and bless him and silently pray for him with gratitude.

What if he injured me in a really big way?  What if he was dishonest about our finances, or what if he was unfaithful to me, or what if he spread lies about me and destroyed my reputation with my family or at church?   (He has not done these things, by the way, they are illustrations only!)

It would be so tempting to lash out at him and want to hurt him, too.

That is what I tried to do the first summer we were married.

  • I felt ignored, neglected, unloved and rejected.
  • I wanted him to hurt like I hurt.
  • I did everything I could to try to make him hurt so he would see how hurt I was and he would fix it.

Guess what the results were?

We were BOTH very hurt.

My hurting him did not make my hurts heal.  It just destroyed him.

That is why God says not to repay evil with evil.  It is destructive!  This is why Jesus says for us to leave room for God to take revenge and let Him repay others for their evil as we seek to do good to those who hurt us.

That does not mean I have to trust him – if he was unfaithful or is severely addicted to drugs or something major was going on.  But I can ask God to empower me to purpose to do good and to bless Greg even when I believe he has hurt me.

DO NOT INSULT GREG WHEN HE INSULTS YOU

If Greg says something hateful to me, my sinful nature wants to get right down off that cross and say something hateful right back at him.  In fact, I am pretty good at that.  If we are going to have a “war of words” – I could easily dominate him and “win.”

Yep!  I “won” many verbal battles in the past!

Guess what happened then?

  • My husband shut me out of his heart and unplugged from our marriage and our family.

Somehow, that just doesn’t seem so much like a “win” anymore to me.

If he insults me – that is wrong.  But,

  • Can I maybe try asking a few questions to be sure I understand correctly before I take offense?
  • Maybe I misunderstood him?
  • Maybe he has had a really hard day?
  • Maybe he is allowing his sinful nature to rule his life and tongue right now?

I do not have to respond to sin with more sin.  Gary Thomas, “Sacred Marriage,” says, “We are most tempted to sin when we are sinned against.”

Guess what awesome thing happens when I do not insult my husband in return?

  • He is left thinking about HIS sin instead of my sin.  That is much more likely to convict him!  If I lash out back and insult him – now I have given him ammunition to use against me and plenty of things to think about how justified he was in insulting me.  Not good!
  • When God empowers me to respond in His power – by saying, “Ouch” (like Laura Doyle suggests in The Surrendered Wife), or “That sounded unloving to me, did I come across disrespectfully just now?” (Dr. Emerson Eggerichs in Love and Respect) or maybe God wants me to say words of blessing or maybe I just need to quietly leave the room – then God has a much easier job of convicting him.

REPAY GREG’S EVIL TOWARDS YOU WITH BLESSING

This takes some prayer and intentional thought sometimes.  But if you don’t know how to bless your husband in a situation like this – ask God. Pray earnestly.  He will show you how to do it.

One wife I read about had an argument the night before.  Her husband didn’t resolve the argument but went to sleep.  The wife didn’t sleep all night – she was so upset about the hurtful things her husband had said to her.  She prayed fervently that God might inspire her how she could bless her husband instead of repaying him with evil. God prompted her in the morning to make breakfast in bed for her husband even though he had not apologized and had said some unkind things.

When this husband saw his wife’s kindness and blessing – he was overcome with guilt and quickly apologized on his own for his hateful words the night before.

God’s ways are FAR above our ways!

WHY????  WHY SHOULD I BE THE ONE TO HAVE TO DO ALL THIS STUFF AND HE GETS TO SIN AGAINST ME AND HE DOESN’T HAVE TO DO ANY OF THIS HARD STUFF AT ALL?

“… because to this you were called so that YOU may inherit a blessing.”  I Peter 3:9

WOW!

I am the one who benefits here.  That is how our amazing God works.  We are blessed when we obey Him.

Actually,

  • Greg will benefit when I obey God because I will be responding in the power of the love of God instead of in a sinful way.
  • I will benefit because God blesses my obedience and faith in Him.
  • God benefits because He is honored and glorified.
  • Other people outside of my marriage will benefit because my marriage will exalt God.
  • My children will benefit.
  • My coworkers will benefit.
  • Those around me will see a godly example and benefit.

Who knows how far the impact may reach when I say, “Yes, Lord” and obey what God calls me to do?

The Respect Dare – DARE 24:

Seek to understand your husband’s intent and what he is really trying to say.  From Nina “Before you say your opinion, say, ‘If I hear you correctly, you are saying…;” Then strive to understand and listen.  Make your biggest goal be about understanding your husband (and others).   Be quick to listen and slow to speak and slow to become angry!  Be sure  you understand others VERY clearly before saying anything yourself.

If the other person said something insulting – then be even more careful to really understand them and be sure you heard correctly before responding.  Pray for God to empower you to listen well and to think carefully before saying anything – and to give you wisdom to respond with blessing.  Seek to do good to your husband and to others.

SHARE:

How is the Respect Dare going for you?

What is God teaching you in your walk with Christ and in your marriage? (whether you are doing the Respect Dare or not)

“My Husband Forgot Our Anniversary” – from the Archives

This is an email I received from a sweet wife that I think really showcases a classic misunderstanding between husbands and wives.   So, with her permission, I’m going to share her email and then think about some possible respectful and husband-honoring, Christ-honoring ways to tackle this issue.  I’m REALLY thankful that she brought up this topic.  It’s actually the 2nd wife in one week who has had this dilemma who has emailed me.  I hope the ladies might pay close attention to the little red flags in her email.  See if  you notice the areas where she ventured into disrespect (and also into some other possible pitfalls – like judgment, condemnation, pride) before you read what I wrote.   My perspective is certainly not the only respectful way to handle things – but it may give wives a starting place to begin praying and thinking about how God might want them to change.
Little bit of background: my husband has kinda forgotten about special days in the past.  He usually doesn’t plan my birthday gifts and holiday gifts very well. If he does, it is usually last minute.  I have gotten very upset about this in the past and hurt because my birthdays and our anniversaries are dates that I want to feel loved and special (like most girls) but like most guys, he doesn’t put much thought or planning into these days.  He has an hour commute to and from work and I’ve suggested in the past that he takes at least 1 minute of his commute time to think or plan for us, but he hasn’t taken my suggestion.  
 
So present day problem:
Today is our 3 year anniversary.  The past few days I have been worried he hasn’t thought much about it.  This morning, I woke up and tell myself to not be too upset if he has forgot.  I don’t want to set him up and pretend I forgot too, so I lean over and say “Happy anniversary” then I ask him if he remembered (probably this is where I first went wrong???) Or maybe I shouldn’t have said happy anniversary at all (this is where I’m getting stuck)
 
He said, “Yes,” he forgot but he told me that he told a customer yesterday about our anniversary so he really didn’t completely forget.    I said, “It’s ok” and got up to start getting ready.  (He could tell I was upset even though I was trying to hide it – maybe I went wrong there too and should not have tried to hide my feelings but I did not want to put him down and make him feel like a failure).  He asked, “What’s wrong?”  I said I was ok. Then he asked why I got up out of bed like that and I said, “Sorry I got up like that, but I needed to get ready.”  
 
He then started saying that is was first thing in the morning and of course he’s not thinking about that when he’s half asleep.  Then the argument broke out
(I heard him as making excuses and started to defend my point)!!!!
 
He brought up how hard he works and how burnt out he is. I said,  “I wanted to feel special” by having him make plans for us and I always worry he will forget since he has in past.  Things got blown up and I started crying.  I tried to tell him I was hurt and didn’t intend for things to go down like that but it took him a few minutes to stop being angry before he could comfort me.  We apologized and are ok now but I have no clue how to handle this when it happens again.  Which it will – he is human and it is kinda his nature.
FROM PEACEFULWIFE:
Whew.
This situation got really out of hand – and it didn’t have to.  This precious wife did what most wives would do – but it’s not working for anyone!
Let’s talk about where she went right and where she may have been able to prevent this entire argument and tense situation that might well ruin the entire day.
I have a hunch that something very similar has happened at least once or twice in almost every marriage.
THE RIGHT THINGS – IN MY VIEW:
  • I’m proud of her for telling herself not to be too upset if her husband forgot their anniversary.  Good job!  Especially since she knows he isn’t really strong with remembering dates.
  • I’m so glad she woke up and smiled and said, “Happy Anniversary!”
  • I’m glad she apologized – even though she was feeling unloved and hurt.
  • I’m glad she is trying to accept that he is human and wants to be prepared to extend grace.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT:
WHAT IS THE GOAL?
It’s FINE to plan something for him and do something for him to make him feel special and cared for and loved if you want to.  Be sure to do something he would like.  And be flexible enough to be gracious if he doesn’t get as excited about what you did for him as you would if he did something for you.
But, if you expect your anniversary (or birthday, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or Christmas) to be about him planning a party/a romantic evening/a surprise  for YOU to make YOU feel loved and special – then you are setting yourself up for  huge disappointment – ESPECIALLY IF YOU DON’T TELL HIM WHAT YOU DESIRE.
  • Your husband is probably a horrible mind reader.
  • Your husband thinks like a man.  He is not a woman.  Remembering dates and anticipating what you want without any input from you – may be unrealistic – some men seriously have trouble remembering things like that.
  • You can’t control your husband.
  • You can’t make him do things.
  • You can ask for things pleasantly and politely and tell him what you would like.
  • You can appreciate what he does for you.
  • You can do things for him.

One of my readers told me, “Expectations are pre-meditated resentment.”   (For more on healthy boundaries and what you actually can control vs. what you can’t control, click here.)

IDOLS

I think we have to be very conscious of the temptation to have idols – something we set our hearts on more than Christ.
If I am thinking
  • “I HAVE TO HAVE X TO BE HAPPY.”
  • “If my husband doesn’t do what I want – I will be devastated.”
  • “If he doesn’t do Y, I will not be ok.”

These are  huge red flags to me that I am probably holding something as an idol, or, at the very best, that I am setting myself up for major disappointment.  It’s time to do a heart check and make sure I am looking only to Christ for my fulfillment and contentment – not to my husband.

The human heart is an idol factory.  All of us must constantly ask God to check our motives, and make sure we don’t allow anything to creep in there and take God’s precious place in our hearts.
SOME HEALTHY WAYS TO HANDLE THE ANNIVERSARY ISSUE
1. It’s FINE to say, “Happy Anniversary!” smile,  give him a kiss and maybe even initiate physical intimacy if there is time that morning and he is interested.
2. It would have been fine earlier in the week to say, “I would LOVE to go to X restaurant for our anniversary this week!”  With a big smile on your face.  But then leave him with him and allow HIM to decide what he wants to do – or he may ask you about making reservations.  That’s ok, too.
3. If he forgets  – you can say something that night like, “You know what?  I really just want to enjoy being with you tonight for our anniversary.  I’m SO glad I get to be your wife!  You are the biggest gift from God to me.”  And enjoy grilled cheese sandwiches at home, or take out or going to a restaurant if he wants to. (Of course, if you had smiled at him brightly and said, “Happy Anniversary, Honey!” that morning, it would make it really hard for him to forget. :))

If you can extend GRACE to him – you can probably salvage all the things that matter most!  You can still have a great time together.

He will be so relieved that you aren’t making him feel like a failure for forgetting something he really didn’t mean to forget.  And then you can make wonderful memories!
FRIDAY NIGHTS FOR US
I enjoy my husband on Friday nights when the children are at their grandparents’ house.  Sometimes my husband takes me out to a nice restaurant.  I love that.  And sometimes we have take out.  I love that, too.  And sometimes we have leftover chicken bog from the night before, or two nights before.  (I know…  you are asking yourself, “What on earth is chicken bog?”  Well – it is a South Carolina thing with chicken and rice.  It’s my husband’s favorite so I try to make it 2-3 times per month).  The point is:
I savor THE RELATIONSHIP more than where we go or what we are doing now.  I am joyful and content to be with him – no matter what we do.
I personally would like to see wives not get quite so caught up about their husbands making the plans.  If your husband isn’t a big planner – it might be a gift to him if you do the planning – as long as you ask him and he’s ok with that.
HOW TO CELEBRATE AND ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT
If you had just said, “Happy Anniversary!” and hugged and kissed him and smiled at him with that adoring look in your eye… you would have given him time to think of something to do for you while he was at work during the day.  He could have salvaged the situation.  He could have delighted you and been your hero.
That is exactly what the other wife who wrote to me this week did – and her husband realized he forgot and he felt AWFUL!!!  She didn’t have to say anything or ask if he remembered or not.  He really tried hard to make it up to her.  Give him the opportunity to be your hero!!!
THAT EXTRA LITTLE QUESTION DID A LOT OF DAMAGE
To wake up and say, “Happy Anniversary!”  is awesome – but  then to ask, “Did you remember?” – was a problem – he may have even felt disrespected.  Now he can’t win.  He may even feel ambushed. If he did remember – she assumed the worst about him and he’s not going to be praised – and if he did forget – he can’t honorably extract himself from this situation.
When I disrespect my husband – it is unreasonable to expect him to comfort me.  First, I must apologize for my disrespect – even if it was totally unintentional.
Let’s assume the best, not the worst, about our men!  I think there is something about that in I Corinthians 13:4-8!
A HEALTHY FOCUS
In my mind, an anniversary is not an occasion to spend days worrying about if he’ll remember.  It’s a time to be thankful he is in my life.  Whether he wakes up remembering the date or not is WAY secondary to the fact that HE IS HERE.  HE LOVES ME.  HE IS MARRIED TO ME.  He belongs to me and I belong to him.  What an incredible blessing and gift!
RELATED POST

Forgiveness

772289_51863461

We have been focusing on bitterness a good bit this week.  If you have missed it, here are links to the other posts:

Be Still My Bitter Heart

Bitterness is Toxic and Contagious

Exploring the Depths of Bitterness

Finding God’s Victory Over Bitterness

STEPPING STONES TO FORGIVENESS

I want to see ALL traces of bitterness gone in myself and in all of you!  I want to see Christ deliver us from our sin that we might live in His victory and abundant life full of His peace, joy and purpose.  Just the smallest amount of bitterness or unforgiveness will grow into a destructive force of evil in my life.

If you live with people, you will have plenty of “legitimate” reasons to be bitter.  You will be sinned against – and it is not wrong to feel anger when someone sins against us.  Anger is a gift from God that is supposed to alert us to our boundaries being violated or us being sinned against. But, in that anger, I am not to sin!  And I must get rid of the anger and deal with it quickly before it gives the enemy a foothold in my life.

So, how do I begin to forgive when I am deeply hurt and someone sinned against me?

SEE THE DEPTHS OF MY OWN SIN AND THE MASSIVE DEBT CHRIST PAID FOR ME

For me, this is the first step.  I used to think I was really “not that bad” and didn’t have much sin in my own life.  That massive PRIDE in my heart fueled ungodly thoughts in me like:

  • I don’t deserve to be treated this way
  • I would NEVER do that to someone.  I am so much better than that person
  • I am a victim here
  • I deserve to hold on to my anger and unforgiveness
  • He/she doesn’t deserve my forgiveness

When I think that I am above reproach – I start to think I shouldn’t have to forgive.  But that is so untrue!  God Himself is SINLESS and HOLY and He forgives.  Am I above God that I am exempt from forgiving others?  That was PRIDE in my heart.  SKY HIGH PRIDE.

When I start to look at MYSELF – and begin a rough tally of all the sin in my own life – just in my past (not to mention my future!) – I know now that I owe Jesus “billions of dollars” of sin debt.  I had constant idolatry in my heart for decades (acting as if I were sovereign instead of God, putting myself and being in control up as an idol, expecting my husband to be Christ and making him an idol), PRIDE, PRIDE, PRIDE, unforgiveness, gossip, bitterness… MOUNTAINS of sin.

When I see the sin in my own life – and how desperately I need forgiveness and all that Christ has forgiven me for – how can I not show that mercy to others who sin against me.  They are doing the SAME things that I have done!  I need mercy, and so do they.

(Matthew 18:21-35 – a parable about how we are to forgive)

UNDERSTAND THAT IF I REFUSE TO FORGIVE, GOD WILL NOT FORGIVE ME.  I NEED HIS FORGIVENESS!  THIS IS NOT AN OPTION.  IT IS  A COMMAND AND A NECESSITY.

It is spiritual suicide for me to refuse to forgive someone.  I then forfeit God’s power working in me, His strength, His Spirit’s filling me, His forgiveness and the fruit of His Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  I NEED those things!  I need the presence and intimate fellowship of Christ.  I have NOTHING without Him!

I am addicted to Jesus.  He is my LORD.  I need Him in my life and I MUST have him.  I need to do whatever He wants me to do in order to stay close to Him and be able to abide in Him.

Read the book of I John this week if you can.  Read it with bitterness and unforgiveness in mind and see how God wants us to live if we belong to Him.  There is no room for sin.  It all has to go!  Unforgiveness = wickedness to Christ.  I cannot afford the luxury of unforgiveness.

UNFORGIVENESS AND BITTERNESS ARE GATEWAY SINS THAT LEAD TO MANY OTHER SINS – IT IS POISON!

Not only do I forfeit the blessings of God and of obedience when I refuse to forgive, I embrace the poison fruit of unforgiveness and bitterness.  It leads to death!  Death of relationships, depression, anxiety, many other sins (gossip, division, feuds, jealousy, lack of faith, even stealing, suicide or murder if it is left long enough in my heart).

A tiny amount of bitterness grows and takes over my soul, my thoughts, my life and my identity.  It can actually become my purpose in life if I allow it to continue – it can become my idol!  Other people can see bitterness in me and it makes me toxic to everyone else.  People will want to avoid me.  Bitterness is contagious – the Bible says not to let a bitter root grow up that will defile many.

This is SERIOUS stuff!

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY – THE LIFE OF JOSEPH

One of my favorite stories about forgiveness is that of Joseph in the Old Testament (Genesis 38-45).  If anyone had reason to be bitter, it was Joseph.  His brothers were jealous of him and staged his fake death and sold him into slavery.  As a slave, his master’s wife accused him falsely of attempted rape and he was sent to prison, though he was innocent.  In prison, he helped the Pharaoh’s cup bearer, but the cup bearer forgot to mention Joseph to the Pharaoh.  He was a slave or a prisoner for MANY YEARS.

But this young man did not become bitter.  I LOVE his attitude and how he handled things!  He trusted himself to God.

And when the time came that his God-given dreams came true and he stood before his brothers as the 2nd in command in Egypt and they were all bowing down to him – he responded in godliness. He did test his brothers to see if they had changed.  He checked to see if they were trustworthy.  But then, when he revealed himself to them – he did not have them killed or imprisoned or tortured.  His response amazes me!

Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.  For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping.  But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.  So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.”  (Genesis 45:5-8) And he forgave them, loved them, hugged them, wept with them and gave them the finest clothes, food and land and he provided for them out of all the wealth God had given him.

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY – THE LIFE OF JESUS

Jesus, also, was able to forgive as He was being crucified because:

1. He knew that the people didn’t realize what they were doing

2. He knew that it was God’s will for Him to suffer and die and take the punishment we deserved so that God’s wrath might be satisfied, and He might make a way to bring us into a right relationship with God.

He trusted the sovereignty of God.  This wasn’t about him and being comfortable. This was about doing what God wanted Him to do so that He might save many from hell and from separation from God.

GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER MY LIFE, TOO

When someone hurts me or wounds me or sins against me – what they intended for evil, God intends for good and He can and will use even the sin of others against me to accomplish His good purposes, to make me more like Christ and to bring great glory to Himself.

This is a HUGE key in being able to forgive – to see the sovereign hand of God in the midst of my pain and to trust His heart even when I can’t trust the heart of the person/people who are sinning against me.

If You Are Getting Stuck

The times I have gotten stuck on my journey to obey God’s Word as a wife and to totally submit to Him in my entire life, including my marriage and to learn His design for me to respect and submit to my husband – there is usually one or more of the following going on:

  • bitterness – I am hanging on to resentment and unforgiveness.  When I do this, I forfeit God’s Holy Spirit abiding in me and empowering me.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to be a godly wife and to live in constant fellowship with Christ if I am cherishing ANY sin in my heart.  I MUST sincerely, humbly and deeply repent.
  • pride – I start thinking I know best.  I know better than God.  I know better than God’s Word.  I know better than my husband.  I should be the one in control.  I’d do a much better job than my husband at leading.  He’s messing everything up.
  • lack of faith in God or my husband – without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  And without faith in my husband, it is impossible for me to show respect to him in a way that will mean anything to him.
  • idolatry – I started looking to other things besides Christ for my fulfillment, contentment and happiness.  THIS IS VERY EASY TO DO!  I have to CONSTANTLY check my motives.  WHY am I doing what I am doing?  Am I really doing this to honor God?  Or am I doing it to try to control my husband and make him love me more?  Am I doing this to try to force my husband to make me feel loved?  Am I doing this because I love God with all my heart, want to know Him more and want to obey Him?  Or am I doing the respect thing because I want to try to CONTROL God?  Motive matter GREATLY to our husbands and to God.
  • self-righteousness – I start thinking I am better than my husband.  This is sin!

BROKENNESS

If I do not start from a place of total humility and brokenness – weeping over the magnitude of my own sin in God’s sight – I still have a lot more repenting to do.

It is only when I am utterly humble and contrite before God and tear down all my idols and all my false understanding of him and of myself that I can please Him.  I have to see how utterly spiritually poor, impoverished and critically ill I am to be in the right place.

I must be willing to lay everything down on the altar and sacrifice it to Jesus.  I have to die to myself – willingly.

If there is something that I am holding back from Him and afraid to trust Him about – I have an idol – and I have a lot more work to do.

His perfect love drives out all fear.  The one who fears has not been made perfect in love.

THEN…

The power of God will begin to move in my own heart in extremely powerful ways.

God’s power is fiercely strong in me when I look to Him to be the only source of my identity, the only source of my joy, the only source of my strength and the only purpose in my life.  I must want His will much more than my own – even if I don’t know exactly what His will might involve.  I trust Him.

My highest goal is to bring honor and glory to my Lord.

This is the secret of contentment, joy, peace and abundant life!

THE LITMUS TEST

If I am acting in my own strength and have sin in my heart, I will see multiple characteristics of the flesh predominantly in my heart on a daily basis – and in increasing measure (Galatians 5:19-21):

  • sexual immorality
  • impurity
  • debauchery (excessive use of alcohol/drugs/sex)
  • idolatry
  • witchcraft
  • hatred
  • discord
  • jealousy
  • fits of rage
  • selfish ambition
  • dissensions
  • factions
  • envy
  • drunkenness
  • orgies
  • and the like

If I have things in my heart from the above list, I have either not accepted the gift of Jesus Christ to pay for my sins and asked Him to be my Savior and Lord – or I am not living with Him as Lord.  I have grieved His Spirit and am clinging to sin more than to Jesus.

If His Spirit is in charge – I will see ALL of the fruit of the Spirit in my life daily and in increasing measure (Galatians 5:22):

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • gentleness
  • self-control
  • no envy
  • no boasting
  • no rudeness
  • no pride
  • no self-seeking
  • not easily angered
  • keep no record of wrongs suffered
  • forgiveness  (unforgiveness = wickedness, the parable of the servant whose master forgave him a great debt, and then the servant wouldn’t forgive his fellow servant a small debt – the master called him, “You wicked servant!”)
  • no delight in evil  (ie: unforgiveness, idolatry, control, pride, selfishness, lust and gossip)
  • rejoice with the truth
  • I protect my husband
  • I trust my husband (or want to move towards being able to rebuild trust) and even more, I trust my Lord
  • I hope in my husband and my Lord
  • I always persevere in my marriage by God’s strength

When I am living in the power of God’s Spirit – these things on this list will be a daily reality and become normal.  God does this.  I cannot do these things AT ALL on my own.  I just have to be plugged in to His power source, spending time in His Word, surrendering my heart, yielding my life completely and without reservation, praying constantly, praising Him constantly, meditation on His Word all throughout the day.

This is what a “normal” Christian life is supposed to look like!