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The Smiling Challenge – 5 Minute VIDEO

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I would like to issue you a little challenge this week, my friends!

Whenever you go in the room where your husband is –

please smile at him.

  • Not to change him.
  • Not to get any specific results from him.
  • Just to bless him.

Stay close to God. Be in His Word daily. Lay your life fully before Jesus and give yourself 100% to Him as The Lord of Your Life. Let His joy flood your soul as you seek to obey Him and please Him and as you are overcome with gratitude for all He has done for you.

Let that joy shine and radiate from your face. 🙂

Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, REJOICE! Philippians 4:4

Focus on the Philippians 4:8 things in your life:

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.

Bless your husband  with some REAL smiles this week. You know the kind of smile that lights up your eyes and your entire face. Yep. That’s the one I am talking about!

You probably have NO IDEA the power your smile has over that man. When you are genuinely happy (or better yet, joyful in Christ)  – he feels like more of a success as a man and as a husband. Your smile draws him to you. It is PLEASANT to be around someone who is smiling and welcoming.

Bless your children with some real smiles, too! They will thrive when they see you radiating love and joy.

Let me know how you do! 🙂

I Am Responsible for My Emotions

 

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NOTE – I FOUND THE LOST COMMENTS! THEY WERE IN MY SPAM FOLDER!!!!!!! I think I have recovered all of them from the past two weeks now. HOORAY!

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For many years, I expected Greg to be responsible for my emotions.

I expected him to “make me happy.” I expected him to “fix me” if I was upset. I expected him to meet needs in my heart and soul that only Jesus could meet. I expected that being close to him would give me peace, joy, fulfillment, contentment and happiness.  I also thought it was my job to “fix him” if he “wasn’t right” in my eyes.  I made Greg into an idol. I also did not take personal responsibility for my own sin, but justified all of my sin in my heart or, even worse, didn’t even see my own sin. (Sin is an archery term that means “to miss the mark” of the holy standard of God.)

Then God showed me my mountain of ickiness in my own life. It was quite overwhelming at first to see just how evil my motives and intentions were.  I had SELF on the throne of my heart, not God.  I was trusting April, not Jesus. I was overflowing with pride, self-righteousness, bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment, unbelief in God, selfishness and idolatry. Those things are ugly to God. And they are toxic poison to me, my relationship with Christ and my relationships with others.

I was shocked to realize that I needed to take responsibility for my own spiritual growth and emotional well-being. I had been living as if Greg was responsible for me and as if I was responsible for him. I had it backwards!

  • I am responsible for myself.
  • Greg is responsible for himself.

No one can rob me of the peace, love and joy of Christ. Those things are mine unless I chose to give them up. My husband cannot keep me from experiencing God’s joy. My mother cannot steal the peace Jesus has given to me – not unless I allow her to. My friends and coworkers cannot take away the gifts God has given to me in Christ. I have the power to keep these things as I abide in Christ and His Spirit overflows in me.

MY EMOTIONS

My emotions are a warning system. If I feel angry, upset, betrayed, slighted, or sinned against in some way, my feelings tell me that I may need to address an issue with someone. It means that I need to do some digging and investigating.

However, sometimes my emotions will tell me that there is something to be upset about, when really there isn’t. So, I need to pray about whatever my emotions are telling me and be sure my emotions are accurate and that I am listening to God’s Spirit before I forge ahead and confront someone else. (Confronting Our Husbands’ Sin) Sometimes my negative emotions can be a warning that there is sin in my own heart – idolatry, pride, self-righteousness, control, bitterness… so it is important to notice my emotions and to lay them before God to get an accurate diagnosis of what the real problem is.

SOMEONE ELSE’S EMOTIONS

If my husband (or someone else) is angry or depressed, that is for him to deal with. I can seek to bless him. If I have sinned against him in some way, it is my responsibility to make things right as best I can (Matthew 5:23-24). But there are times when our husbands will be upset, and it really isn’t our fault or our responsibility. This requires much prayer on our part to figure out where our responsibility ends and theirs begins sometimes. But sometimes they have their own sin issues or just their own stressors to deal with that don’t have anything to do with us. I don’t want wives to take responsibility for things that truly are not their responsibility. (I Am Trying to Respect and Submit, but My Husband Is More Unloving Than Ever! What is Going On?)

EMOTIONS ARE NOT ALWAYS ACCURATE AND THEY ARE NOT “FACTS”

It is always easier to blame someone else when we are upset. But our feelings and emotions are not always accurate and dependable. We must examine them under the Light of Scripture. Just because I feel angry at my husband, doesn’t mean he actually sinned against me. It could be that I have PMS. Or it could mean that my motives need to be examined. Just because a husband feels angry at his wife, doesn’t mean she sinned against him. She may have. That is possible. Or, he could be frustrated about something else and maybe he is taking it out on his wife. Or maybe he has some other issue going on in his heart that he can’t even articulate.  It can take time to dig down and examine exactly what the root of the anger is coming from. And if it is someone else’s anger, we may not be able to see the root or their real motives or issues.

If a husband is sinning, he owns that, not his wife. Of course, “We are most tempted to sin when we are sinned against” – like Gary Thomas says, in Sacred Marriage. But, I am only responsible for my reactions and my responses. And if I am sinning against my husband, I own that, not Greg.

WHEN I USED TO GET UPSET

Crying used to be a pretty common thing for me. Sometimes every single night for months and months at a time. Greg didn’t know what to do to help me back then. When he tried to help me, it was never enough. I was insatiable – because I expected Greg to be God to me. I was a black hole of neediness. Eventually, he gave up trying. He knew I would be upset if he tried to help me and he knew I would be upset if he didn’t try to help me. So, what good was there in trying if I continued to be upset?

He shut down more and more. He felt like a failure. He wanted me to be happy, but it seemed that I was impossible to please. And I really was impossible for him to please. If he did what I demanded, I wanted more. Every time.

NOW WHEN I AM UPSET

I don’t cry nearly as much as I used to. THANKFULLY!

If Greg is awake and hears me crying, he will come find me and check on me. That night last week, he didn’t even hear me – he had fallen back asleep while I was taking a long time to contemplate my answer. 🙂 But when he is awake and conscious, Greg always asks me what is wrong and tries to comfort me if I am crying or even just if I am upset about something. He will often hold me. He listens. He offers wise advice. He encourages me. That is what I had always longed for him to do earlier in our marriage. Now, he is the husband I always knew he could be.

It took a few years into this journey for things to be like this. Now Greg knows he can please me. He knows he can help me. He also knows that I don’t hold him responsible for my emotions and my happiness. That takes so much pressure off of him! He loves to see me happy. He loves to delight me. And he is a lot more willing to try to do things for me now that I am appreciative, responsive, respectful and cooperative instead of nagging, complaining, negative, resentful, bitter, contentious and disrespectful.

MY REAL SOURCE OF COMFORT

I have learned to take my pain to God first. That is where my true comfort and healing is. In Christ. I run to Him when I am hurting.  If Greg does comfort me, that is awesome, and I greatly appreciate it. But if he is asleep, busy or not home, that is ok. His comfort is a blessing, but it cannot replace God’s comfort. I am not dependent on Greg to heal me and fill me with abundant spiritual life. I am totally dependent on Jesus. Those first couple of years of this journey, Greg was still checked out and unplugged from me for the most part. It was just me and God. That turned out to be a GOOD thing because I learned to be completely dependent on Christ and nothing else. I had no mentor. I had no husband to lead me in prayer and in healing. He was too wounded and battered himself at that point.

But I had God. I had His Word. I had my journals. I had the books I was reading. That was enough. Jesus was more than enough. He was more than sufficient.

I learned that whether Greg is here or not, I am going to be filled to overflowing with good spiritual things as long as I cling to Jesus and His Spirit is nourishing my soul – even we face trials, even if Greg dies or the things I used to be so afraid of were to come true, if I have Jesus, I have all that I need.  He is my Source. He is my LIFE. He is my Greatest Treasure. He is EVERYTHING to me!

As I seek Him, repent of any sin, love Him, adore Him, praise Him, worship Him and fully submit myself completely to Him,  His Spirit floods my soul. I pour out my heart to Him and spend time writing out my thoughts and then being quiet and listening to Him and to His Word. His supernatural love, peace, joy, contentment and abundant spiritual life well up and bubble over in my soul. I know that if I have Jesus, I have all that I need. I can be content.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2

 

Praying for spiritual and emotional healing for each of you, your husbands, your marriages and your families!

 

PS:

I talk at times about not automatically assuming our husbands have evil motives toward us. That does not mean it is impossible for them to have evil motives. It is possible, of course. Men are sinners, too. But in many cases, our husbands don’t have evil motives toward us and when we assume they do, incorrectly, we actually create much more damage. In fact, in Shaunti Feldhahn’s survey, over 95% of husbands and wives actually have at least some good will toward their spouses. Most really do love their spouses and want their marriage to work.

However, if your particular husband does have evil motives toward you, and you can see that is a fact by evidence, not just by your feelings, please seek appropriate, godly, experienced help and get where you are safe if you are in danger. I pray God will give you wisdom to handle this and to respond rightly.  If you are being abused or there are very severe issues in your marriage, please don’t read my blog but seek wise, trustworthy counsel to help you navigate these issues.

 

RELATED:

Psalms = a great book to read about emotions and taking them to God. 🙂 Of course, this issue is a recurring theme all throughout scripture.

Do I Base My Marriage on My Feelings and Emotions? Part 1

Do I Base My Marriage on My Feelings and Emotions? Part 2

When Do I Get to Feel Peaceful?

Why Do I Have to Change First?

Contentment Comes from Having Christ as Lord!

Things that Fuel Discontentment in Me

Fear Fuels Our Need to Control

Bitterness

Why Is My Husband Not Being Supportive of Me As I Seek to Change?

The PMS Issue Part 1

The PMS Issue Part 2 

How to Make Your Husband an Idol

The Idol of Happiness

Don’t Worry, I Am Not Perfect! Some Encouragement

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(In case any of you are feeling discouraged after the posts about being an ungodly woman, and godly femininity part 1 and part 2)

I don’t want any of you to think that I am perfect or to put me, my husband, our marriage (or any sinful human) on a pedestal.

I am nothing and can do nothing apart from Christ.

I am a long way from where I was 6 years ago. PRAISE GOD!!!!!  I have thousands of miles to go on this journey myself. I will always be learning and God will continue to refine my faith and to work in me to make me more and more mature in Him. God continues to work in Greg and in our marriage. I’m so thankful. We won’t be perfect until heaven – BUT – God can empower us to live holy lives where sin becomes more and more out of character and becomes more and more rare. Isn’t that the best news!?!? God will always be the expert. I will always be the student.

My goal is not to be perfect, but to love Jesus with all my heart, mind soul and strength and to seek to please Him because I love Him so much. It is all about RELATIONSHIP with Him.

Also, please keep in mind, there are some things about my marriage and my thoughts that I keep very private – things that I don’t even share with Greg or my prayer team, much less with y’all. Certain prayer requests, desires and some of the wrestling I do in my heart, mind and soul are just between me and God. Only God has the full picture of what is going on with each of us. If you try to compare yourself to me – you won’t have all of the information. Plus, you weren’t there to see how difficult the struggle was for those first 2.5 years. You are seeing me almost 6 years into this journey. I am in a very different place now than I was those first few years. And in a few more years, I will be in a very different place from where I am now.

I try very hard to be as transparent as I possibly can. But I only share my own sins here. Greg doesn’t sin a lot against me. But we are both human, of course. You are not going to see me talk much about his sins or weaknesses and any wrestling I do about that specifically. I try to be very careful about what I share and how I share it to guard my marriage and respect Greg and God. I seek to even careful how I speak about Greg to God and in my own mind and heart.

  • I don’t ever want to discourage any wife who is beginning this journey. I don’t want women to condemn themselves or feel like failures or beat themselves up. That is not productive, and it is not of God.

If the blood of Christ is effective to cleanse me from every sin in God’s sight, then I must accept that His blood is sufficient for me to forgive myself, too. Otherwise, I am pridefully putting myself above God and saying that Jesus’ blood is not enough to cleanse me of my sin. That is sin!  There is no need to flog myself anymore. When I belong to Christ, His payment for my sin was more than adequate. I don’t have to try to punish myself. Praise God for godly sorrow – that we can see our sin, turn from it and receive full forgiveness in Christ and we can be made right with God!!!!!! All because of Jesus!

(You may read more about what I was like before God opened my eyes and how He opened my eyes in the “about” section at the top of my home page.)

THE FIRST 2.5 YEARS OF MY JOURNEY

I struggled and wrestled with God and His Word for literally HOURS almost every day. I journaled. I examined all of my thoughts and motives under the blazing light of God’s Word. I cried. I prayed. I read around 30 books about being a godly wife and about godly femininity.  I begged Him to change me to make me more and more like Jesus and to make me into the woman and wife HE wanted me to be.

During those first 2.5 years, learning to respect, to give up control and to submit to Christ often felt like extreme spiritual contortion or like learning Chinese without a teacher. I had no mentor except for the the books I read. It was SLOW progress. I hope I can explain this better this time.

As God changed me and His Spirit filled me more and more, temptations began to be more obvious – eventually.

  • Before, when I was walking in darkness, I didn’t even notice the snares of temptations or realize why I was so miserable. I was blind to my sin.
  • As God’s Light shone in my heart, I began to see temptations more quickly. In the Light of God’s Word, I was able (at first) to see temptation right after I stepped into it. Then I would repent right away.
  • Over time, as He continued to transform me, God helped me to began to see temptations right before I stepped into them many times. And God gave me the power to stop before I stepped into the snare – sometimes, stopping my words mid-sentence!
  • Then, in more time, God helped me see the temptations from farther away so I could avoid them completely many times.
  • Sometimes I mess up.  I want to repent to the people I offended and to God as soon as possible then get back up and move on. I want to keep short accounts.

THE PAST FEW YEARS

I have spent the last 3+ years writing (for 20-40 hours/week) about godly femininity and being a godly wife. I have the things of God on my mind and heart constantly. When I am not writing, reading God’s Word, singing praise songs or hearing sermons, I am talking with God or thinking about things God may desire me to write. That is a GOOD THING.

It helps me continue to grow, learn and mature as I write about these things, keep them in the forefront of my mind, meditate on them continually and teach them.  God, His Word, Greg, believers and unbelievers continue to sharpen me. It has been a very good thing to know I am accountable to God, to Greg, to my children and also to my readers for what I think, say and do in my marriage. Knowing that I have hundreds or thousands of people watching my every move and motive helps increase my awareness of the importance of my decisions and how significant the consequences of sin could be. Do I really want to have to explain falling into a sin to thousands of people? YIKES! I also know that plenty of people will rebuke me if they see sin in me – and that is a good thing, too! I try to share when I get myself into sin – often on my Peacefulwife Blog FB page, but also sometimes in posts here (like the one about Triggers for Sinful Thoughts), so that I am transparent.

  • I constantly monitor my thoughts as I seek to abide in Christ. I examine every thought, holding it up to the Light of the Bible and God’s Spirit to check it for sinful motives or sinful desires.

Often now, after just a sentence or two – God’s Spirit puts His finger on a potentially sinful motive or thought. When I see a potential sin or temptation, I stop. Here is an example: “Ooh. That thought sounds prideful. Lord, I repent of all my pride about this issue! I humble myself before You! I do not know best. You do!” I go to my prayer journal if I need to and write out my prayers and any confessions, temptations or struggles. I also share temptations I am wrestling with either with Greg, my prayer team or on my blog. I make myself accountable.

Repenting  is WAY easier when sin is just a few sentences or a few minutes of thoughts rather than months or years of  sinful thoughts, sinful words and sinful actions.

Of course, if  I stop receiving nourishment from Christ, His Word and God’s Spirit, or if I simply allow my sinful nature to take over – I am perfectly capable of sinning. I can quickly take my sinful nature out of the tomb where it was buried with Christ, rip it off the cross, if I choose to – and it can go crazy. But when God’s power is flooding my soul, I hate sin. It repulses me. It doesn’t look very tempting at all. I long to please my Lord and to obey Him no matter what it costs me.

WHAT TEMPTATION LOOKS LIKE WHEN GOD’S SPIRIT IS IN CONTROL

  • Now, a temptation looks like a bear trap that has a piece of juicy meat on it. The meat may look and smell good, but I can see the metal jaws of the trap. I can picture exactly what will happen if I try to take the meat off of the trap or step in the trap. I rehearse all of the consequences of that particular sin in my heart. Then God can give me the power to turn away from the temptation and to choose to obey Him.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

Does that mean that I will never fall to temptation or sin? Nope! If I react in my flesh, I can sin. We all can. Is it possible for some temptation to blindside me and for me to fall? YES! I am very aware of exactly how capable I am of sin, how deceitful my sinful heart can be, and I seek to be vigilant to guard my heart and thoughts. Is it possible for God to empower me to walk in victory over sin? Praise God, YES!

I believe we will all always have wrestling to do. And that we will all need to evaluate ourselves spiritually on an ongoing basis – really, a daily basis – but then periods of even deeper self-examination. And we will all have temptations for the rest of our lives. Of course, temptation doesn’t = sin. The sin only comes if we choose the wrong response to the temptation.

Normally, the wrestling process happens more quickly these days than it did at the beginning of my journey, although a major trial may necessitate a lot more wrestling. My faith is much greater now  – and that is a God thing, too.

MY GREATEST STRUGGLES AND TEMPTATIONS NOW:

  • wanting to rush ahead of God and Greg and DO MORE STUFF for God. Sometimes it is a challenge for me to be still and wait. But then I remind myself that God can bring these things about in His time, and I don’t have to try to pressure Greg about them. God may have reasons why I need to wait. I rest in His sovereignty.
  • handling those who oppose me in a godly way
  • making sure I don’t put ministry above God, Greg or our children
  • watching for idols in my heart
  • whenever I find myself feeling disappointed or upset – I go write down what I am thinking and feeling to clarify my thoughts and examine my motives and pray before acting on things whenever possible
  • watching for prideful, self-righteous motives
  • monitoring against allowing any little root of bitterness – in fact a month ago, I struggled with some bitterness for days. That was unusual. But it inspired me to write about triggers for sinful thoughts.
  • there are times when I speak a few sentences to Greg – then realize – OH NO! Wait, that might have been disrespectful!  I apologize right away and try to have some time in prayer before addressing that topic again. I know I need to check my motives.
  • when someone sins against me – depending on the severity of the sin – I may have to wrestle quite a bit with this, but I go through the scriptures and the process I need to go through to work through my emotions and thoughts and to extend grace, mercy and forgiveness
  • when I focus on my needs and desires too much, I can easily get ensnared into sinful thoughts of entitlement, pride, bitterness and self-righteousness,
  • thoughts sometimes pop into my head, “I wonder what it would be like to be married to so-and-so…?” And then I quickly think, “Ack!!! What am I doing!?!? I can’t go there!” And seek to quickly focus on being thankful for the blessing my husband is to me and for all that Christ is to me.
  • responding to people in real life in a godly way who attack me with criticism and contempt is a much bigger challenge for me than responding online because I don’t have hours to pray before I respond.
  • knowing that thousands of people are going to read the posts I write keeps me extremely humble. I am in awe of this opportunity. But the weight of responsibility and accountability is very heavy. I allow God to carry that weight. I know I can’t do this on my own. I am totally dependent on Him to speak through me. I don’t want to mess this up. I don’t want to hurt or discourage anyone. I don’t want to misspeak or mislead people. I want so much to point people only to Christ and His Word.
  • when I am rushing and hurrying, I am much more prone to sinful thoughts, words and attitudes
  • I do feel the temptation to want to control or pressure Greg at times (not constantly like I used to, just occasionally) – but usually God quickly helps me realize how counterproductive that would be before I say something – what a praise!
  • responding with the right balance of God’s truth and love to those who are hurting – I agonize over this at times
  • honoring Greg’s request of me when he asks me to stop being in contact with someone who may be consuming too much of my time. I hate to “give up” on anyone. This is hard for me!
  • making sure I don’t allow myself to become overly emotionally/spiritually attached to other men – guarding my heart. One way I do this is to copy Greg on any emails to men. But, I also try to keep other men at arms’ length. I love my brothers in Christ deeply. I want very much to bless them. But I don’t want to foolishly fall into temptation
  • balancing my time wisely
  • not getting upset when we are running late (Usually, I stay totally calm, but there are exceptions! I know I need to be extra careful about my tone of voice and facial expressions in these moments.)
  • figuring out how to begin to transition into treating our almost 13 year old son with more respect and less directives
  • wanting to try to open someone’s spiritual eyes myself. It is frustrating at times. I have to consciously redirect my focus to God’s sovereignty and trust the person to Him, allowing Him to carry the weight of that situation and to determine how and when He opens each person’s eyes.
  • being patient when the kids are whining/arguing a lot – finding the right balance of love, nurturing, discipline and firmness.
  • men trying to flirt with me occasionally, I don’t want to entertain any ungodly ideas
  • I think I do a lot better with tone of voice, attitude and body language these days – but Greg and our children would probably be better judges of that than I am!
  • when I am exhausted, in pain, sick, or very sleep deprived, I know that sin will be a lot easier to fall into – the flesh is certainly weak!
  • when someone is disrespectful to Greg, I want to jump in and defend him and have to wrestle at times with holding my tongue and allowing him to handle the situation himself
  • sometimes, I struggle to come up with exactly how to express my feelings or needs in a respectful way to Greg on very sensitive topics – I have to pray a lot about this
  • responding with grace when someone is screaming/cussing at me (at work or on the blog)
  • figuring out how to avoid listening to gossip that someone is intent on sharing  when I cannot leave
  • when someone falsely accuses me of sin or wrong motives in the blogosphere or accuses my husband falsely, that is hard! I want to defend myself, but that just tends to make things worse – so I have to learn to leave it alone

And please keep in mind, if I was being abused or severely sinned against by someone – I would be wrestling over that a lot right now! Or if I was facing a tragedy or great trial, I would be wrestling for weeks, months, or years depending on the issue. Also, if I had been abused as a child or had a lot of baggage from my childhood or teenage years or an abusive marriage, I would have a lot more wrestling to do. Also, our children are not teenagers – yet. That is coming very soon at our house, though!  And I haven’t entered peri-menopause yet. With each new phase and stage in life, there will be new obstacles, challenges and temptations. I want to put my trust squarely in Christ, not in myself!

Please pray with me that God might cause me to be faithful to Him and that I would be a good steward of all that He has entrusted to me. I appreciate and need your prayers! And I will continue to pray the same for you. 🙂

The Idol of Happiness

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We tend to think that “idolatry” means someone bowing down to a statue and praying to it in a shrine. It’s really easy to dismiss that practice as not even remotely a temptation to us today in our culture and to discount everything the Bible says about idolatry as being irrelevant to us. Big mistake! Idolatry was one of the most offensive sins that God’s people committed against Him in the Old Testament times and it is one of our most offensive sin against God today, too.

“The human heart is an idol factory.” – John Calvin

I don’t know if y’all realize this – but happiness is one of the biggest idols in our culture today.

An idol is anything we put above Christ in our hearts. It is something we worship, are desperate to have, will give anything to try to obtain, will sin in order to get, will give up lots of money and time to pursue, will sacrifice all other relationships for and believe we can’t live without. It is something we believe will bring us true fulfillment and satisfaction that is not God. If we are desperate for something/someone, are terrified to go without that thing/person and are willing to sacrifice anything to have it – and that thing is not Jesus – it is time to do a very deep spiritual evaluation of our motives.

How many times have you heard someone say (or have you said to yourself – consciously or unconsciously):

  • Well, I am just not happy in this marriage, I feel unloved right now, my needs are not being met – so I need to get out.
  • I’m not happy, so I am totally justified in treating my husband this way (sinning against him – disrespect, name calling, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, control, contempt, hatred, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, malice, gossip, slander, violence, sabotage, flirting with other men, adultery, etc…).
  • I’m not happy in our marriage, so it’s ok if I destroy my family, no matter what the price may be to my husband and our children and extended family (and ultimately, to myself and to my relationship with God).
  • I deserve to be happy. If I’m not happy, then my husband must do anything and everything I believe he should do so that I am happy. My happiness is entirely HIS responsibility.
  • I have the right to demand things from  and control my husband as much as I feel is necessary until he submits to me and makes me happy. I have self on the throne of my life and I demand my husband must bow to me, as well. I will have my way.

Let’s remember, there are only a few biblical reasons for divorce that may possibly be justifiable (and still, divorce is never a command for believers).  Unhappiness is not one of them!

Some trials may be quite painful and difficult, absolutely. I don’t intend to minimize that some struggles in marriage, and in this life in general, are HARD. They are. And, in very severe situations, there are times when a wife may need to separate from her husband, at least for a time, praying for God to work and for reconciliation.

We have a COVENANT before God and our husbands in our marriages. God can and will use our greatest trials to help us grow and mature in our faith and become more like Christ. Nothing can touch us that has not passed through His sovereign, loving hands. When we love Him wholeheartedly, He promises to use ALL things for our ultimate good (by His definition) and His glory (Romans 8:28-29, and, see the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-39).

No fault divorce may be legal in our culture today – but it is not of God, my precious sisters! And it is sin. No fault divorce hurts and destroys everyone it touches. God hates divorce.

If you have never read about what a covenant truly means, please check out this guest post – Brides and Butchers. Or, please read John Piper’s two part series on the marriage covenant “What God Has Joined Together, Let Man Not Separate.” There are several interpretations about what believers should do if they are already remarried – Piper explains his position in Part 2. There are other possible interpretations to prayerfully consider, as well. But most of all, I pray we will each seek to listen to God, His Word and His Spirit. (If there are very serious issues in your marriage – adultery, drug/alcohol addictions, severe pornography addictions, actual abuse, uncontrolled mental illness – please, please seek godly, biblical, experienced, wise counsel and compare everything your counselor says to the Bible. If you are not safe, please seek help right away! I do not condone abuse in marriage of either spouse. Please click here for the National Domestic Violence Hotline)

OTHER IDOLS OFTEN COME WITH THE IDOL OF HAPPINESS

As we idolize happiness, it has been my observation that we also tend to idolize self, feelings, romance and control (having our way).  This leads us to pride, self-righteousness, disrespect, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, ungratefulness, discontentment, arguing, complaining and all kinds of other sin. When we are involved in idolatry of any kind, we tend to trust our own wisdom instead of God. We tend to focus on “ME” instead of obedience to God and dying to self. We easily rationalize and justify our own sin in order to get what we really want – HAPPINESS! All the time! We want what we want when we want it. God becomes more and more distant. We won’t let anyone get in our way of us getting what we want. If we hurt someone else in the process, oh well … we need to be happy.

As long as we are happy right now this moment, that’s all that matters in the universe, right?

Do we ever stop to realize – this is the mentality of a two year old? I had this mentality for a long time, myself. When God finally showed me just how sinful my attitude and my motives were, I was MORTIFIED! I spent weeks on my face before God repenting of all the sin He revealed to me. This is NOT the mentality of a spiritually mature, godly woman! We have unknowingly absorbed some of the most ungodly messages ever from our hedonistic, humanistic, secular culture!

The scariest thing to me is that I didn’t even see my own sin. Not at all – for many, many years. How could I have been so blind and deceived?

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MY HAPPINESS AND EMOTIONS?

Sadly, as we idolize our own temporary happiness, we also tend to make other people responsible for our emotions and happiness instead of taking responsibility for our own emotions and spiritual well-being. Here are a few questions for us to ponder:

  • What if my husband is NOT responsible for my happiness?
  • What if each person is responsible for himself/herself emotionally and spiritually?
  • What if my circumstances are actually a tool in God’s hand – a chisel –  to help me mature and grow?
  • What if my circumstances are a spiritual test for me to learn to respond to with a godly attitude through the power of God living through me?
  • What if only Christ Jesus can give me real contentment, peace and joy and things/people of this world can never bring me true satisfaction?
  • What if I am expecting my husband or marriage to meet needs that only Jesus can actually fulfill and satisfy?
  • What if I can have contentment right now in Christ no matter what my situation may be?

What if my temporary happiness is not God’s biggest goal in my life?

GOD’S PERSPECTIVE

As believers in Christ, we can see clearly in the Bible that:

  • Happiness is not the greatest and most ultimate goal in life, our knowing God is the greatest goal and our becoming holy and more like Jesus, being totally submitted to Him, obeying Him, loving Him and bringing great honor and glory to Him are to be the ultimate goals in our lives (John 17, Matthew 22:38-39, John 14:22-24).

The amazing thing is, as we focus on obeying and loving God and others with all our hearts, and as we fully yield ourselves in total submission to Him, He fills our souls with His Spirit – and the results ALWAYS are His supernatural: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:19).

Paradoxically, when we seek God first, He blesses us with real joy and supernatural peace that are so much more fulfilling than any temporary happiness that this world or anything in it could ever offer.

We CAN choose to be content as we focus on being thankful, focus on the good and the blessings God has given us and as we allow Christ to empower us.

  • Rejoice always, pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18
  • 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
  • I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11b-13

FROM A PRECIOUS WIFE:

I bought the lie and worshiped it for so long, never bothering to notice how the more I pursued happiness, the harder it was to attain. I find it is much easier to simply be content with what God has given you and where He has placed you…..to find and celebrate His goodness and blessings every single day.

As I practice contentment, I experience happiness.

Isn’t that interesting? I spent so many years chasing happiness, instead of being content, I failed to enjoy the blessings God had given me and missed out on so much. I know for a fact, it was this attitude that led to the breakup of my first marriage. Make no mistake…

Seeking your own happiness will eventually hurt everyone around you.

My heart breaks for the hurt I caused my daughter and first husband, but I know that God is changing me and I trust Him with that process and the healing He is bringing to all I have hurt in the past.

I was just talking with one of my friends yesterday about the idol of self. It’s so easy to slip into that mode of worshiping self and doing whatever self tells us will make us happy. My theory is that it’s a natural human, survival mechanism…..maybe something that we’ve been stuck with since we we tossed out of the garden of Eden and had to fend for ourselves in a rough world?  (From Peacefulwife – this is our sinful nature!) Even then, in God’s infinite  grace and love, He is there for us…..He fights the battles for us when we can’t do it. All He wants is for us to give it to Him and let Him do it. I think sometimes, He allows difficult situations in our lives so we will give up and give it to Him. That’s how he strengthens our faith.

 

SHARE:

Have you had happiness as an idol? How did God reveal this idol to you?

How did you repent?

How did you learn to look at life differently in a way that honors God?

What have you learned about the sufficiency of Christ and finding all of your contentment in Him if you have been on this journey for awhile?

We’d love to hear your insights and the gems and pearls that God has shown you through your trials.

ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE:

I hope to be able to respond to comments this evening. 🙂 Y’all are welcome to discuss as much as you would like. I will join in when I can.

RELATED:

The Real Secret to Contentment Is Having Jesus Christ as LORD of My Life

A Huge Key to Contentment! By Still Jennifer

How to Make Your Husband an Idol

The Idol of Control

How to Stop Idolatry and Truly Live for Christ

Ways Husbands Lead that Wives Often Don’t Notice – From the Archives

A REMINDER:

I write from the slant of a wife who was dominating, Type A personality, take-charge, controlling, overly responsible, overly “helpful” and prideful with a passive husband. If you tend to be too quiet or have a very dominant husband, my slant may not be the angle you need because you are going to have to correct from the opposite direction. If your husband is abusive, my blog will probably not be a good fit for you – the things I talk about with respect and biblical submission in a normal marriage may be triggers for abused women.  I don’t want to cause any wife harm! Please seek godly help if you are not safe or if you have severe issues in your marriage. Thanks!

————————

This is a continuation of the post two days ago about how wives tend to have VERY specific and high expectations of exactly what it means to be a spiritual leader – and how many of the things we expect aren’t even biblical.  Not only that – but our expectations can lead to grave sin in our hearts (contempt, bitterness, resentment, disrespect, rebellion against our husbands or God, divisions, factions, fighting, hatred – and ultimately lost unity in our marriages and families).  When our children (and those around us) witness a marriage like this, they are repelled from Christ.

Let’s look at ways that many husbands actually DO try to lead in their families.

There is a good chance that your husband is trying to lead you (or used to try to lead) – but – are you listening?  Are you following?  Do you  acknowledge his attempts at leadership?

In real life, husbands tend to lead in “subtle” ways.  They don’t usually announce – “We will now begin our 6:30pm nightly Bible study time.  Here is an outline of the books of the Bible we will be covering for the next 12 months.  There will be  a test every week and here is a list of all the Bible verses I expect each family member to memorize each week.  You will all be graded. There will be an essay question once a month, with extra credit options.”

I think sometimes we as wives tend to expect our husbands to stand in front of our families like a pastor and preach or like a Sunday School teacher and teach for 1 hour every night.

I would like to suggest, that MOST husbands don’t follow that type of style, but they often DO try to lead their families in many ways, especially if they have a wife who is supportive, cooperative and full of real admiration and faith in them.

EVERY HUSBAND IS UNIQUE

Each husband has his own style, personality, perspective, gifts and strengths.  Each one will have his own particular brand of leadership – and it will change as he grows and matures.  But keep in mind that NO husband arrives to marriage completely spiritually mature and with a total grasp on godly leadership.  Godly maturity and leadership are developed over many years, decades even.  And the more we cooperate and support our husbands’ attempts at godly leadership, the more quickly they will learn and grow and honor God.

Also – remember that for a husband to be a great leader – HE HAS TO HAVE A GREAT FOLLOWER.  If you are trying to lead – you are not following.  If you are busy criticizing, you are not following.  It’s time for us to learn to be supportive, encouraging, godly, loyal and faithful followers! (I Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 5:22-33, Titus 2:5, I Timothy 3:5 – be sure to compare EVERYTHING I or anyone else says against God’s Word!)

MY HUSBAND’S BRAND OF LEADERSHIP

This section is a description of my husband’s particular style and how our marriage works now.  Your marriage WILL look different.  That’s ok.  Follow YOUR husband’s leadership and appreciate his strengths.  Admire and thank him often for what he does for you and your family.

My husband leads first of all by example.  Even when I was so disrespectful and controlling – my husband was often peaceful, forgiving, patient, kind, generous and loving.  Back then, I thought I was so spiritually mature and “above” him because I read my Bible daily, I prayed a LOT (sometimes 4 hours/day), I wrote my prayers in a notebook, I could quote lots of scripture, and I “knew” how things should be.  But I held grudges, didn’t forgive, was very impatient, rude, condescending, holier-than-thou, disrespectful, prideful and was committing constant idolatry –  putting my own self and trying to have control up as idols in my heart.  I also put my husband and our marriage as idols in my soul.  And I didn’t even see it.  Like Eve, I was so blind and deceived, but I thought I knew best.  Imagine the blessings and miracles I missed out on for 15 years because of my disobedience to God’s Word and the sin I cherished for so long in my heart.

My husband leads in more subtle ways that I used to miss:

  • He gives me direction and guidance.  Often what he is saying is really God’s Word to me – if I will but listen and cooperate.  My husband may say, “I think you are spending too much time blogging.  I want you to take a break and spend some time with the family for awhile.”  THAT IS SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP, LADIES!  Or he may say, “I think you need to take a nap today.  You haven’t been getting enough sleep and I can see you are really worn out.”  I am wise when I listen to his suggestions.  The whole family benefits from my husband’s wisdom and leadership.
  • He helps me say no to unhealthy commitments.  He sees where I get out of balance or zealous to do something that might take too much of my energy and leave me drained with nothing but scraps for my family.
  • He disciplines our children.  My husband may be more strict or harsh with our children than I am.  Or sometimes, he may be more relaxed with them than I am.  But his powerful influence on our children is a HUGE way that he leads spiritually in our family.   If I cooperate with him, tell him my feelings and perspective, but trust him to handle situations as he sees best – my children learn real discipline, they learn to have godly character, they see the unity in our marriage and they see my example of how to submit to God-given authority.  My example is the standard upon which  they will base their own future submission to God and God-given authority.
  • He desires physical intimacy with me (especially once he felt genuinely respected by me).  God designed sex to be the glue that holds a married couple together physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  Both the husband and wife are bonded to one another during the one flesh relationship with a cocktail of neurotransmitters and endorphins (a natural “high”).  And sex unifies the married couple spiritually in ways we can’t begin to fathom.  It helps to keep divisions away.  It removes tension and helps promote forgiveness.  This needs to be a HUGE priority whenever physically possible in marriage.  And I count this as one of the ways my husband gently leads me and creates a very loving, strong, tight-knit, unified, vibrant, flourishing marriage relationship.  It’s important to stop serving the family and just enjoy and savor each other.  Kind of like our quiet time with God rejuvenates our soul.  Relationship and intimacy is much more important than my to-do list.
  • He handles the salesmen and solicitors.
  • He gently confronts sin in me when he sees it.
  • He tends to see the big picture.  My husband doesn’t get bogged down in every little detail like I tend to do.  Sometimes, I get overwhelmed with all the daily little details and having my husband there to help me step back and look at the bigger picture saves my sanity many times!
  • He takes care of his own spiritual connection with God.  He decides how, when, where he reads the Bible and prays.  He seeks God’s will for his life and our family.  He prefers to pray privately – I support him and don’t try to force him to pray out loud with me like I used to.
  • He doesn’t get swayed by emotions like I do.  There are definitely times when my hormones and emotions completely engulf me and I feel like I am drowning.  My husband is my rock and is able to pull me up onto dry ground.  There are times when I know I can’t rely on my feelings, and during those stormy days, I trust my husband’s words, his love for me, God’s Words and His love for me – and I don’t trust my feelings.  I keep my eyes on Christ and I keep my eyes on my husband and hang on tight, knowing that my feelings will settle down in a few days.  I don’t allow myself to be tossed about by my hormones and feelings.  I trust God and my husband and don’t lean on my own understanding.  My faith in Christ and my man are much greater now than my faith in my own wisdom or my emotions.  My husband can pull me up onto the rock of his steady soul and he is a resting place, a safe place for me.
  • He takes responsibility and is accountable for the ultimate decisions.  It took time for this to happen – over the course of a few years as I let things go and allowed him to lead.  This is a HUGE relief for me!  I couldn’t carry all that weight.  It overwhelmed me before.  Now, I am so FREE!  I can share my perspective, my feelings and desires, but then I trust my husband and God to work out each decision for what is in my best interests.  I can’t always see what is best.  When I try to lead, I take us the wrong way. I feel such weight off my soul since I know HE is the one who will answer to God, not me.  What a blessing!  I feel safe, protected and cherished.
  • He handles the finances now.    I took care of the finances for the first 16 years of our marriage or more.  And that was ok.  But it ended up that I was telling my husband what to do (when my hours were suddenly cut at work) – and that didn’t really work well.  I told my husband, “I can’t handle the finances anymore.  Here are the accounts and passwords.  Thank you for taking over.”  And then I left it with him and never touched it again.  He is saving us money in ways I had never even thought about!  And he feels the full weight of his accountability this way.  So he makes very wise decisions.  Also, he is able to treat me by taking me out to dinner or buying me things and I’m not telling him, “You can’t do that” anymore.  He is MUCH more generous with me AND even more responsible now that he is in charge!
  • He drives when we are together.
  • He gives me the better vehicle.
  • He encourages me to rest and relax – two things I am REALLY AWFUL AT DOING!
  • He researches books on marriage for me and buys me lots of books about respect, biblical submission, godly femininity and godly marriage.  He lets me share what I am learning and he listens and discusses things with me and shares his insights and perspective.
  • He takes time for himself to recharge.  Unlike a lot of us wives, husbands are usually careful to have some down time so that they don’t burn themselves out.  I really admire this about men!  And he encourages me to slow down and just savor cuddling together and being together without running around like a crazy woman all the time.  That has been very healing for my soul!
  • He has fun with me and our children.  This creates a much more healthy balance for all of us than my constant seriousness did.  He definitely brings an amazing balance to our family that I was not able to bring when I tried to be in charge.
  • He stays calm and collected under pressure.  His ability to face difficulties with dignity, poise, strength, courage and self-control helps me be able to have those same qualities, too!
  • He is my compass.  If I am having a particularly difficult time with our children, I will ask my husband if he thinks I am being too hard on them, or unreasonable, or if he thinks I am being too easy on them.  His perspective helps me steer straight and not veer off too far one way or the other like I am prone to do on my own.
  • He makes the final decision.  I am free to suggest anything, to ask for anything, to want anything, to feel any way.  And most of the time, my husband does what I ask since he loves to see me happy.  But if we don’t agree – I willingly and cheerfully cooperate with his call on that issue.  If he made a mistake, I don’t hold it against him.  I trust God to use even his mistakes for our ultimate good.  I thank him for his decisions and for looking out for the best interests of everyone in the family.
  • He is the one I go to first.  Whether it is good news, or a decision that must be made, or awful news – I call/text/email/talk to my husband FIRST about things.  I seek out his opinion and his wisdom before I make decisions.
  • He does a lot of behind the scenes work on my blog. 
  • When I am confused about something – I go to him.  He also is always willing to listen and talk with me about issues that come up and spiritual topics – whether they are things I am writing about or situations people are in or family situations at home.
  • He listens to my desires and concerns but ultimately he decides what church we go to and when we go to church and what classes we attend and how involved we are.
  • He gives me quite a bit of freedom to make many of my own decisions. He doesn’t micromanage me.
  • He decides how to use his time.  He decides what house project he wants to work on and when.  He decides his own priorities.
  • He arranges our vacations and finds great deals on them.
  • He handles all of the gift buying for our children.
  • He says, “no” or “wait” to me when what I want to do looks like it will cause problems down the road.  That is a way that he protects me and our family. The times he has said, “no” – I have almost always been able to see in hindsight that what I wanted to do would have been a big mistake.  I’m so thankful he is willing to stand for his convictions even if I don’t agree at the time.

There are other ways, too.  But maybe this will give you a few things to think about.

1. What are some ways your husband leads you?  You are welcome to share!

2. Gentlemen, what are some ways you try to lead in your marriage and in your families?  What is your definition of spiritual leadership and what do you believe God calls you to do?

RELATED:

A Husband Answers – “Why Won’t My Husband Lead?”

Say “Thank You!”

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ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE:

I have a busy week this week with our children home from school on a winter break and some extra work. I will get to emails and comments as I am able to.  I apologize in advance that I may not be able to be as prompt as I would like to be.  Thanks for your understanding and patience!  You are more than welcome to comment here.  I know many of you will encourage each other.  I love what an amazing group we have and how you support, respect, love and build up each other.  THANK YOU for that!  I am so grateful for each of you!!!!!!

THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE

I have another little challenge for you, ladies!  Last week was the SMILE challenge.  I’d love to hear some reports about how that has gone. 🙂

If your husband does something that blesses you, something that you benefit from in any way – THANK him.

Smile, have a friendly voice, thank him and maybe even give him a real hug, too!

I know, it’s crazy, right!?!?!!? 🙂

In a man’s world, spoken or visible appreciation is HUGE!  For your husband,  hearing “thank you” or “Great job, Honey!” may actually mean more to him than a long love letter from you or even the words, “I love  you.”

If you haven’t been thanking him – it may feel a bit awkward at first to thank your husband.  That’s ok!  You can do this!  Don’t expect anything back from him.  Just thank him because God commands us to “give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  I Thessalonians 5:18

When should we thank our husbands?  Here are some of my suggestions for your consideration.  Don’t do all of these at once!  Spread them out.  Maybe do one every day or so, or thank him as he does some of these things.  Make it a new habit.  Be sincere.):

  • Thank him for working to provide for the family sometimes, even if you work too, even if you make more money than he does.  Most men view providing financially as the primary way they show love to their families. (From Shaunti Feldhahn’s book “For Women Only”)
  • When he has had a particularly difficult day – THANK HIM for working so hard to take care of his family.
  • When he helps with the children.  Yes, they are his children, too, but it is a great thing to thank him for taking some of the burden off of you.  He is blessing you.  He could be at a bar or sitting in front of the TV ignoring the kids.  Even if he is doing something we think he “should” do, we can thank him and appreciate him. This encourages him to be more involved as a father.  Men respond to appreciation, admiration and genuine praise. It motivates them to do even better.  Aren’t we all like that, really?  Don’t we all want to do even more when someone shows real appreciation?
  • Thank him for complimenting you when he does and ACCEPT his compliments graciously.
  • ANYTIME he does any kind of chores around the house (thank him, don’t criticize him!  Especially if you would like him to continue to help  you!)
  • Thank him for his leadership, for carrying that weight in the family, even if he hasn’t started leading yet.  You can step down and allow him space and time to start leading, and you can thank him for his leadership.  There may even be ways he does try to lead that you could appreciate that you hadn’t noticed before.
  • Thank him when he gets something for you at the store.
  • Thank him any time he buys you something.  Thank him for his thoughtfulness and generosity!
  • Thank him for taking care of the yard or the cars or for fixing things around the house.  SMILE and thank him and tell him when he does a good job.  Avoid criticizing how he does things as much as possible.  Let him experience having a fully happy wife, a content wife.  That is every husband’s greatest dream!!!  To do something for his wife and for her to be completely satisfied with his efforts.
  • Thank him for taking you and your children to church if he does, or thank him for allowing you to go if he does not go with you.
  • Thank him for disciplining the children, stand behind his decisions as a father.
  • Thank him for being a great dad.
  • Thank him for being a wonderful husband.
  • Thank him for his strengths – his strong work ethic, his patience, his forgiving spirit, his eye for detail, his careful decision making, his responsible driving, his character, his integrity, his faith in Christ, his carefulness with money, etc…
  • Thank him for being faithful to his wedding vows to you if he has been.  “Honey, I just want to tell you that it means the WORLD to me that you have been faithful to me in our marriage.  Thank you for being a man of your word and for being a man of integrity.”
  • Thank him for being here with you and for the honor of being his wife.
  • Thank him for bringing fun into your life and family.
  • Appreciate his sense of humor.
  • Thank/appreciate him in front of your children often and in front of other people – this makes most husbands feel like they are on top of the world!
  • Thank him for the difference he makes in the world by doing a good job at his profession.
  • Thank him if he sends you a sweet text/email.
  • Thank him for coming home and being with you and the family.
  • Thank him for eating supper with you.
  • Thank him/appreciate him for having sex with you or cuddling with you.

HUSBANDS:

What would it mean to you for you to hear your wife say, “Thank you” for the things you do for her and your family?  How much does it mean to see her smile a real smile and to tell you how much she appreciates your efforts?  I would love to hear from you!

LADIES:

Let me know how things go!

SMILE! :)

happy girl

I would like to issue you a little challenge this week, my friends!

Whenever you go in the room where your husband is –

please smile at him.

  • Not to change him.
  • Not to get any specific results from him.
  • Just to bless him.

Stay close to God.  Be in His Word daily.  Lay your life fully before Jesus and give yourself 100% to Him as The Lord of Your Life.  Let His joy flood your soul as you seek to obey Him and please Him and as you are overcome with gratitude for all He has done for you.

Let that joy shine and radiate from your face. 🙂

Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, REJOICE!  Philippians 4:4

If you really want to go crazy with this challenge – hum happily around the house.  Or sing.  Sing praise songs to God!  Hum praise songs.  Allow God’s joy to overflow from your heart and change the expression on your face.

Bless your husband with some REAL smiles this week.

You probably have NO IDEA the power your smile has over that man.  When you are genuinely happy – for whatever reason – he feels like a success as a man and as a husband.  It draws him to you.  It is PLEASANT to be around someone who is happy and smiling.

Maybe even bless your children with some real smiles, too!

Let me know how you do! 🙂

RELATED:

A Challenge for the Ladies – not to argue or complain

Tone of Voice 

My Welcome Home Plan – a 2.5 minute video

Finding All of Our Contentment in Christ

Things That Fuel a Spirit of Discontentment in Me

How to Have a Relationship with Christ

Contentment During the Christmas Season

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Administrative note:

I am on an email vacation through January 6th.  You are welcome to comment on posts, but please kindly hold emails for me until January 7th.  Thank you and Merry Christmas!

 

This time of year can seem to exacerbate loneliness and maybe even tempt many of people into depression.  (Depression this time of year is an issue for lots of folks, actually.)  

MARRIAGE DOESN’T GUARANTEE FREEDOM FROM LONELINESS:

Loneliness is one of the most painful things about marriage, when things are not going well.  Several years of our marriage were the loneliest of my life.

  • sometimes because Greg and I worked opposite shifts for 2 years
  • sometimes because Greg worked a full time job then worked on the house until midnight 6 days a week for months or a year at a time.
  • sometimes I was lonely because I repelled Greg with my disrespect, pride, self-righteousness and controlling behavior and he would ignore me almost all of the time – wouldn’t look at me, touch me or talk with me much at all.  Of course, I had no idea I contributed to him shutting down at the time.  Wow! I wish I knew then what I know now!

I know MANY of you are suffering from loneliness right now.  How I wish I could hug your necks!

Ultimately, I believe now as I look back, that I was in great pain because I didn’t know how to find my contentment in Christ alone.

THE SECRET TO CONTENTMENT:

The truth about contentment is that if you are not content now, you would probably not be content even if you had what you wanted.  Once you have that, you would want something else or something more.

One time when our son was about 4 years old, he said, “Mama!  If I could JUST have that new Thomas the train I would NEVER ask for anything else again for the rest of my life!”  I had to laugh so hard.   Of course there were MANY more things he wanted after that ONE thing he just had to have.  We are insatiable.

If you are basing your contentment on circumstances, then you will always think that if you could just have one more thing, you would be happy.

  • If a guy would just act interested in me, I would be happy.
  • Then a guy is interested in you and you think… if he would just commit to be my steady boyfriend, I would be happy.
  • Then you get a boyfriend, and you think… If I could just have an engagement right, I’d be happy.
  • Then you get an engagement ring, and you think… If I could just have a set wedding date, I’d be happy.
  • Then you have a date and you think… If I could just be done planning this wedding, I’d be happy.
  • Then you have your wedding day and you think… If we could just have a beautiful house, I’d be happy.
  • Then you have a beautiful house and you think… If we could just have some children, I’d be happy.
  • Then you get pregnant and you spend months throwing up every day and you think… if I could just get to my second trimester, I’d be happy.
  • Later in the pregnancy, you think, if I could just have this baby and not be pregnant anymore, I’d be happy.
  • You have the baby and you think… if the baby would just let me sleep for 2 hours in a row, I’d be happy.

It goes on and on and never stops…

I’d be happy if only:

  • I made more money
  • I had better health
  • I lost weight
  • I gained weight
  • my church were different
  • I had a better job
  • I worked a different shift
  • I felt loved by my husband
  • my husband were more romantic
  • if my husband didn’t work so much
  • if my husband didn’t watch tv so much
  • if my husband paid more attention to me
  • if my children were better behaved
  • if my children were in college
  • if my children were out of college
  • if my children would leave the house
  • if my children were back home

If we are not careful – we can make idols of these things and decide that we MUST have them or we cannot be content.  Some of these things are good things.  But we have to be careful where we put them in our priorities.  If we put them above Christ in our hearts in importance – that is big time sin – idolatry.

Hopefully, you get the picture.  There are always more things for us to want, but when we get more things, even good things, if we don’t know how to find our contentment in Christ, we will still be discontent.

GOD GIVES US THE POWER TO CHOOSE CONTENTMENT NO MATTER WHAT OUR CIRCUMSTANCES!

The Bible has a pretty amazing standard for contentment:

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 

God’s standard for me to be content is to have Christ and His Spirit and to have food for today and clothing on my back today.

This is not a popular idea today  in our society – to be content with very little.  But this is exactly what God desires us to do.  As we make Christ the MOST IMPORTANT focus of our lives, the other stuff starts to not matter nearly as much – “the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”  We can truly begin to say, “Not my will but Yours be done” and we can learn to be content no matter what circumstances may come, trusting God to do what is ultimately best for us in everything.

What a blessing not to have to depend on circumstances but to depend fully on Christ for our joy and contentment!!

How can we be content in any and every situation?

Through Christ who gives me strength!  Philippians 4:13

If God grants us the desires of our hearts – awesome.  But if He chooses another path for us – we can trust that we are in His loving hands and nothing can separate us from His love and that His wisdom is infinitely higher than our own.

16Rejoice always, 17pray continually, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  I Thessalonians 5

DISCUSSION:

1. What kinds of things help you during the Christmas season to experience God’s love in a deeper way?

2. What kinds of things make this time of year harder for you and fuel discontentment or loneliness?

3. What are you involved in that brings you joy? A hobby?  A friendship? Maybe a ministry to others?

4. How can you avoid comparing your life to what other people have?

5. What blessings do you have in your life right now?

6. How can you plan to shoot down any fleshly feelings of resentment, bitterness, jealousy or idolatry in your heart this week?

7. What kinds of friendships do you have that boost you, encourage you and nourish your soul?

8. Is there someone who is lonely, too, that God may want  you to reach out to this week?

9. How do you plan to focus on being content in Christ this week and next week as New Year’s approaches?

Lord,

I lift up my precious sisters (and brothers) to Your throne room in the highest heaven from which You reign in total sovereignty, love and justice.  I pray for godly friendships and godly marriages for each of these beloved children of yours.  I pray for a sense of family in their churches and in their communities.  I pray for godly mentors for them.  I pray for opportunities for them to minister to others and share the love of Christ and experience the joy that comes from giving of themselves.  I pray for them not to isolate themselves but to reach out to others to develop deep spiritual friendships that will nurture their souls and sharpen them in their faith in Christ and that will bless their new friends, as well, for Your glory.

Let this not be a time of loneliness, isolation, depression and tears.

Let this be a time of great joy, thankfulness, celebration, trust in You, peace, patience and hope as these friends of mine train their eyes to stay on Christ, not on their circumstances.  May they find the true contentment that only comes from Christ this Christmas, and every day, even if their circumstances are not what they wish they were.

Surround my sisters (and brothers) with Your love. Let them spend much time feasting on Your Word, praising You, thanking You, worshipping You, seeking Your face and listening to Your voice.  Make them a bright light for Christ in this dark world. Use them for Your greatest glory this week and every week.  Make them faithful to Your Name, Lord!

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

"My Husband Wants to Go WHERE!?!?!?!" – From the Archives

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From a reader. When we submit ourselves fully to Christ and live by faith and obedience to Him – life is such an adventure.  We never know what He might do!  THANK YOU to this precious wife for sharing her story and to God be all the glory!!!!!

BAD NEWS

I can’t even begin to tell you how my heart sank when I heard my husband say that he was planning to take a trip to Las Vegas with a single guy friend from work. You’d have to know a great deal of our relationship history to fully understand why this hit me the way it did, but nevertheless I was distraught over it. I think most wives would feel a little uncomfortable with the idea of their man going away to a place like Las Vegas without them. I felt VERY uncomfortable, given my husband’s past issues.

THINGS HAD BEEN IMPROVING SO MUCH LATELY!

Things had been really looking up for our family, especially within my marriage. I was finally coming to a point where God was really showing me so much about what it means to be a respectful and submissive wife. I was effectively putting it all into practice, and I was really watching the changes happen. My husband was again warming up to me, after I had made him flee, so to speak, with my controlling words and behavior in the past.

Our marriage had been very broken. Once I stopped trying to force him to get close with God and backed off, he began to take an interest in God again. He started to really step up as a leader of our family in many ways I had never seen in all the previous years of our marriage. He wanted to have a pure life like I did, and after all the years of struggling, for us to be in a place where we both wanted the same thing was really amazing. What was even more amazing was the fact that I was able to understand so many new things about what to do and not do as a wife.

I really felt like things were finally going to be okay, and I wasn’t going to have to deal with the same old behaviors from my husband.

As it turns out, I might always have to deal with those things, and just maybe, he might always have to deal with me struggling to be a respectful wife and messing it up more often than not. Unfortunately, we are sinners. This is the reality of all marriages, and I am learning A LOT about this. That is not to say that God can’t transform our hearts and make us more like Him everyday, but we will always struggle with our flesh. It would be foolish to believe that our husband’s are not going to make mistakes and hurt us.

MY FEELINGS ABOUT HIS PLANS FOR THE TRIP

When my husband told me about wanting to go to Las Vegas, I did not take it well. I tried very hard to respond as best as I could with many of the tools I’d learned from God and from April’s site, but it was hard. I was so confused. I thought my husband wanted to leave these ways behind.

  • Why would he want to run off and be in a place like that with his single friend?
  • Was I being judgmental by thinking this?
  • I thought he didn’t want to even drink anymore.
  • Why did he have to pick Las Vegas?
  • What would happen there?

My mind was racing. I should also mention that my husband works two jobs everyday so I can stay home with our sons. I am eternally grateful that he does this for us, but it can be very difficult, because we hardly see him at all during the week. It felt so wrong that he would take vacation time and be away from us by choice. It also hurt my heart deeply that he didn’t pick me to come along.

I wanted so desperately for him to want to whisk me away on a romantic trip and be his first choice as a companion.

All of these emotions were flying around in my head, and it was so painful. I knew in my heart that I really had been doing the things God asked me to do in my marriage and as a wife, so I couldn’t understand why this was happening. I would have understood him wanting to go with someone else if I were still being controlling, manipulative, and disrespectful, but I knew I wasn’t. I was actively making sure I wasn’t.

WHAT I DID

I did tell my husband all of the different emotions I was feeling. That was also hard for me, because in the past I had really worried about how he would react when I shared negative feelings with him. God helped me through this, however, and I was able to share all of the issues I had more calmly than I would have in the past. Instead of demanding him to respond to everything I said, I let it be. This is also very different for me, because normally I’d be asking a million questions like what do you think or are you mad I feel this way… but, I didn’t. I let him take what I said into consideration and then I had to let God do the rest.

GOD WORKED IN MY HEART – A LOT!

Over the course of a month I struggled with trying to accept that he was going on this trip and trying to mold my feelings to accompany that as a truth. I still felt like it was wrong though. I kept praying that God’s will would prevail, whether it was for my husband to go or not.

This was a pivotal time for me in my relationship with God, because I started to realize that my motives were not necessarily right when it came to what I was trying to achieve as a wife. I wanted to be a good wife, but I also expected that my husband was going to be a good husband as a result. That is not always the truth. God really showed me that

I need to be a good wife for Him. I need to make sure I’m being submissive and respectful for God regardless of what my husband is doing/not doing.

That was VERY eye opening for me. It was also a giant test, because I had to blindly trust God through it. I didn’t know how I’d survive those days he’d be away not knowing what was going on, but I had to just keep handing those fearful thoughts and feelings to God.

GOD WAS AT WORK WITH MY HUSBAND, TOO – UNBEKNOWNST TO ME!

Last week my husband came home from work and told me we needed to talk. My stomach was in knots, because I assumed he wanted to go over when he was leaving and all the details of the trip. Instead, he told me he realized that it was wrong to go with his friend. He said he left the whole trip in God’s hands and it was completely falling through. When they went to book the flight, the website would not accept their credit cards for some mysterious (GOD) reason. I guess his friend kept changing his mind as well.

My husband acknowledged that it was definitely the hand of God. He said he was very sorry, and that he wanted to make the family more of a priority. He then informed me that he wanted to take me on a trip instead! We will be going on vacation together at the beginning of next month!

I really am in awe of what God did with this situation. It’s hard for me to even express in words how thankful I am. The lessons I am learning are priceless.

MY MESSAGE TO WIVES

What I really want to say to wives is that you need to expect that your husband is going to mess up and do crazy things, but you can’t let that affect how you behave as a wife. Keep seeking God. Keeping asking Him to give you the strength to be the wife He wants you to be. He will equip you, and when things look grim, He is there, and you can most definitely trust Him. He will use your behavior and your faith to bring about positive changes in your husband, but it won’t always be in the way that you want or expect. It may just be a two steps forward, three steps back type of thing, but take heart, God is at work!

God works everything together for the good (of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose Romans 8:28). When I was struggling with all the confusion of this situation I felt like I couldn’t see what good would come from it at all, but then I remembered who God really is, and I knew I could trust Him with this.

If this hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have realized my focus in seeking to be a godly wife is to be God and only God. I learned that we can’t get stuck on the plans and ideas other people have. God can definitely step in the way and change things into how He wants them to be. As wives we need to fully and completely fix our eyes on God, and not have our focus on everything that is going on around us. God is in control.

So, this was really hard, but it was also really amazing and good for me. I think so many of the things we go through as wives are like that. Lessons are hard, but so very valuable. I pray that we keep close to God so we can grasp all the wisdom He wants to give us, and that we can be that godly loving example of Him to everyone around us. 🙂

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

PRAISE GOD!!!!!!!!!  He IS able!  He is sovereign – even over our husbands.  We can trust Him.  I can’t guarantee that every story will work out just like this one. But as we seek the Lord wholeheartedly and yield ourselves completely to submission to Him, He will truly use all things for His glory and our ultimate good when we yield to Him and put our faith in Him.  WHAT A STORY!  THANK YOU, LORD!

OTHER WIVES – if you have a story about how God worked in your marriage, or is working  in you and your marriage – please leave me your story on my Contact page – let me know that you would like for me to share it. I may share it anonymously as a post!

The Respect Dare, Day 18 – A Guest Post from Nina Roesner!!!!!!!

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Pic from www.ninaroesner.wordpress.com

Ladies,

I am so excited about today’s post!  Nina Roesner, the author of The Respect Dare, has very graciously written this one just for each of you.  I am thrilled to be able to share her words that – to me – are such a powerful expression of the main themes of my life and of my blog.  These are the treasures God has given to us as wives – the path to real peace, joy and godly power, the most amazing way to bless our husbands and families and the message that He longs for us to teach to the women coming behind us.

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The story in Dare 18 really happened.

Well, actually they all did. It’s just that some of them happened to me. This is one of them.

In reading back over it last week, I wondered what I could add that would be of benefit. I had no idea. Given I’ve spent the last two days in the hospital with my 15 year old son’s surgery, I really didn’t have an ounce of brain power to come up with anything good on my own. So I felt bad about that for about 38 seconds, then did what He knew I would do…and I finally asked Him what He wanted me to say today.

First, I want to thank Peaceful Wife for baring her heart and soul to help you. Like me, she takes some heat for living her life imperfectly before others. The most immature of her readers (immature in terms of where they are in the journey of faith – how well they know Him) attack her, having little compassion for a perspective other than their own.  We are all struggling with doing that to others in various parts of our lives. Often this lack of love shows up in our marriages or our relationship with ourselves.

And that’s what I want to talk about today.  Dare 18 provides a brief glimpse into a moment where I wish I lived 100% of the time.

And I want to reveal something that most people miss when they read the book – they miss a moment with an imperfect but strong woman who knows who she is in Christ, a woman who is no one’s doormat.

(okay, I’ll be 100% honest – there are still two people in this world with whom I do not have this figured out yet – but no, I’m not married to them)

But in that moment where I did get it right, pay attention to what I did.  And what I didn’t do.

There are several “extremes” within the women that we minister to.  First, there’s the domineering, controlling type.  The ones afraid of having a man exert any power over them. This might not be the norm in your world, but in mine, this seems to be a good sized percentage of women. And you should know I used to be one of them – corporate career girl, confident, had it pretty together (or so I liked to think), and a bit bossy at times. Unfortunately, I lacked wisdom. If I had an opinion, I shared it – because to not speak up (about everything) would be acting like a doormat…or so I believed.

So yes, I was lacking in wisdom. And I’m still growing.

When I first learned about respect and Ephesians 5:33, it made me angry.

I didn’t understand.

I fought God.

And then I did research.

And like a pendulum, swung all the way over to the doormat extreme.  You know her, the woman that is a shadow of a person. Invisible. I actually read teaching from others who said that my life should revolve around my husband and his dreams and aspirations. That God created me to help him achieve his dreams – and I wasn’t to have any of my own. I was to equip my children as well – even if it all meant losing my identity as the woman God had made me to be in the first place. I wasn’t a willing servant, even though I actually spent a good deal of time eagerly serving my family. I still do, actually, but all the talk about being my husband’s crown by being his 1950’s house wife (all while working part-time and home schooling, mind you) eventually brought me to a place of depletion.

I had been taught that “submission” means he bosses me around while I am “never disagreeing.” The experience left my husband confused because I went from being a competent woman to a person who couldn’t make a decision. It left me feeling like I had no voice. I allowed others to take advantage of me in my home in the name of “service,” and “being a good submissive wife.”

Not surprisingly, my children started behaving as though they had a sense of entitlement and I was their maid. Nasty little side effect.

What’s missing from the majority of teaching currently available is the balance that comes from what lies in the middle of the two extremes above. And how the bible doesn’t really contradict itself, but rather is useful for Him to provide specific direction in the everyday moments.

And that’s what I did in Dare 18.

  • I told the truth about how I didn’t feel loved.
  • But I didn’t do it in a disrespectful (to myself or my husband) way.

And it was a moment born out of God’s leadership and wisdom’s teaching from the Holy Spirit.

There are times when “love covers a multitude of sins” in marriage. Like knowing when to tell the kids, “Dad’s having a rough week at work, cut him some slack.”

There are also times when “iron sharpens iron” in marriage. Like knowing when to say, “The kids need to respect me more, and I’d like your help with that. I don’t know if you are even aware of this, and I’m sure you don’t mean to do it, but when you cut me off and disagree before you even hear what I’m saying, it gives our kids the impression you might not be a respectful person and that you might not respect me. Can you please listen and ask questions first instead?”

There are a few lies out there – that “submission” means not voicing a contrary opinion, not confronting your husband’s sin against you, or having a good marriage means the wife never states a different viewpoint from her husband.  That’s utter hogwash.

Another lie is that “submission” is a part of the bible that doesn’t apply to women now.  You can read gobs about why it matters here, but understand that lie is also complete hogwash.  We are to have a voice – but don’t subscribe to those who think you need to shove your opinion down other’s throats to be heard. And know this doesn’t just apply to marriage, but literally every other relationship, work environment, family, or otherwise. Being heard has a lot to do with treating yourself with respect so you teach others how to treat you. The fear of other’s opinions, having made them our God, will cause us to sin and not tell the truth or not be gently, compassionately bold. And be open to continuing to grow in this area your whole life.  There is no arrival.

Understand as well that there are several examples in the bible where people questioned authority, and even so, 1 Peter is still all about how we are to submit to authority.

Consider…

  • Sarah telling Abraham to get rid of Hagar – and God tells him to listen to her.
  • Abigail and David – she totally went behind her husband’s back to save her people and find favor with David. Smart girl.
  • Nathan and David – Nathan gave David (who was King) a serious chastisement for the killing of Uriah.
  • Esther and Xerxes – she breaks the law to get his attention, risking her life – and wins.
  • Jesus asks God to “take this cup” from Him.

The bottom line is simply this:  We are here to learn to love God and others as we love ourselves. Only the Father can teach us how to do these three well. If we will stay plugged into Him by daily reading, listening, obeying, and praying, we will know what to do in the minutia of the moments of our day.

Know too, that there are other examples of strength and dignity in The Respect Dare.

Don’t miss them.

Don’t buy the lie that The Respect Dare makes you a doormat.

Wise women of strength and dignity are not threatened by authority.

Dare you to continue growing and figuring out that sweet spot in the middle of His will.

And know we are so glad you are on the journey! Your sons and daughters will thank you.

Love to you,

~Nina

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To Buy a Copy of Nina’s Book, click here.

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