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The Essence of Femininity

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A few weeks ago, Laura Doyle (author of The Surrendered Wife), had a post on her blog about that femininity can be summed up in one word, “receiving.” This is true physically in the marriage act. The husband is the giver and the wife is the receiver. It’s interesting to me to think about masculinity and femininity in these general terms.

But it goes farther than this… a wife gives back to her husband physically later by bearing children as fruit of her receiving from him. Then the husband receives that child with great joy.

It seems that we are being our most beautiful, feminine selves, when we receive graciously and joyfully from our husbands – whether it is sexually, financially, emotionally, or in many other ways. Then we give back to our husbands and they receive from us.

Both spouses will need to give and receive well (and at the right times) for a marriage to thrive – then there is a beautiful rhythm.

SOME WAYS WE CAN RECEIVE FROM OUR HUSBANDS

We can seek to joyfully receive:

  • their wisdom (not as superior to ours, but as different, and as a blessing)
  • their protection spiritually, emotionally, financially, physically, etc…
  • their desire for us, attraction to us, and sexual advances (for wives whose husbands are rejecting them, I have a post about that here.)
  • their financial support
  • their help, especially when they offer to help
  • their help when we ask for help
  • their compliments
  • their perspective that is so different from our own
  • their spiritual leadership, even though it may be different from our expectations (unless they are leading us into sin)
  • their feelings, ideas, suggestions, concerns, and dreams
  • their parenting for our children
  • their friendship
  • their presence (even if there is not a lot of talking going on, men tend to bond just by being together, not necessarily by talking)
  • their love in the ways that they express it (even if it is not the ways we would most prefer)

When we just relax with them, enjoy them, genuinely admire the good in them, accept them for who they are, and receive what they want to share with us – we and our husbands can experience the most amazing intimacy.

GOD’S DESIGN FOR WOMEN TO BE THE RECEIVERS HAS A DEEPER MEANING

God created husbands to demonstrate the selfless, humble, sacrificial, loving leadership of Christ for His Church toward their wives. God designed wives to demonstrate the adoration, respect, and biblical submission of the loving Church for Jesus toward their husbands. The deepest meaning of masculinity and femininity are to display the mystery of Christ and His Church.

  • Jesus is the First Giver. He gave all of Himself for us and everything He had.
  • We, the members of the Body, are the first receivers. We graciously receive all that He gives to us with thanksgiving and praise.
  • Then, we give joyfully all of ourselves to Him.
  • Of course, He gladly receives us to Himself.
  • We bear fruit in our lives, the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) and also we bear fruit of making other disciples.
  • Jesus receives the fruit from our lives and the new believers in the Body with joy.

Are we receiving all that Jesus has done and has provided for us? Are we receiving all of His Spirit, His goodness, His death on our behalf, His suffering in our place, His taking on the punishment that we deserved? Are we receiving all of His new life that He gives us? Are we receiving all of the love, acceptance, joy, peace, and security that He offers to us? Do we open up our hearts in total trust and faith to Him and invite Him in to be one with us in Spirit the way a wife would open up herself to be receptive and to invite her husband in on every level in a healthy marriage? Do we receive God’s wisdom? Do we receive His truth? Do we reject anything from the enemy to protect our hearts from him, resisting him and submitting fully only to Christ?

Jesus already died for us and already finished all of the work that was necessary to make us right with God. All we do is accept His work on our behalf that we could never do. Kind of like I can receive my husband’s gift to me of renovating our house and giving me a dream house. I receive his work on my behalf and enjoy it, even though I could never have done the work he did for me. My gift to my husband or to Jesus is to receive what they give to me with joy.

When I just relax with Him, enjoy Him, adore Him, accept Him for who He is (not who I want Him to be), and receive what He wants to share with me – I can experience the most amazing intimacy with Jesus.

I can receive so many things from Jesus:

  • His promises
  • His power
  • His Spirit
  • His healing
  • His truth
  • His love
  • His mind
  • His heart
  • His desires
  • His plans and purposes
  • His will
  • His presence
  • His love
  • His forgiveness and grace

The awesome thing is, when I am filled to overflowing with Christ and all that I have received from Him, I am whole. I lack nothing. Anything my husband does for me at that point is extra icing on the cake. I can be content whether my husband gives to me or not. The paradoxical thing is that as a husband sees that his wife is content,  joyful, smiling, and brimming over with goodness, he tends to be more motivated to give to her. Godliness in a woman is very attractive. Our husbands want to do things that delight us and make us happy, but sometimes we are not capable of being delighted until we are healed in Christ.

Let’s receive all that Christ has for us, then we will be able to best receive anything our husbands may have for us and we can most be a blessing to them, as well.

Last year, Radiant, who has written a number of guest posts for me recently, had a word for the whole year. It was, “receive.” She decided to learn to receive the good things God had for her, and to receive the love and good things from people in her life. I think that would be an amazing thing for all of us to focus on in 2016!

verses about giving and receiving

 

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. 🙂

A Fellow Wife Reflects on Her Two Year Journey

Winding Country Road through autumnal Landscape

 

I first “met” a Fellow Wife  in October, 2012. I can’t begin to count all the discussions we shared together.   This has been a difficult, painful and challenging journey at times – as it is for all of us who seek to know, obey and please Jesus. We must die to self, go against the wisdom of our culture, deny our sinful nature, let go of the things we cherish most and seek to trust God rather than self. Now, as I see where she is today spiritually compared to where she was two years ago, I have to thank and praise God for His goodness and power! I believe that the more wives’ stories we can hear, the better. I know her story will bless you:

 

 

It was 2 years ago next month that I first began pursuing becoming a more godly wife. It was 1 year ago this August that I really got it–what this journey was all about and how it could work for me. At first I thought it was all about putting all these little behaviors into practice by memory and it was all about memorizing a new way of being and being someone different than I really was…. 1 year ago this month, it REALLY clicked for me and I saw that this was not about changing who I am and following a bunch of rules that would make me a plastic Stepford wife. It was about letting go of so many things I was trying to hold onto and manipulate. It was about learning boundaries and what and who I am and am not responsible for.

It has been a very interesting year. It has been a year filled with learning, changes and challenges. Sometimes I have passed with flying colors. Sometimes I have failed miserably and fell flat on my face. I thought I would take a look back at THEN (being the time period before I really *got it* or surrendered- and NOW (being 1 year into this new way of living and being married.) I will be very real with you about the good, the bad and the ugly. But it is my hope to reflect back for myself and share a bit of my story that it might help some of you relate or be encouraged. Let’s begin.

THEN: We had big arguments any time there was conflict. I fought tooth and nail, determined if I just hung in there and talked long enough, my husband would eventually get it.
NOW: Arguments are rare. I approach them differently… making it my goal to speak my thoughts and feelings and exit the discussion giving my husband time to process. Sometimes a few sentences is all I say because it is all I need to say. I have found that when I don’t act ugly, my husband is thinking about how I feel vs how I acted. He is more likely to apologize now. MUCH more likely.

THEN: I was an endless pit of need. My husband could not do enough to make me happy in the way of affection, attention or time. I griped and fussed about this often. He was very tuned out.
NOW: While I still want affection, attention and time from my husband, it is not my entire focus. I give my husband much more space to decide to give or not to give me those things. I am much more secure within myself. I don’t depend on him as deeply.

THEN: He never noticed me.
NOW: He compliments me on occasion…. maybe 1-2 times a month. This is huge considering in the past, years would go by without him complimenting me.

THEN: I thought I could control his feelings for me and his actions toward me.
NOW: I have had HUGE lightbulb moments that have taught me there is no way you can control another person’s feelings or make someone show they love you. At best, all you have is manipulation. You may manipulate your husband into making a gesture of love but neither of you are satisfied with this because you both know it isn’t from his heart, it is from your pushing.

THEN: I sit home and cried when my husband went out a few times a month. I whined. I pouted. We argued.
NOW: While I can’t deny I still feel a twinge of wishing he wanted to spend more time with me from time to time, I don’t sit home and feel sorry for myself. I go out with my girlfriends and have fun on my own. I arrive home happy and refreshed which makes me a wife he is happy to come home to.

THEN: I begged for time together. It was probably our biggest point of contention.
NOW: I no longer beg for time together. I will, on occasion, mention something I would like to do together. I still want to spend more quality time together. But I am okay without it and find other things to occupy myself. I hope someday that we spend more time together. But I can be okay either way.

THEN: There was no inner happiness in me. I kept myself in a constant state of worry over our marriage and worked hard at forcing changes I wanted.
NOW: I understand boundaries better. I realize I am responsible for myself and my own emotions. I realize he has the right to make his own decisions.

THEN: I was clingy and needy. Embarrassingly so. I thought the harder I tried to cling, the more pressure it would put on him to be affectionate and loving toward me. It never worked. In fact, it smothered him and repelled him. It also left me feeling desperate and altogether yucky. Not pleasant.
NOW: I understand how to give my husband space. While I am occasionally affectionate with him just because I love him and want to reach out to him, I give him a good amount of space. AND, I am thrilled to say that after some time had passed…. maybe 3 months?… he started searching me out. He now puts his arm around me sometimes. He will kiss or hug me when he passes me in the kitchen. He is overall more affectionate and loving. This was a wonderful gift! I learned that men need space to give you the things you long for.

THEN: I pursued him. Totally. And I did not like that feeling.
NOW: I give him room to pursue me… and he does. It isn’t as aggressively as I might hope but it is definite pursual.

THEN: I did not understand him or the ways he was trying to show me love.
NOW: I understand men MUCH better, although not perfectly. This is because I have studied and read several books on the subject. I have also learned to ask my husband questions. A lot of times I think he meant one thing when he really meant another. I ask him what he meant. I ask him how he feels. I don’t take for granted that I automatically understand him.

THEN: I called the shots and did things my way. This also weighed on me heavily.
NOW: I am perfectly happy with him being in charge. It makes me happy to submit to him. (most times). I trust his judgment. I feel much lighter without so much on my shoulders. I know that I can offer my perspective and ideas and then allow him to decide what is best.

THEN: I saw us as totally intertwined and as if we owned each other.
NOW: I have learned about interdependence and that I do not own him. He has to give his love freely to me and cannot do so if I am trying to force it out of him. He is defeated before he even begins.

THEN: I thought this was something I would do and then be done with- mark off my to-do list and move on.
NOW: I realize this is a journey. It is a lifetime thing. It is something I will always be learning. It is something that I will mess up on at times but will continue to improve on overall, with time.

THEN: He did not care about my feelings and was not interested in hearing about them.
NOW: He does care about my feelings, especially when I can express them in a clear, feminine, softly spoken manner.

THEN: I thought being a respectful wife was about following all these hundreds of rules that I could never remember all of them and felt very panicked at trying! I had true anxiety attacks for days after trying to implement all of them.
NOW: For me, this was all about releasing my husband and letting go of any attempt to control him. All other respectful behavior will grow naturally from that action. There are no rules to memorize. There are things you will realize and learn and click in place.

Overall, my husband is more of a leader because I vacated that spot. He is a bit more assertive now. He is comfortable correcting me through a gentle rebuke when I am disrespectful whereas before he had just given up and wouldn’t try to tell me because it did no good. I am more comfortable listening to him and truly hearing him and his feelings. If there is an argument, order is restored much more easily between us. He is more affectionate, more observant and overall more loving toward me. He has even done some very surprising, bold things to show that in the last year which I treasure.

There are still some changes I would like to see come to pass in our marriage. But even if they never, ever do, our marriage is much, MUCH better for my surrendering to him. It is healthier. I am healthier within our marriage.

This is a God thing. I could not have done this without God’s help. And every change I have made is backed up by God’s instructions on how to be a godly wife. God KNOWS how men work and how wives can best live with their man in a happy, healthy way. I cannot tell you the moments of amazement that I have experienced in the last year when I discovered how spot on April was about men or how spot on Shaunti Feldhahn was in her books “For Women Only” and “The Surprising Secrets Of Highly Happy Marriages”. My husband would verify almost 100% of the time that these were correct about how men think and feel- or at least how he thinks and feels.

But in addition to it being a God thing, it was a decision I had to make for myself, because being a controlling, aggressive wife that acted very masculine was not healthy for me or my marriage. That did not fit. It felt comfortable because it was all I knew but it wasn’t the way a wife should be. Making the decision to let go of my husband and give up my attempts to control him- which did not work anyways- and to find my own joy and contentment was a very healthy decision. I love this way of living.

Yes, I have had some times of hurt and frustration since I began my journey. But the times of true peace within myself and the peace that I have at not trying to control everything is so much greater. There are also many wonderful, sweet and joyful moments such as when my husband does decide to show his love for me in his own unique way.

I hope this offers you a word of encouragement to stay the course.

Does Being a Biblically Submissive Wife Mean I Can’t Say How I Feel and What I Need?

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Nope.

We CAN say what we want, how we feel, what we think, what our concerns are and what we need.

(Please keep in mind that when I talk about submission, I am always talking about the biblical concept, not the worldly definition. For more about biblical submission, please read here.)

We have total freedom to do this! I don’t know a healthy husband who wants a wife who has no thoughts, no opinions, no desires and no feelings. In fact, I believe it is our responsibility and duty to share these things many times – but in a way that is respectful and honoring to God and to our husbands and in a way that doesn’t involve sin. We can have pure motive as we give God’s Spirit total control in our lives so that eventually our only motives will be to love,  please and glorify God and to love, honor, respect and bless our husbands.

Do I do this perfectly?

Nope.

None of us will be perfect until we are in heaven.

Can God give us victory over sin?

YES!

MY PERSONAL WEAKNESS

God is continuing to transform me. I can ask Greg for things I want and need. And I do that every so often. I do fine if I ask for what I want and then drop the issue in my mind and heart and resolve to be content with or without whatever I asked for. But, for me, if I allow myself to dwell on my needs or marinate on thoughts about what Greg “should” do, I can get into trouble and slide into sinful motives very quickly. I have to remember that I cannot FORCE Greg to do what I want him to do. Truthfully, I can be pretty insatiable emotionally and spiritually if I try to look to Greg to meet all my needs. Only Jesus can truly meet my deepest emotional and spiritual needs. (Please note – I am not talking about severe marriage issues here! If there are very serious problems in your marriage – drug/alcohol addiction, mental health issues, actual abuse, infidelity, please seek godly, experienced help in person from someone you can trust!)

I started to slip a few days ago into obsessing about wanting Greg to do something. Maybe you don’t have that problem. But I sure do. I must always watch and check my motives and lay every thought before God, shooting down any ungodly thoughts, repenting of any evil motives and asking God to purify my motives and fill me with His Spirit. I have to have serious time in prayer and in God’s Word often – to maintain spiritual nourishment.

The second I take my eyes off of Jesus and begin to expect Greg to make me happy and meet some deep spiritual need, I start to spiral downward. I know that there are some things I cannot put into my mind. Even one sentence in a book, blog or sermon about “what godly husbands should do” (that is not something my husband usually does for me) can be a trigger for me, a temptation into sinful thoughts – pride, self-righteousness, entitlement, idolatry of my husband or of being in control, selfishness, resentment, bitterness, etc…I have to catch those thoughts immediately and repent and replace them with God’s truth and set my eyes firmly on Christ alone to meet my needs. Then my feet are on solid spiritual ground again – the Rock of Jesus. I do much better if I just don’t allow myself to focus on what husbands are “supposed to do.” Maybe you can read a whole book about how husbands should be godly husbands and it doesn’t phase you. That is awesome! But for me – I know I can’t go there. I also like to avoid romantic movies and books to avoid temptation to compare Greg to some fictional romantic lead. That way, I can be content with what I actually have and thankful for my particular husband and his strengths without adding fictional or unrealistic expectations to him.

I cannot personally approach Greg  about my feelings and desires if I have my heart set (with sinful motives) on what HE should do for me. It will inevitably be a disaster!

If I realize I am getting trapped in that issue of thinking about what Greg should do for me, I have to go to prayer immediately, repent to God if I have sinned in my heart and begin to focus on all of my many blessings and all that I am thankful for and all the things Greg does do for me and all the things I do respect about him. I must focus on finding ALL of my joy, contentment, acceptance, love, identity, purpose and strength in Jesus. I know I need to concentrate on what God asks ME to do. Then God gets me back in balance – usually – before I even say anything to Greg. This time, I did say a few sentences that started drifting toward sinful motives after I asked for what I needed and wanted, then realized what I was doing and repented. I have to have God’s power to do this. I can do nothing good in my own strength!

SUBMISSION IN THE BIBLE, FOR THE BELIEVER, IN MARRIAGE

Submission in the Bible began with the relationship between Jesus and God the Father. The Son submitted to the Father because He loved Him. They were equal in value and equally God, in fact, they are One. But, Jesus submitted to the position of authority of the Father. Did Jesus share His feelings, desire, concerns and needs with God? Absolutely!!!! He was a man of fervent prayer. Did God listen to Jesus’ prayers? Absolutely!!!!!! But Jesus said, “not My will, but Yours be done.”

When there was a conflict between Jesus’ will and God’s will, Jesus voluntarily chose the Father’s will because He loved Him and because He loved us. (Please read John 17 to read how Jesus shared His heart, needs, desires and concerns with God passionately, intimately, boldly, respectfully and lovingly.)

Submission for a believer begins with our yielding to the Lordship of Christ Jesus. Does He allow us to share our thoughts, desires, concerns, emotions and needs with Him? Yes! He already knows all of these things, but He delights in us connecting with Him and loves for us to pray to Him. (Please read “How to Pray for Our Husbands So That God Will Hear” for more about how to pray. You can also search “prayer” and “pray” on my home page for posts that may be helpful about how to approach God and how to pray fervently and effectively.)

If there is a conflict between our will and God’s will, a believer is to submit to God’s will. Ultimately, that is what we are all to seek above all else, God’s will and God’s glory.

Submission in marriage begins with a wife voluntarily choosing to honor her husband’s God-given leadership. A husband cannot force biblical submission. This is something a wife chooses to do out of her love and reverence for Christ.. Not that the husband is God. A husband is NOT deity! Some people think that if a wife submits to her husband, she is worshipping him as a god. No! That is NOT AT ALL what the Bible teaches! He is just a human being – a sinful and imperfect one – who has been given the position of authority and leadership in order that he might protect, provide for, nurture, lead and guide his wife and family. For more on all the different kinds of human spiritual authority (pastors, church leaders, government leaders, police, military, bosses, husbands and parents), please check out this post.

A wife is free to share her heart, her thoughts, her concerns, her feelings, her emotions, her needs and desires with her husband. And, she is free to share all of these things with God, trusting God to ultimately be the One to meet all of her needs through the finished work of Jesus Christ.

 

If a husband and wife don’t or can’t agree, then a godly wife voluntarily chooses to honor her husband’s decision, trusting God to lead her through her husband.

SHARING OUR NEEDS AND DESIRES

The key for a godly wife is that she is sensitive to God’s Spirit and His prompting about exactly what to say, when to say it, how to say it, when to not say anything and what is worth talking about vs. what is not worth talking about at any given time.

When a godly wife does approach her husband to share, she does so from a place of:

  • spiritual strength – being filled with the power of God’s Spirit and all of His fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – Galatians 5:22-23)
  • God’s love motivating her – I Corinthians 13:4-8
  • refusing to use sinful motives or sinful words or actions to attempt to get her way (she does not resort to humiliating, criticizing, demeaning, belittling, making fun of, bossing, controlling, being violent, arguing, disrespecting, complaining or judging her husband. She does not allow herself to be motivated by resentment, fear, bitterness, hatred, apathy, vengeance or anything that would grieve the heart of God. For more details on the sinful nature, please check out Galatians 5:18-21 or II Timothy 3:1-9 )
  • knowing her old sinful nature is dead and buried with Christ so she counts herself dead to sin and her old self but alive to God through Christ Jesus (Romans 6)
  • total submission to Christ as Lord (James 4:7-10)
  • being ready to extend the same lavish unconditional love, grace, mercy and forgiveness that she received herself from Christ (Matthew 6:14-15)
  • God’s wisdom which is much higher than the wisdom of people (James 1:5-8)
  • seeking God’s will above her own (Luke 12:31)
  • seeking to honor, bless and respect her husband and to obey God (Ephesians 5:22-33, I Peter 3:1-6, Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:3-5, I Corinthians 13:4-8)
  • leaning on God’s wisdom and not trusting her own understanding (Proverbs 3:5)
  • meekness – this is strength under control or “bridled strength.” The picture is that of a wild stallion who has been “broken.” His will has been broken so now he uses all of his strength to accomplish what his owner/rider instructs him to do. This is what we do for God. Our will is to be broken and we submit our will to His, allowing Him to control our lives, our thoughts, our desires, our actions and our circumstances and giving Him total access to everything we possess. (I Peter 3:4)
  • no fear, because all of her trust is firmly placed in Christ, so she overflows with His peace because she trusts in God with great faith (I Peter 3:6, Hebrews 11:6)
  • faith that God will use all things for her ultimate good and His ultimate glory even if she does not receive what she wants in a given situation (Romans 8:28-29)

There are times when a wife knows God is prompting her to wait and not verbally address an issue. This is particularly true when a husband is far from God. In such situations, God’s commands for wives are to win her husband without a word by their reverence, purity and godly behavior (I Peter 3:1).

There are times when a wife knows that God is definitely prompting that she needs to say something specific right now. There is not a formula for knowing what to say and when that I know of. This is about us growing in our relationship with Jesus and learning to depend on and trust in Him and learning to hear and listen to His voice alone. This means we have to spend TIME with God in prayer, seeking His presence, seeking His truth, asking Him to change us and feasting on His Word. THAT is where our power source is. If we try to do this without the power of God’s Spirit and His Word, we will not have the spiritual nourishment and strength we need and we will be much too weak!

SHARE:

How have you learned to share your heart, needs and desires in a godly way in your marriage? What are your temptations that trip you up? What approaches don’t work with your husband? What approaches do work and bless both you and your husband?

RELATED:

Stages of This Journey

Learning to Respect and Give Up Control Is a Process

Biblical Submission Does Not = The Husband Is Always Right

Submission Means We Hold the Things of This World Loosely

The Secret of Submission

Can You Overdo Respect or Submission in Marriage?

Fear Fuels Our “Need to Control

To Speak or Not to Speak

The Frustrating Quiet Phase (this is only a phase early in the journey, it is not a permanent thing!)

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

When My Spouse is Wrong

 

Am I Trapped by Material Things?

photo credit - www.luxuryhomes.com
photo credit – www.luxuryhomes.com

Materialism is something we have ALL been marinating in all of our lives. We may not even notice it, that is how “normal” it is in our culture – that drive and push to have more, to have the best, to indulge in a luxurious lifestyle and to find contentment in wealth, stuff and luxury. I know that I, for one, had no idea how much materialism affected my walk with Christ, my priorities, my loyalty, my marriage and my family. I don’t have all the answers. I am not perfect. I am still learning and am excited about all that God has to show me. I am really glad we can walk this road together, love one another and support and encourage each other as we learn to become the godly women and wives Jesus calls us to be.

A BUSY OR OVER FILLED SCHEDULE SQUEEZES OUT THE TIME WE HAVE FOR RELATIONSHIPS

One of the reasons we as wives don’t have as much time to lavish on God, our husbands and our children can be that we feel a lot of pressure to work to provide financially for our families. It can seem practically impossible to live on one income these days. And there may be cases where both spouses must work. There may not be an option. I certainly understand that. This is an issue that is between each husband, wife and God. In my own situation, Greg has asked me to continue working part time as a pharmacist. I trust God to lead me through my husband on this.

I would like to give us some things to think about. Sometimes, we feel so financially strapped because of our own choices. Sometimes it is because of our husbands’ choices. In that case, we can choose to be as frugal as we possibly can, and we can pray for God’s wisdom for our husbands. Sometimes, there are situations beyond our control – emergencies, disasters, job loss, health problems, injuries, etc… That can be completely unavoidable.

 

DO WE HAVE PRIORITIES WE CAN LET GO OF THAT ARE NOT HEALTHY? ARE THERE THINGS WE DON’T NEED THAT WE CAN CHOOSE NOT TO HAVE SO THAT WE CAN HAVE MORE TIME FOR RELATIONSHIPS WITH GOD, OUR HUSBANDS, OUR CHILDREN AND OTHERS?

Today, I want to focus on our financial priorities and how we might bring joy and less burden to our husbands financially. There may be priorities we have that we could drop in order to give our families more of our time and in order to decrease the financial pressure on our husbands and ourselves. Here are some areas to prayerfully consider. Please keep in mind, no one answers to me for any of these things. I am not saying that any of these things below are “wrong” or “sinful.” It is just wise sometimes, in my view, to hold every single thing before God and to allow Him to show us anything that He might want to change.

Maybe we could consider cutting back on things like:

  • $3000-10,000+ per year on vacations
  • thousands of dollars per year on restaurants/take out
  • thousands of dollars per year on hair color, haircuts/styling, nails, jewelry and make-up (for us and/or our daughters)
  • having the nicest, newest most luxurious car (maybe we could be content with an older car without having a payment?)
  • tanning beds
  • gym membership (maybe we can walk/run outside or at a county or church fitness center?)
  • the top of the line products if we need to renovate  (maybe something much less expensive would be just fine and we could be content with it – i.e.: laminate counters instead of granite/marble, for instance or a vinyl floor instead of stone)
  • thousands of dollars per year on professional portraits of our children
  • $1000-2000 dollars per year eating out for lunch
  • name brand clothing for ourselves and our children (maybe Wal-Mart, Target, Kohls, consignment stores, yard sales, flea markets, Good Will or hand-me-downs could work)
  • the number of pieces of clothing we and our children have
  • having to be in the absolute wealthiest school district or neighborhood in the city
  • debt – let’s not spend money if we don’t have money! Debt is such a trap! God commands His people over and over not to be in financial debt to others and not to charge interest to the poor. Debt can quickly become our master if we are not careful. Dave Ramsey has some amazing resources for learning to be godly stewards of our finances and to get out of debt.
  • thousands of dollars on Christmas and birthday gifts/parties for ourselves and our children each year
  • hundreds or thousands of dollars per year on home decorations
  • $4000/child per year on daycare (if we are not spending on all of these other luxury items, we may not even need to put our children in daycare because we may be able to live on one income in some circumstances)
  • $1000-4000 per year per child on baseball/karate/dancing/cheerleading/music lessons/etc…

Here are some very sobering thoughts from God’s Word – God’s parameters for us to be content each day are:

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. I Timothy 6:6-11

Being content with what we have is a great way to show respect for our husbands as providers and it is a great way to show respect and thankfulness to God!

PARING DOWN OUR MATERIAL APPETITES

Think about if we cut back on just some of these things in the list above. Not all of them are bad. Some of these things are wonderful. It’s fine to enjoy these kinds of things at times. But, they are not essentials. These things are not a roof over our heads, our electric bill, food or medicine. These are extras. There are some women who make $20-35,000 per year whose entire incomes go to these things above. We have all been marinating in “the American Dream” all of our lives. It is SO EASY to make that into an idol that we cherish more than Christ.

  • Why do we want the things we want? Are we looking for fulfillment in things of this world that truly can never satisfy our souls?
  • What are our motives?
  • What are our ultimate goals in this very short life?
  • Could we be content with less? Or, can we be content with what we have?
  • What does God call us to do with our time and our stuff as disciples of Christ?

If we were willing to cut out some of these luxuries, maybe we wouldn’t even have to work full time or maybe we could even stay home if our husbands are on board with that. Maybe we would have the time we really need to more fully invest in our walk with Christ, in our husbands’ lives, in our marriages, in our children’s lives and in our homes? Or, maybe there are ways we could arrange our work schedule that would allow us to have more time with God, our husbands and our children. Maybe there are activities that need to go that really eat up a lot of time but don’t have much eternal value.

The thing is – relationships take TIME. A relationship with God takes real time. A close relationship with my husband takes time. A close relationship with my children takes time. Time is limited. I only have so many hours in a day. What will my priorities be and how can I best use the time God has given me?

I don’t have the exact answers for every wife. Your decisions are not really my business at all.  No one answers to me. This is totally between each of us, our husbands, our children and the Lord. God has different callings and priorities for each of us and they change at different times in our lives. We will each have to take inventories about these issues every so often and reevaluate and pray over how we are spending our time, resources, abilities and money and seek to change anything God would want us to change.

God has dealt with me about many of these issues – particularly when my hours were drastically cut as a pharmacist from 24 hours/week to 8 hours per week about 3 years ago, and then last year when my 12 hours/week became 3 hours/week. I understand the importance of spending frugally and trying to use our income and time as wisely as possible. Greg and I have always sought not to have debt, but to pay off our credit cards each month and to not spend what we don’t have. Our only debt at this time is our mortgage.

  • What does your husband desire you to do about working and about saving or spending? Are you open to allowing him to guide you in these areas and allowing God to lead you through your husband – even if you don’t agree with him right now?

(If your husband is actively addicted to alcohol/drugs/gambling, is involved in unrepentant infidelity or is mentally unstable, please seek godly, experienced, biblical counsel in person at your church or with a Christian counselor/pastor you can trust.)

I would like us to consider a few more questions:

  • Are there things God is calling me to give up so that I can pursue Him more diligently and/or so that I can devote myself more wholeheartedly to Titus 2:3-5 kinds of things? (This may even include social media, hobbies, tv, a volunteer position, even a ministry)
  • Am I pressuring my husband to earn a lot more money, to work more and to give me lots of nice things? Is that why he is working overtime so much and not home as much? To try to make me happy by providing more money for me to have the stuff I tell him I want all the time?
  • Could my love of material things and luxuries be causing us to miss the things that are most important in life?
  • Do I need to stop looking at HGTV, social media, magazines, commercials and DIY shows that promote materialism? Do these things promote a spirit of discontentment in me that does not honor God? (Many women may be able to read these things and not have a an issue. But, if you see them and notice that you are depressed and feeling discontent about your own life after watching them, then, that may be a problem.)
  • Am I willing to be content with what I have now, or with even less? What might God want to change in my life?
  • Am I allowing myself to deeply desire things that I really don’t need to the point that I am jealous or covetous?
  • Am I focused on comparing my life to the lives of others and I feel like the things I have aren’t “good enough?”
  • Do I allow myself to become bitter over the things I do not have?
  • Do I focus on “using things and loving people, or loving things and using people?”
  • Have I made an idol of a beautiful home, luxuries, nice stuff, expensive vacations, fancy clothes, beauty, stuff for our children or material things? (Do I believe I MUST have these things to be happy?)
  • How does God desire me to honor Him and be a godly steward of all of my time, resources and abilities in the area of spending, finances and stewardship?
  • Is it possible God may want me to scale back my consumption level and my spending? Might He want me to be willing to downsize our lives materially and in our spending?
  • Is there anything material or any activity that God may want me to sell or be willing to give up?
  • Is there something my husband wants us to give more money to (church, a charity, a struggling family member or neighbor) that may be something God may have laid on his heart to do for someone in need? Am I willing to prayerfully consider getting on board and be willing to be generous to those in need as God leads me through my husband?
  • If I want to give more to those in need, but my husband isn’t ready to do that, am I willing to wait on God to work in my husband’s heart and not pressure my husband into something that he is not ready to do, following my husband’s lead?
  • Am I willing to allow God total access to our finances and our possession in the present and in the future? If not, what am I holding back and why? What will it take for me to trust God with this thing?

Keep in mind, it is also possible to make minimalism an idol – where we try to have as few possessions as possible and pride ourselves in that. If your husband doesn’t want to pare down your lifestyle, but you do, be sure to honor him and follow his leadership. Don’t give away his things without his consent. And if he doesn’t want to give up the TV or eating out or vacations (or something else you believe would be best to give up) – that is ok!  You can share what you would like to do, respectfully, but then enjoy those things with him and trust God to work in your husband’s heart and to lead you through your man.

SHARE:

You are welcome to share your answers to any of these questions. Of course, the most important thing is that you spend some time with God and ask yourself these hard questions, allowing God to probe deeply into your soul so that He can do whatever He knows is best in your situation at this point in time.

For a word of caution about not going into legalism with the idea of paring down materially, please check out the comments!

RESOURCES:

The Life Ready Woman by Shaunti Feldhahn

Radical by David Platt

overcoming idolatry

Am I Materialistic? A Peacefulwife VIDEO

“Wasting” Myself

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May 28, 2013 – our 19th anniversary. Picture taken in front of the church where we were married in 1994.

There is an incredible chapter in Watchman Nee’s “The Normal Christian Life” about “wasting ourselves” for Christ. If you haven’t read this book yet, PLEASE, PLEASE read it! I believe it should be a must-read for every believer.

Nee talks about Mary who, in the eyes of Jesus’ disciples, wasted that extremely expensive perfume on Jesus in John 12:1-7. And Luke 7:36-50.  Particularly, Judas (the one who betrayed Him) was upset, rebuking Mary for her act of love and telling her that she could have sold that perfume (it was worth 1 year’s wages) and given the money to the poor. Jesus, however, commended Mary for what she had done, saying:

“Leave her alone… it was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you. But you will not always have Me.” John 12:7 

There are times, Nee says, that God will call upon us to “waste” ourselves on Him.

The world, and even other believers, may say that what we are doing is a terrible waste of our time, talents, resources and abilities.

But there are times when God wants us to Himself. He may remove us from a place of ministry for some period of time. He may isolate us. He may incapacitate us. He may ask us to give up that which is most precious to us – as an offering to Him – without us knowing in advance if we will be able to retain the thing we hold so dear or not.

Nee describes a minister whose lifelong dream had been to have a Ph.D. He wanted to be called, “Doctor,” more than anything in the world. He wrestled with God saying, “I could bring You so much more glory and honor if I was Dr. So-and-so.” So he pursued his doctorate in divinity (I believe it was). Then, he lost the Spirit’s power in his preaching and could not understand why. He could come up with no message for his church each Sunday anymore. He went to God. God put His finger on this man’s pursuit of his degree. The man argued and argued with God, justifying himself, and kept on pursuing his doctorate until 2 days before his graduation.  He knew God was telling him NOT to get that degree. So, finally, within hours of achieving his lifelong goal, he surrendered his dream to God and did not finish getting his doctorate. God was pleased. His ministry was later greatly blessed. God showed this precious man that He wanted the glory, and that this minister having a doctorate would bring too much glory to the man instead of to God in his life.

Sometimes the world around us, and even our family and Christian friends, may say that we are wasting ourselves when we obey Him when He calls us to:

  • spend much more time with Him in Bible reading, study and prayer than time in ministry
  • stay home with our children or work just part time so that we can be with our children more to bless them, love them, nurture them and raise them to love and know God and His Word
  • prepare to be a housewife instead of going to college
  • be friendly to those who are socially awkward or outcasts
  • minister to the homeless, orphans, the poor and oppressed
  • sell all we have and follow our husbands to become missionaries in another state or country
  • give up a lucrative career to care for our husbands, our children, an ill family member, the poor or to do ministry
  • put our husbands and children ahead of ministry
  • spend less time at church so that our husbands and children do not feel neglected by us
  • remove some activities from our plate or our children’s schedule
  • take an unglamorous, low paying job, being content in obscurity
  • take an unglamorous, behind the scenes position of ministry in the church. being content in obscurity
  • cooperate joyfully with our husbands if they ask us to sell our home and our possessions and radically downsize to be able to give more to those in need and to be able to spend more time in ministry
  • submit joyfully to an unbelieving husband in order to seek to influence him for Christ
  • treat my unloving husband with honor even if he never changes
  • not have the same priorities as the world (sports, entertainment, romance, money, beauty, popularity, etc…) but to seek Him first and to truly desire to obey His Word even if we seem weird
  • dress modestly instead of showing off our bodies to men who are not our husbands
  • drive an old car instead of going into debt to have a new one
  • not give our kids smart phones even though “everyone else has one” if we and our husbands believe that is what is best for our children
  • act with integrity at work even when no one else does
  • suffer with a prolonged illness as He uses that time to draw us to Himself and to refine us
  • submit to our husbands’ leadership even when we don’t know how things are going to work out and our friends/family accuse us of having been “brain washed” or “joining a cult”

(These are just examples. They will not each apply to every wife and some things may apply at certain times but not other times in our lives. We must carefully hear what God is whispering to each of us individually at that time. He does not call each person to the same assignments He gives to others.)

WASTING OURSELVES ON GOD

God often kept His apostles in prison for long periods of time. That may have seemed like a waste to some. But we would not have most of the New Testament were it not for those times. When Paul first came to Christ, He spent 3 years by himself studying and learning and drawing near to Jesus. That was a time of training that God used to equip and prepare him for his ministry. Think of the story of Joseph in Exodus. God gave him two dreams to show him that he would rule over his brothers and parents when he was 17 years old. And then Joseph unfairly suffered for 14 years as either a slave or a prisoner. And yet, God had him in the exact place He wanted Joseph to be in order to become the 2nd in command to Pharaoh when the time was right. Moses spent 40 years in Egypt as the Pharaoh’s adopted grandson, then 40 years hiding in the desert before God called him to lead His people out of Egypt.  What seems at first to us like a waste of Moses’ life was actually very practical preparation for the job God had for Moses to do.

I don’t know what treasure God may call each of us to give up. In some ways, this is a daily thing of dying to self. I don’t know how much time God may set aside in our lives to have us all to Himself. But I do pray that we might each be ready to give all that we have to Christ even if He is the only one who benefits. Some women think, “If I obey God, and it doesn’t result in me getting what I want (a baby, more money, a bigger house, a husband), I am wasting my time!” But, if we are walking in obedience to Jesus, and we are lavishing ourselves on Him – that is NEVER a waste of our time or effort! He is WORTHY!!!!!!!!   As we give Him everything – He is pleased. We have an “Audience of One.” God’s opinion is the only one that matters. His approval is all we must seek.

What thing is there that you are holding back from God in your life? What is it about which you say, “You can have everything in my life, Jesus,  but not this”? I beg you to be willing to surrender control of that thing to Jesus and to be completely submitted to Jesus as LORD of every single thing in your life. You cannot begin to grow powerfully in Him until you are willing to do this. We must ALL die to ourselves and we must ALL be willing to lose our lives and everything we have in order to have Jesus.

WASTING OURSELVES ON OUR HUSBANDS:

There are often parallels between our submission, love, reverence for and devotion to Christ and our submission, love, respect for and devotion to our husbands. I think that is so fascinating!

There have absolutely been times when I thought to myself, “Greg is just watching TV. He doesn’t seem to care if I am here or not. He hasn’t asked me to stay with him. I could be spending more time ministering to wives online rather than ‘wasting my time here’ watching some TV show I don’t care anything about.”

But this summer when I had my blogging/social media break for a month – God revealed to me that I need to be beside my husband at night even if he is “just watching TV” and even if he is not having a big conversation every moment. Yes, there are great needs in the world and there are always women who will desire counsel and prayer. Those things are very important. But, even though my husband may never actually say, “I want you here with me in the evenings,” that is my place. He was able to better articulate this to me during my blogging break than ever before. When I make myself available to him, it gives him the opportunity to share things with me if he wants to. We have greater opportunities for intimacy on every level. Every night may not be a big deep discussion.  Every night may not be physical intimacy. That is ok. By my being there and making my husband my greatest human priority after the children go to bed, I bless him. If I am blessing my husband just by being in the room with him in the evenings, that is not a waste of my time. Even if he doesn’t really talk about it much. This makes our marriage much stronger. I am ministering powerfully to my husband just by sitting with him and cuddling with him while he watches TV.

Greg actually told me this past week as he had his arm around me, smiled and patted my hip,

“I really like you being right here.”

Wow.

Some of you may hear words like that every single day. Greg doesn’t make comments like that very often. Maybe 1-2 times per year. He doesn’t use adjectives like “really” and he doesn’t straight out say “I like” anything or verbally gush over things. Usually, if he likes something, he will say something like, “That wouldn’t bother me.” Or “I assume that would be ok.” So, I was floored. This was a VERY strong statement coming from him.

I am so thankful that I listened when God clearly told me in June to slow way down and focus more on Greg, our children and on Him.

In addition to making myself much more available to Greg in the evenings, I have found that if I stay in bed a little longer in the mornings, an extra 30 minutes, instead of rushing to go have my quiet time or answer comments as soon as I wake up, we have greater opportunities to connect on every level in the mornings, too. (Of course, this doesn’t work if I have to get ready for work, also.)

I try to ask Greg about once per week,

  • “What can I do for you this week?”
  • “How can I bless you?”
  • “What would you like me to stop doing?”
  • “What would you like me to start doing?”

I am a DOER. I like to DO STUFF. I feel productive and purposeful when I am DOING. I like moving and getting things done. I don’t like sitting still and “going nowhere”!

Interestingly, what Greg almost always says when I ask him how I can bless him is:

  • Relax!
  • Just have fun!
  • Enjoy the kids.

These things do not come naturally to me. I’m pretty awful at relaxing. I tend to want to say, “No, I mean, what actual THING can I DO for you that would really bless you?”

But now I am beginning to understand, when I relax and enjoy him and the kids, that DOES bless him. Greatly. It is dawning on me more and more just how important I am to this man I love and respect so much and that there are many ways he appreciates me ministering to him that he may not articulate with words, but that are extremely important to him and to our marriage.

And, imagine this… maybe this is more of what God wants from me in my walk with Him, too?

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

SHARE:

What does your husband ask you to do that you may tend to brush off or think of as being “unimportant” or “a waste” of your time? I’d love for you to share!

How can we “waste” ourselves in a beautiful way on God and on our husbands – or maybe a better term would be – LAVISH?

Husbands,

What are some ways you would like to see your wives lavish themselves on you that may seem “wasteful” to others but would greatly bless you and your marriage? We’d love to hear from the men on this.

 

A Wife’s and Daughter’s Submission and a Violin

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From a sister in Christ. Thank you so much, Free Indeed, for sharing your story! It is SO inspiring!

Wonderful post! Just the facts, ma’am! This stuff is so important!!

Since you asked, I’ll share a recent obedience/submission story:

A few weeks ago, our family was at a garage sale and our daughter (8) found a used violin with books for a great price! She loves all things musical and we are homeschoolers, so (in my mind) I thought it was a definite go! How much fun we could have with that!

I agreed with her – only that it was a great price, NOT that we should definitely get it – (an improvement for me) – and told her to go ask her Daddy about it.

My husband said, “No,” to the violin because our daughter had struggled to obey him just the day before several times and he didn’t feel like she deserved to get it.

She was very disappointed, and so was I. BUT I did not argue with him, and I encouraged her not to, as well. Instead, I took her aside and told her to trust her Daddy to lead our family. I prayed with her that if she was to have a  violin, one would be provided for her somehow and if she wasn’t, we could forget about it and focus on the instruments we do have for now.

She seemed to forget about it soon enough, enjoying our keyboard and guitars like she usually does throughout the week. She mentioned it once or twice, but i reminded her that we are blessed to have what we do and if the Lord wants us to have one, He will provide one.

Fast forward about 3-4 weeks…

My husband and sons went to help his musician brother move out of state. When they returned, my husband had a surprise for our daughter. This makes me cry typing it now, but it was EXACTLY the same violin – for FREE! (Nothing special, just your average middle-school beginner violin, but still the same.) My brother-in-law had received it in a trade with some other stuff and had no need for it and no room to store it in his new place. So, he asked my husband if we’d take it.

My daughter and I prayed prayers of thanks to the One who knows us and loves us and takes care of the little things for us. And I praised HIM because my daughter (and I) got a lesson in patience and a tangible example of how obedience and submission works! God can still meet our needs (and sometimes our wants) if we will just trust HIM to provide for us and trust HIM to lead us through these human leaders He’s given us. It doesn’t always look like this, and sometimes we don’t recognize it, but sometimes it DOES and sometimes we DO. And it’s fun to be pleasantly surprised and cared for!

SHARE:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would love to hear more stories about how God used your submission to Him and to someone in a position of spiritual authority in your life, even when you didn’t understand it at the time, to bring about good in your life or your family’s life.

 

 

 

 

Respecting Our Husbands as Fathers – Part 1

My husband and children at Legoland in historic Cypress Gardens
My husband and children at Legoland in historic Cypress Gardens 2012

Here is one Christian husband’s response to this post earlier in the week:

Thank you for this post. Your advice is spot on!

The thing that I want from my wife is input and cooperation, not demands, domination, manipulation or deception.

The former draw me to her, the latter drive me away from her.

I want to reiterate what you say about wives not undermining or overruling their husbands with the children.

The scripture is pretty clear that children are to obey their parents. When my wife overrules or undermines a decision I have made or a command that I have given, she teaches our kids that I should be ignored. 

The long term effect this has had is that my children stop listening to me. They just tune me out. I become more and more disengaged and leave the parenting duties to her. 

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

I don’t think most wives realize the long term consequences of undermining our husbands’ spiritual authority in the family. I know I didn’t until God opened my eyes to all of my disrespect, pride, control, self-righteousness, etc… in Dec 2008.

My husband had become very unplugged with me and our children. I was constantly asking (or demanding) for him to do more with us.

I had NO CLUE why he had unplugged. I thought he was just unloving.

Now I know, of course, that I had disrespected him and taken over control. Now I know that I wouldn’t listen to him and wouldn’t support his parenting and thought I always “knew best” since I had read more books about parenting. :( It’s heartbreaking to me now to realize how destructive my attitudes, words and actions were at times back then. In front of the TV, he was safe. With me, he was not very safe at times.

When I began to learn about respect and biblical submission. I seriously felt like I was trying to learn some VERY foreign language – without a teacher. That is how little it all made sense to me at first.  It took me over 2 years of constant study, prayer and journaling (for hours a day almost every day) to BEGIN to feel like I remotely had a clue what I was doing.

Soon into my journey into being a godly wife, I began to talk to our children (our son was 7 and our daughter was 2) and say things all throughout the day like:

– God made husbands/dads to be the leaders in the family.

– I was wrong to try to be in charge of things before.  I am so sorry.  I hurt you and I hurt Daddy by the way I treated Daddy.  I don’t want to do that anymore.

– Daddy is in charge now the way God’s Word says he is supposed to be. We will all treat him with respect.

– Please use a respectful tone of voice to Daddy and to me.  That wasn’t a respectful tone of voice.  Please try saying that again respectfully.

– That was a disrespectful attitude.  Please apologize for talking to Daddy/me like that.

– Obey Daddy and Mama because God commands you to obey your parents so that you can please God and you can have a long life.

– If one of us says no to something, don’t ask the other parent. It will be “no” from both of us.

– Your Daddy asked you not to jump on the couch. I know he’s not here right now – but we are going to honor him and obey him whether he is here or not.

– (If a child is slow to obey my husband) You heard what Daddy said. Please obey Daddy now.

– That decision is up to Daddy (for bigger decisions). We will honor whatever he decides. You  may ask for what you want respectfully, just one time, and then please accept whatever he decides is best.

We will continue this discussion in Part 2 tomorrow! 🙂

How Disrespectful Was I?

April as a pharmacist in 1998 (25 years old)
April as a pharmacist in 1998 (25 years old)

I had a talk with Greg this past week and, out of curiosity, asked him if he would rank my level of disrespect earlier in our marriage on a 1-10 scale with 10 being the MOST DISRESPECTFUL wife he had ever seen. He said, “You were probably about a 4 or a 5.” I knew that many women were much more disrespectful to their husbands than I was. I didn’t have eyes to see it if there were women who were more respectful than I was to their husbands. So, I thought I was respecting Greg just fine. He never complained or told me I was not doing a good job. I didn’t know I was disrespectful at all for those first 14+ years of our marriage. I thought I was the best Christian wife, ever! I mean, I didn’t:

  • scream
  • cuss
  • throw things – except for that ONE time that I threw a pair of clean panties at Greg the first summer we were married. They didn’t come anywhere near hitting him. So, that surely doesn’t count, right?
  • threaten divorce
  • call him names
  • purposely disrespect him
  • hit him – although, I really wanted to sometimes
  • cheat on him – but, I did become infatuated with another man early in our marriage, and allowed myself to daydream about what it would be like to be married to him instead of Greg. So dangerous!
  • humiliate him on Facebook – of course, it hadn’t been invented yet!
  • act like the women on Jerry Springer
  • refuse to cooperate with him if he led in a direction I didn’t like. But, I would argue for hours about how right I was and how wrong he was and then when he still insisted on doing something a certain way, I eventually conceded to him. But I made sure he knew I was not happy about it and I held on to bitterness and resentment. I did not joyfully honor his leadership. Most of the time Greg didn’t tell me what he thought if he disagreed with me, because (I found out later) he felt it wasn’t worth trying to fight me on things.
Greg and April, Easter 1998
Greg and April, Easter 1998 – almost married 4 years

Our marriage was not awful. There were some happy times. I remember Greg often saying, “Our marriage is a lot better than most.” He said that especially when I was trying to “improve” things. There were times when I often felt lonely, stressed, worried, afraid and unloved. I wanted our marriage to be the BEST it could be, not just “above average.” Unfortunately, I didn’t see my pride, self-righteousness, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, critical spirit, people pleasing, perfectionism, idolatry, lack of faith in God… I thought I barely sinned at all and that I hardly owed God anything. Wow. Was I wrong! How thankful I am that God opened my blind eyes to my sin.

We both always loved each other.  Divorce was never an option for us. We were committed to each other and to God. I didn’t think Greg loved me at times because he was so unplugged and passive. But looking back, I know now that he did always love me. He just shut down because of my attitude and behavior toward him. I knew I didn’t know what Greg needed, and I knew that he wouldn’t/couldn’t tell me what those things were when I would ask him. I also had very little idea what respect actually meant to a husband and what biblical submission should look like.

Even small to moderate amounts of disrespect on a wife’s part can cause damage to the marriage. That is what sin does, it hurts people, hurts relationships and separates us from God. Any sin is destructive.

MY THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS TOWARD MY HUSBAND ARE  BAROMETERS OF MY LOVE FOR GOD:

Until I am willing to reverence and fully submit to Jesus Christ as my Master and Lord,  I am incapable of being a godly wife. My level of respect and biblical submission for my imperfect husband are just a tangible indicator of my level of reverence for and submission to Jesus. He is the Perfect Bridegroom. Until I am able to relate to Him properly and understand who I really am (a wretched sinner with no good in me) and what I really deserved (hell), and until I understand what Jesus has done for me, the phenomenal price He paid for my sins on the cross and who He truly is and how much He loves me because of who He is – I cannot be a godly wife to my imperfect earthly husband.

If I can’t or won’t respect and trust Jesus, I cannot respect or trust my husband. It is only as I am right with Christ that He empowers me to be able to walk in obedience to His commands for me as a wife. Then, I am able to respect my husband and trust his leadership because my trust is ultimately not in my husband, my trust is ultimately in Christ and His goodness, love, faithfulness and sovereignty to lead me through my imperfect husband. From that position of strength, I can learn to genuinely respect, honor, trust and bless my husband.

Jesus must be the source of my life, power and motives. He must be my greatest desire. Then He enables me to be right with my husband and other people, too. My prayer is that God might show us His beautiful design for us as women and for marriages so that we might learn how to greatly bless our husbands and honor Christ, our Lord.    I pray we will do our husbands good, not evil, all the days of our lives and that the hearts of our husbands might safely trust us. (Prov. 31)

RELATED:

My Story – how God woke me up to my sin and what I had been doing that was disrespectful

Husbands Share What is Disrespectful to Them

What Is Respect in Marriage?

Biblical Submission

Spiritual Authority

Some Things are Unconditional, Some Are Not (Love, Respect, Forgiveness, Trust)

Greg in 1998
Greg in 1998

She Is Worth Far More Than Rubies

Rough, natural rubies
Rough, natural rubies

Rough rubies, sell for about $900-$7000 for a small bag of them.

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Proverbs 31:10-12, 28-30

www.naturalunheatedrubies.com
www.naturalunheatedruby.com

A godly woman who has noble character is a rare thing, even among women who profess Christ. You don’t find many women with a gentle, peaceful spirit who totally trust in Christ and are fully submitted to Him. You don’t find many women who are so filled with God’s Spirit that He empowers them to do what is right and who do not give way to fear.

happy girl

Confidence in Christ is so beautiful in a woman! It causes her to light up the whole room.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. I Peter 3:3-6

What comes naturally to our sinful nature as women are things like:

  • being afraid
  • freaking out
  • being anxious
  • putting things like romance, beauty, marriage, children or being in control ourselves above Christ in our hearts
  • grabbing for control or power
  • trying to force what we want (selfishness)
  • trusting in our own human wisdom
  • allowing our emotions to rule over us
  • trusting our feelings instead of God’s Word
  • bitterness
  • resentment
  • gossip
  • score-keeping
  • pride
  • self-righteousness, thinking we are better than other people

SPIRITUAL BEAUTY

It is only when we allow Christ to have full control of everything in our lives that He radically transforms us from sinful women to Spirit-filled women. It is only as we allow Him to do open heart surgery on us and we completely trust Him and allow Him to remove our old sinful nature and old sinful heart, crucifying it with Himself on the cross and burying it with Him in the tomb – that we can find freedom from our slavery to sin. He opens the door to our dungeon that has imprisoned us in depression, anxiety, worry, fear, isolation, despair, bitterness, resentment, jealousy and pain. He breaks the shackles from our hands and feet. Jesus invites us to walk with Him out into the glorious freedom and abundant spiritual blessings of the life He has in store for us! Then, because Jesus was resurrected to new life, and we are in Him, He gives us new life, new hearts and His power to live in obedience to His Word.

I CAN BE A PRISONER NOW BY MY CHOICE, BUT THE WAY TO FREEDOM IS ALREADY AVAILABLE

We can choose to stay in the dungeon. We can choose to remain prisoners to our sinful nature and the enemy. We can choose to stay miserable and to enjoy our bitterness and complaints. No one will stop us. It is our choice alone to make. Or, we can now choose to leave these old ways and that old life and old nature behind and receive the spiritual gifts, treasures and blessings Jesus has waiting for all who trust Him and submit to Him as Lord and Master. My feelings don’t have to be my master anymore. I can boss my feelings around when I belong to Christ. They may be helpful to me at times. They may give me some useful information. But they no longer have to be a tyrant to me. I can choose to obey Jesus and walk with Him no matter what my feelings tell me at a given moment. Jesus will reward me with eternal blessings for my obedience to Him as I walk in the power of His Spirit. I don’t have to seek momentary worldly happiness anymore.

I am responsible for this choice myself. I am responsible for my emotions and my spiritual condition. God gives ME this choice to make for my life. My husband cannot make it for me. He cannot make me be content or happy! Only I can find contentment for myself and the only real place to find true satisfaction and fulfillment is in Christ alone.

No other human can make me happy or be responsible for my contentment. I must find my own contentment and be responsible for my own soul. If I am unhappy, it is my job to run to Jesus and take my pain to Him. I CAN choose to receive His gifts of joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness and self-control. I must be willing to die to myself and allow self to be crucified and buried with Christ. Then I can count myself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ. And I can learn to rest in Him and allow Him to produce good in me. It is all His work, none of the good Jesus wants to do in my life originates from me. It is all Him 100%. He died and has provided victory for me. I can choose to accept and receive His gift and learn to live in the power of His Spirit on a daily basis as He conforms my heart, mind and soul to be made to be like Himself.

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6

IT IS ALL ABOUT GOD

It is the most amazing thing to watch God change you, change your heart, change your mind, change your desires, change your priorities and to cause you to love what He loves and to hate what He hates. As we fling the door wide open to our lives and allow Him access to everything, He will take the things that are most precious to us – as we allow Him to – and break them. He must see that we are willing to give up ALL for Him and that He is our greatest desire and greatest passion. It is only when we willingly grant Him access to our greatest treasures in this life that He will then give us access to all of Himself. Then we gain access to all of Christ, His mind, His heart, His power, the riches of heaven, the spiritual treasures of God…

Then, we radiate the beauty, holiness, peace, joy divine love and power of God. And we live in contentment in Christ alone. We are unshaken by circumstances. Our faith is firmly planted like a tree beside a stream. We draw all of our strength and nourishment from God and His very Spirit lives in us, controlling our lives as we lovingly, joyfully submit to Him in all things.
This is the beauty God is talking about that He desires His women to have. It is not anything that comes from her that is so beautiful, it is Christ in her that brings all the beauty. This is what is precious in His sight and this kind of Holy Spirit-filled woman is worth far more than rubies to God – and to her husband. This is the kind of beauty I pray for us each to discover and develop in Christ.

cmr414-2_i1
http://www.naturalunheatedruby.com
This is a 4.14 carat African ruby for sale for $68,000 USD

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