Friday, October 14, 2011

What if?

I don't usually post about difficult things. No, painting furniture and keeping house are not as difficult as what I'm about to write. But we need to know it. We need to do it.

This article is for wives. All wives. Young, old, newlywed, or married forever. As a wife of only 5 years, I realize that I don't know everything. Not anywhere near. But I do know God. And I've seen His ways work. And I've seen man's way (women's way) fail miserably. I've seen it in my life and I've observed it in others. I'm talking about marital and relational success, friends. And all I really want to share here is a challenge. A whole list of questions that have been swirling around in my mind for a few months and growing by the day. I've abbreviated it here. I promise!

What if... I could listen - really listen - to my husband's thoughts, plans, and dreams?

What if... I could accept the fact that they might not be going in the same direction that I want to go?

What if... I could completely die to my desires even though I think they're so right? And can justify every little thing about them?

What if... I could accept the fact that I don't know everything? In fact, I know very little and cannot see into the future even one minute!

What if... My husband might actually be more right than me? (How is that possible, right?) 

What if... I stopped seeking counsel from friends and the world and learned to listen to God on my own?

What if... What I think is such a great thing to do with my life actually isn't as great as setting it aside and learning to really love my husband? What if that's greater?

What if... I could put my whole heart into whatever my husband wanted us to do? And like it!

What if... I learned what it meant to lay down my life for others? (Not talking about death, here. That would actually be easier than this!) 

What if... simply making my husband happy was my only real goal?

What if... I could trust God enough to work through my husband to complete God's will and purpose in my life?

What if... Trusting God to work through my husband is God's will for my life? 

What if... God wants to fulfill my desires, but it has to come through me laying them down, first?

What if... I could be content and at rest with what God is doing through my husband?

What if... I could once again be my husband's best friend and cheerleader? Like I was when he fell in love with me?

What if... I could learn to be patient when I don't see things happening quickly enough for me?

What if... I could teach my children by my example, not my words, what it means to trust God and not man?

What if... I trusted God enough to get out of the way and let Him do His perfect work?

I am absolutely not here to tell anyone what to do. I hope and pray it isn't taken that way. But I can tell you what has worked for me. That's my testimony, my witness of God's power, truth, and faithfulness.

As soon as I lay my own strong, stubborn, and determined will aside, that is when I see God actually move in and through my husband (and in me!). And that's true in every area of my life, too. The secret for me is getting out of the way.

In God's eyes, my husband and I are not two people anymore, but one. God joined us together forever. I finally learned to stop striving and pulling and pushing against my husband because of what I thought would be best for us! And I have found more rest and peace and joy than I ever thought possible. And my husband feels the respect and love he so deserves. And he also feels the freedom (and God-given pressure) to seek God's will for us. He's not supposed to sit back and let me get the plan from God! And yet, as soon as I decide that I need to take over or nothing will get done...that's when I quench the work of the Holy Spirit and literally shut my husband down.

Have you noticed that to be true for you, too?

I know I will fail in this again. Probably several (hundred) times in my lifetime. But at least I'm aware of it. And by God's grace, I will choose to get back up and keep walking. In His steps!

I haven't added a related Scripture to every point in my list. Because like I said, it is a list of questions, of challenges... just to make you think. If they are not of God, I pray fervently that they won't alight in your mind. But if any of these words are righteous and trustworthy, I also pray fervently that they will stick... and stick tight. I'm not here to debate doctrine and opinion, this is just my blog with my thoughts.

I don't know that the world has seen much of this sort of commitment to marriage and utter trust in God. We wives are the hearts of our homes and we desire our homes to be the best they can be, right? I believe the key to unlocking that potential for success in our marriages and families is actually very simple: let it go. I think that if we wives would step up to the plate, and put into practice the things that God is placing on our hearts, we would see a revival in our spirits, in our children, and in our marriages.

At the very least, it can't hurt to try.

"...Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; 
but if it dies, it bears much fruit."
John 12:24

But I know God and I know He is faithful. As soon as we step out in faith trying desperately to obey Him with our lame efforts, He lights our path and holds us up and gives us the grace to keep trying, to keep walking, to keep loving. And He promises fruit that remains! It doesn't feel good to die. Dying hurts a lot. There is real pain for us to walk through in this life. But God is there. And the promise is there. Death (of temporary self) produces life (future fruit)!

I love the scene from Indiana Jones where he has to step out over the abyss and he can't see the next step! He can't see it until he takes it. It's such a great visual for me in my relationship with God.

===== disclaimer =====

Please hear this, I am not advocating becoming a doormat to your overbearing husband. Not even a doormat to your gentle and loving one! God didn't make us to disappear into our husbands never to be seen or heard from again. He did, indeed, give us dreams. He gave us desires. He gave us our personality! And I don't believe His goal is to squash any of that. He took 2 and made 1... 50% of each. Don't become someone else.

This isn't a diatribe on "submission" or "authority." I know all of those arguments and points of view -- I've been there and seen that! And this isn't that. I know women who sink their lives into the worst kind of submission thinking they're doing the right thing and it's so painful! I'm not talking about that, here. I'm basically talking about not being selfish, and being open-minded enough to realize that I might not always be right! *gasp*

This is simply me being who I am and allowing God to work on me to make me better! I will always be myself. I will not make an idol of my husband. I will love God first, husband second, and kids third, by God's grace.

This is my blog, my opinions, my thoughts. I'm not foolish enough to think that my life will or should look the same as anyone else's or that theirs should look like mine! But there are certainly a few unchanging principles of God that are the same across the board, wouldn't you say?

===== end disclaimer =====

Imagine with me a woman who is ready to give up because her husband won't go to church no matter how she begs and pleads? Imagine that she truly believes they are both going in such opposite ways that a divorce is the only option. What if she decided to just give it up and do what her husband would like to do on Sundays? Give up her way and go his? Imagine her husband noticing this real heart change in her and asking where it came from...and then wanting to know more because God was softening his heart because of it. My God can do that!

Can you imagine a wife who feels secure with her husband's current paycheck and benefits and her pressure in this area is forcing him to stay in a job he hates and that sucks all the life out of him? What if she just backed up? What kind of blessing is she cutting off? She may never know if she doesn't let it go.

Can you imagine a stubborn young wife who just wants to raise her babies near family, and so, feeling that there is no other option, her husband tries to please her by moving across the country even when they couldn't afford to? Now imagine a few hellish years in that place (and in that marriage) as there are no doors open for the husband and he is not humanly able to adequately provide for his family.

Can you imagine what would happen if that young wife would just get out of the way and let God have His way? And what if she'd done it sooner? What if God was working through her husband but she couldn't hear it because of her great desire? Can you begin to imagine the joy and peace and love that would spring up in her marriage and family if she just figured out how to lay down her life for them?

I can imagine that one. That's my story.

"Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling 
and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 
to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, 
be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. 
Jude 1:24


Kristen Elizabeth Lee said...

Wow. This post was incredible. I will read this often to remind me. Thanks! I'll be following your blog posts. :) Blessings!

all4Him said...

Love this post! Am sharing it. It's been my marriage recipe for over 25 years--you put it so beautifully! Thank you.

Just US said...

Excellent Post! Thanks for sharing...I heartily agree with your "questions" and needed the reminder today. :-)

Cassidy said...

I received some interesting comments (not only here) about this post. I never want to poke and push buttons, but I do hope to make you think and figure out what God wants from you!

One of my dear friends from oh, so long ago mentioned to me that my perspective perhaps comes from the fact that I was older when I got married and more set in my ways than she was when she got married. I was 28; she was 18.

For her, she did lose herself in her husband because that's what she thought she was supposed to do. She had to "grow up" in marriage rather than before I had the opportunity to do.

Both ways have their ups and downs, certainly!

But yes, my friend is right. This perspective is from an "older" wife who had more time to get opinionated and stubborn. Though I much prefer the words "wise" and "confident." : )

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