April 18, 2011

"I Do" Is Just the Beginning

I wanted to share with you a little bit today about this week's Bible study lesson from Elizabeth George's A Woman's High Calling.  The chapter the group read this week was A Woman's Calling to Her Marriage.

Uh-oh.

Marriage can be a touchy subject for me when it comes to Bible studies.  First of all, I've shared on here about Tim's workaholic ways.  To say that I am less than thrilled with those tendencies is, quite frankly, an understatement and most Bible studies I've done on marriage seem to frown on anything less than total support for the husband and his work.  Secondly, most Bible studies on marriage go on and on about a wife's need to submit to her husband.  I was raised to be strong and independent.  The idea of submitting myself to a man rubs me the wrong way.

This lesson is different.  Right from the start it made me feel much better about submission when I learned that submission is a military term meaning to voluntarily line up under the authority of another.  Voluntarily.  Did you catch that part?  George goes on to say that submission is a choice and a decision that a wife has to make.  Is she going to go it alone or honor God's will by honoring her husband?

So, it's a choice I get to make.  I get to decide if I want to submit myself.  Nobody's going to force me.  I can live with that.

I think that first bit about submission was just setting the stage....making me comfortable....and receptive.  Because it sure as shootin' got a lot more un-comfortable after that.  There was a lot of stuff about how a wife is to help her husband and follow him and respect him.

(From here on, this is a rough "transcript" of the conversation going on in my head while I was working on this lesson yesterday.)

Now, I'm just guessing here, but my idea of respect and God's idea of respect probably aren't exactly the same.

Respecting your husband means "actively" demonstrating and showing high regard for him in ways that all can see.  It means choosing to love your husband....making that decision daily.  It means you put time and effort and care into loving him.  It means you pray for him, because you can't hate someone you are praying for.  You can't neglect them, either.  It means that every day you find something (even if you have to search really, really hard) to praise him for.  It means you pamper him every day.

Whoa, whoa, whoa!  PAMPER HIM?  Like give him massages and footrubs and wait on him hand and foot?  Do you have any idea how long it's been since he's pampered me?

Pampering can be little things.  Like making what he likes for dinner or having his paper and a cup of tea ready when he gets home or making his favorite kind of cookies.  Pampering is just a way of clearly telling your husband you value him and care about him.  The more time and energy you put into loving him, the more you will find your heart changing and the loving will become a natural action.

So, I'm having a hard time here.  Is it okay, then, for a husband to neglect his wife in the name of work?  And she's just supposed to smile about it and bake him another batch of cookies?

No, that's not what God intends for a marriage at all, but....

And here it comes....

There is nothing a wife can do to change her husband's behavior.  Change comes from God and the husband has to be willing and open to it.  What a wife can do is make sure she is following God's direction for her life.  If a wife does that, she will begin to see change in her husband as his heart softens and becomes more receptive....spurred on by her own sweet, gentle, godly spirit.

Oh, how wrong I've been!  Father, forgive me my hard heart and wrong thinking.  Grant me your grace and patience, your kindness and understanding.  Help me become the very model of what a wife should be so that Tim will see you in my life and be swayed to make his own changes.

5 comments:

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

You have been married much longer than I, but I do things to take care of Brad all the time. And anything he does to take care of me is fawned over. I don't mean sickly fake praise, but gratitude.

He likes that and so do I. It makes us both recognize that we have to take care of each other, and we will until we die.

I look at submission as a way to get along and agree. Dyeing my jacket--the one thing of mine he hates, was worth the try AND we got a good laugh out of it. Worth submitting on that one!

Stacy Lynn said...

I think after 26 years, two kids, some hard times, a derailment or two, and busy lives....we've gotten away from it and it's hard to get back.

If I haven't told you before...I admire your marriage and take inspiration from you and Brad. :)

Beth Zimmerman said...

Ouch Ouch Ouch! You're dancing on MY toes today, my friend! And I confess that as I read this my first thought, after the why should I when he doesn't, was how in the world am I supposed to fit THAT into my schedule! God just keeps messing with my priorities! :) Love you!

quilly said...

This is something I can attest to. If you want to be loved and appreciated you have to give love and appreciation. And you'll find if you dwell on the positive rather than the negative, you'll soon have more and more positive to dwell on.

Start small. Be patient. And remember, honoring your husband doesn't mean agreeing with whatever he says, it means being respectful and kind -- and always treating him the way you want him to treat you.

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

Stacy Lynn, this is a great post! When I was married to my now ex-husband, I struggled with the term submission. If only the pastor had revealed it in the way that you did. Great lessons!

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