What I Have Learned After 30 Years

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Thirty years ago today I said I do to a man I wasn’t sure I loved the way a wife should love her husband. I am not even sure I knew what love was at that time. What I did know is that he was my friend and in the two years I had known him he had already supported me through so much. He had loved me during moments that many men would have walked away.

Since that day I have learned a lot. I have learned about marriage, love and life as we have journeyed together. It hasn’t always been perfect and yet it has been good. We have learned that we can argue and yet work things out in love. We have learned that there will be times we may feel like we want to give up but we would fight for one another, for our love and our family.

We have also learned…

Marriage is a covenant. A covenant not to be broken except by death. We choose to be committed to one another no matter what life may throw at us. We also understand that it is not just the two of us involved in the covenant but God is the administer of our covenant. He watches over us.

Love is a choice. You only fall out of love because you choose to. It gets too hard, we stop trying, but love chooses to stay and work through the hard places. Love chooses to keep going even when you feel like giving up.

You have to laugh. At times we must laugh hard and long. It helps put the day in perspective. God gave me my husband because God knew I would need to laugh. Keith is the only one who can make me laugh at almost anything, even when I am really stressed out. Even when I am upset with him.

Neither of us are perfect. We each have areas of our heart and life that God needs to expose and work through in order to mold us into the image of Christ. Giving room to grow into the man and woman God has created us to be is important.

Marriage is about growing. It’s a process of growth and maturity. A process that requires grace, patience and a willingness to walk in forgiveness. It’s growing in our relationship with God, with each other and within ourselves. We need to encourage and spur on growth in one another.

Marriage is about friendship. Be willing to work at the friendship. Spend time together. Talk about everything, share your hopes, dreams, joys and sorrow. Be life long friends.

Marriage takes hard work. It’s true, marriage isn’t easy. You can just glide along hoping things will be fine. You can not just push everything under the rug praying it will work out. You need to keep dating your spouse even when schedules make it seem impossible.

There is so much we’ve learned after 30 years, this is only a small list. How can one possibly list everything?I don’t want to sound as if it’s been easy, it hasn’t been. Anyone who has been married for any length of time knows it takes work, prayer and God.

There is a book on my shelf that I have never read, it’s called Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. I am sure it’s an excellent book. When I first got it I opened it and read 2012-12-24 20.49.01this sentence, “What if marriage is not to make you happy, but to make you holy?” I closed the book and put it on the shelf. It’s the best book I never read.

That sentence in many ways has totally changed my thoughts on marriage. What if God intended marriage to make us holy? What better way to live a life of “iron sharpens iron” than within the marriage relationship?

Maybe we come into marriage with the wrong expectations? We enter marriage thinking it is to make us happy, whole or so that we are loved. But what if it is more about learning to know God and to make us holy. It’s just a thought.

I pray that we still have many more years ahead of us. I love this man, I love being married to him for better and for worse, in sickness and in health and for poor or rich. I pray we have more years to love and to grow.

But, He does not Deserve My Respect!

I think showing respect to our husband is an area that is hard to live out because so much of the culture around us tells us that we should only show respect if it’s deserved. Watch TV for five minutes and you will see husbands treated like they are stupid buffoons. They are portrayed as weak, spineless, and lack any kind of authority. It saddens me, and it has set an example for women to disrespect their husbands.

As I have taught the importance of respecting your husband, the comment I hear most often is, “What if He doesn’t deserve my respect?” My answer is always the same. I take them to 1 Peter 3:1 and 2 which says “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husband so that even if any of them are disobedience to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”

ID-100156152_thumb.jpgI remember reading this verse several years ago and for the first time really seeing the phrase “In the same way”. I had to ask myself “IN WHAT WAY?”

In what way was I to be respectful to my husband?

In order to understand the answer to that question I had to go back to Chapter 2. We are to show honor  to all people, love the brotherhood, fear God and honor the king. (v17)

We are to be respectful to those over us regardless of their attitude toward us. Verse 18 says to be respectful to those who are unreasonable, not just to those we are good and gentle.

Wow, that’s a hard one! I mean it’s easy to show respect if someone is deserving but to show respect if they are undeserving! Why would God ask us to do that?

Verse 19 tells us why. “For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.”

So if I understand that correctly I find favor in the eyes of God when I do what is right regardless of how the other person might treat me. Whoa! Wait a minute! That’s just going to far! I mean the world tells me I have a “right” to be pursue happiness. I have a “right” to live in comfort. I don’t have to suffer under harsh treatment from anyone. So why would God tell me to do something that is just too difficult?

Why? Because as Christ followers we have been called to suffer as Christ suffered. Jesus left us an example to follow. He suffered unjustly when He was ridiculed, reviled, and put to death for our sins. And in the midst of it all He uttered no threats, He kept silent.

I remember asking the question as I read, how can I keep silent through suffering? How can I be chaste and respectful in the midst of suffering at the hands of others? 1 Peter gives us the answer in the last part of verse 23, I am to keep entrusting myself to Him who judges righteously.

So how can I possibly show respect “in the same way” to my husband even if he doesn’t deserve my respect? I am to follow the example that Christ set. I am to live a life of obedience to God and entrust my life to Him. I am to allow God to work in the life of my husband without me trying to be his holy spirit.

Ladies I know this can be a hard one. I learned early in our marriage that my role is not to try and “convict” my husband of anything. I don’t always know what is right, even on those times I am convinced I am! I am called to be obedient to Christ. To live a life of respect to all those God has placed in my life. I can do this because I follow the example of Christ.

In light of what I’ve shared I would like to ask all of us to reflection on a few questions…

Is it ever okay to be disrespectful toward our husbands?

It is ever okay to get caught up in “husband bashing”?

Do I find myself talking negatively about my husband in front of others or my children?

Do my words lift him up or tear him down?

What about my attitude when speaking with him? Does my voice tones also show respect?

Prayer: Father we come to you today and confess that there are times we may have been disrespectful toward our husbands in word and by our actions. Forgive us and help us to show them the proper respect whether or not we think they deserve it. Help us to be obedient in this area out of our desire to please You and do what is right according to Your word. Amen

Photo courtesy by David Castillo Dominici, at freedigitalphotos.com

Being a Godly Wife

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord ;seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:2-3

Through the last 29+ years of marriage I’ve participated in many Bible studies about being  a godly wife or having a godly marriage. I’ve also read many, many books on those same topics. Why? Because I was seeking for truth about “how to” be the best wife I could be.

godly wifeThrough the years I gleaned a lot of truth, but at times it was also very frustrating. There were books and studies that seemed to me to be a long, undo-able list of things I should do or how I should behave. I would often become overwhelmed and frustrated. Then came the lies. The lies that said, “you’ll never get it”, “just face it, your not going to be a godly wife like so and so.”  “After all there is just no way I will ever be the Proverbs Woman,” I often thought to myself.

What was a woman to do? What steps could I take to be a godly wife and have a godly marriage? Was there a formula I could follow? Maybe a book on “the 7 steps to a godly marriage” ?

At times, early in my marriage I would just sit and cry out to God in frustration. Where were the older women who could show me? Why couldn’t anyone see that I had NO CLUE what I was doing?!

God heard the frustration in my heart’s cry. Over time He answered. His answer was not what I expected, but it brought such freedom!

God set me free from trying to become the “perfect” wife and have the “perfect” marriage. Freedom came when I realized that I only need to follow Christ.

What my husband really needed is a wife who followed hard after God.

In order to be a godly wife, or even a godly mother I “only” needed to take care of my relationship with God. I needed to be the woman that God created me to be. A woman who hungers and thirst after God. A woman who obeys her God. A woman who knows that God must be her very first priority.

I needed to be in God’s word, studying, mediating, praying so that God could create in me a changed heart. He alone can change my wrong attitudes toward life and those in it. He alone can create in me a true obedience to His will for my life.

Through the years I’ve realized that it is not about me BECOMING a godly wife but it’s about me seeking the ONE who can create in me the desire to be a godly daughter of the King.

I’ve learned that to be a good wife and have a good marriage that I must be passionately pursuing Jesus and my relationship with Him. It is in the word of God and studying it for myself that I learn to be the woman God desires me to be.

You see what I have learned is that I can have any number of lists on how to be a good wife but I will never measure up to the list. I will never measure up to the expectations of others or myself. They only place I will find joy, and acceptance is in my relationship with Christ. He is more than enough.

Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, And I shall observe it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law And keep it with all my heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies…Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, Andrevive me in Your ways. Establish Your word to Your servant, As that which produces reverence for You…Behold, I long for Your precepts;Revive me through Your righteousness. (Psalms 119:33-40)

Photo courtesy of um_skyman at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

You Are Not Alone

Each path in motherhood life has it’s ups and downs. We journey through mountains, over deserts, along the ocean and through open fields. We journey through the darkest nights, rain storms, sunshine, fog, and seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.

Regardless of where we find ourselves in the journey we are often unsure of the next step. We have not come this way before. Each road is new, it’s different, and does not always look just like the path others have walked. Sometimes we feel so alone. Its seems no one else is with us on the path. We have lost sight of those who are ahead or those who are walking behind. And we wonder, “does anyone understand?”

A young bride is fearful and unsure how to be a good wife. She looks around and so many seem to have it together. The marriages of her friends seems…dare she think it? “Perfect?” Yet she feels hers is falling apart. She feels afraid and alone.

A young mom hasn’t been able to leave her home for weeks. She doesn’t understand how all her friends are able to attend Bible Studies, get together for lunch and stay sane. She is overwhelmed with motherhood. She feels as if she is walking this journey alone.

A mother of a prodigal is desperate for understanding, but she feels as if she is being judged. She spends her day crying and praying. Her heart is breaking. Does anyone see?

A mother says goodbye to her last child and wonders, “what now?” As she looks around it seems that others along this path know where they are going. They are pursuing careers, going back to school for degrees, they are DOING something. She wonders to herself how did they know what to do? She feels alone.

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All of us have found, or will find, ourselves in one of the above scenarios. Some may find that they are in more than one. I have walked them all. I have found that each path there has been one constant, regardless of how we feel we are never alone. Our God walks with us through each stage. With each step we take He is preparing us for the next pathway of our journey.

We must remember that it may LOOK or FEEL like we are alone but others are with us. There are other women on the same path. We only need to look, speak out and be willing to be transparent. Be willing to share your story, as you do you will find other women who have felt the same. They have walked a similar path.

To often the enemy preys on our mind during these times of aloneness and whispers lies. He convinces us that no one would understand, and that other’s lives are perfect. He tells us we  are alone in our struggle. He wants to keep us alone and silent.

But we must speak out. We must speak truth. Once we begin sharing our struggles along the journey we WILL find that other’s are struggling too. We WILL find that we are not alone, other women are just like us.

So dear one, where ever you find yourself today I pray that you know you do not have to walk alone. I would love to hear your story. I pray you will allow me to walk with you.