the respect dare – and a lack of respect

Picking up Christmas wrapping on my hands and knees, marveling at the lack of effort from anyone else in my family, I seethed with anger and resentment.  Masters degree, fabulous part-time career (that could have been full time if I had wanted it) three great kids, house in the suburbs,  and I felt like all my husband thought I was good for was being his personal maid.  Tears silently dripped down my cheeks as I moved from chore to chore, sleep deprived with a 3 month old baby, worn out from breast-feeding issues involving severe pain, overwhelmed with laundry, meals, holiday preparations and exhaustion from raising a kindergardener and preschooler while Jim was traveling for work. 

“Are you crying?” my husband asked me.  I simply stared at him.  I couldn’t speak because I knew there would be nothing edifying or encouraging that would come out of my mouth.  “What’s wrong?” he prodded. 

As recently as a year prior, I would have launched into a tirade about all that needed to be done and how no one was helping me do it.

This time, however, God had been dragging me, kicking and screaming, through a study on Biblical submission.  I didn’t have a clue how to express my feelings without being angry.  But I did know enough to keep my mouth shut.  And that’s what I said.  “I can’t say anything nice right now, so I’m not saying anything.” 

I didn’t speak to Jim for an entire week.

When I did, all I said was, “I need your help getting the house ready for Adam’s birthday party this weekend.  It’s a mess from the holidays and I would like to take a nap while the baby’s asleep for the next few days.  Will you help me?”  “Sure, can you give me a list of what you want done?” came the reply.  I wrote down a list of things, went upstairs and went to bed.  When I came down, it was all done.

My first thought was, “I’m an idiot. I’ve been expecting him to read my mind or just see what needs to be done.”  My second thought was, “He’s a good-natured and good-willed guy.  If I am specific and just ask, he will help me.” 

The problem with this culture is that we are bombarded with messages that communicate all sorts of wrong things about men.  And women.  And the way we are supposed to interact.  If we will but choose to love God with all our heart, mind and soul, we will desire to be pleasing to Him by obeying His Word.  Ephesians 5:31-33 gives us volumes of applicable marital advice and instruction about growing our faith.  This thing called “marriage” is not about our happiness.  It’s about Christ and the church.  Husbands are to love their wives, laying down their lives for them, just like Christ did for the church.  Wives are to respect and submit to their husband’s authority, just like the church should do for Christ.  Never are we more like Jesus than when we are loving and respecting those who don’t deserve it. 

None of us – not one – deserve what Christ did for us.  But because of His sacrifice, if we truly love God, we can learn to be like Jesus by loving or respecting our spouse.  Even when they don’t deserve it.

My marriage is amazing now.  Not because my husband has changed all that much (although he is working on communicating love to me in a way I can hear it more easily), but because we both understand what God’s intentions are for marriage and we both love Him more than we love each other, so we’re more able to extend grace to each other, especially when we don’t deserve it.  Learning how to communicate more effectively with my husband and understand him better has made all the difference in the world.  

We both have God’s peace and joy in our marriage – which outranks the world’s “happiness” any day!

Just so you know, one of my purposes on the planet, the work I do for God, is all about helping others in what they are called to do.  It’s why I wrote the book and why we created Daughters of Sarah.  If you want help on your journey of becoming like Jesus within the context of your marriage, I pray you’ll join us in the online e-course for The Respect Dare or Daughters at Hope Church in Mason, Ohio, this fall.  With all the influences in our culture, we want to help wives who love God grow in their walk such that they truly and deeply experience the peace and joy God intends for us who love Him. 

Bottom Line:  To get intimacy with our husbands, we need intimacy with God.  And marriage dramatically matters to Him, to us, and to our kids. 

Dare you to pick holiness over happiness today!  The long-term end result is peace and joy.

Nina

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