First of all, I fully understand your situation. You’ve applied respect for a while, maybe even a couple of years and “nothing has changed.” To encourage you this morning, I will share what we’ve seen in the hundreds of marriages from the wives who have taken Daughters of Sarah® or done The Respect Dare. Bear in mind this process can take months or years, even decades, depending on how much a wife is willing to trust God and submit to His authority, and obey His Word.
I will tell you that God did not allow me to start ministry and did not use me to impact others until I got the submission and respect piece right.
What if God’s plan for one of your children was to minister to drug addicts in prison, and to do that through a living testimony of having overcome these issues himself? Would you accept and embrace this? I know even as I pose this question to you, that there is probably few mothers, myself included, that would enthusiastically enjoy watching my son “create his testimony” as while he did that, it meant a life of drugs and crime…
But, Christ’s ministry was to have a wonderful teaching and healing ministry and then have nails hammered through His hands, and die on a cross as a sacrifice for a sinning world.
And you and I put him there.
What if one element of your ministry is to endure the shortcomings of fellow journey takers on a daily basis? What if one of these journey takers is your husband and through relationship with you, you are to model Christ’s lack of condemnation while he figures out his own walk with God? Just like Adam in the garden, he even blames – but one day, he won’t, as he grows in the Lord, the Lord’s strength and character will appear in him, just like it has in you and others of His followers.
In the meantime, God has learning for us, as well – we cannot control our husband’s walk, but we need to not judge him, either. I judged my husband, too, but what God showed me was that I was sinning and not loving while doing that.
We also learn perseverance, which is what mature faith is made of. What if God wanted you to learn perseverance?
I think He wants us all to learn this. DEEPLY.
Few things like marriage provide a context through which we can learn at this level.
Did I do things I didn’t want to do out of respect? Yes. Did they really matter? Not in the long run.
Did it cause me to die to my pride? Yes. And it is still ongoing, unfortunately. As my 16 year old son likes to say, “Know the hypocrites – they are us.”
You are on the right track. Beg God to reveal Himself to you. Right now, the enemy may be influencing you if he has stymied your growth – and he’s slowing your husband down, as a result of interference from you, too. He has his own journey, at God’s and his pace, not yours. Ask God to help you love him as a brother on the journey, and be his friend while he travels.
Women tell us over and over again that they go through several stages in “getting to the other side” and I’ve found this to be true in my own situation. To the best of my ability this morning, I’ll write these stages out, in the way we see them appear. I might be missing a few things, but here goes! The stages go something like this:
- Discouragement, desperation to try anything to make things change in her marriage
- Quiet – a cessation of communication which does two things:
- Creates silences so our husband can hear more from God and less from us (thereby causing the experience of a kind of “relief” of sorts, but not as secularly defined)
- Creates opportunities within us for God to reveal to us the hideous nature of our hearts, as we are typically starting from a place where we are prideful in thinking we do not “sin as much as our husbands” – we do, even though they may not be “as big of sins” in a culturally defined way, but they are still sins, and still would separate us from God, without relationship with Christ
- Quiet with tongue biting and focus on being “agreeable” and “respectful” with continued cessation of communication which teaches us how much we really do need to control what we say, and begins the process of “controlling our tongues” and eliminating criticism and judgment (judgment is a sin), developing more respectful and mature communication behaviors
- Edifying communication – where we begin to say words that encourage those around us, even when dealing with problems, mistakes, or concerns
- Observations of blessings – where we begin to SEE our husbands and those around us the way that God does, precious in His sight, travelers on the same journey
- Expectation crash – where we realize two things, often spaced far apart:
- That our husbands haven’t grown as much as WE would have liked them to
- That we’ve been “doing all these things in an effort to change our husbands” and not to obey God (the “wrong motives” talked about in James)
- Anger at God – where we complain that “we’ve been doing all these things” and the marriage has stayed the same, or our husband’s haven’t changed (sometimes we start lapsing back into old communication patterns at this point)
- Awareness of our sinful attitudes about our marriage in light of what Christ did for us, and how that ties into obedience to Him in our marriage, and coming to wrap our identity up in what God thinks of us, as opposed to people – secularly called, “self esteem” but really is a secure sense of identity in Christ that changes everything – our worth is no longer determined by what others think
- Repentance (confession of sin with a contrite heart and changed behavior) of our attitudes and judgment toward our husband
- Acceptance of forgiveness from God for our sins
- Deeper recognition of the preciousness of our husband and ourselves to God
- Cycle back through steps 2-5, sometimes 6, depending on the depth of experience of 8 and 9
- Recognition that our husband is just a brother on the same journey, which facilitates our ability to be a better friend to him
- Depending on satan’s attacks and our own sin nature and selfishness, reoccurrence of the above, but deeper relationship with God if we are still pursuing Him, which results in shorter and shorter cycles such that we are able to “journey with our friend” and enjoy our marriage, have it be a “safe place to fall” for both of us
- Arrival at “the other side” where we can SEE ourselves in any of the above, and lean on God to get out of the wrong places, and rest in the right more quickly, based on our deep relationship with Him
- Communication with husband that is more of a partnership, rather than a place where needs are constantly focused upon, and a majority of the communication is edifying – this area constantly needs to keep growing, and a lack of effort here will cause an attitude of discouragement
Hope this helps!! We’ve seen this over and over again, and if we’ll just persevere, there’s blessings on the other side! Unfortunately, many women give up way too early. I did the above for about 10 years, and find myself going now through 13-16, but am thankful and hopeful at what God is doing.
Thanks for the opportunity to write it all out. Please feel free to comment if I’ve missed anything, or if you have something to add. Dare you to share and be an encouragement for others today!
Glad you are on the journey with us.
Love to you,