Her heart desires to be respectful, whether he deserves it or not… because she knows God at least enough by now to know this is a matter of obedience for her…but he’s a scary man.
Prone to anger.
Prone to harsh words, threatening stances, and bruises for her and the children.
And she asks, “Is it disrespectful to confront him before he hurts the children?”
And I tell her, “To speak for those who cannot speak for themselves is not disrespect – how you go about it, however, is a different story. As a mother, you are responsible for the safety of those in your care. Neglect or condoning abuse is also abuse.”
And my heart remembers the too many women whose hearts were broken by one of their parents doing nothing while the other hurt them either with words, or worse… As adults, they are still feeling abandoned and unsafe.
I let her know that she, like some women, might feel called to leave. I may have shared 1 Corinthians 7:11 with her, where she’s not supposed to leave, but if she does, it is for the purpose of reconciliation, so God is already aware that He might ask some of His wives to leave.
I remind her she is not responsible for his sinful behavior.
And she reveals a depth of faith I have seen in but a few women. She says, “I am here to change me… to grow closer to God… Because I really do believe He told me about a year ago to be obedient to Him in respecting my husband regardless of how he treats me. I do love my husband for who he is… God has given me eyes to see and love him the same way that I believe He loves him. I know God is bigger than the hurts that have been committed against me, I trust that He is bigger than any damage may be caused to my children, and I know – for a FACT – that He is bigger than whatever is in my husband…”
And I know I am treading on sacred ground.
Ephesians 5:33 “and the wife must respect her husband.”
Ephesians 5:22,24 “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord…Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
Those are hard verses, particularly when combined with the even harder truth of the walk of faith found in 1 Peter 2 – that we will endure much suffering for the cause of Christ.
And so I share with her some of the things we’ve learned over the years. And she lets me know the next day what happened, and I stand in awe of the strength and dignity with which she communicates.
With words, she not only avoided being perceived as a threat, but she also raised the standard for her husband, and called him to a higher ground. Her words were few. They were encouraging, and factual. Her tone and her demeanor also portrayed the deep compassion of Christ. This is an example of what wise women can do, when they are completely plugged into God, listening to His direction for every word…
And this is what happened:
Her husband came into the house from work and immediately said to their son in a harsh tone, “Did you go shovel the manure yet?!” The eight year old got upset and ended up outside crying. I went out and handled the situation with him. I let him this is not punishment, it’s just a chore of his. I reminded him we need to be cheerful in what we do. And that he needs to be respectful and have a good attitude. Then I went back inside. I said, “I know that you love him. When you come through the door and ask him immediately about shoveling manure, you’re not conveying your love.” We were actually able to have a conversation and when our son came back in, he called the boy over to him. I quietly said, “Please talk with love, patience, and kindness.” They had a decent conversation and even ended the evening going on a walk, just the two of them. My husband said that when they came back our son smiled, hugged him, and said, “I wish we could do this more often, Dad!”
This is with an abusive man. Many are dealing with men who are simply angry.
Know that these men feel alone, often helpless to communicate in a way that connects them to others. This anger that we see is a secondary emotion, frequently rooted in deep pain.
I remember the wife whose husband yelled at their four year old daughter about something trivial and made her cry. She said to him, “I know you want to have an amazing relationship with your daughter. She is sobbing right now because you have terrified her. Please go help her understand that you love her and you are sorry for scaring her.”
And I remember the woman whose husband raised his hand to strike her and she left the room, locking herself in their bedroom for a time. When she came out, she knelt by his feet as he sat in a chair in their family room, took one of his hands in hers and said, “I love these hands. I love the callouses they bear from working so hard for us. And I never want to be afraid of these hands again. I want to stay here with you and know that the children and I are always safe, and that these hands bring us protection and safety.”
I don’t pretend for a moment to know what God is telling you about your situation. But I do know from the lives of the many women we have the privilege to encounter, that if you pursue relationship with God by reading His Word and obeying it, you will begin to hear His voice.
He’s always speaking.
The question really is, “Are we listening?”
And when we are, we can respond to life’s circumstances with strength and dignity and without the sin of judgment, smiling at the days to come, even in the midst of difficulty. And like Sarah, we will be her daughters if we do not give in to fear.
Know that if you are dealing with anger, you can still have a respectful response – one that respects your husband, your God, and yourself as the temple of the Holy Spirit. Know also that if your words are dripping with judgment, criticism, and condemnation, or if you are lacking in the compassion of Christ when dealing with those who hurt you, your relationship with God has some serious room for growth to eradicate pride before strength and dignity become rooted in your character.
So glad you are on the journey with us! This RESPECT Dare business is challenging, isn’t it? Have hope – as you grow closer to God, it gets easier. We see this over and over again from the women who “do the book.”
Love to you,
So what about you? Do you have a strength and dignity story to share? Have you been able to walk through a difficult time in gentleness and love? Dare you to share it here and elsewhere – be a Titus 2 woman of encouragement today!