If your marriage is difficult, understand that the enemy wants you to believe you have just TWO CHOICES:
1) Stay and be miserable…
He’s pretty good at what he does. He’ll tell you things like, “Your kids are better off without all the fighting,” which simply is not true (check The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce for the landmark 25 year research – bottom line, neglect and abuse damages kids, not divorce).
What if there was another choice? What if your husband (or wife) was the sandpaper God wanted to use to smooth out your rough edges (and vice-versa)?
What if your relationship with Jesus results in you being a woman of strength and dignity, filled with joy, even when married to a critical and negative man?
Do you know your responses to your circumstances witness volumes to those around you?
Do you know Him that well yet? Or are you still focused on your own selfishness?
KNOW that there are OTHER CHOICES that God has within the context of marriage to help you:
- mature in your faith
- learn to speak the truth in love
- overcome evil
- do conflict well
- wrap your identity up in ONLY God’s opinion of you
- become like Christ
- do hard things without fear
- find life abundant
- reflect Him to others
The list goes on and on…
Understand that “being a doormat” is not on the list. Neither is “live in fear.” Sometimes “love” does super hard things – harder than avoiding conflict, like learning to engage in disagreements in a healthy, loving way, respecting your husband, yourself and your God.
Sometimes love must be strong enough to put an end to your husband’s abusive behavior. And love is never abusive or neglectful itself.
Is it good for your husband to get away with hitting you or shoving you? Is it good for you to ignore his behavior? Sorry, no it is not. The abuse will likely escalate. If you have children, your acceptance of teaches them – either as abusers or as victims. In the Bible, Paul’s friends broke him out of prison. He left. Yes, get your own act together, yes, be respectful in your behavior, but God doesn’t even want to hear your husband’s prayers if he treats you harshly (1 Peter3:7), so help him respect you and bring him good.
Like a painful but helpful medical procedure, “good” can sometimes be painful.
There is a difference between “good” and “nice.” But there’s freedom there.
Proverbs 31:12 says, “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”
Sometimes “good,” means “the not easy thing,” like confronting your husband’s sinful behaviors. Maybe even with others, Matthew 18-style.
Sometimes “good,” means “the really hard things,” like putting an end to avoiding conflict and truly helping your husband by ceasing to enable him.
Sometimes “good,” means doing something unselfish, even when it might cost you.
I admit I have taken a while to become more firm in my position on this. I am really sorry for that and I hope you can forgive me for being slow to learn and come to a conclusion.
Unfortunately, like too many others, I received teaching for years that left me with the impression that women are “unsubmissive” if they do not tolerate abuse. I had trouble reconciling what the Word told me, how the apostles were martyred, and what I’ve been taught over the years. Like many of you, I received teaching that we ALL may be martyred for our faith, and I’ve dialogued with women who felt called by God to be martyred in their own homes, living with abusive husbands. Please know I do not challenge what they feel led by God to be doing, and I know God has used their situations for His glory. But I also believe that they are not the majority. And when I look at the Word and the world today, it is the teachers of many and those of great numerical influence that historically were/are martyred. Know this happens today – check out Voice of the Martyrs for more information – it will give perspective, and I find their stories personally inspiring.
Dare you to check this post – especially the comments – for resources that will help you if you are living in an abusive relationship. If your children are part of this environment, you have a responsibility to take action to protect them.
Dare you also to find a couple of elderly Christian women who were married for over 30 years and start learning from them. You will find that many of these ladies, like Abigail Adams, were women who had strong relationships with their husbands. Dare you to strive to figure these things out so you can BECOME one of these Titus 2 women for others and for His glory.
Double dog dare you to ask God to help you figure out how to respect yourself, your husband, and your God, regardless of what your circumstances are. Don’t buy the lie, “respect should be earned or deserved,” and understand this – NONE of us, (myself included) “deserve” anything but the fires of hell itself. We are all sinners, but because of Christ, we can have the riches of heaven if we accept Him, follow Him, and make Him Lord of our lives (Romans 10:9). Understand that The Respect Dare is a small slice of marriage – it is simply a book with ideas of what respect might look like. It lightly addresses spiritual issues while growing our relationship with God – and I don’t believe I wrote it, but rather that He did through me. I’m working on a book now that deals with more of the elements in marriage, specifically addressing communication and conflict. Prayers are appreciated.
SO glad you are on the journey with me! I wish I knew all there was to know, but this life is a never-ending journey to righteousness as God refines all of us.
Love to you,
What about you? What struck you today? What do you think?