So back in October? Maybe? I confessed to God that I didn’t know how to love Him well. Yes, I had relationship with Him. Yes, I read the Bible daily. Yes, I prayed, AND listened. But still, I wanted more…I wanted the deep, intimate, wonder, awe, friend, father, and romance relationship with Him as a result of coming to know Him more. Yes, our relationship had grown over the years, but I ached for MORE. I knew people with it… I longed for it with Him.
I confessed to Him that I also don’t know how to love my husband or others well.
I’m really too selfish.
Aren’t we all?
And as you read this, you’ll see how this relationship with God, specifically through Jesus Christ, impacts our ability to respect our husband.
One day in the middle of my sleep-deprived-holiday-heart-surgery-recovery-period stupor commonly known to the rest of the world as “the holiday season,” I was scrubbing a pot in my kitchen. And fussing at Him about it all. My devotional time and scriptures could have had multiple meanings. I didn’t know if I was to quit ministry or work harder. I didn’t remember why I did it in the first place. I forgot the reasons I breathed. One of my sons had gotten engaged and left home for college and was gone maybe forever during this time. I didn’t even have time to process that – and I wanted to, so desperately, but there were doctors appointments and medicines that had to be done right, and packages to order, boxes to wrap, food to make…
It seemed like everyone needed something from me and I couldn’t give it all well. I wanted sleep more than I wanted food or drink, or air. So I fussed at God, all the while scrubbing my pot…
It went something like this, “Why is this so hard? Why am I doubting my calling? Why can’t I get a straight answer and a confirmation like all the other times before? I’ve been in Your Word and on my face before You for longer and more than ever… and I still don’t know what I’m doing or why I’m doing it. I still feel inept and like I’ve failed. I know in my head I’m precious to You, but I no longer feel that way… What is it that I don’t know that I don’t know? Am I blind to my sin? What haven’t I confessed?? How is it all my trusted advisers are giving me different advice?”
Finally I got an answer because I asked the right question.
In my heart He answered, “It’s not their journey. It’s yours. You will know.”
So I chewed on THAT for a while.
You know how a woman’s mind works, rabbit trails and all, and so the thoughts of how none of this was a waste for my team and friends who were lovingly, patiently pursuing me while I avoided it all and them filled my head… I remembered that God is good, all the time – and He means ALL things work together for good for those who Love Him and are called according to His purpose… As I was meandering through all the conflicting things I’ve been told and felt over those last five weeks, I heard Him again.
“Didn’t you ask Me to teach you how to love?”
How could I not remember that?
How could I not remember that.
We grow when the muscle is nearly exhausted and broken down, and we learn the thing we’re supposed to in the middle of times when we need the knowledge/skill/ability/hope/faith the most.
My husband and I of course had engaged in conflict that morning. NOW, in light of THIS Word from Him, I start wondering, “What would love look like? How can I respond in love in this Now to this man who confuses and confounds me? I know he has good motives with me.”
So I’m still washing this pot (I’m slow and it was really dirty) and I realize that I can keep going through this again and again, or I can choose Now to do something different, to not waste the opportunity.
So I asked myself and Him, “When worn, as I was then, what do I often do?” The answer came easily: I get scared, feel threatened, feel ignorant, feel exposed, and feel worthless, a hundred other wrong things… which often results in shut-down style behavior that reflects all of those things. I kept thinking about Jesus telling Peter to “feed my sheep.” I believe the Spirit prompted me with a question: “What would a godly woman of strength and dignity do here? How would she respond?”
And then I realized that THIS was submission. To God and to my husband. It was also LOVE.
A woman of strength and dignity responds to her circumstances with gentleness and self-control, regardless of who she’s dealing with or how she’s being treated. She smiles at the days to come because she knows who she is and Whose she is.
So then I said (all this is taking place in my head, mind you, so the enemy didn’t have access to it at all), “Okay, Lord. This sounds all fine and dandy and convicting. Stellar-style. But I don’t know it’s all from You. I’m sorry to need confirmation, but I do. I need Your Word to confirm all of these things. So can I have a Scripture that does that? Then I’ll know.”
So I’d already done all my devotions and Scriptures for the day. But I thought about my Bible app on my phone that I sometimes use. It has a daily Scripture thing. So I felt led to see what it had to say for today.
There was a verse from Luke 6 that fit with this Now. So I went to Luke 6. Read the whole chapter. If you do that, you’ll get this on a deeper level.
The last verses about the foundation of rock and sand – they are my husband’s life verses. They were also spoken in our wedding vows. I confess I have never paid attention to the reference, but there they were…
The rest of the verses were about how I am to behave in the Now I’m in today – and every other day, regardless of who I’m dealing with or how I’m treated. And the Truth is, I didn’t fail. I didn’t need to quit. I could even maybe remember a little bit of why He had me start all this… and the girl I knew, I found her again inside of me…she was a little lost, but was starting to find her way again. Then I realized I needed to move into the Now I’m in.
And I realized something else: I didn’t know how.
So then, I tell God, “I don’t know how to do that.”
Shortly after that, Jim walks up to me, smiling, as if we didn’t have the conflict an hour before, and says, “Do you want to take a class on essential oils? I know you’re getting into them.” … then, “Do you want to do this ballroom dancing class together?”
And he smiles.
The old me was tempted and tried to stay sad and dwell in the remnants of the earlier conflict with him. Seriously. WOW. Hate to admit that. But I could see it as it happened.
Have you ever done that? UGH.
BUT: God reminded me that part of love is giving, but the other part of love is RECEIVING.
The New me (oh, how many verses have I had about dying to self and being born again, having New Life have I seen in the week before this…!) listened to the prompting of the Spirit, who simply said, “Smile. Engage.”
Because there are essentially three reasons why we stink at loving God and others.
And so I did what the Spirit suggested. I smiled. I engaged. I obeyed in a “small thing.”
Fear, defeat, discouragement, worthlessness, stupidity and pride left and were replaced with hope, humility, obedience, and strength. Not saying they’re all completely gone. Pretty sure they might return (does pride EVER go away?? UGH).
But for the first time in weeks, I was somewhat confident in something He’s said. I was sure it’s Him. Confusion left. It couldn’t be the enemy, because he can’t read my mind. And God never contradicts His Word.
All of this has purpose. One of those purposes is to teach me how to love Him and love my husband (and others) better.
We both have room to grow.
And God is teaching us both to love.
I said “Yes!” to the dance class. I’m terrible at it. I don’t care and neither does my husband. 🙂
What about you? When’s the last time you’ve been in the battle, and God’s pulled you out? When is the last time you decided to dance? 🙂
Love to you,