So what exactly are we doing here? You are in on the ground level of something NEW that He is building and not only are you learning and participating, but helping to shape and influence something that will transform countless lives and marriages, starting with yours!
The Strength & Dignity eCourse is a deeply personal journey through the rugged terrain of marriage that builds a woman’s:
- relationship with God,
- godly trust, esteem, & belief in herself
- skills & abilities to handle her relationships
What one Strength & Dignity Journey Taker says via comment on “Why he disrespects you” post:
My husband used to yell at me, my kids used to yell at me…everybody yelled at me and treated me like their slave, and I foolishly did nothing! Thank God that now He is showing me a new way – with the help of your S&D course! I had already been trying to respect myself more when I stumbled upon your course, but it is really helping me grow in leaps and bounds! ~ Jeanne, class member
And here’s a beautiful testimony of what one of our class members said after sticking with it for a few months:
I have been searching for years for the material you have here, the way God is leading us through you. And honestly it’s an incredible relief. The work is hard. It’s a faith journey. But this is the true gospel here. I’m falling more in love with Jesus.
And I’m letting Him love me. This course is reaching the deep places of my heart.
I have a history of sexual abuse. As much as I believe in Jesus there has been a wall even between Him and me for years. I had a moment in prayer the other day where I was in a bed chamber of a beautiful old castle. I opened up an intricately carved wooden wardrobe. Inside was the most beautiful white dress with gold and green designs along the sleeves and down the front. In an instant it was on me. Jesus stood behind me and put His hands on my shoulders. In a soft whisper He said “I will never defile you.” I bawled like a baby. And was able to share some deep seated fears with a very trusted friend. I am believing for the restoration of my marriage but I’m finding more than anything I’m discovering a much deeper relationship with Jesus and daily my shift seems to slowly turn to “how can I serve Jesus/my husband so he can have this healing too?” and that’s not religious phony talk. Only He could change my heart away from self. Only He could make dying to self, loving in the face of such hurt and disregard, such a noble joy filled calling. ~ Nicole, class member
For some of us, we’re not sure how to follow God’s Biblical plan for marriage and respect and submit to our husbands without being doormats and opening ourselves up to being controlled or even abused.
The words, “respect,” and “submit” can cause us to recoil or even want to bolt.
It’s okay. We hear you. We’re with you, and we understand. But please, stick with me for a moment.
You may have done The Respect Dare and unlike the many men whose wives “do the dares” – your husband didn’t respond. OR he did, by taking you for granted instead of responding with greater love.
Or maybe you are afraid to learn about respect and submission because you are concerned your already controlling or verbally aggressive or unloving husband will respond by taking advantage of you or his verbal dismissals, discounting, and disrespect of you and/or your kids will get worse.
Maybe you think those verses don’t apply to you…maybe you think you need to build up your own self-esteem before you try them, but you’ve felt so discouraged for so long that you don’t know what to do.
We can help.
We have been at this since 2005. We have studied the research and seen the outcomes.
We have found a way to help you not only save your marriage if it is possible to do so, but regardless of what happens, help you develop the skills, esteem, and relationship with God to be confident in His plan for you AND be seen as a person of worth by yourself and others around you.
And it’s all Biblical.
Yes, it does include respect and submission.
You may worry, “What will my friends think? What will my mother say?”
The truth is, if the words ‘respect’ and ‘submission’ scare you, even anger you, you’re in the right place. We want to help you understand them in a new way that takes your fear, which is never from the Lord, and replaces it with quiet confidence in HIM.
What we’re suggesting is not like any of the options you have available to you now. We combined these:
- A unique and proven discipleship method that leaves over 95% of our class members with a deeper connection with God
- Biblical truth to build your relationship with yourself & others in a way that gives you a gentle, but strong & dignified (not prideful) sense of who you are
- Proven tools of interaction with yourself and others that create mutual respect and the potential for great love & joy
And you’ll get to understand how to act as a woman of strength and dignity when interacting with a man who won’t change and is consistently difficult to deal with.
The smallest thing you’ll get out of this class is greater respect for yourself and others and from yourself and others. If we charged to participate, we’d offer a 100% “satisfaction guarantee” – that’s how confident I am in what we do. For the record, it’s not us, it’s Him.
You might be worried you could be in an abusive marriage and confused about how to handle it. We know God hates divorce but we also know that He calls us to live a life worthy of the Gospel. Maybe our husbands can treat us in a way that feels harsh and unloving, undignified. Maybe we respond in kind, convinced that this is the way we must stand our ground as women.
Maybe we see men as enemies of women in general and we feel obligated to fight a war against men on behalf of all women everywhere now and in the future.
The messages of the culture, psychology and even the church are swirling in our heads, filling us with confusion and ultimately fear, shame and despair. We have no idea what to do.
Our prayer is that God would still the chaos and His voice would be the loudest as He leads you through this process of learning how to respect yourself and your husband in a new way. We will learn specific tools to handle emotions, stress and conflict and implement boundaries in our marriages to keep them holy.
Just FYI, here’s a few things you need to know before we begin:
- I’m assuming you aren’t being battered. If you are being hit, pushed, held against your will, or if he is doing this to your children, please contact your local domestic violence folks. Those things go far beyond the scope of this course.
- I don’t know if you have kids, but verbal aggression in your home communicates to your kids that one person matters and the other (or others) don’t. These marriages are not about “one-ness” and they don’t bring glory to God or the church. A man who is harsh with his wife is not “living in an understanding way” nor is he treating her as an “equal heir” (1 Peter 3:7) nor is he loving her as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). When we respond in kind, we are dishonoring God as well.
- While what many Christian authors have written for Christian women dealing with verbal aggression is true, I’ve talked with a number of the authors of these materials and their success rate of turning a marriage around is less than 2%. So without being respectful, kind, gentle, AND speaking the truth in love, and addressing his sin against you Matthew 18 – style, you may end up out of the hell you are living in, but your marriage is unlikely to be saved.
- Lastly, your self-esteem may be so tanked that you doubt yourself. So that needs to be improved – that’s where we start.
Those are some of the things we’ll address.
So, how do you get started?
First, keep reading this so you know what you’re getting into. Then sign up HERE.
You should get an email back asking you to confirm your enrollment.
If you don’t, please contact us right away.
Then, you will begin to get emails with assignments and encouragement! You’ll get something every few days initially, then on Monday mornings.
We recommend you purchase an inexpensive notebook or binder to stay organized. Someday we hope to have a journal for this class.
If you have not done The Respect Dare book, now is also a good time to get that as we’ll be walking through the dares with everyone on my blog, and the content is part of the Strength & Dignity class.
This is an eCourse, done at your own pace and in your own time, although the class pieces show up in your email on a schedule, you do them at your own pace.
Here’s what the course contains:
- A walk through the materials delivered by email
- Confidential access to an online community of women pursuing the same thing – marriages that glorify God
- Assignments done at your own pace
- Gentle accountability through the community
- Video segments
- Supplemental reading suggestions (the best of published articles, blogs, & books)
You will be added to a secret forum where you can interact with other women who are also on the journey, your fellow travelers. Don’t worry, no one else will be able to see what you post in the group except the group members.
We will show you how to take the road less traveled and do things you dared not to do before.
We believe in God’s word and cling tightly to HIS promises!
It won’t be easy.
1 Peter 1:6 says, “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.”
Ugh. Trials. Really?
Take heart. The text goes on:
“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold … So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”
In her book, “Becoming Myself,” author Stasi Eldredge says that the very fact that you long for change means that you are MEANT to have it!
Sisters, we are meant to have the marriages we long for.
No, it won’t be easy. But it will be worth it.
Much of what we’re going to address will be in learning how to have healthy, God-honoring boundaries.
Yes, I said, “BOUNDARIES.”
Doesn’t that fly in the face of submission? No. We don’t believe it does. We believe in BOTH. We think the Bible clearly says “both.” We even believe Jesus did both.
Here’s why “boundaries” are a topic of great importance:
By not having boundaries, or using them incorrectly, we essentially destroy the opportunity for others to easily respect us.
We make it harder for them to treat us well.
We make it easy for them to treat us like a doormat. Not that their behavior is okay, nor are we to blame for it, but we can create an environment where respecting us is easier for others.
People who earn our respect naturally set boundaries for themselves – that’s ONE of the many factors that earns them respect in our book. They also often respect other people’s boundaries – that’s another respect earning action. Finally, they set “protection boundaries” for those who cannot protect themselves.
Chew on those three key elements of healthy relationships for a moment. Healthy people:
- Set boundaries for themselves
- Respect the boundaries of others
- Set “protection boundaries” for children, the elderly, or those they lead
This looks like a number of things – for example, Sarah might set a boundary for herself that she is not going to eat dessert on days she doesn’t work out, and when she does eat dessert, she is going to keep it under 400 calories. She might have a boundary where she stops a conversation (while communicating respectfully – ie: “I’m feeling attacked right now, so I am going to take a break from this conversation. We can finish it later when we are both calm.”) instead of letting herself become emotional, because she knows she is capable of saying something to hurt someone else, or allowing herself to be discounted or diminished as a person by the behavior of another. She might respect her daughter’s boundary of not wanting to be tickled when she says, “Stop!” She’ll respect her husband’s boundary of not discussing anything “heavy” right before bed because he knows he is not patient then.
Protection Boundary Caveat: These only apply to kids or the elderly. Sarah may set a protection boundary for her kids of a limited amount of “screen time” because she knows it diminishes their ability to focus. Due to the complex nature of parenting, we won’t be discussing “protection boundaries” much. To get into them would be an entire parenting course, and that’s not the context we’re looking at and not all the women here have kids. We do need to mention it, because you will wonder about how boundaries fit with kids as you set boundaries for yourself. Sometimes, as moms, we’ll establish a protection boundary in the middle of a conversation between siblings or with the children’s father if disrespectful communication is occurring.
- With siblings, it might look like this: “Jake, I know you love your brother (respecting him and assigning good motives) and your behavior right now is crossing a line of respect. I’m stopping this conversation so both of you can cool off and you can talk about it later when calmer heads prevail.”
- With our husband, (say your daughter has an idea and before she can even get it out, he’s dismissing her, “Laura, I’m sensing you are feeling like you aren’t being heard, is that right? I want to make sure we fully understand your idea before we discuss it. John, can I help a second? I think Laura would like to be validated by us before discussing what she wants to do with her hair. Do you mind if we hear her out before we discuss it further?”
I know when I was a young mom, I didn’t seem to have any boundaries – I wore myself out, didn’t ask for help, and in the long run, it effected everyone. Those “small” decisions I made that seemed loving at the time cost us all a lot. But you know what? Even though I wouldn’t do things now the way I did them then, I’m still grateful for the experiences – God will use it all – so don’t spend one single second on regret. You are here NOW because there is a season and a time for everything. This is “the Now” you are supposed to be in.
Something we need to really understand before we move forward too far is this: boundaries are something we do for ourselves to protect and to create joy while honoring God.
We also need to understand that boundaries are NOT:
- parental, where we start acting like someone else’s mother
- punishment, where we are “disciplining” someone else
- controlling, so we can get what we want
Boundaries are based in Biblical truths of healthy relationships. They are also not going to protect us or lead us to joy 100% of the time.
Boundaries are Biblical – Jesus Christ talked extensively about boundaries. He chose when to reveal Himself to Herod and others, He left an angry crowd, He rested when He was tired, and He pulled away from the masses to be alone with the Father. He made choices that were good for Him and followed God (creating and holding to His boundaries while obeying God) even when tempted by Satan! Notice Jesus’ boundaries did NOT put Him on the throne. Ours should not, either. Nor should they be parental, inflict a punishment, or be controlling.
They should always be respectful.
Here’s a few of Jesus’ thoughts about boundaries:
- Protecting Prayer Time: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:6).
- Be Honest, Clear and Concise: “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37).
- Serve God First: “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Luke 16:13).
- Please God, Not People: “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44), “But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than people.” (Acts 5:29)
- Obey God: “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him” (John 14:21).
- God Sets Boundaries to Protect and Grow Us: “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:2)
If you want more from your marriage and want to stop feeling like a doormat, please join us in the Strength & Dignity eCourse. If you do it alongside the Respect Dare book, you’ll also improve your marriage in a dramatic way.
Do more than protect yourself – birth JOY into your marriage by fully honoring and obeying God.
Love to you,