This process of learning to respect our men and honor their leadership is a VERY painful process – especially at first. There are no short cuts!! This is not just some self-help 10 steps to controlling your man and getting everything you want by changing your words and tone of voice. My motives MATTER here! If I am trying to obey God just to get the feelings I want or the response from my husband I want, it won’t work. I have to have pure motives – desiring to obey God’s Word out of reverence for Christ alone.
What I am advocating is to completely expose your deepest soul to God and allow Him to search the darkest recesses with the blazing light of His Word. And then to allow God’s Spirit TOTAL access and grant Him complete Lordship and the ability to decide what stays and what goes. And anything He finds offensive – well, it simply has to go. God is Lord now, NOT ME! This means facing your deepest fears, challenging your definition of God, your understanding of His sovereignty, your true beliefs that govern your decisions and priorities, seeing the mountains of sin that you may not have even known were there, and being willing to part with all of that humbly before our mighty God. It means wrestling with God over those most painful issues and deciding whether you actually can trust Him or not. Is He REALLY BIG enough?
This is DEEP, LIFE-CHANGING, PARADIGM SHIFTING stuff.
This is where you tear out everything from your heart but Christ and are willing to give up all that is dear to you – laying it on the altar to God. You die to your dreams, your desires, your wants, your goals and your plans. You embrace His will, His desires, His dreams, His goals, His plans and His life for you – even if that means not getting what you really wanted, and even if that means going through the worst case scenario in your mind.
You will have to personally wrestle with these questions. I will give you some examples in a bit.
Let us be willing to die to ourselves! Let us joyfully give up our rights, our goals of happy feelings, and all that we hold dear except for Christ!
The thing is, you can’t respect your man and empower his leadership on your own. You can’t just be quiet and smile and hold the raging ocean of emotions and negativity inside while you pretend to be “nice” on the outside. That does NOT work. In order to do what God commands us to do, we have to be filled with His Spirit. If we do NOT have His Spirit – it is IMPOSSIBLE to be the godly women Jesus calls us to be.
So let’s look at what might be KEEPING His Spirit from having power and control in our lives and hearts.
WE CONTROL HOW MUCH ACCESS GOD’S SPIRIT HAS TO OUR SOULS
I’d like for you to stop and read Galatians 5 – the whole chapter and 6:1-5.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
Paul is referring to the Judiazers who said that for non-Jews to become believers in Christ, they first had to be circumcised. Paul was VEHEMENTLY against this. Why? Because then the believers would put their faith in what THEY had done instead of what Christ had done. Then they put themselves under the Law again. And if you are circumcised to try to be close to God – you have to obey the whole law, he says. And then you are trying to EARN your salvation and right relationship with God. And NONE of us can do that. We are ALL FILTHY, WRETCHED, VILE SINNERS. None of us can be “good” enough to please and impress God. Only God is good. And God says that our best attempts at right living and holiness are like “filthy, bloody menstrual rags.” (Isaiah 64:6)
We do the same thing!!!!!! We start thinking that we can be “good enough” to impress God on our own.
We think, “I don’t really need the grace of Jesus THAT much. God hasn’t had to forgive me much at all. I’m a pretty good person. Look at all the good things I do! I hardly ever got in trouble growing up! I made all A’s almost all the time. I am ‘nice’ to people most of the time. I am generous. I am loving. Yeah, I’m really a pretty impressive person. I have things under control. I pray a lot. I read my Bible EVERY day. I go to church 3 times a week. I tithe. I don’t need God’s grace nearly as much as all of those REAL sinners – murderers, adulterers, thieves, immoral people… – my man. God, my guy is SO far away from you! I mean, he hardly ever prays. I never see him reading his Bible. He doesn’t lead me in devotions like he should. He doesn’t tithe. He doesn’t want to give to orphans and the poor. He isn’t a very loving man. He hurts me constantly. God, You need to change him! And he needs to change NOW! You need to make him be a godly man because he is so far away from You! I can see his sins pretty clearly from here, and I don’t know why You are letting him go on and on like this. He’s pitiful. I really deserve SO much better! If I had a godly man, well THEN I could be a godly woman. It’s his fault that I’m not more respectful and cooperative. I am just reacting to him. If he wouldn’t provoke me so much, I would be respectful all the time. He’s so impossible to respect..” (If you are seriously thinking things like this about your guy – you either need to repent to God and your man and learn to respect and cooperate with this man or let him go and find another guy!!!! DO NOT MARRY A MAN YOU DON’T RESPECT!!!!!)
We think that we are so good that God has to be impressed – meanwhile we are condemning, unforgiving, prideful and judging our brothers (our men) who actually are not any more sinful than WE are! It’s SO easy to think that our husbands are so much worse sinners than we are. I mean – they have issues with looking at women, or pornography, or lust – plus they don’t lead the “right” way, they don’t seem to be nearly godly enough or loving enough. Most of us women aren’t very visual so it is very easy for us to condemn our guys’ visual struggles and label them as MUCH WORSE sinners and for us to look down on them with great self-rigteousness. We focus on OUR strengths and THEIR sins.
When we are cherishing sin in our hearts – we grieve and alienate the Spirit of God. We cannot have God’s power flowing full strength in us when we are embracing sin and getting cozy with it.
THE ACTS OF THE SINFUL NATURE ARE OBVIOUS (Galatians 5:19-21)
Please think about these things in the context of YOUR behavior in your relationship. Even if what you are doing is in response to your guy’s sin – you are still sinning against God and your man if you are involved in any of these things. And if you have this stuff going on – you cannot also have God’s Spirit’s power working in your life.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious:
- sexual immorality – sex that is not in the bonds of marriage, reading erotica, looking at pornography, flirting with other men, cherishing secret friendships with other men/married men and confiding in them (this leads to fornication or adultery!)
- impurity – what are you reading, watching and consuming with your eyes and ears?
- debauchery – from Wictionary.org –Indulgence in sensual pleasures; scandalous activities involving sex, alcohol, or drugs without inhibition.
- idolatry – we SO CASUALLY skim over this one. This is the BIGGEST sin there is. This is adultery against God. This is breaking the covenant we have with the blood of Jesus and this is breaking the first 3 commandments. We think that we are not idolators because we don’t bow down and pray to statues like pagans used to centuries ago. And we don’t even notice that we put MANY “gods” up in our hearts in our Holy God’s place. I did this. I was an idolator. I didn’t even see it. But anything I put before my devotion to Christ in my heart is an idol. I worshipped many idols – all the while deceiving myself into believing that I was a “good Christian wife.” If there is something you HAVE to have to be at peace or to be happy – check yourself carefully! I put my husband up as an idol. I wanted him to be completely responsible for MY happiness. And if I wasn’t happy – it was his fault. He needed to change. He needed to do things for me. And no matter how much he did – I was insatiable and wanted more. You know why? Idols can’t fulfill our souls. Idols can’t bring the fruit of the Spirit in our hearts. God will not allow me to be satisfied with idols! Idols create anxiety, dissatisfaction, discontentment, depression and hopelessness. We continue to serve our idols – expecting them to be Christ to us, expecting them to bring us joy, expecting them to never let us down – and we are disappointed over and over and over but we don’t understand why. I made being in “control” an idol. I lived as if God really didn’t exist and everything in my life completely depended on ME to make it work out right. I believed I was sovereign, not God. I didn’t consciously think that! But I believed I knew what was best for me and for my husband and everyone around me. I believed all the weight and responsibility was completely on ME to make things be ok. And the more I tried to control, the more miserable I was and everyone around me was. But I didn’t know how NOT to try to control and I didn’t understand that I wasn’t in control even when I thought I was. I was just spinning my wheels. God was still sovereign. I wasn’t preventing anything bad from happening. And I was actually causing bad things to happen because my MASSIVE pride repelled my husband and others away from me. I thought I was keeping myself safe and that if things happened the way I thought they should, we would live longer, be healthier, be happier, be closer as a couple, have more intimacy, and BE AT PEACE. But I was never at peace. I was trying to carry the weight of the universe – God’s weight. And I was trying to carry the weight of the responsibility of our marriage and family – my husband’s weight. I saw God as being tiny and wimpy and my husband as being tiny and wimpy and ME as knowing what needed to happen much better than they did. And I saw myself as being SO VERY WISE AND STRONG. But I wasn’t. I couldn’t actually control anything. And it is VERY stressful trying to control things you really can’t control. I had to see how ridiculous my efforts were and see a much more accurate picture of the strength, wisdom and sovereignty of God and see a much more accurate picture of my husband’s strength, wisdom and leadership. I had to HUMBLE myself A LOT and bring myself down MANY, MANY, MANY notches. Just like Jesus saw that being equal with God was not something to try to grasp, but He took on the humble nature of a servant, I had to see that trying to be equal or better than my husband or God was sinful and prideful and I had to lower myself appropriately and see myself accurately, not in a self-condemning way – but to see myself as God sees me and not to try to be more than who I really am. I also made marriage an idol at times, and fixing up our house, and having a certain income, and even trusting in our 401K and retirement instead of trusting God, and trusting our government instead of trusting God. I had to be willing to look at where I was really putting my trust. And if I had trust scattered about in places, I had to tear that down and ONLY put my trust in Christ. This is PAINFUL. It is HARD work. It is scary at first. But I had to dig down to the very rock bottom of the foundation of my faith to Christ and dig up everything else and throw it away. I had to realize that I was programmed incorrectly, and that I actually didn’t know much of anything about being a godly woman, a godly wife, a follower of Christ, a godly mom or any of the most important roles I had in life. So I decided to toss out all I had learned from our culture and allow God to rebuild it all in me with His Word and His precious materials. I don’t want ANYTHING that is not of Him! Some of us have food as an idol, or body image, or a certain weight, or a certain size, or our beauty, or a famous person, or a friend, or a job, or greed, or money, or another man we know we shouldn’t be talking to but he is SO exciting! Some of us make idols of being happy, feeling loved, feeling in love, feeling infatuated. Some of us make idols of our husbands’ visual purity – I can’t rest until I KNOW that he isn’t looking at other women or at pornography! I HAVE to MAKE him be pure! I will monitor him constantly and check up on him and spy on him to be sure so that I can be happy. And I will NOT be content or at peace in Christ if there is ANY sin in my husband’s mind or heart – no matter how big the piles of pride and judgment are in my soul! I will NOT be happy if my husband doesn’t do X. If he doesn’t have a job, if he doesn’t fix the house, if he doesn’t tell me I look beautiful, if he doesn’t play with the kids, if he doesn’t have sex with me so many times per week, if he doesn’t take us to the church I want to go to, if he doesn’t let me homeschool the children, if he doesn’t let me stay home, if he doesn’t let me work, if he doesn’t lead the way I want him to lead, if he doesn’t agree with me, if he doesn’t DO WHAT I WANT HIM TO – IF I CANNOT CONTROL HIM – I WILL NOT BE CONTENT! Christ is NOT enough for me! I MUST have X to be happy! I MUST have X to be content! I will NOT accept my husband as he is and forgive his sins against me. I MUST make him into MY image and make him be what I want him to be or I will be miserable and make him miserable. I will NOT extend grace to my husband unless he parents the way I think it best. I know best! I know better than my husband, I know better than God! There is NO END to all the idols our human hearts can devise. And that makes me chief among sinners. My idolatrous heart.
- witchcraft – ok, I don’t think I had an issue with this one. Hooray! But there are women who dabble in witchcraft, spells and demonic activity. That DEFINITELY has to go!
- hatred – OUCH! I held on to grudges for years. I wanted to forgive. I knew that Jesus said I couldn’t be forgiven by God if I didn’t forgive. I tried to forgive – but see, I really felt like I had been so much more wronged by my husband or whoever than I had ever wronged them – that I could justify that I deserved not to have to forgive them. I was “right” to feel upset, angry, hurt, betrayed, offended and wounded. I set myself up above God when I did this. Because God is willing to forgive repentant sinners. But I was not. WHAT INCREDIBLE PRIDE I HAD!!!!!!!!!! It was unfathomable. And I didn’t even see it.
- discord – not getting along, not being peaceable, not living in harmony. OUCH! Everything was about ME before. What I wanted, what I thought, what I saw, what I thought was important. I didn’t give a lot of thought to what my husband wanted. Of course, he really didn’t say much about it. But all that was on my radar screen was MY PAIN, my wounds, my hurts, my desires, my goals, my needs, my purposes, my plans. I was going to be in charge because my husband clearly wouldn’t lead. I mean, I would ask him to make a decision, and if he didn’t make that decision in 5 minutes, I would be exasperated and declare that I HAD to take over because he wouldn’t lead. I didn’t allow any space for him to think or process differently from me. I allowed no grace or understanding for him to be a MAN and to need time or not be pressured. I didn’t have faith in him. I didn’t give him the time he needed to lead. I was SO IMPATIENT. And in my impatience and pride, I would cut down my husband with my hateful words and injure him to the point that he knew he wasn’t safe with me. He knew he couldn’t share his heart openly with me because he knew I would just rip him to shreds with my tongue. What do you say to yourself to justify your sinful behavior toward your husband? My disrespect was direct disobedience to God’s Word AND causes strife and discord in my marriage. That does NOT bring glory to God and, in fact, repels other people from the gospel of Christ. My disrespect of my husband is THAT big of a deal.
- jealousy – some women are jealous of their husband’s attention to other women or to their children. I was jealous of the tv, the computer, and the cat. Why would my husband spend all that time with those things and not me? How could he be so unloving? I wanted to throw those things out the window! Then he’d pay attention to ME! And the whole time, I had no idea that I was the reason he wasn’t paying attention to me. I had been so disrespectful that he had to try to protect himself from my critical, judgmental, prideful, “always right”, spiritually superior spirit.
- fits of rage – YUCK. You know – I don’t like this list one bit! Yes, I would have fits of rage when I felt that my husband was ignoring me and not paying attention to me. I would get REALLY, REALLY upset. I did throw a pair of panties at him once. They didn’t reach him. He was far away. But he looked SO hurt – “You THREW something at me!??!” That first summer we were married was AWFUL. AWFUL. AWFUL. I felt SO abandoned, SO deeply rejected, SO ignored, SO unloved that I guess I felt justified in acting the way I did. I cried constantly. I demanded attention. I tried to MAKE him love me again. I raised the volume when he would ignore me. I stormed out of the house and drove around the neighborhood in despair. I didn’t want to be married! I had waited 6 years for this man and THIS is what I had waited for!?!!?!?!? I was convinced he didn’t love me. I had nowhere else to go. I would have to come home eventually. And he’d still be watching tv, ignoring me – when I came home. I wanted to hurt him. I wanted to hit him. I hated his calm, unaffected ways of acting like I didn’t exist. I felt betrayed. I felt completely justified in my anger and unforgiveness.
- selfish ambition – making myself look “better” than my husband, wanting what I want and not caring about his feelings, his dreams, his desires, his goals, his plans… not caring that God made HIM the leader, not me.
- dissensions – I was pretty good at that – getting upset, talking to other people, proving how justified I was to be upset and angry and not forgive.
- factions – in extended family – I was good at that, too!
- envy – I definitely envied my friends who seemed to have better marriages and “better” husbands than I did. Not pretty. That was ugly sin in God’s eyes!
- drunkenness – I didn’t do this one. But I had enough other sin that I made up for it, I’m sure! If you are using alcohol or drugs to escape reality or to find your purpose in life – it’s time to repent of that addiction and idol and be freed from your slavery to the addiction! You may need godly, experienced counsel for this!
- orgies – I didn’t do this one, thankfully! But none of us are above any sin. If we are far enough away from God and isolated enough from other believers, we are all capable of any evil. This particular sin happens usually after God gives us over to our sinful behavior and our consciences are seared so deeply that we don’t even feel a prick of conscience anymore about any sin at all. That is a VERY DANGEROUS place to be spiritually!
I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
So, as you can see – I didn’t fare well with this examination in the past. I was NOT operating with the power of God’s Spirit and I did not have any of the fruit of His Spirit – because I had grieved His Spirit.
Examine yourself, precious wife. What is God lovingly showing you that needs to go?
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
If you have God’s Spirit in control of your heart and life, and you are living with Christ as LORD, dying to yourself and living for Him, you will have these things in abundant supply on a daily basis:
- love – I can love with GOD’s UNFAILING I Corinthians 13:4-8 love by His power no matter what my husband does or does not do! Love to my husband means respect. He can’t feel or see my love if I have disrespect for him. That means respecting him by HIS definition of respect, not mine – and whether he deserves it in my opinion or not. I don’t have to respect sin. God doesn’t ever ask me to do that. And I don’t have to follow my husband into sin. But cooperating with my husband’s leadership and respecting the good things in him show him love and show my love for God!
- joy – I have an internal constant source of joy that no one can remove or dampen – I have the joy of the Lord as my strength! I am depending on Christ to be my true husband and to meet my needs when my husband can’t. I release my husband of all my expectations of him and I find my spiritual needs and emotional needs met in Jesus. I take my pain and hurt to Him. I sing praises to Him. I hope and trust in Him. I know that He is using all things for my good and His glory so I am going to win even though things don’t look so great right now. I trust Him to lead me to where He wants me to go and I trust Him to be big enough to lead me through my sinful husband. YES! God is THAT BIG! And I had to wrestle with that and discover it for myself!
- peace – I used to think I had peace. I didn’t. It would only last about 20 seconds and then my mind was spinning and whirring about what I needed to do and how I needed to make things happen and what was I going to do if this didn’t work out right or that didn’t work out right. See, I didn’t have God’s Spirit in control of my heart and soul before so I would worry. And when I worried, I didn’t picture God’s Spirit with me because He wasn’t in control in the present, so I couldn’t picture Him being in control in the future. Now, I trust God to lead me. I know how to wait patiently. I wait for God’s leading. I wait for my husband’s leading. I know that if I try to run ahead I will just mess things up A LOT! So I wait. And I don’t get upset if I have to wait. If God wants me to wait right here until I am 80 years old – That is ok! I want His will, His total will and nothing but His will! So I know whatever happens will be under His sovereign hand and He will use it to take me to where He wants me to go. So I don’t worry. I don’t fret. I trust and have faith and patiently wait and I am content regardless of the outcome of decisions or circumstances because I know my God is working behind the scenes to accomplish His perfect will in my life!
- patience – Oops, I already addressed that one!
- kindness – I have the power to be kind, even in the face of anger, hatred, retaliation and abuse – because I have the power of God’s Spirit living in me to direct me and enable me to act as Christ would act! It’s NOT me! It’s totally a God thing!
- goodness- ditto!
- faithfulness – ditto!
- gentleness – God’s Spirit in me empowers me to respond in godliness and gentleness with a whisper instead of with anger and yelling.
- self-control – that is also TOTALLY a God thing! I can’t do this on my own!
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. LEt us not become conceited, provoking and envying one another. Galatians 5:24-25 (And you may want to also read Galatians 6:1-5 in the context of your relationship, too! It definitely applies big time!)
If I am not seeing the fruit of the Spirit in my heart and life and in my marriage on MY side of the relationship on a daily basis. I have a BIG problem!
FACING MY FEARS
I had to examine each of my fears and decide whether I believed God could take me safely through that fear if it were to happen, and decide if I believed that God knows best, much better than I do, and that if He allowed it, I would be ok as long as He was with me:
– if my husband died
– if my children died
– if I died and left my children orphans
– if I lost my job
– if my husband lost his job
– if my husband didn’t love me anymore
– if my children grew up to be murderers
– if I accidentally killed someone in a car accident
– if I made a huge mistake in the pharmacy and someone died as a result
– if our house renovations never got finished
– if I didn’t have the physical intimacy with my husband that I wanted
– if I didn’t have the spiritual intimacy with my husband that I wanted
– if I didn’t have the emotional connection with my husband that I wanted
– if I didn’t feel loved in my marriage
– if I didn’t feel fulfilled in my marriage
– if my husband never changed in spite of all I was doing to change and all God was changing in me
– if my husband made major financial mistakes or other mistakes in leadership and I had to suffer and/or my children had to suffer as a result
– if my husband messes up my children (which he will!)
– if I mess up my children (which I will)
– if our government collapses and our country falls apart or we are taken over by enemies
– if I get robbed in the pharmacy
– if I got raped
– if I got cancer or some horrible terminal illness – or my husband or children did
– you may have other fears – fears about not getting married, fears about marrying the “wrong” person, fears about being alone, fears about your career… write them all out and let God help you deal with them!
Could God REALLY handle all of these things? Could I REALLY trust Him? I read a lot in Jeremiah, Psalms and Isaiah about God’s sovereignty. I wrote out my struggles. I wrestled with God until I had peace that He really was capable and competent enough to handle my deepest fears. I discovered He WAS, He IS and He WILL BE MORE THAN ENOUGH for me! And you will have to discover that on your own in your own intimate time with God, being still and listening to His voice.
This takes time. It takes a lot of pain and energy and effort. It takes humility and willingness to lay there under God’s surgeon’s light and scalpel and to allow Him to cut out all the gangrene in my soul – all the rot and filth and completely remove it. It takes courage not to roll off the operating table.
When we are obeying God and we have confessed all sin and we invite His Spirit to be in control – His Spirit will fill us and empower us to do the impossible!
Show us and convict us of our great sin before You! Show us our mountains of pride and idolatry. Break us. We can’t be the women You want us to be until we are broken and see our sin clearly. Show us how we have grieved You. Let us be on our faces before You in repentance – maybe even with fasting. And let us weep before You and humble ourselves and truly repent and allow You to be our Lord. Help us to accept Your sacrifice on our behalf. Help us to have godly sorrow that leads to repentance, not worldly sorrow that leads to death. Let us repent to You and our men and let us be empowered to live for You. Help our men have patience as we learn. We have SO much to learn! Let us live for You and serve You alone. Let us obey You. Let us have Your Spirit’s power at work in our hearts! Make us the godly women You long for us to be! Let us completely submit our hearts to You first. And then let us be empowered to submit our hearts to our future husbands knowing that we are actually submitting to You, not them. And fill us with respect for our husbands to meet the deepest masculine needs of their souls! Give us the wisdom and strength we need for each step and each moment. Let us respond to others out of Your powerful Spirit not out of our sinful nature. Give us soft, pliable hearts that are sensitive to Your Spirit and willing to obey You NO MATTER the cost! Change our hearts. Renew our minds. Remove every contentious, resentful, unforgiving, prideful, bitter thought and replace it all with YOU!
In the Name and power of Christ,