Please click here for my post Abuse of Power Is Never Acceptable about how no one in any position of power should ever use that power to harm others.
For so many of us, trying to control our men feels like love. It feels like we are protecting them and keeping them safe.
Control Is Not Love
The thing that is most necessary for real love is free-will for both people involved.
Each person must be free to choose to voluntarily love or not. Or it is not love.
God created people so He could have a two-way relationship with Him. We could choose to love Him or we could reject Him. He didn’t want robots who profess love but can’t actually mean it.
The cost of having real love is steep. There is risk. You can get hurt. God sure did. And love is expensive. Look what it cost God at the cross.
You can try to have control, but if you do, you won’t have love. They are mutually exclusive.
Control Is an Illusion
It seems scary to stop trying to control because we have this illusion that we have the power and responsibility to keep others safe. As if no harm could befall anyone if only they do what we want.
I can remember how terrifying it felt to let go of my attempts to control Greg. It felt like I was supposed to not love him anymore, at first.
Thankfully, that was not true.
I actually didn’t have the power I thought I did. All I did was make us both miserable trying to force him to do what I wanted.
My old definition of love smothered Greg, shackled Him, and repelled him from me. It was not God’s kind of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 love. And it was disrespectful.
GOD’S DIVINE LOVE:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Cor. 13:4-8
Real Love Respects and Honors Others
It turns out that in giving him space and in respecting his decisions and his free-will, we found a much stronger bond, in time.
He no longer felt like a dog on a leash but like a trusted friend and partner. He began to feel inspired by my faith in him. That freedom brought about greater intimacy.
The same thing works with other adults in our lives. Respecting people’s free will, not treating them like little kids, giving some emotional space. Speaking in a friendly, encouraging, non-pressuring way.
Instead of demanding or dictating, now I seek to make polite requests or respectful suggestions to other adults in my family, or maybe say nothing. My opinion is not always needed. I don’t assume I know what everyone else should do.
Just seeing this is a really important first step toward healing!
It is humbling to realize we don’t always know best. But how wonderful that we have a God who does know best and we can trust Him with our loved ones. He can show us how to relate in healthy ways. He is so very good.
The Other Unhealthy Extreme: Passivity
Some women struggle in the opposite direction. Instead of trying to steamroll, control, and dominate, they cower, go silent, and give up their personhood, seeking other people’s approval or their will above everything else.
Or they are afraid of rejection or being alone so they sink into themselves and put up with being treated terribly or ordered around rather than to be alone.
We can accomplish either of these toxic extremes on our own without God.
- Dominating, controlling, disrespectful, afraid, and selfish
- Passive, afraid, paralyzed, and powerless
We Need a Healthy Balance in the Christian Life
Being a godly woman, wife, or a godly anything, is a spiritual balancing act that requires we be fueled by the power, wisdom, and discernment of the Holy Spirit.
To be holy, to be the women God calls us to be, we must be completely dependent on Jesus.
– We treat our men with respect, honor, and a cooperative spirit. But we don’t idolize them. Our primary goal is to please Jesus!
– We don’t try to control and push our men. We don’t force our will or act out of desperation.
– But we also don’t lie on the ground limp and helpless. We don’t give up our personhood or personal responsibilities. We are both strong oxen pulling the same plow working together for the Kingdom. We don’t do nothing, expecting our men to pull all the weight for us. We don’t ignore our calling from God. He has placed us where we are to accomplish His will and His good purposes. Passivity is not living by faith or honoring to the Lord.
– We use our powerful position of influence to seek to bless our men and to do good to them in the Name of Christ.
– We take care of sin in our own lives and we respectfully address sin properly, when necessary, in our guy’s life. (Matt. 7:1-5, Matt. 18:15-17, Gal. 6:1) We don’t preach, lecture, nag, or trying to drag our men to God. And we don’t date, court, or marry men who are not completely committed to living for Christ as Lord.
Almost everything in the Christian life requires this delicate balance of extremes so that we don’t veer to the right or to the left but we stay on the straight and narrow path that leads to life.
If you need more resources on avoiding the toxic extremes of dominance and passivity, please let me know.
Much love, dear sisters! 💕❤️🙏🤗
My latest in-depth series on control at The Peaceful Wife.