I am fascinated by the parallels between a wife’s relationship with her husband and our relationship as believers with Christ. It’s just amazing how the more I learn about one of those relationships, the more I learn about the other. God is so very wise to give us such a concrete picture of His love for us in the relationship of marriage. I know that you are not married yet – but I believe the insights that God has shown me will be helpful to you as you are choosing whom to date and to marry and in your relationship with Christ now. I pray you will be able to learn to rest in God’s love even now and that you will be well prepared to rest in your future husband’s love one day.
HOW DO I GIVE UP CONTROL?
Laura Doyle, in “The Surrendered Wife,” describes finding her “trust muscles.” I love that description – I had a very similar experience.
When I was first giving up my illusion of control over God and my husband and many other things in my life – it was scary. I had a TON of fear. I had been holding on so tightly, thinking that if I let go, everything would fall apart and be a disaster. It was a MASSIVE leap of faith for me to begin to trust that God was big enough to lead me through my husband. And it was a MASSIVE leap of faith for me to step back and allow my husband to take the reins. I had felt like I HAD to be in control since I was a kid – and I had no idea what it meant to yield to anyone.
FIRST – I HAD TO SEE THE LIES I BELIEVED IN MY HEART ABOUT MY HUSBAND AND ABOUT GOD.
I had to look at what I truly believed about God, my husband and myself. NOT what I THOUGHT I believed – but what I really lived out. It wasn’t pretty. I had to be willing to look into the depths of my soul and see what my idols were, what I worshipped, what my true goals were and why I was trying to control things. The lies I uncovered that were dictating my fear and my controlling actions were astonishing, ugly, repugnant, thoroughly sinful and utterly horrifying to me:
- I know better than my husband.
- I know better than God.
- I am the exception to God’s commands for wives to respect their husbands and submit to their leadership.
- My wisdom is greater than my husband’s.
- My wisdom is greater than God’s.
- I can’t trust my husband to lead me well. He’s not strong enough.
- I can’t trust God to lead me through my husband. He is too small.
- God isn’t really sovereign. I am. I have to MAKE things happen the way I think they should or everything will not be ok. I am ultimately responsible for my life, my husband’s life, other people, maybe even the world!
UGH!!!!! THEN I REPENTED TO MY HUSBAND AND TO GOD. A LOT.
And so began the confessing dump truck loads of pride to God daily for weeks and weeks until I began to get to the bottom of the mountains of pride. It was overwhelming, and it took me completely by surprise.
“God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
I would sob and beg the Respected Husband to forgive me over and over. Really – once was probably sufficient. One sincere apology is a very respectful way to apologize – but I didn’t know much about respect yet, and I was completely in shock, humiliated and embarrassed once I realized how disrespectful I had been. He easily forgave me completely. And so did God!?!? But it took a lot longer for me to forgive myself.
I studied the sovereignty of God and began to develop a MUCH BIGGER picture of God and a much smaller picture of myself!
And I studied about men and found that I needed a much bigger picture of my husband – that I thought he was just like me, but he’s not at all like me! I found out how different men are from women and drank in all the information I could get about the differences God designed and why He made us that way. I began to appreciate my husband’s masculine strengths and be thankful for our differences.
One thing that helped me tremendously was to learn about how differently men view love from women. Women tend to look at their man’s love as being very fragile – that if he gets mad at her, his love will quickly vanish, or that his love is unstable and inconsistent day to day. She looks to see signs of his love to verify that it is still there. But men don’t look at love like that – especially once they make a big commitment to get married or once they are married. They tend to think of their love as stable and the same every day. How amazing is that! The husband respresents Christ and he sees his love as being the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Hmm.
When I realized that just because my husband wasn’t saying he loved me didn’t mean his love for me had diminished – I was much more confident in his love – knowing that he hadn’t changed and I really had little cause to worry about his love going away.
MAKING LEAPS FORWARD WITH MY EYES SQUEEZED SHUT
I began to see that the God I love IS indeed big enough for me to trust Him to lead me through my husband. At first, I would be so nervous and it was really hard to tell my husband and God about what I wanted or thought I needed and about my feelings and leave it with them and not pick it back up. It took SO MUCH EFFORT to stop the negativity, the worrying, the obsessing over trying to control things and to leave things alone and be patient. It was AWKWARD and felt completely counterintuitive.
I messed up a lot. I overshot things – often. Like I was so afraid to talk at all at first because I was terrified I’d be disrespectful. So I would be REALLY quiet. Too quiet. But I didn’t want to make the mistakes I had made before, so I went way too far the other way. It was a process of overshooting one way, then the other until I found the balanced, healthy place in the center. And that took many months.
And it was hard to be able to accept whatever the outcome might be without knowing the answer ahead of time – embracing living with the unknown all the time and the feeling of not “being in control.” I had to learn to be able to be at peace with “yes, no or wait.” I had to get comfortable with being in the dark about the future and actually came to be able to be at peace with this feeling and what an adventure it is to be on this journey with Jesus and with my husband.
So I clung to my trust in God and my new faith in my husband and learned to hold situations, outcomes and answers lightly and loosely and not get myself all wrapped up in having things turn out a certain way. It was kind of like how you leave all other relationships and cling to your husband – the leave and cleave thing. I had to leave my old relationship with trying to be in control and then cling to my husband and God, too. Eventually the scary feeling of living on the edge of the unknown on a daily basis was replaced with a sense of adventure, excitement, romance and anticipation of what God and my husband might do to surprise me next!
I would MAKE myself trust. And I would hold my breath, waiting for the worst case scenario… And then, was shocked to realize that everything was ok! As I practiced, it got easier and more natural. I found my “trust muscles” in God first, and then in my husband. So much weight fell off my shoulders. I felt like I could breathe! I felt light, peaceful, joyful and alive! Wow! THIS is what freedom feels like! This is what living with God’s Spirit in control feels like. Amazing!
RESTING IN GOD’S LOVE AND MY HUSBAND’S LOVE
Then I realized that I could actually relax. Me?!?! I replaced the worry, the obsession over outcomes, anxiety, fear and constant negative stream of dialogue in my head that was always trying to figure out what the best solutions were and how to best solve our problems with:
- waiting patiently
- anticipating good things from God and my husband
- leaning back and just trusting God and my husband
- assuming nothing
- expecting nothing
- praising God
- praising my husband
- enjoying the gift of each day
- thinking of all the good qualities of my husband and of God
- thanking God for all the gifts He’s given me
- meditating on His Word
- singing praise songs
- studying for hours about respect, submission, God’s design for marriage, God’s design for masculinity/femininity – that made me feel SO much closer to God and to my husband, to see God’s wisdom and design.
If I felt myself start to automatically tense up like I used to, I would sit by my husband and let myself literally lean against him and just breathe and relax. Or I would picture myself leaning back against my husband (if he wasn’t there) and I would picture myself leaning back against Jesus. I would practice being still and resting in their love, enjoying my husband’s presence and God’s presence and being at peace.
At first, it was a lot of “work” to rest. But as the weight of sin fell off of me and God cleansed me and renewed my mind – resting in Him and resting in my husband became more natural and I began to feel secure and safe in their arms. Now it is a well-engrained habit and I don’t have to do spiritual, mental and emotional gymnastics at all to do this anymore!
My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62: 1,2,8
On my bed I remember You; I think of You through the watches of the night. Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:6-8
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in Whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2
He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day. Psalm 91:4-5
EACH JOURNEY IS UNIQUE
Every woman has her own journey to make into submitting to God and submitting to her husband and respecting God and her husband. Yours won’t be exactly like mine. I am writing this blog for you, praying that God will allow you to learn these things way before you get married that you might have a much stronger marriage starting out than I did! I hope you can feel my heart and love for you, precious girl!
I pray that something about my journey might resonate with you and help you along the way toward having a peaceful and gentle spirit that does not give way to fear and toward becoming a respectful future wife – this is how we are beautiful in God’s sight and in the sight of our future husbands. I pray that my experiences might help you move closer to God and toward your godly man.
MY PRAYER FOR YOU
I pray for each girl who reads this that you might find the ability and power in God’s Spirit to repent of any sin that is grieving God’s heart in your life, and to surrender to God and find rest in Him. I pray you’ll have the courage to step down out of the leadership position if that is where you have been in your romantic relationship and graciously, joyfully, willingly allow your man to lead and give him plenty of grace as he learns the ropes of leadership. I pray that you’ll have the desire to obey God by learning to respect your future husband so that you can bring out the best in both of you. I pray you will learn to live in peace and stillness – resting in God’s arms. I can’t wait to hear all that God is doing and will do in your life, your future marriage and your family!
With much love and with my prayers for you and your husband-to-be!