Each woman’s story is unique. I write primarily for women who tend to be dominating, controlling, “overly-helpful,” people pleasing and perfectionistic. Most of us don’t realize that we are doing these things and aren’t purposely doing them. Many of us start out thinking we HAVE to act the way we do. That’s what I used to think!
I have walked beside hundreds of women on this journey now (married and single), and, of course, I have been walking it myself for almost 5 years now. It took me over 2 years before I BEGAN to feel like I had any clue what I was doing. It felt VERY awkward and foreign at first. And I scrambled trying to learn from many different books but I felt like I was having to reinvent the wheel by myself, trying to learn what godly femininity was, what godly marriage was and what it meant to respect my husband and to honor his leadership.
- My prayer is that God might allow me to put the dots closer together for those coming behind me than they were for me.
There are still some things I have been praying for in my marriage that haven’t happened yet. That’s ok. I desire to keep my eyes on Christ. I want to obey and please Him and I want to bless my husband. I trust God to work in my husband’s heart and to lead me through my husband.
Let me see if I can describe some stages from my perspective that may be helpful for the women who are in the trenches early in this journey – how to go from being a controlling, fearful, worried woman to becoming a woman with a peaceful, gentle spirit who respects and honors her man, does what is right and does not give way to fear.
This is where God opens our eyes to the magnitude of our sin. We may not immediately see absolutely all of it, but we can see enough that we are mortified, shocked, horrified and terrified to see that we are actually wretched sinners.
For me, this happened when I read Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs in December of 2008. For the first time, I realized that Greg needed respect the way that I needed love and our whole 14.5 years of marriage passed before my eyes and I realized that if “respect” was the measure of my being a “good wife” – I had fallen far short. I didn’t have an A+ on my Christian wife report card like I always thought I had. It was more like a D-.
I finally came face to face with my sin:
- idolatry of self
- idolatry of wanting to be in control
- PRIDE, PRIDE, PRIDE – thinking I was always right and I knew best
- rebellion against God’s Word and against God
- disrespect towards Greg
- disrespect towards God – lack of proper “fear and trembling” before His holiness and power and a lack of understanding and reverence for His sovereignty
- unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness
- usurping my husband’s God-given position as leader in the marriage
- living like I was sovereign instead of God
- people pleasing – seeking the approval of people over the approval of God – being more afraid of people’s opinions than being concerned about God’s view of me
- being more concerned about being “right” in my own eyes and getting what I wanted than loving and honoring God and my husband
This is the stage when we mourn over our sin, acknowledge how very sinful we are and how much we have offended God’s holiness and we turn away from the sin and to Christ.
I am truly a wretched sinner. I owe you BILLIONS of “sin dollars” that I could never possibly repay. I have fallen very short of your standard of holiness. I cannot begin to make things right with You on my own. I cannot earn my way to heaven. I cannot impress You with “good works.” My “good works” are like You described them to be in Isaiah 64 – “filthy, dirty, bloody menstrual rags.” I need the blood of Christ to cover my sin. I turn from all my sin and turn in total faith to You, Jesus! I accept your death on the cross for my sin – that in God’s sight – You took on Yourself all of my sin and all of God’s wrath and punishment against my sin. You have paid my debt in full. You have given me Your “bank account” so that when God looks at me, I owe Him nothing. He just sees You, Jesus. I receive you GLADLY as my Savior and also as my LORD. I want You to be in charge now, not me. I owe you EVERYTHING! Now, I want to obey You in everything You ask me to do out of gratitude for all You have done for me. There is nothing You could ask me to do that I would not be willing to do. I am fully Yours. Make me more and more like You, Jesus! I surrender my life completely to You.”
We also repent to our men (and other people we may have sinned against) – apologizing to them for our disrespect and control and deciding to learn to be the godly wives God calls us to be.
- Apologizing once is probably sufficient.
- A brief apology WITHOUT any explanation or justification of our sin is often best.
I realize now that I have been very disrespectful toward you and very controlling. I see now how wrong I have been. I am SO sorry! I couldn’t even see all of my sin until now. I apologize for my wrong attitudes, behavior and words. I want to become the woman God desires me to be and that you need me to be. I have a lot to learn. I pray you can be patient with me as I ask God to teach me and change me. I want to respect you and honor your leadership from this moment on. I am very new at all of this, so, I may need help. It is kind of like learning a foreign language to me. Maybe you can let me know when I am being disrespectful or controlling, please.”
3. WE WANT TO LIVE IN A CAVE – THE FRUSTRATING QUIET PHASE
I personally wanted to go live in a cave by myself for the rest of my life for quite awhile after God convicted me and I repented. I saw my sin. I suddenly knew how sinful I was. I realized that almost every word out of my mouth was sin. But I didn’t know how else to talk or think yet.
This is the phase where:
- we learn to hold back and not say everything that we think in our minds
- we begin to learn wisdom and discretion by stopping the negative, critical, hateful, prideful, bossy, condescending, judging, cutting sarcastic comments
- we stop bashing and criticizing our men and others
- at this point, we are still thinking the disrespectful, controlling thoughts, we are just trying not to say the thoughts
- it can feel like trying to hold back an ocean of negative emotions
- this phase is not sustainable forever – it can feel like “faking it” or “acting” at first, because we are not voicing our sinful thoughts. It feels like “not being ourselves” – but this is part of learning to “die to self.” Our old sinful self must die – and we put on our new self in Christ.
- if we have been very verbal, this can feel extremely awkward and very, very quiet as we learn to stop the sin from erupting out of our mouths
- we begin to step down out of the leadership role if we are in a committed relationship
- we begin to allow our men to make decisions – we allow them the freedom and space to make their own decisions for themselves and we begin to
- we lay down all of our expectations of our husbands and of God
- we recognize the source of many of our negative thoughts about our men – “My Demon“
- we take our emotional and spiritual hands off of our men’s necks
- we may pull back emotionally from others (for me, I pulled back from everyone) in our lives as we try to figure out how to talk to people without sinning with our words and try to learn to have godly wisdom and discernment
- we may need to repent to other people (coworkers, friends, extended family) for our disrespect and control as well as our gossip and our negativity. Usually, if a woman is controlling with her man, she is also controlling with others as well. I sure was!
- this can be lonely, and we may not feel like we have a lot of outside supportduring this time
- ideally, we would have a godly mentoring wife/older more spiritually mature woman to talk with during this time and/or godly girlfriends who will support us on this journey and who are committed to holding us accountable for our sin
Stages of This Journey