Monday, March 30, 2015

Expectations

I believe one reason we find ourselves in silly arguments that escalate into full blown fights is that we don’t voice our expectations with our spouse.
 
I find that, occasionally, I will come to a conclusion about a situation, in my mind, and neglect to tell my husband, or even other people, what I’ve decided.  I move on assuming everyone knows where I’m coming from.  Of course, my husband should be able to second guess my actions (ha ha!  That couldn’t be further from the truth!); we’ve been married for thirty-three years!   Needless to say, things don’t get completed very efficiently when no one knows what you expect, and a situation like this easily turns into a fertile breeding ground for arguments.

Recently, we were in a social situation and nearing the time to leave.  I am such a people person that at a party, I want to talk to everyone.  It seems that Rick thought we were leaving and got upset with me when I wasn’t right behind him walking out the door.  I had gotten side-tracked by someone stopping me to say “Hello.”  This happens to him all the time, actually, more often than it does to me, where I can’t get him out of a room because he’s talking to other guests.

I didn’t know that someone had mentioned an important football game that was starting in fifteen minutes - hence, Rick’s eagerness to leave.  His mind was set on getting home, but he neglected to tell me of his intentions.  I didn’t understand his impatience with me when we both normally like to linger when there are people around.

I would hardly call what ensued in the car as a fight, but the normal peace we have driving together had been stolen by the devil himself.  I felt upset but didn’t know exactly why.  Normally, we are very good at preparing each other for what we expect.  This particular day we were both tired and not thinking clearly.  The football game was last minute news that we hadn’t discussed.

Another area where we need to speak clearly to our husbands is our expectations at home.  I lived in a perpetual state of anger when my children were young because Rick did nothing to help around the house or with them.  Of course, I rarely asked for his help.  I assumed he would see what needed to be done and would offer his assistance.  That never happened until years later when we learned to communicate, and I learned to voice my expectations.

Women seem to have this sixth sense when working with each other where no one has to say anything.  We automatically see what needs to be done and we do it, especially around the house or with the kids.  Men may have this capability in a work situation, but usually, they are clueless domestically.  That’s why you need to guide them one task at a time, or they will quickly become overwhelmed and eager to move on to something more desirable.  Ladies, if you want your husband to do something for you, you need to ask him - maybe even more than once.

Few of us come from families that actually communicate well, and this may be a foreign concept to you.  I know it was to me.  I’m amazed how easily we destroy relationships because of poor communication.  That is the major cause of every problem in a marriage.  It’s not the actual issue causing the problem, but how you communicate the issue that determines your success in marriage.  I think if you learn to talk about everything, voicing your expectations and desires, you avoid the chance of arguments and fights rearing their ugly heads.  The devil will not find a foothold to get in the middle of your relationship.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Building Monuments

When I first turned my life over to God, one of my favorite praise songs I learned was “I Cast All My Cares.”


“I cast all my cares upon You.  I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet.  And anytime I don’t know what to do, I will cast all my cares upon You.”

Such a simple song with a powerful message.  To this day I still sing that song to myself when I don’t know what to do.  It soothes my soul.  You might walk by a window to my house, at one of those moments, and see the tears rolling down my face as I’m singing out to God with my arms outstretched wide.  The problems may not be solved or dissolved, but God gives me peace that surpasses all understanding.  I can then move on and not feel so crippled by fear or pain.

If you struggle with turning things over to God, maybe you should find a song or a Bible verse that soothes your soul - something that reminds you of God’s amazing grace and mercy.

You might say, “Oh but you don’t know what I’m going through.”  You’re right, I don’t, but God does.  Nothing is impossible with Him. 

I thought my marriage would never survive when we were married only eight years.  I didn’t want it to.  I was at the lowest point of my life in the midst of my marriage crisis.  Divorce seemed like my only way out.  That would have been the most tragic mistake I could’ve made - to give up on my marriage.  When I began to make plans to end it, God began speaking into my life, even when I didn’t want anything to do with Him.  He eventually led me to the right path and has blessed me, and my marriage, for my obedience in sticking it out.  He blessed me for persevering when I didn’t want to.

When I struggle with something now and turn to my favorite praise songs, I then remind myself how God miraculously saved my marriage.  If He could do that, He could certainly take care of these petty issues I deal with today that are nowhere as devastating as the crisis I faced in my marriage.

We have to build monuments to God, reminders of how He took care of us in the past.  That’s what will keep us going.  Don’t ever forget all of God’s miracles and answers in your life.  Keep a journal if you need to and read it whenever you feel hopeless and helpless.

In Joshua chapter four, God parts the Jordan River in order for the Ark of the Covenant and the Israelites to cross.  After they crossed and while the River was still parted, the Lord told Joshua to take twelve men, one from every tribe, and have them each gather a stone from the middle of the Jordan and put it down at the place they would stay that night.

Joshua 4:6,7 say that these stones will “serve as a sign among you.  In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord.  When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.  These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

That pile of stones was a powerful memorial, or monument, to what God had done for the Israelites.  Don’t overlook the amazing things God has done for you as the Israelites often did.  Most of them never made it to the Promised Land because of their disregard of God’s miracles.  We, too, frequently forget how God helped us in the past.  Keep your faith strong by visiting your monuments and reminding yourself of God’s continuous hand in your life.  He’s not finished working in you and is anxiously waiting to show you more.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Pass the Roles!

I’m guessing that some of you out there may be a little bothered about my words, in my past few posts, on the roles of men and women.  That would, honestly, be my first reaction also.  In this age, we have been taught to think quite differently than what the Bible says about our gender responsibilities.  We’ve been instilled with what the world tells us to do and don’t even realize it.


For example, I was doing something in the kitchen while Rick watched television (our usual roles when we are at home – pretty typical for most men and women regardless of how modern we’ve become, don’t you think?).  A commercial came on for Dr. Pepper and its thirty-two new flavors (?!?!), and it ended with, “This is not for women.” (Or something to that affect.)

I immediately responded with an emphatic, “What!  What do they mean??”  Rick laughed and we agreed it was a brilliant ad campaign.  I wanted to run right out and buy some of this new Dr. Pepper.  Don’t tell me I can’t do something!

We as women long for the same opportunities, respect, pay, etc. as men.  I get that, and I feel the same way.  Is that because the world has programmed us to feel this way, or do we truly desire to walk the same path men walk in this world?

I struggled greatly when my children were small because the world told me I should go to work, NOT stay at home with my babies.  That would be very unfulfilling (so we were told).  I chose to stay at home because I couldn’t ignore my inner feelings and ideas about raising my children, regardless of what society said.  I wrestled internally for a few years over that decision, though.  I am so grateful, now, that I followed my heart.

I still believe most women inwardly desire to be the homemaker, wife and mother.  That is how God made us.  I believe many of our struggles come from ignoring that deep rooted longing by trying to live a life meant for men, not for women, while still upholding our roles as wives and mothers.  It’s very hard to do it all.  Please feel free to make any comments if you think I’m totally out in left field.  I’d like to know how others feel about this. If you love your life as a full-time working woman/mother/wife, good for you!  I just don’t know too many who do.  If you have no choice but to work - my heart goes out to you. 

Now back to another gender responsibility: what the Bible says about the husband “ruling” over the wife (Genesis 3:16) and his obligation for this command.

It is absolutely necessary for the husband to be a godly leader in order for a wife to want to submit to him.  I no longer have issues with this directive because my husband is an amazing spiritual leader between the two of us.  I completely respect him and desire to put his needs ahead of my own.  I’m often grateful for his lead because I sometimes flounder at decision making, and I know he will help me choose according to God’s plan for us.  He will always seek my thoughts and feelings when making any decision that affects us both.   My husband treats me as Paul recommends in the following verses.

Ephesians 5, verses 25 -31 talks about the comparison of the marriage relationship to Christ and the church.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church, for we are members of his body.  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.

Paul tells the husband, numerous times, to love his wife.  Even more, he equates it to Christ loving the church, the most precious, sacred relationship in the Bible, next to God and His Son Jesus.  

These verses also say "He who loves his wife loves himself."  Many men find difficulty in completely loving their wives because of baggage they carry from the past.  They find it hard to love themselves which interferes with their ability to love their wives fully.  When the love is out of kilter, it becomes difficult for a woman to then put her husband's needs ahead of her own.  In order to have a healthy marriage relationship, it is imperative to turn your life to God so He can help you heal from your past hurts.

Our husband needs to take us to the same level as Christ loving the church, or we will be unable to totally submit to him or completely desire to put his needs ahead of our own.  You see, that is the most important lead the husband will ever take in a marriage.  In demonstrating this love for his wife, as Christ loved the church, he places her ahead of himself.  She, in turn, wholeheartedly desires to put her husband’s needs above her own. Submission is nothing more than this.

Until a husband can love his wife as Christ loved the church, the wife will only be able to submit out of duty, not as a loving act from her heart.  So you see, it is the actions of the husband that initiate the desire for the wife to put his needs above her own.