A Typical or Atypical Pastor's Wife-whichever one you come to believe

Welcome to the barnyard. Watch your step! The things written here are raw and unedited. Just my thoughts thrown on a page as they flow from my heart.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Marriage Lessons (Proverbs 31 and Me-part 2)

Since I am not a theologian, I can't expound on the Pr. 31 woman from a theological point of view. But I can share what God's Words have meant to me as a wife. And as I shared with a person just last week, we have to be careful how we share because people cannot read our hearts, they can only form perceptions from our words, actions, body language and intonation.

Since this is the internet, we're down to 1/4, so let me precurse this by saying that I am not saying that everyone, or anyone for that matter, should be like me! In fact, I am a FIRM believer in the creativity and ingenuity of my Creator and I honestly don't think that from the outside looking in, any P31 wife will look exactly the same. As I mentioned before, the common thread among P31 women is their Godly character, so there will be some constants in that arena, but as far as what we do as P31 women, and how we do it, well the sky is the limit!

I have gone from the pit to the palace in the marriage arena over a course of 26 years. I'm still married to the same man, and I fall more in love with him every day. I would rather be with him than any other person on this globe, and I love living, working, laughing and loving with him.

Now, before you think I'm tooting my own horn, I want you to know that I was very dysfunctional as a new bride, very selfish, very immature, very inexperienced, and was carrying a short lifetime of baggage everywhere I went from my family situations and upbringing. I did not have a mother who trained me in righteousness or in being a wife. (In fact, as I remember back on "the talk" the night before my wedding day, I'm still horrified at how little my Mom was willing to share with me about marriage, housekeeping, raising children, and love.) So anything that I have learned or managed to accomplish is simply because I have well worn calluses on both knees from daily, desperate prayer. And I have a God who had mercy on me and heard my desperate cries for help.

As I studied P31, I found an interesting thing. When we are instructed in Eph. 5:22 to "be subject" to our husbands, that word actually means that we are to form ourselves around or adapt ourselves to our husbands. So to me that immediately means that the responsibility of change is on me, not him. We are to be "one", so one of us has to go through some changes in order for us to blend well enough to become one.

We alter our clothes to fit our bodies, not our bodies to fit our clothes. In that same way, we are to alter ourselves to fit our husbands. We are not one size fits all! This was made evident to me when my husband voiced to me once that a friend of mine, who is a very godly woman, would drive him nuts if he was married to her! Why? Because she is adapted to her husband, not mine!

As a woman, I was created and designed to be a helper, and helpers will do whatever they have to do to "help". As I learn to embrace the unique place of womanhood in God's Divine hierarchy, and to realize that perfection in life can be found right smack in the middle of that place, a wondrous thing has happened. As willingness to submit, to adapt, to change, to sacrifice, and to serve increase, I experience a corrosponding increase in the personal and spiritual freedom that I have as a woman and a Christian. It is very paradoxial. The more I die, the more alive I feel. The more I submit, the more freedom I experience.

Most women I know are constantly trying to change their husbands to fit them, instead of trying to change themselves to adapt to their husband. It's so easy to put unrealistic expectations on your mate and then to grow bitter when they don't measure up to or meet those expectations. Unrealistic expectations soon lead to exasperation!

As P31 women, we must look to God to meet EVERY need that we have! Sure, a lot of the time God will use our husbands to meet them, but ultimately our needs are met by God. When I began to look to God as the one who meets my needs, the pressure of my unrealistic expectations was lifted from my husband and he actually began to take joy in meeting my needs. He no longer felt obligated and pressured and he was free to love me in his own way. I, in turn, have had to learn to let him love me in his own way and to appreciate and treasure his expressions of love.

Every woman has seen the chick flick movies where the man always does the perfect thing in the perfect way at the perfect time and we have dreamed of our husbands doing those same things. But the bare reality is that it is not that way. Neither are we the woman they would envision and desire if there were the same kind of chick flicks for men! But that does not diminish or enhance the degree of love that we feel for our mates or that they feel for us.
When I married my husband, I made a covenant with God to love, honor and cherish my him every day. At some point along the way, I got confused and thought that instead of making a covenant, I had signed a contract. And since I didn't feel that my husband was meeting his end of the bargain, I didn't feel the need to fulfill my contractual obligations either. How wrong I was and how much pain I must have caused my husband by witholding love and affection from him, constantly nagging and complaining while he continued to work to support us and to honor God in his marriage. In many ways I feel that there will not be enough days for me to make up for all the pain he suffered as a result of my immaturity and selfishness.
I also learned that good marriages don't just happen. They aren't made in heaven, but in the every day trenches of life. Marriage is a God idea, but if a marriage is left unattended, it will quickly go from being heavenly to being a mess made in hell. I discovered that the wedding day was not the end of the chase, it was the beginning of the race. It became evident very quickly that it was much easier setting up house than it is to keep it clean.

The one thing that dirtied my house more than anything was offense. I lived in a constant cesspool of offense towards my husband. And you know what? Life stunk! But as I learned to take the 1 Cor. 13 approach, especially of allowing love to always think the best of another person, my feelings, words and actions towards my husband changed and I became less and less offended by his actions. I came to realize that the problem was not his actions, it was my perception of his actions, but since I viewed everything through an offended heart, my perceptions were very warped. I was blinded by them and missed the goodness that was my true reality. As I turned my marriage over to God, I learned that trust in God and my husband is what takes over in guarding my heart, mind and tongue when love is having a hard day.

And of course I, like everyone have hard days. Days when old feelings, perceptions and thoughts invade my mind. Days when my character doesn't line up with what I believe in regards to my husband. Days when I find myself disrespecting, or tending towards not submitting to his thoughts, ideas, or decisions. Days when the Holy Ghost catches me rolling my eyeballs, muttering under my breath, or allowing a little "simmering" of my emotions. But just as quickly as He catches me He can bring me back around to "doing my husband good ALL of my days" so that his heart can trust in me".

When I look back on all that the last 26 years has taught me, I stand in awe at what God can do in a heart, life and marriage. But what is much more exciting is that as I look ahead to another 26 years, I realize that I serve an inexhaustible God, who can and will continue to guard and build my marriage. I can look at my future and smile! And when it comes to being the kind of wife that I was designed to be, I can believe that someday, I will hear him say "you excel them all!"

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