After attending the SMASH women’s retreat at SpringHill Camp in May 2012, I was inspired to write about what I experienced. I was particularly struck by one common theme throughout the weekend: we focus on what we lack instead of what we possess.
We live in endless pursuit of what we’re missing, instead of living in gratefulness for what we have. Have you ever wished you could “lose that last 10 pounds”, only to find yourself a year later 10 pounds heavier instead of 10 pounds lighter? Did you look back and wish you could have been grateful right where you were the year before? I know I’ve been there, done that.
It’s a sad fact, but men tend to grow more and more handsome every year (grey hair and all!). We women, on the other hand, tend to grow more wrinkled, saggy, less able to bear children, overall less “attractive”. Fun, isn’t it? But Proverbs 31 says of “the woman of noble character”:
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Did that mention anything about what she looks like? Nope. Nothing. But how much time do we waste on thinking about what we look like?
Check out the whole passage: Proverbs 31:10-31. She isn’t praised for her charm and beauty, but for how she treats those around her, how she spends her time, and probably more importantly, how she doesn’t spend her time. It is our character that makes us more and more beautiful – the way we make others feel.
You may have heard, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. I’ve also heard, “People don’t remember what you said or what you did. They remember the way you made them feel.” I think that’s true and that it works both ways. You can make them feel horrible or you can make them feel treasured. The more we treasure our husbands and build them up, the more beautiful we become in their eyes. If you want to be loved and cherished in your old age, love and respect your husband now. 🙂
At the SMASH retreat, Michaell Dupin taught us that a wife, or a “helpmate”, is not just a “helper”. A helpmate can be compared to “military reinforcements without whom the battle would be lost.” Wow. We have a critically important job. This isn’t about me getting my needs met – this is about winning a battle. And that battle started with a curse way back in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:16 (NLT):
Then he said to the woman,
“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,
and in pain you will give birth.
And you will desire to control your husband,
but he will rule over you.”
Contrast that with the Apostle Paul’s instructions to husbands and wives in his letter to the Ephesians (5:33 NIV):
“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
The curse was that she would want to control him, but God wants her to respect him.
The curse was that he would rule over her, but God wants him to lay down his life for her (as Christ loved the church).
We expect unconditional love from our husbands, but for some reason, we refuse to give them unconditional respect. We expect them to have to earn our respect, but we don’t expect to have to earn their love, do we? What would happen if we chose differently? How would things change if we changed our response?
I was given some very important marital advice several years ago. I was told, “You are not John’s enemy. He is not your enemy. You are on the same team. But you have an enemy and he hates you and hates your marriage. He wants to eternally separate you from God, but he can’t. So he’ll do everything he can to separate you from the very people who love you and support you. And, if you don’t recognize his schemes, you’ll help him do this by adding fuel to the fire.”
Let’s go back to that first paragraph. We focus on what we lack instead of what we possess. What do we possess? We possess the ability to choose what we focus on. What if we chose to respect our husbands unconditionally? I’m not talking about flattery. Really, it has a lot more to do with what we don’t say than what we do say:
1) Choosing NOT to correct him, especially not in public
2) Choosing NOT to tell him what he forgot to do
3) Choosing NOT to give him 18 reasons why his idea won’t work
4) Choosing NOT to overload him with requests when he walks in the door after work
5) Choosing NOT to punish him for “hurting your feelings”
6) Choosing NOT to ask him if you look fat in that outfit (there is no good response here)
7) Choosing NOT to interrupt him when he’s actually talking to you (you want him to talk to you, right?)
8) Choosing NOT to tell him every detail of your day (get to the point – God gave you girlfriends for a reason – they want to hear details – he doesn’t, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you – his brain just doesn’t work that way)
9) Fill in the blank – you know what irritates him – choose NOT to do it
What if we chose to fuel the fire of respect? I think we’d get a lot more of that unconditional love we’ve been looking for. Maybe we didn’t marry the wrong man. Maybe he married the wrong woman? We can do something about it. We can choose to become Ms Right.
Very important side note: If you are being abused, this does not apply to you. Please get yourself and your children to a safe place. No one deserves to be abused and you are not being “submissive” by allowing the abuse to continue. Please find help now.