Just back from a sweetheart banquet held at our church. The young people did a great job preparing and serving a wonderful meal, and I think it’s safe to say we all had a good time. After a skit and a few rounds of The Newlywed Game, it was time for Kevin and I to share. He spoke for a little bit and then I shared something I wrote this morning. I decided to post it here, too, though I’m not sure how it will be received. Oh well~here goes!
It is no secret that I am happy and am madly in love with my husband, but it hasn’t always been like this. Our marriage, like every marriage, has had its ups and downs. There were difficult years, times when I felt his job was his mistress, when the demands of mothering were great, times when I felt I was lying in bed next to a stranger, when I was so lonely that our marriage would have ended as another sad statistic had God not protected it. But God is faithful.
Back in 2005 Rhonda Schneider gave me a book that has made its rounds through much of the church. It is called “Created to be His Help Meet” by Debi Pearl. I consider this book to be one of the most valuable I have ever been given. I am aware that there is some controversy surrounding it, that not everyone agrees with or can accept what it teaches, but I have benefited greatly from and it, and I am here to testify to the truth of its subtitle that you, too, can “Discover how God can make your marriage glorious!” That said, I realize that we are all at different stages in our walk with the Lord and with our spouses and families, so if you decide to read it do so with an open heart and mind, chew it up, and if you find bones, spit them out!
It had been years since I’d read it, but I pulled it out again just for review and was amazed at how much of an impact it really did have. It was the first step in a very fulfilling journey. Ephesians 5:32-33 says “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you so love his wife even as himself, and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
There are twelve mysteries in God’s Word, but only the seventh is listed as the GREAT mystery. Each mystery is a strange, beautiful truth which is hard for us to understand. The old Webster’s dictionary defines mystery as, “something hidden from human knowledge and fitted to inspire a sense of awe; especially something incomprehensible through being above human intelligence. An enigma; anything artfully made difficult.”
Jesus wants us for a friend! He wants a companion, someone with whom to discuss ideas. He wants a playmate, someone with whom to laugh and enjoy life. He wants a buddy with whom to spend time. He wants a lover, someone to care about and someone to care about him. He wants a help meet, someone to share in his work of creation and management. He wants to be a groom, and he wants the Church to be his bride. This is the great mystery. He seeks to create in me and my relationship to my husband a working scale model of his relationship to the Church throughout eternity.
I believe that God entrusted to a man and his wife the opportunity, as a married couple, to be a living picture of “The Great Mystery”. I can honestly say that because I have known such love and closeness with my husband, it makes my understanding of and appreciation for God much deeper.
Ladies, men are different—not wrong, just different! Many of you benefited from the Love and Respect video series that was shown on Sunday nights last fall. I have come to relish the differences between men and women. God created the male sex with an extra dose of testosterone, which provokes him to want to work hard, conquer everything in his path, and subdue all things. At the same time it is amazing to me how vulnerable a man is when a woman treats him with honor!
Men, do you love your wives as Christ loved the church? I can honestly say that I know that I know that I know that my husband would die for me and that causes me to reverence him even more, which causes him to love me more, which causes me to reverence him more, and on and on we go in this wonderful cycle that is so much better than the crazy cycle many marriages find themselves in.
How do you start your own journey? Focus on your own life, on your own inadequacies, on making your own heart pure, and there will be no time to focus on your spouse’s. It is difficult enough to change ourselves; why do we feel we can or should change another? Learn to encourage each other and work at cracking the communication code, because it is so worth it. Don’t hold grudges—life is too short for that! Remember that a good marriage is good because one or both have learned to overlook the other’s faults, to love the other as they are and to not attempt to change them or bring them to repentance. No man has ever crawled out from under his wife’s criticism to be a better man—no matter how justified her condemnation may be. If you fight his inadequacies, both of you will fail. If you love him and support him with his inadequacies and without taking charge, both of you will succeed and grow.
“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.” (Prov. 12:4) Are you involved in active goodwill toward your husband? Your words are telling, and you must pray Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Your children will never honor their father if you don’t show reverence and honor to your husband. Is he perfect? No. Will he make mistakes? Yes. Hard as it is to keep from intervening and/or trying to “fix things”, there are times when husbands (and children as well!) must be allowed to fail and your “protection” can actually slow down or hinder the work God is trying to do in their lives. Equally as important, your responses to their failure carry more weight than you can imagine.
Finally, remember that “A joyful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). (And here I would also add that it is a terrific love potion!) Joy is the result of a thankful heart. If you have no joy, then open your mouth and begin to thank God for his grace toward you. Thank him for every good thing that he has brought into your life. If you don’t feel you have much to be thankful for, then allow me to schedule your next vacation to Sierra Leone or Haiti. We are so blessed in America and of all people should be the most grateful! Thank him, thank him, and thank him again until you find the joy returning. This, then, is the rule of life for wives: Live with thanksgiving, forgiveness, and joy, and cherish the time you have with your spouse, living as if today was your last because someday, all too soon, it will be.