A Wifely Victory

Recently I had a wonderful victory in the area of reverencing my husband. I am sure you will laugh at it because it seems such a small thing. To me it was monumental even though I have been growing greatly in reverencing and submitting to my husband, particularly through the last five years.

My parents were coming over with my ninety-one-year-old grandmother. They were treating our family to ordered-in pizza. We had set a time for them to come and for the pizza to arrive. So, exactly what was my victory in the midst of this small celebration? It was pretty simple. I didn’t remind Steve to call early for the pizza to arrive at the designated time! Doesn’t that sound silly? Why would this be a victory for me? It is because I think Steve won’t remember such things unless I remind him.

This victory did not come without a battle. I thought about reminding him. I even considered how I might do this without it seeming like I was. As it neared time for our guests to arrive, I so wanted to ask him if he had ordered the pizza. When this thought popped up into my mind, I had to take it to the Lord. 2 Corinthians 10:5, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” I prayed that the Lord would help me hold my tongue and that reverencing Steve would be more important than having the pizza arrive on time.

I realized that even if Steve did forget to order the pizza, the worst that would happen is he would realize this when my folks arrived, order it, and we would wait a while for dinner. Guess what? He didn’t forget! Not only did he not forget, I didn’t have to remind him!

Do you realize what small victories like this do for my future in reverencing my husband? Each one grows my faith in my Lord and my husband. Next time I will not have such a battle with my thoughts over whether to remind or not. It will be easier to rest, having the meek and quiet spirit I so desire (1 Peter 3:4)!

What if Steve had forgotten to order the pizza? I would still have had the peace in my heart that reverencing my husband was more important than when the food arrived. What a petty issue to be concerned about–timing of food delivery! In this particular case, it would have been just fine for the pizza to be late. My parents, due to a small emergency before they left home, were not able to arrive at the agreed-upon time. It could have been the Lord’s plan not to have the timing for the pizza arrival be our timing.

I wonder if you have begun thinking about the reverencing of your husband. Ephesians 5:33 ends with, “and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” I have always thought of reverencing as respecting. However, no matter how I turned the definition of reverencing around, it came back to me as a much deeper relationship than just respect. Respect takes us a long way, but where do we go with reverencing?

I have become aware, through the Holy Spirit’s promptings in my life, of ways I don’t reverence or even respect my husband. Much of it comes from me wanting to control and conform Steve to what I think he should be. This would not be overt to an outside observer. Nor do I feel like I purpose to do this; it just seems to be ingrained in my nature! It is so important that I see and evaluate these controlling behaviors realistically. I am talking about things like this: reminding so that he doesn’t forget something important, having a better idea when he brings up a suggestion, giving him “direction” for what he should or should not do or say, always asking where he is going and what he is doing, requesting the details of his phone conversations. I can put on a sweet voice and a smile thinking that will make my controlling ways acceptable. The truth is it doesn’t. Part of reverencing Steve is being under his authority without trying to manipulate him to my wishes.

Please understand this doesn’t mean I never do any of these things. They just aren’t the overriding characteristics of our relationship. As Steve and I have discussed these issues, he has decided that he would like me to ask if he wants reminders about certain areas that need addressing. We freely discuss, as husband and wife, what is going on in our lives. This gives the proper platform for me to give “wifely” input. How much better in our private discussion of a problem concerning the children to offer a suggestion than to raise my eyebrows at him in front of the children or speak a critical word to him! Usually Steve tells me where he is going, what he is doing, and shares details of phone conversations I would be interested in. So what does it matter if, on occasion, he doesn’t do this? Do I need to jump on it and ask him? Can I rest in the Lord knowing that if I need to know the Lord will prompt Steve to tell me?

To be honest with you, this is a struggle for me. I don’t want to have to watch my words or tone of voice with my husband. I don’t care for needing to wait on him to ask for my opinion or counsel on a subject. I want to know all about his phone conversation with a mutual friend. These limitations frustrate me.

1 Peter 3:4 says in relation to wives, “But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” I am learning that the Lord is more concerned about the meek and quiet spirit He desires of me than that everything is the way I want it. When I consider it, do I truly want to be a controlling, nagging, “always have a better idea” wife?

The Lord has been giving me another thought in this area. How can I possibly know that what I believe is right in a given situation is actually the way to go? After all, Scripture does say, “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body” (Ephesians 5:23). I am convinced that Christ, as the head of the church, is always right! While my husband is a fallible, sinful human, this word picture in Ephesians puts him in the same position in relation to me as that of Christ and the church. It is something for me to seriously consider when everything within me wants to have a situation go “my way”! Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Perhaps God has a purpose for the times Steve fails that is greater than if he did exactly what I thought he should!

I see that a part of reverencing my husband is truly trusting in his decisions, not only when they match my own. Choosing to do this puts him in a position of being responsible to the Lord, not to me. Obviously, there will be times of failure on my husband’s part. For some husbands it may be a whole lifetime of failure. Will I compound this by my own discontent, nagging, and controlling? Will I choose to reverence my husband, trusting and obeying my Lord’s command?

What about you? I expect there are areas in your relationship with your husband where you can begin to pray about and learn to let go of controlling. Will you be more concerned with following the Lord, in obedience to His Word to you as a wife, than you are about having things go the way you think they should? May the Lord encourage our hearts as we seek Him in our quest to be the wives He has called us to be.

Overcoming Anger for Homeschool Dads – Part 1

Mildred is probably in her seventies and has short, straight, gray hair. Her life is clearly displayed on her face as it is so often with the elderly. Her bottom lip protrudes sharply from her face as a young pouting child’s often does. However, hers is fixed there due to many unhappy years. I don’t believe I have ever seen her smile.

In spite of all that, I love Mildred. She has been a resident at the County Infirmary for the nine years our family has participated in a church service there on the first and third Saturdays of the month. For years, I asked Mildred if she would come to church. With lip out, she would shake her head back and forth and say, “I don’t want to.” I would pat her shoulder, maybe speak with her briefly, and go down the hallway.

Then, to my surprise, Mildred, one day a year or so ago, said, “Yes.” I couldn’t believe it, but not wanting her to change her mind I grabbed the wheelchair handles and whisked her away to the dayroom. Since then she faithfully answers, “yes,” and I push her down to church, patting her shoulder and talking to her all the way.

There are others I would share about as well, if we had time. By patiently expressing love and encouragement, we have seen God do a wonderful work in their lives. However, I’m convicted that I will often expend greater emotional effort and patience with these elderly friends than I do with my own children! It gets worse than that. I know that there are times when I’m more patient with our golden retriever than with the children! Truly, that is something I have pondered and am not very proud of.

Anger Damages Relationships

Anger has to be the most damaging emotion a father can pour out on his children, whether I raise my voice or simply have an irritated tone. I know that, and yet I still will choose to let myself get angry. It really is a choice. If we say it isn’t, we are lying to ourselves. A good test is if our children do something wrong when someone we want to impress is present (perhaps at church), versus when we are at home by ourselves. Do we respond in the same way? I know I frequently don’t. But unless I want to damage my relationship with my children, anger cannot be allowed.

To begin to overcome anger, I have to first acknowledge that my anger is wrong and simply a matter of choice. I will not control my temper unless I see it first as sin. “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. . .” (Matthew 5:22). It is clear that 99.9999% of our anger is sin. I know some will say that Jesus was angry, and the above verse referred to a “cause.” However, I believe that seldom, if ever, do we dads really have a just cause that Christ would agree with. I’m not referring to larger issues such as abortion, but matters of the home. Jesus’ anger was righteous anger, and I expect if we critically evaluated why we were angry at home we would see it is sin.

Disobedience is not an Excuse for Dad’s Anger

Perhaps I will get angry because the child did not obey me. That is pride. It is not out of concern that my child has broken God’s command for him or her to obey me. I want the child to obey me. Simple. If one child hurts another, and I am angry, is my anger because they sinned against God by not showing brotherly love? No. My anger would be due to my desire for peace in the home and it has been disturbed. Yes, it is possible that it could be righteous anger but ever so unlikely. We would be far better off to allow the Lord Jesus to be the One to demonstrate righteous anger.

“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26). Even if it was righteous anger, the question is whether I will sin or not when I’m angry. We would not be commanded in Scripture to “sin not” if we couldn’t control it. I believe that even when I have an irritated tone in my voice, that is sin. I’m not being loving and patient, and God has called me to serve my family, not my own selfish pleasures.

Last weekend our family was returning from Teri’s grandmother’s funeral in Iowa, and I had a wonderful opportunity to be kind and patient. The children had had no naps for two days previously, and it was their naptime. They were all quite tired, and soon the situation was definitely not Christ-like. Complaining, crying, and other less admirable activities were taking place in the back of the van.

I was content to drive and did not want to have to pull off the side of the road to deal with it. It was laziness on my part, and as a result, I became angry. After a while, I was tired and wanted Nathan to drive while I got some rest. An amazing thing happened! As soon as I was in the back with the children, they settled down and there were no more problems. Had I been willing to stop earlier when it was needful, it would have been a far more pleasant trip, and I would not have gotten angry.

We have worked hard to teach our children proper table etiquette, but that had become a real source of frustration and anger for me. This may sound stupid to you, but it is true. I had one child in particular who would not chew with his lips together and others who would either eat with their elbows on the table or not sit up nicely. I would remind them and remind them, and eventually I would get angry. You can imagine that did not make for pleasant meals. God is so gracious though. When we desire to please Him and if we cry out for wisdom, He is faithful in answering our prayers.

Find Creative Consequences

I asked the Lord to help me train them without getting angry. The idea came to me that if a child is demonstrating poor manners I could catch their attention and then raise my pointer finger indicating the first mark. If I see another problem with the same child, I will raise two fingers indicating two marks. If I see a third occurrence, they are excused from the meal. I have found this very freeing. I have a way of communicating the problem without getting angry, and there are consequences that the children will work hard to avoid. Seldom has anyone had to be excused from the table, and I now have children who are striving to demonstrate proper manners. The best part of it is I don’t get angry any longer over training the children at the table.

I have found that if I confess my anger as sin, repent of it, and cry out to the Lord for ways to avoid it, He will meet me at my point of need. Anger and love will not coexist. I have to be willing to die to my own agenda to get a grip on anger. I know that I cannot go wrong by grieving and repenting over every occurrence of it. May we be men of God and turn our hearts to our children by choosing not to get angry. Christ will be glorified and our children will flourish in our love.