Well, friends, what a week we’ve had. It’s been a humbling, challenging, and incredibly rewarding week.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23)
The gist of this is, quite clearly, that we are at risk of becoming so engulfed in certain areas of our spiritual life that we become blind to even more important areas. And, the remedy is not then turning and focusing on one, again to the abandonment of the other, but to turn attention to both, in the right priority.
So as you know we’ve been in this grand adventure of learning about giving, asking God to give us a heart for people, laying up treasures in heaven, etc. I’ve also had a very busy past few months with many teaching opportunities. Jeff has been awesome through it all, supporting me, taking the kids the weekend of my conference, having them during evenings when I studied–the works, he’s done it.
And yes, it’s been wonderful to get to teach so much, it’s been wonderful learning about giving, learning about letting go of so many things I thought were important. It’s been an amazing time of growth and I’m thankful. But there was something nagging at me all along the way and I couldn’t figure out what it was. Something just didn’t seem quite right. I kept asking God if we’d made the wrong decision about putting our house up and felt no, that that was right. I kept naming things, is it this? is it this? is it this? No, no, no, I couldn’t figure it out. I knew there was no obvious sin in my life, but something wasn’t settled in my heart. I just had this strange feeling that something wasn’t right.
And yes, my dear husband (he’s encouraged me to share this), was going through a hard time. And, confession time–given that the natural inclination of my personality (and flesh) is not compassion, I was frustrated by his struggle. I kept encouraging him, pushing him, trying to offer advice. It just seemed to get worse. I didn’t get it.
Finally, Sunday/Monday we had a marital hiccup. Nothing horrible, just enough for us to look at each other and realize something needed to change. Monday night I sat in bed and prayed, and realized, with the clarity that makes you go, “DUH!” what hadn’t been right all this time. I’d been tithing my mint and my dill and my cummin, I’d been teaching God’s word and studying and growing and giving and taking steps of faith … but, I’m ashamed to say, I’d been a pretty lousy wife. I sat and prayed and so clearly knew that it was time to make a choice–I could be the wife God called me to be or I could selfishly pursue my own way. I could devote myself to praying for, encouraging, cheering for, uplifting, supporting, honoring, respecting my husband, or I could pursue my own path. I have half a wit of sense to know which one to choose.
The next morning I woke up with a renewed focus. I pulled out a book that’d been sitting on my shelf for over a year, unread. Created to Be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl. Now the Pearls have some controversy surrounding them, and I am not saying they are the end-all on Bible interpretation, but girls I tell ya, this book is a refreshing breath of biblical air in a world polluted with feminist smog! I found myself loving how scandalously politically incorrect she is as she quotes her King James Bible and unashamedly counsels women to honor and respect their husbands regardless of whether they deserve it or not. So do I recommend the book? Absolutely. Will you throw it across the room? Probably. But if God has you in a place where you are willing to be kicked in the gut a little by a woman from little house on the prairie, in order to bless your husband and transform your marriage … it might be just the book for you.
Here’s what was most encouraging to me. She goes through the Three Types of Men. Now I admit, when I started this section I rolled my eyes and thought, “Oh boy, I hate this kind of thing. It’s oversimplified nonsense.” I looked at the first two: Mr. Command? Nope. Mr. Visionary? Nope. The third one looked like a possibility: Mr. Steady. Ok, I thought, I’ll give it a read.
Well I about fell out of my chair. It fit us to a T. But here’s what was so exciting. Oftentimes when I read these wife books I feel like the portrait of a perfect wife is someone who never speaks, who doesn’t have any life ambitions of her own, who doesn’t know the least bit about anything so that her husband feels really knowledgeable, and who giggles a lot. In fact, on Tuesday as I read that’s about as far as I got, and I’ll admit it was a good process for me, to be humbled and broken and ready to say, “Ok God, if being a good wife really does mean letting a whole bunch of me die, then I’m willing. If it means that only one of us can really flourish in our giftings, then let it be Jeff. Show me what it looks like to be what he needs.” But then I read about Mr. Steady, and then specifically what Mr. Steady loves in a wife, and it was as if I was reading exactly who I am (or aim to be). I wish I could read you the whole 4-page description because I feel like I would love all my friends who are married to a Mr. Steady to have a renewed respect and appreciation for their man, the man in the shadows who serves, gives, loves–often without the recognition or praise of the world … or of their wives.
That night Jeff asked if he could see what I was reading (let’s just say he’d noticed a significant improvement in our marriage!), and so I showed him this section. He agreed–it was exactly right on, about both who he is, and what he loves about me.
So the truth is, of course, that I don’t need to be the perfect wife. Especially since she doesn’t exist. I just need to be the perfect wife for Jeff. Here’s a few lines of what Mr. Steady loves in a wife:
Your husband will enjoy and share in your triumphs. He will be proud of your accomplishments. he will want you to use your natural skills, abilities, and drives. Your achievements will be an honor to him … He needs a resourceful, hardworking woman with dignity and honor. It is important to Mr. Steady that his wife be self-sufficient in all the mundane tasks of daily living…Your hobbies should be creative and useful, involving your children so that all of you are busy and productive during your day … Your skills and achievements are your husband’s resume … At the end of the day, Mr. Steady will enjoy weighing what he has accomplished with what you have accomplished and will rejoice in the value of having a worthy partner in the grace of life.
Can I just say I about did cartwheels around my living room when I read that? And I really did cartwheels when I saw that the word “mundane” was in this description. And really really did cartwheels when my husband confirmed that that is his sentiment exactly. That means that I can be me! I can love managing our home, that I can study the ins and outs of financial investments without his feeling threatened, that I can teach and write and pursue creative interests. In fact, it honors him when I flourish. All day long I just kept thanking God that I am married to this man!
So then, what needs to change? For us I simply needed to adjust my priorities. Just as Matthew 23:23 said, when we realize we’ve neglected another spiritual matter, we aren’t to abandon the “tithing of mint and dill,” we’re to shift our priorities without neglecting anything else (unless, of course, there was something worthless that we were attending to.) After a week of spending time with my man, and actually listening to him, I realized that there wasn’t anything huge that needed to change, I just needed a big dose of honor. Debi Pearl helped me see that I had completely neglected to treat Jeff as the king of our home. I hadn’t honored him. Let’s just say I wept when I realized how patient he had been with me as I had failed to give him the respect and honor that God calls us, as wives, to give.
And, here’s the saddest part, I realized I had been trying to make him into a Mr. Command or a Mr. Visionary, when all along I had had a GEM of a Mr. Steady who simply needed a wife to honor him for who he is. I had inadvertently become Jeff’s coach instead of his wife. Ladies, our husbands do not need another coach. All week long they will hear what they should be, how they should do it, what decisions they should make. Don’t you think they might like to just come home to some warm arms, and not another person who shoulds them around the house? Just think for a moment, if we want our husbands to spend more time at home–do you think they’d rather come home to a big smile, a delicious meal, and a warm embrace, or would they rather come home to a drill sergeant with a whistle, a scowl, and honey-do list as long as her leg? Hmm….
Girls, yes, I pray that you excel in giving, that you are frugal beyond belief, that you can manage to feed a dozen people with nothing but a pile of beans and a cup of flour. I pray you know your Bibles, I pray that you reach the nations and influence the other women in your path. But oh dear girls, I pray first and foremost that we would honor and respect our husbands. I do not want to be guilty of tithing my silly herbs yet neglecting to honor the man of my home. How foolish that would be! What a waste!
Let’s, instead, keep on doing all those wonderful things, but place them beneath the first priority that is blessing, honoring, respecting, supporting, encouraging that man that God has given as our life partner. (And if you don’t have a husband yet, learn this now and save yourself some grief down the road!)
“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1