November 22, 2011R-E-S-P-E-C-T … That is what He Needs from Me, Renee Swope
“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33 (NIV 1984)I have a confession to make: when my husband J.J. and I got married over 18 years ago, I took out the words “honor and obey” from my wedding vows. That line about submitting to my husband wasn’t in there either. Instead, I vowed to “submit my ideas and dreams” to my J.J. and trust God’s leadership in our marriage.
Yes, I had some serious issues going into marriage. As a young Christian, I was afraid of the “S” word, and wanted to make sure God and my witnesses didn’t catch me in a lie.
Like many women, I was terrified if I submitted to my husband I’d become a doormat and lose myself somewhere in the middle of letting my husband lead.
Regretfully, I remember the time J.J. told me it was easier to let me lead because it wasn’t worth the argument to him.
You’d think that’s what I wanted – to get my way – but it wasn’t because my husband became apathetic. Eventually I lost respect for my husband, and it was mostly my fault. I wanted him to lead, but when he tried I’d often criticize how he led. It was a mess!
I had been praying God would change J.J. and make him more decisive, more confident, more protective and well, just more what I wanted him to be. One day, God strongly impressed on my heart that my criticism wasn’t getting me any closer to my desired result. In fact, my frustration with J.J. only contributed to his own doubt as a man trying to follow God and lead His family.
The Holy Spirit also showed me I was fueling Satan’s flaming darts of condemnation aimed at my husband’s heart; joining efforts with the one who wanted to take out my husband as the leader of our home. Through prayer, I realized my husband needed me to be his greatest cheerleader and his biggest supporter verbally, emotionally and spiritually.
God challenged me to keep my mouth closed when J.J. did something I didn’t like or led in a way I didn’t want to follow. He encouraged me to tell my husband when I saw things I appreciated and use the power of my words to build up and not tear down my man.
I started doing what God showed me. I looked for and found things in my husband that I’d never noticed. I got intentional about noticing things I respected and letting God take care of things I didn’t. I made many choices to honor him in big and small ways. And you know what? I discovered so many things about my husband that were worthy of respect.
We’ve been through so much together over the years. I have learned to follow God as I trusted many of my husband’s decisions that scared me: job changes I didn’t want him to make; financial investments that seemed too risky; parenting issues that were hard. It hasn’t been easy, but I am thankful my husband has become the leader of our family. And I’ve become more comfortable following his leadership than I ever thought I’d be!
Dear Lord, I want to respect my husband and build him up with my words. Help me to measure my thoughts carefully and come to You with my complaints. I want to become my husband’s biggest cheerleader and watch You do Your thing in His life. I know this is possible as I depend on You to live Your life through me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.