Recently I have had several occasions to think deeply about what it means to be a godly wife. Through a couple of books I’ve read, a couple of classes I’ve taught, a couple of classes I’ve attended, and just a few conversations I’ve had, the Holy Spirit has been working to strengthen convictions that were already strong in my heart, as well as to show me areas where conviction was needed but was lacking. I share them here so that I can publicly commit to my husband to be striving for more consistent obedience in these areas, and also so that maybe others can be encouraged by the Spirit’s work in a sister-in-Christ.
I’ve been convicted of:
* the truth that my call to obedience as a wife does not depend on my husband’s obedience. I should not hold submission and respect in my hand, only releasing them if he indeed loves me as Christ loves the church. I should not spend my time evaluating my husband, adjusting my treatment of him to his treatment of me. Instead, I should simply obey Scripture: submit to his leadership, respect him, love him, serve him. I should do these things just as if he is laying down his life for me as Christ did for the church, regardless of whether he really is or not. If he is not obeying God’s standards for husbands, it is not my job to be the Holy Spirit to him. I am to live with him, having a gentle and quiet spirit, so that, Lord willing, without a word he may be won back to obedience, without one nag from me. Even if this doesn’t happen, I am to continue to follow the biblical guidelines God has given to wives, refusing only if my husband asks me to directly sin. Clay, I am sorry for the times that I have withheld respect and submission and love and service from you simply because I felt like you didn’t deserve it. Lord, help me love him biblically whether he deserves it or not, as You have loved me when I don’t deserve it, and just as Clay loves me whether I am lovable or not.
* of the many forms of disrespect that wives engage in without even realizing it. It is disrespectful when I join in conversations that are basically women taking turns sharing things they don’t like about their husbands. It is disrespectful to interrupt my husband when he’s talking to others, correct him when he gets details wrong, or answer for him. It is disrespectful to act, talk, or treat my husband like he is my oldest child instead of the leader of my home. It is disrespectful to verbally “pat my husband’s head” when he does something to serve me: “Wow, he actually gave the kids a bath tonight.” “Oh, my goodness, he picked up his own clothes from the floor. Does he have a fever?” “Bless his heart, he tried to get the kids dressed. He did the best he could.”–as if I am the grownup admiring our child’s efforts to be helpful, even though they don’t quite measure up. It is disrespectful to let others see or hear or especially take part in my disagreements with my husband. It is disrespectful, even if it’s just in front of my children, to make fun of or roll my eyes when my husband does something to serve me or please me and it isn’t what I needed, or when he assumes leadership in a way that I don’t agree with. It is disrespectful to complain that my husband is not stepping up to lead or to help with the children or the housework, and then correct or redo or disagree with him when he tries to do so. This list could go on and on, but Clay, I am sorry for all the times and all the ways that I have been disrespectful to you without even realizing it. Lord, help me to be ever vigilant of my words and attitudes, being careful to show respect always, even in disagreements.
* of the many ways that wives usurp their husband’s leadership, just like Eve. My husband is to be the head of my home, and as such, he will be the one held accountable before God for the decisions made in our family and for the many aspects of life that go on in our home. Therefore, when I act as if the childcare decisions are mine to make alone, I am usurping his leadership. When I act as if the home-making decisions are mine to make alone, I am usurping his leadership. When I fill up our schedule with plans and activities and then just inform him where to be and what time, I am usurping his leadership. When I am the one who knows all my children’s friends and my children’s likes and dislikes and struggles and achievements and heartbreaks and elations, and I don’t bother to share with him or encourage the children to share with him, I am usurping his leadership. If he doesn’t take the iniative to be a part of all of these things, then it is my job to gently take them to him and lay them out for his opinions. Yes, I am the primary care-giver to the children, so most of their interaction is with me each day, but that does not exempt him from leadership over childcare. Yes, I may be the one on the front-lines making many of the decisions, but the decisions should be made after I’ve discussed the options with my husband and submitted to his opinion on what should be done. Does this mean that I need to call him everytime the kids ask my permission to do something, or every time I’m at the store wondering whether to buy something? No. The idea would be to regularly be in conversation with him about all the aspects of home life so that I know what his stance is on different issues and I can make decisions feeling confident that those decisions are ones that would be in submission to his leadership. I believe with all my heart that while we will both be held accountable for our actions as a dad and as a mom, he will be held accountable as a leader, and I will be held accountable as one who submitted (or didn’t submit) to my husband’s leadership. Just as he will be held accountable for all the areas in which he failed to step up and lead, I will be held accountable for the areas in which I simply took the reins without including him. Clay, I’m sorry for the times when I have taken over leadership in our home and with our children. Lord, please give me a heart of submission. Help me to act slowly, pausing to think about my husband’s desires and goals for our home and for our family–seeking him out if those desires and goals aren’t already clear–and then acting accordingly. May my husband’s lack of leadership never be because I have stolen that position from him.
* of the way we let the opinions of others dictate the actions and lifestyles of our families. There have been times when I knew my kids shouldn’t watch a certain movie or tv show or have a certain toy, but I let them anyway because that’s what the group was doing and I was afraid of looking weird for having a different standard of what my kids watch or play with. There have been times when I stood by while my children have acted inappropriately, knowing that I should correct them, but keeping my mouth shut because the other moms saw no problem with how the children were acting and I didn’t want to seem too strict. There have been times when I have said, “Your daddy would die if he saw us right now,” but proceeded anyway because I cared too much about what people thought of me and didn’t have enough backbone to be the only parent saying no. Clay, I am sorry for the times when I let my fear of man take precedence over being a godly wife and a godly mom. Lord, help me to remain true to the convictions You’ve given me, regardless of whether they fit into popular opinion or not. Help me aim for the crown of life, not for the approval of others.
I feel like I could go on and on and on, and I’m sure there will be more posts on marriage and family in the future, but these are the main convictions God has laid on me over the past couple of weeks. Too often, we don’t think about whether we are being biblical wives, instead just going along with the flow around us. We just act like every other wife, modeling ourselves after people we know instead of after the pattern laid out in Scripture. If we act in the way that comes naturally to us, if we act in the way that is the norm in society, chances are very good that we will not be acting biblically. Living biblically will never be the norm in this life, and living biblically will never be the main inclination of sinful flesh. So if you are just like all the other wives around you, then there are most likely areas in which you need to do some serious heart surgery. Be bold. Have the courage to be different from all the other wives. If people start to think you’re weird, so be it. I know I’m going to fail in these areas again, because this kind of mindset is difficult to maintain, thanks to the sinful flesh still warring with my spirit. But I refuse to remain in my failures. Lord, help me be a biblical wife, regardless of whether my husband is a biblical husband (and thank you for giving me such a godly man who most often does love me biblically), and help me to be a biblical wife, regardless of whether any other woman around me is living the same way or not (and thank you for placing other women in my life who are striving for biblical obedience in their marriages so that I am not alone.)