I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while now. I know some friends of mine who would love to change things about their husbands. Don’t get me wrong. We love them and there are so many things we wouldn’t ever want to change, but I know we can all relate to the things we wish were a little different. And I’m sure there are many husbands out there who would say the same thing about their wives. I have recently felt like God is speaking to me about this in my relationship with Mike and all I can say is the message I’ve been getting loud and clear is that I am not my husband’s holy spirit.
I have found in many of my conversations with my friends and with myself, things that we want to change about our husbands sometimes fall into the “spiritual” category. Apparently, we think we know what is best for him and his relationship with Christ. I could easily give a checklist about what my friends and myself think our husbands should be doing differently to better his relationship with Christ.
1) He should frequently initiate prayer with his wife. I mean if I’m having a bad day I want to pray about it. Right?
2) He should want to read the Bible with his wife. I LOVE to read. Why shouldn’t I expect this from him too?
3) He should take initiative to communicate about his spiritual journey with his wife. Let’s stay up and talk about this for hours. Ha!
4) He should read his Bible a lot, in front of me, so I can see it to make me feel better for some reason.
5) Being a leader in the church in some capacity would be a nice bonus.
6) Insert some other expectation in your mind that you think your husband should be doing.
Seriously, though, I sat down and wrote down all the things I thought Mike should “grow” in as a Christian dad/husband of our home. Whether you’ve actually written these down or not, I’m sure you’ve got that list somewhere in your heart. My list had some similarities to the one above. I then made a list of all the things that Mike already is as a Christian dad/husband of our home. As I followed this process I felt God revealing to me that my perception of what we think our husbands should be are based more on worldly expectations instead of what God’s Word says.
Our checklists are based on our emotional desires/needs than maybe what God has really in store for them. Mike does initiate prayer. Maybe not everytime I wish he did, but he certainly does in other various situations. Mike does read his Bible. Honestly, I’m not sure how often he does this. If I was only around him every second of the day… God said to me,”Gloryanna, you’re not his Holy Spirit. What makes you think he needs to “grow” in all these things? How are you growing? What are you learning?” It was then that I knew God was re-directing my focus on to Him and my relationship with Him and where I’m at in my journey with Him.
I was reminded of John Eldredge’s book Love and War when he talks about how mysterious marriage is, yet it is so obvious that God created the union between a man and a woman to reflect His relationship with us. As a result, our marriages are an element to cause us to grow in our relationship with Christ. What is beautiful about this is that in the way I view Mike as “weak” or needs to grow, I find that I’m relatively strong at. I’m sure many of you have learned this in your marriage that you both tend to have complimenting strengths and weaknesses. Where I’m weak, he’s strong. Where he’s weak, I’m strong.
I had never really thought before about how my strengths could be used to help encourage Mike and influence him in a positive way. For example, when I wake in the mornings, I have found that I like to pray before my feet hit the ground. Starting the day off choosing joy and God’s peace is vital to my daily walk. Instead of being discouraged that Mike isn’t all bright-eyed and bushy-taled to start the day like that with me, doesn’t mean I can’t initiate that for BOTH of us as we start our day.
As a result, on Mondays and Wednesdays, I roll over and whisper to Mike that I’m going to pray for our day. Come to find out, he loves that I do this and it means a lot for him to start his day this way. Simple example of something that I could have easily been irritated with and gone about all the wrong way. I find many of us might say something to our husbands like, “you know, it would be really nice if we prayed more together. Why don’t we take turns praying before we get out of bed?” or maybe something like “I wish you would pray in the mornings with me. It would make you feel so much better.”
I don’t know about your husbands, but Mike can hardly function in the mornings, let alone in bed at 6:00AM in the dark. I realized this is a strength for me and it comes naturally to get up and get going in the mornings. Why shouldn’t I do this for Mike? It has brought him a lot of encouragement on his stressful days to have that quick few minutes with me and the Lord in the morning to start his day off.
It’s funny when you start to look at how you and your spouse compliment each other. Here I’ve gone on about praying to start the day off, but many times, in the heat of a trial or challenge, I can easily start to rely on my own reasoning to try and solve the problem. I’m such a “go-getter” that this can get the best of me at times. There have been times I would get frustrated because I felt Mike wasn’t being active in helping the situation, only to find that he’s taking his time, meditating and praying about it. He is quick to remind me to chill out and pray and breathe for a second. A great character trait that didn’t show up on my expectations list. I mean if he doesn’t read his Bible at the start of every day that’s a problem, but lets overlook how he acts when we’re faced with a challenge.
I’m so quick to forget and become clouded with my own list. God loves us unconditionally and doesn’t put legalistic expectations on us in our relationship with him. Why am I doing that to my husband? Well, I know Satan gets a lot of satisfaction from this. Another great thing about Eldredge’s book Love and War. He reminds us that we are at war in our marriages. Satan wants nothing more than to bring bitterness, discontent, anger, etc., into our marriages. We forget we are on the same team.
We can so easily lose sight of the big picture and what God is doing in our relationship with our spouse. Some of our husbands really may need to grow in some of the areas on our list but in the end, they have free will and choices, just like us. We are not their Holy Spirit. We are their helpmates. So what does this mean? As Mike’s helpmate and wife, I want to be as encouraging to him as possible in his relationship with Christ. I’ve got a good hunch that any rude remarks or “guilting” conversations are certainly not going to encourage him. Why is it that many of us feel that if we just tell them what their doing wrong, it’s a good idea? The more I think about that, the dumber it sounds. I have NEVER responded well to someone “guilting” me or condemning me. If anything, I pull away from that person. I am immediately reminded of 1 Peter 3:1-5
The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance–they styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes–but your inner disposition.
To me, this is a huge reminder of how actions speak louder than words. To me this says, you are your husband’s helpmate. The way you live will encourage him. Of course this doesn’t mean that anything we say just floats off, pointless. We all know communication is important. And let’s face it, we are definitely going to screw this up daily. That’s the beauty of surrendering to Christ and managing that surrender daily. Letting Christ grow in us and taking the focus off of what our husbands aren’t doing, focus on what they are doing, and really focus on what God is doing in us, will bring us peace. Let God take care of the rest. Trust can be a marvelous experience when we truly release ourselves to it.
You know what’s interesting, before those verses about wives, if you notice Peter says “The same goes for you wives.” Well, Peter just got done talking about the kind of life Christ lived while he was on earth. Yah, he talks about how he was crucified and suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. I know these verses can touch our hearts in a lot of different ways, but I don’t think we can overlook the fact that Peter wrote these verse hand in hand. If anything, it reminds me that God will set things right. God does care about every detail of our lives. Focusing on that brings me peace about what the future and present hold for my marriage. I certainly don’t get those feelings when I get all wrapped up in what I think my husband should be doing.
I would encourage you take a few moments and make a list of all the positive, godly character traits your husband has. Keep that list some place you know you’ll read it often. Maybe at the bottom write “I am not my husband’s Holy Spirit, but I am his helpmate.”
Evaluate your strengths as his wife and helpmate. Think about ways your strengths could bring encouragement to him. What actions could you do? Ask God to show you ways you can bring encouragement to your husband, instead of resorting to a “guilting conversation.”
Evaluate his strengths as your husband and helpmate. What areas have you overlooked or forgotten about because you were focused on your expectations instead of what he is already strong at?
Give yourself a brief moment, as much as possible (I try to do this daily) when you can pray and speak positive over your husband and your marriage. I love The Secret Power of Speaking God’s Word by Joyce Meyer. She has a whole section with bible verses for wives to confess out loud about their husband, marriage, and themselves. I have these posted in various places in my house, along with other verses about being a mom and prayers for your children. There is huge value and effect in writing God’s word down and posting it around you to read. Habakkuk 2:2 says
Then the Lord replied, “write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that anyone can read it easily.”
Whatever you do, don’t stop praying. Whatever you do, forgive yourself and your husband for anything that is keeping you from experiencing the joy God wants you to have in your marriage. Marriage is hard. We know forgiveness can seem even harder sometimes. Remember, you and your husband are on the same team. Think about how much energy we waste being angry or wishing for things to change. How much joy are you letting Satan rob from you? Take back your joy. Choose happiness. Choose encouragement. Choose to be the wonderful helpmate God picked long before the earth was created for your husband. Accept that you are going to fail at this at times and as you accept the flaws in yourself, accept the flaws in your husband. Embrace the redemption Christ brings to us.