Recently a mom asked me to write about practical tips for staying healthy and feminine in a busy life style. I told her I’d be happy to do so, because this is an important and fun topic for Christian women, but it seems only a few (and especially one) aspect of Godly femininity is usually mentioned and taught.
There is so much more to a truly beautiful woman. Godly beauty starts inwardly, yet shows itself outwardly.
Many Christian women read 1 Timothy 2:9 and interpret the Greek word used for “modest” as covering themselves appropriately. We are taught from an early age not to show too much skin and to cover our bodies in public. But I want to say, this is only part of the meaning of modesty.
“….Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” 1 Timothy 2:9
KJV translates the word for modest with this: “orderly; that is, decorous; of good behavior, modest”
Though I believe appropriately covering our bodies is important, it is difficult to argue that this is the primary meaning of the Greek word “kosmios”. Rather, I see that God wants us to wear clothing that is pleasing to the eye in a modest manner. We are to take care of our appearance and make sure it is orderly and even decorous. In short, women who are pleasant in their appearance bring glory to God.
The Christian church has focused on “modesty” (their interpretation of modesty) more than on health. I’ve watched the results—many fully covered, unhealthy, unhappy women who are not taught the actual meaning of “kosmios”.
Here are a few things I believe are vital for Godly womanhood:
1. Do what you can to stay healthy.
One of the first steps to spiritual, emotional, and physical health is to keep our weight in check. Buy the weight loss program if you have to. Make it priority—rule over food rather than allow food to rule over you.
Buy a good scale and watch your weight–and if you’re married, do this even while pregnant. “Eating for two” doesn’t mean inhaling two donuts or five pancakes. Double up on the veggies, protein, and vitamins instead, if you need to. If we’re really eating for two rather than eating for ourselves, we’ll be eating in ways that are actually good for our baby and our body. Remember, you’re eating for your baby to form in the healthiest way possible.
The scale is your friend. Use it often and if you see numbers go up, do what it takes to stop the incline before you have serious regrets. This includes while you’re pregnant. If you consume too many empty calories while pregnant, the scale won’t drop easily after the baby is born. (Don’t allow yourself to gain 80 pounds if you only need to gain 40, etc.)
I’m not talking about being a size 2. BUT, I believe women need to encourage each other to stay healthy. Emotionally eating ourselves to ten sizes larger than we should be is not becoming for Godly women. This is a sensitive topic and not one we hear taught, but we need to start hearing it! Physical appearance matters and it affects us more than we know. Let’s not label health and fitness as worldly, but realize this is an area where the church often fails to live exemplary lives. Others look on and wonder why Christians preach against addictions, yet are addicted to over-indulgence with food. Do not all addictions harm the body, and why should teens accept preaching against nicotine from a father or mother who is grossly overweight and literally killing him/herself with sugar?
These are tough questions. But strong women are not afraid to face tough questions. It is high time for us to have worthy answers for those looking on.
Let’s face it—all addictions (not just some) are harmful and unbecoming to Christian women. And often, the more “religious” a group is, the numbers of overweight and unhealthy people increase. Religion labels certain things, but the Spirit of Christ sanctifies ALL things.
Getting active is vital for our health as moms. For many years, I pushed two or three babies in a used stroller for my exercise. I walked into town with them, walked around blocks before dinner, pushed them up and down a dusty country road. Wherever we lived, I did what I could with what I could.
Later years allowed for Cross Fit, weights, etc., but even then, the gym was a treat rather than a constant. Busy moms can even get on their living room floor and do leg lifts, crunches, and squats. We can do jumping jacks with our kids and have the best laughs watching them try to co-ordinate their limbs as they jump!
After each of my babies was born, I’d lay on my floor and lift my legs a few inches off the ground to tighten my stomach muscle. The burn and tightness in my abdominal muscles was entirely cost-free, took ten minutes, and could be done with my children all around me. My exercise was incredibly simple some years, but the point was to get moving!
In olden days, a woman’s regular day brought natural effort to their bodies. Scrubbing clothes by hand, hoeing a garden, or walking for water all fostered community and exercise. In today’s world, we can throw laundry into a washer, throw rice into an insta pot, and turn on a faucet for water. The end result is ease but no exercise. So, we have to be intentional about health as never before.
3. Don’t over-spend.
In today’s world, you can wear attractive clothing for only a few dollars. Don’t buy into the lie that it’s okay to walk around looking terrible because you’re a mom and don’t have extra money. Keep yourself fresh and clean, especially if you’re married. (You don’t necessarily need make-up—you just need health, peace, kindness, and good hygiene.
I’ve had very little manicures or pedicures. My hands have callouses and I usually stare wistfully at beautifully maintained finger nails, but I simply don’t have the time or money to spend on pedis and manis. Honestly, I’d rather head to a garden or a barn than into a nail salon, but that’s my Amish farm girl coming out. Those who know me best know I’m happiest out with the animals and dirt, or scaling a mountain.
I buy inexpensive jewelry. When I get compliments I often have to say, “This cost me $5.” I don’t own expensive jewelry and I’m okay with that.
So for those of us who think we can let ourselves go because we don’t have money for a gym membership or clothe purchases, just know that you can purchase a few outfits at Goodwill and work out at home. Even healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive. Be content and be disciplined!!
4. Let go of the lie that in order to be pleasantly dressed you have to be into the latest fashion.
Truth is, I dislike some of the latest fashions and the other truth is, I don’t want to spend money being up to par with all of that. BUT, I do study clothing and body shapes. Some of us look terrible in what others look great in. Some things are appropriate for one body shape but too revealing for another. Whatever the case, I’ve found joy in a simple approach to clothing where I ponder what looks good or doesn’t look good, yet am not a slave to keeping up with all the latest fads.
We are not Hollywood actresses or fashion models—but hear me carefully, Christian women—our physical appearance is important when it comes to staying healthy and knowing how to dress.
Our bodies are not our own and are to glorify Christ. He is all goodness and love. Do people feel inspired when they look at us?
5. Don’t gain attention by showing too much skin.
Real women don’t have to show everything in order to know they are worth more than anything. Be beautiful, but keep your sexuality for the bedroom. When in public, have class and dignity about you that attracts appreciation and respect more than whistles and leers from player men.
A truly beautiful woman is a faithful woman who loves her husband and strives to be his best friend.
And if I can put a word in for swim wear, here: girls, some of your bikinis aren’t even bikinis anymore. If you’re okay with wearing one, at least cover your bum. Enough said. 🙂
6. Skin Care.
I’m not rigorous about the perfect skin care routine, but it is important to put at least moisturizer on your face twice a day. Wash and care for your skin. Take daily showers, especially if you’re married. The beauty of a woman is the cleanliness of a woman more than the expense spent on a woman. In other words, a healthy, clean woman is often more attractive than an unhealthy woman who spends hundreds of dollars each month to doll herself up.
So don’t stress about skin. You can go as easy as a natural coconut oil if you like. Most of us can’t afford dermatology or expensive skin care and that’s okay! Health comes from the inside out which means what you put into your body affects your skin.
And as you age, forget about getting as tan as you can in summer. Protect your skin more than you used to, to avoid brown spots and leathery skin. Especially if you live in the South! Staying tan is difficult in winter anyway, but healthy skin can be enjoyed year round.
7. Embrace Aging.
What is more needed and lovely than a radiant grandma?! I don’t know about you, but I need grandmothers with grey hair, soft arms, and fires burning in their hearth, heart, and homes. I need grandmothers whose bodies may be growing feeble while their hearts burn with wisdom and insight more than ever.
Only a selfish woman who thinks her value comes from youth and outer beauty will fight and kick the aging process. Having this as your focus leaves you empty, with nothing for the soul of others to connect to. Stay healthy, active, and pleasant—but don’t fret the wrinkles! Just smile a little more as you grow older and allow the joy of you to override the aging of you.
There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman who worships her way through life. Honor God by worshiping Him through your tears. Truly thank Him for the joys of life. Be a thousand times grateful for the one time critical or negative.
Remember that your soul can be beautiful regardless of who or what is around you. What atmosphere do others get in your presence? Who are YOU—because who your soul is matters more than what your circumstances are.
Christian woman, remember there is so much more to modesty than what is usually taught. Be a lovely, feminine, attractive person in your soul, and strive to show that in your appearance. Even if you’re a tomboy who hates girly things and finds herself out shooting guns and riding horses—be a real woman and be proud of it!!
“Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”
I’ll never forget the day I opened up the door to a lady handing me a large yellow envelope.
My throat went dry. “Is this what I think it is?” I asked quietly.
She nodded her head as she studied my face, and tears filled her eyes before she turned and silently walked away.
The day I looked over those complicated divorce papers was the D-Day of my life.
So I’m here to tell you, single mom, that you’re not alone and I get it. For me, you don’t have to appear brave when you need to cry. It’s honestly okay to be a wreck for awhile.
I get the nausea that won’t allow you to eat.
I get eating whatever goes down, when it goes down, even if it’s not nutritious.
I get the sudden survival mode that kicks in for your babes as you start working hard to provide for them.
I get the mom guilt that makes you try to over-compensate for a father’s absence by filling in all the gaps– and I get the resulting exhaustion that makes you love bedtime more than any other time of day.
I get how painful it is when you run to the grocery store the night before Thanksgiving and see the girl who replaced you, also out purchasing groceries, for the man you used to cook Thanksgiving dinner for.
I get the struggle of forgiveness and the confusion of what that even looks like when you feel all the tension rise one more time in the face of such oddities.
I get the pain of holidays, where you give up the parties you used to throw—then decide to throw them anyway because you’re finally seeing that life can go on and you can still do the things you love, and your friends love you just as much as before.
I get the angst of your soul as you lift your face to the sky and ask God why. “Why, when I tried so hard to be a good wife, did it not work?”
I get the anger when you see other wives mistreating their husbands and the men still stay. How you’d like to remind them of the good they have, and how that goodness should be rewarded and respected.
I get it when it all seems so unfair.
I get it when you’re suddenly a single person, and other women look at you as a threat rather than a gift– and you’d like to walk around with a T-shirt that says, “I’d die a thousand deaths before I’d hurt any woman the way I’ve been hurt.”
I get it when it’s hard to receive help, and how slowly you learn the absolute necessity of it, how grateful you become for the brothers in law and family who help you unendingly when you need it—-and don’t stop when you tell them you don’t need it because they know better than you do.
But here’s the thing:
I also get it when you start smiling again because Jesus comes closer than any human being could ever come.
I get it when your hard work pays off and you’re able to support yourself and your children without child support.
I get the satisfied tiredness that comes at the end of a work week when you do payroll, and still have enough for your bills even when rent is high and groceries are out of this world.
I get the deep appreciation for your friends who get the fact that you don’t have time to spare even when you’d love to have them over—because just getting to sit on your couch with coffee feels like vacation.
I get the gratefulness mingled with frustration when you spend too much money on Dr. visits, trying to get well again after burning out from years of emotional trauma.
I get the joy of hiking hours into the wilds so you can be in touch with something bigger than yourself.
I get the deep friendships that form when others join your steep adventures and everyone talks non-stop about all of life while the legs burn upward before eyes rest on majestic views that defy every pain you’ve ever felt.
I get the gratefulness of those moments when pain melts into oblivion, even just for a few minutes as something better takes over your mind.
I get the deep appreciation for those friends who send their husbands over to fix your broken sinks and change the tire on your son’s bike. Woman to woman, it’s their way of saying, “I got your back” and they’ll never know how much it means to us.
I get the joy over small things, because joy is a gift and you feel it coming, coming, coming as it used to be—though now, it is richer, fuller, and better because it is not dependent on another human being.
I get it that you’re grateful for your sorrow because it led you to your joy.
I get it that you felt broken much longer than you wanted, yet realized that your heart broken open absorbed light more than before.
I get the peace that comes from no dependence on relationship for your happiness, and the profound realization that you’re going to be more than okay, not because of a human being but because “The Son of Man has risen with healing in His wings” (Malachi 4:2) and He met you in your tears so He could wipe them away.
I get the wonder that He never left, never became impatient, and always looked at you with love.
I get the realization that you’re His favorite—but so is everyone else around you, and they should all be treated as such, created in the image of God for the glory of God. The realization of your own value collides beautifully with the realization of everyone’s value, and you want the whole world to circle with love, endlessly.
And I truly get it that now, though you love everyone, you no longer trust everyone. You’ve learned to know when you know when someone’s character is solid and they’ve earned trust without trying—because they didn’t need to prove what already was.
You are now the girl reading with new insight this verse: “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
You live carefully, but courageously. Fear may threaten you, but love will overtake you.
Dear single mom, I get it that the Love of Jesus is now your anchor beyond what you ever knew before, and how, no matter what the future holds, you are set on HIM because you’ve found His love better than any other kind of love.
You are no longer the girl longing for the perfect life; you are now the girl held with perfect love in a very imperfect world.
“But to you who fear My name, the Son of Righteousness shall rise with healing in His wings.”
Forgiveness allows the pain in your past to propel you toward the purpose in your future—but only a true understanding of forgiveness can do that. Let’s talk about one of the most misunderstood principals in the Christian world.
I will never glibly tell a betrayed, angry person, “You need to forgive” or “The joy of the Lord is your strength”, or any other Christian quote people like to throw out when they’re uncomfortable with humanity’s mess. I will not say that until I’ve sat with her or him through the hurt of it all.
Jesus was angry.
Jesus said it how it was.
Jesus didn’t pretend nothing was wrong when everything was wrong.
Jesus didn’t pretend he wasn’t hurt; He actually experienced hurt on a human level so we could see Him in our own, and take courage.
Get this—the Son of God felt pain. And, He experienced anger so strong that He overturned tables in the temple when He could have just nicely asked religious people to leave.
The pain you feel is a good thing, in that it lets you know something is wrong.
The anger you feel is a good thing, in that it aligns you to the heart of God who is also angry with what has been done to you.
When you feel pain, grief, or anger, don’t run from it. Embrace it, reckon with it, and process it carefully because when you talk to God about your negative emotions, He walks you through them and teaches you a lot in the process.
Reckoning carefully with negative emotions brings us closer to the positive. Many people do the opposite. They shut down and deny negative emotions out of fear and discomfort—but I’m here to assure you that dealing with it all is the only way to clarity.
Seeing my (then) husband ride around town in a big red truck with his sixteen year old girlfriend brought me pain that almost made me numb. Why? Because it was wrong and my heart was letting me know that when it tightened in protest with my emotions.
Many of us run from pain rather than stand before it, asking why it’s there at the moment.
We shove it aside, as if that will make it go away rather than fester and grow.
We try to deny it, as if reality changes with our reckoning of it, or not.
Humanity was created for unity with God, which is all things love, joy, and peace. We are created to react negatively to wrong because we’re created in the image of God with a high propensity for things that line up to the character of God.
We enter the world, eager to experience the best in life, love, and liberty. But a fallen world means there is evil all around us, people with freedom of choice, and sin greater than we can handle in our own strength.
The aftermath of sin can be staggering, life-altering, and painful enough to make one need years to move on.
I don’t believe in clique christian quotes, glibly pouring from mouths who have no idea what it’s like to walk hell on earth. I don’t believe God does everything. I don’t believe in the age old saying of “God will never give you more than you can handle.”
I believe in reckoning with every form of human emotion, head on.
I believe some things are so evil that God most certainly did not do it, cause it, or want it. But because He’s good, He will work in spite of it, through it, and absolutely overcome it.
And, I believe that life does give us more than we can handle. This is when God pulls us toward His strength and we get to experience supernatural grace. A very real depiction of the fact that life is too much for us sometimes, is watching people end up in mental institutions with no where to go but a deteriorating brain because the trauma is too much for them to handle.
Or, watching others grasp hold of divine Grace where God always over-rides trauma and shows us that love wins. We just need to get close to the heart of God and access divine love.
Because God is good, I believe in forgiveness.
Because He heals my heart, I believe in love.
Because He is all Grace, I believe I can get through anything.
In Christ, we are unstoppable.
My (then) husband’s on-going affair with a girl twenty-two years younger than me led me through things I never imagined I’d go through. But it also led me toward other things.
Having everything taken from me allows me to learn that I’m entrepreneural at heart, that I can do business and investments, learn, grow, and ask advice from those more knowledgeable than I.
Having my husband leave opens my eyes to the idol marriage was for me, and sets me free to experience life, love, and grace in spite of the loss.
Forgiveness is a personal choice that sets me free to see beautiful again.
Forgiveness allows something that would have wrecked me to turn into my greatest growth, instead.
True forgiveness doesn’t hide sin, but exposes it and deals with it. Only then can you properly release it.
When you hide or deny what’s been done to you, you keep and hold the event in your heart as something permanent. Bringing it to light allows you to hand it over to the Giver of Light where nothing is hidden and all things will be manifest one day. This process is imperative to keep you on track with your purpose.
Seeing the goodness of God allows me to let go of the depravity of man.
I can forgive my husband. I can forgive the girl I used to mother, right along with my own children. I can forgive them.
I can know there’s a baby coming, and I can withhold bitterness toward the child who will rival my own children’s attention from their father.
Seeing the goodness of God changes everything.
Because I trust God, I can give the situation into God’s hands, knowing that God knows all, sees all, and has wisdom for all circumstances. Giving my ex-husband and his girlfriend into God’s hands allows me to walk away internally and not have to look back for anything.
I don’t have to get revenge. Walking around with a chip on my shoulder is unbecoming to a daughter of the King who knows she is loved and cared for. It is what it is—but God is also who He says He is—and He doesn’t take it lightly when His sons or daughters are trampled on.
I’m in good hands when I’m in the hands of God.
And when I ask myself for the hundredth time, “What does forgiveness look like?”, I can know that Jesus knows what forgiveness looks and feels like when I don’t know.
I still feel angry sometimes.
I still cry sometimes.
But all of it leads me toward grace. Enter your grief and engage your anger for a season, but allow both to pull you toward God where He engages both in a mighty win over death, hell, and everything in between.
Forgiveness allows my pain to propel me toward my purpose. On the other hand, denial would push me into numbness where I would feel no anger, no grief, and—hear this carefully—I would also feel no passion, no pleasure, and no purpose.
Trying to stay righteous by denying anger is the death to true life. You were meant to feel angry over some things. You just can’t allow anger to push you to bitterness. Jesus never asked you to feel no anger; He did ask you not to sin when you’re angry. (Ephesians 4:26)
True holiness never renders a person numb and silent; it always pulls a person toward life and purpose.
As Lysa Tuerkurst so beautifully says, “I choose to forgive; and for whatever my feelings will not allow, the blood of Jesus will cover.” (Forgiving What You Can’t Forget by LT).
Engage your grief and allow it to pull you into GRACE.
Recently a friend and I were discussing the divorce epidemic, and how it seems many people are justifying divorce without proper cause.
Both men and women are taking Dr. Henry Cloud’s teaching on boundaries out of context, and the results are devastating. I do believe there are times where divorce is inevitable, but I’m addressing something different, here.
I can’t put the dilemna into better words than he did, so I’m going to revise his words a bit and share them anonymously (with permission).
“Dr. Henry Cloud’s boundaries have their place, but people start misapplying these principals, and it’s comparable to deciding to get chemo and radiation treatments when you need a much less aggressive or invasive treatment.
So many people are taking that teaching and saying things like, ‘I’ve been telling my husband I need help around the house for years. He always apologizes and promises to help more, but it only lasts for a couple of weeks. Then he slips back into the usual. I can’t handle these broken promises, continual apologies, yet no lasting change. If he loved me, he’d change and help me more around the house. I deserve better. I’m putting up boundaries; no contact, no connection until I see lasting change. I’m so hurt, maybe I should even separate from him until he sees what he has and changes for good.’
Then enters some man showing kindness, attention, money, etc. They are already disconnected and the grass looks greener to her. Boom—marriage done.
It’s like all the “You deserve to be happy” and “It’s your time for you” folks grabbed that boundaries teaching and boxed it into a “mental health” box with pretty new wrapping paper on it, and started selling their same old secular, selfish-minded philosophy in a way that opens minds to a deceptive way of thinking.
In my opinion, it is hell’s new form of psychological warfare on believers.”
“Mic-Drop” was all I could think when I read this.
For some years, I’ve been hesitant to share parts of my story because I didn’t want people to take what I say, run with it, and keep hollering the “Stand up for yourself” cry.
But I also saw the other side of the planet where women can’t say anything without being told they’re not submissive enough. This was me. This is many, many women—and it is for these women that I write.
On the other hand, there are many men and women who take truth and twist it into self-serving, humanistic approaches to gain what they want by taking the easy way out of a marriage that has issues to work through. For these men and women, I write this caution.
Emotional health and mental clarity will never come from selfishly applying boundaries to good-hearted spouses with needs you don’t like. Your health will come from obeying Jesus and loving your spouse as you love yourself.
My parents are still married after forty-three years, not because my father fills all my mother’s emotional needs, or because my mother fills all my father’s needs. They are still married because love and commitment over-ride an entitled view of themselves that would make them ditch each other for “something better”.
Their home is established on more than unmet needs; it is established on the Word of God, the God who promises to be more than they will ever need. With grace, they love each other and help each other grow. With even more grace, they accept each other’s flaws and choose to keep loving–whether or not the other changes.
I signed my divorce papers for one thing only—and that was my husband’s ongoing affair with a minor child almost the same age as our oldest daughter. Today, the girl is pregnant and they are still together, albeit not legally married.
Hear me carefully when I say there were many things I could have divorced him over. I had no lack of “reasons” I could have used. But I refused to sign divorce papers until it became undeniably clear that there was no other way.
I am divorced with a good conscience. My plea to everyone out there is this: love your spouse, stay with your spouse for better or for worse unless it is simply impossible and your spouse’s sin meets the criteria for divorce as said in the scriptures. Don’t take this teaching on boundaries to mean you can put up walls for everything hurtful in your marriage. You will not heal your heart like this; you will hurt your soul, your spouse, and your children. You will be selfish, refusing to love until your own needs are met. This is not the way of the cross.
In God’s kingdom, the way up is the way down. Get on your knees, ask God how you can love your spouse best, and learn what specifically speaks love to him/her.
Somewhere along the way you will be surprised with inner soul freedom that is so much greater than you’d experience if you quit and ran for something you thought was better.
It won’t be better.
Every good marriage has at least one partner who is willing to love extravagantly even when the other does not deserve it.
My challenge for all of you today is this: take your spouse’s faults and choose to love extravagantly, anyway. Give 100%. Love the person you once fell in love with, and love them hard. Find out what makes your particular spouse feel loved, and just do it, without question.
What speaks love to your spouse may be entirely different than what speaks love to you. Study your spouse, ask questions, and go all out for the growth of your marriage.
You will never regret it!
Stay faithful, and God will faithfully clarify your thoughts, bring healing to your soul, and help you grow—even if your spouse’s faults continue.
Never give up unless, as in my own case, your marriage is no longer possible. Cheers to all beautiful, committed souls who grow, grow, and grow a marriage!
The day I walked into a professional counselor’s office started the change in my life.
It was hard, and I wanted to disappear. I had chosen an older, christian male counselor because I desperately wanted to know if I was wrong. He looked at me kindly and said, “So, you’re a strong woman, aren’t you?”
All I could do was whisper, “I hope so”, then cry for the next hour as years of pain surfaced and I shared the dilemna I was in with my husband’s repeated suggestion that perhaps marriage should be “open”. He’d promise me that he’d never live it out unless we were both okay with it, and he didn’t know where he stood on the matter as of yet. But it threw me into turmoil, and lots of it.
I remember asking myself if I was selfish for wanting to be the only woman in my husband’s life.
I wanted God’s will, I wanted to please my husband, but when it came to this topic I would have rather been alone than be in an open marriage.
For many years, I kept hearing things like “Maybe God designed men to have multiple women and that’s why they struggle with lust.”
Or, when seeing one man surrounded with three beautiful ladies at dinner, “See? Isn’t there something exemplary about that?”
I’d shake my head and want to gag. No, that didn’t look exemplary to me; that looked needy and sinful to me.
The pornography topic wasn’t even mentioned in our home as a problem until one night, out of nowhere, I was prompted to ask him about it. The answer I got put me in turmoil for many years.
“I’ve been looking at some to pray about whether or not it’s right to view. I can’t lie about that—and you shouldn’t have asked me about it.”
At that moment, my inner reality changed while my outer world kept spinning as if nothing happened.
Amish girls are raised with the three big S words: submit, serve, and silence.
So, though my stomach tied in knots, that is what I did. Obviously, with the three other S words, there came a fourth S word: SEX.
I absorbed blame in our relationship and took internal responsibility very quickly. Saying “I’m sorry” was much easier for me than learning how not to say “I’m sorry” while asking for what I needed and deserved in a relationship.”
Writing about all this sickens me because I see who I used to be. Pathetically naive and dependent, with no ability to see beyond the perceived safety I felt in marriage to a man who would confuse my brain, then leave me with four children to figure life out on my own.
I thought he was good. I idolized him as good. And I was determined that nothing in all the world would wreck our marriage.
I should have known, right after marriage, when he told me I wasn’t allowed to go home to see my parents and siblings “because you’re addicted to them”, that something was dreadfully wrong. But, I wasn’t raised to think—I was raised to obey and serve.
I don’t know if I had even heard the word narcissism.
I had watched little to no movies or television, so I operated with an incredibly small worldview. I had never traveled out of the country or lived on my own. From working hard to please my father (who is a good man), to working hard to being a good wife and mother, this is what I knew to do.
The Jesus I know now was more of a God to please, back then. I didn’t know I could trust Him fully to love me unconditionally. I had no idea of a relationship where I didn’t have to perform in order to be loved and accepted.
I had little autonomy, but even while married, I began to see that something was off balance. God used friends to show me what could be, and I embraced it eagerly. I was beyond excited that God had a beautiful balance for women, somewhere between the door mat thing I saw in one world, and the feministic attitudes I saw in another world. Slowly, I learned that it was ok to be myself, that my voice really mattered, that I could think, reason, and be alive with or without the approval of others.
The voice of God was strong enough to start changing me while I was still in an almost hopeless situation that only got worse with time. As with everything else, I started writing out what I was learning, so when my publisher asked me for a book, I hesitated, then gave her that file on my laptop. I have no regrets in letting her publish it, even though my marriage ended afterward.
The only thing any one of us can do is change ourselves. We have no responsibility or ability to change another person, but growing ourselves up is imperative.
I thank God for healing me, for loving me, for giving me a voice to use, for giving me life apart from any man on this earth. I thank God that I now know this one thing—I am as important to God as any man could ever be. He loves me, and I trust Him.
But many years ago, though my heart was crushed over the answer I received about the pornography issue (many years before my husband left), all I knew to do was pretend nothing happened. Hear me carefully—this brought fake peace while it allowed the problem to continue until one day, years later, I received an email telling me that we disagreed on this matter and I was free to leave him.
“I might come back to you in five years,” he’d tell me and others. The pain and confusion of it all rocked me.
I continued to fight for our marriage until he packed his bags six months later and told me that he doesn’t want to sleep with other women while he’s married to me, but after the divorce he’s not sure. In reality, it was only a very short time until he was sleeping with our daughter’s friend, a few long years before the divorce was final.
Do you see the confusion here? And you, men and women whose spouses are acting up in similar ways—- know that freedom comes when you no longer try to make sense of the mess. Evil is often confusing and doesn’t make sense. Give your brain a break.
Hear this carefully—for many years, I was too frightened of the trouble that would come if I didn’t “submit and be silent”. Are any of you in that place? Please know that you don’t have to stay there.
No one has to suffocate under a religious definition of “submission”.
The patriarchal system gives the picture of a perfectly loving man IF the woman does everything right. “If you give your husband lots of sex, he won’t be tempted to have an affair.”
“If you submit to him well, he will never raise his voice.”
I tried it, friends. I tried to be “perfect” so the end result would line up with what I was basically promised—a kind, loving husband who would adore me and treat me well.
That never happened. Outward, public chivalry, yes. Holding my hand, yes. But emotional healing, mutual respect, love in the places of my soul that were hurting, no.
Anyone can pull off decent outward behavior. Only some will wound your soul with moral issues while they hold your hand, pretending the problem doesn’t exist.
Before I go further, let me assure you that I’m a firm believer in the goodness of sex. What I’m calling our attention to is something different—and that is, either partner shutting down vital parts of their emotions in order to function well in the bedroom. Marriage should be a safe place for body, soul, and spirit together, with neither part of us shutting down but all aspects of us becoming better.
When either partner is breaking trust, it is not only right to discuss and work through the pain of it all; it is vital.
But many of us do the opposite. We shut down our brains so our bodies can comply with our inner false responsibility to give and enjoy sex while the other partner breaks trust. We do this out of fear and a desperation to connect on some level.
I was determined that if my husband was into pornography, it wouldn’t be my fault.
If he ever left me, he wouldn’t be able to say it was because I didn’t give him enough sex.
So, I did what it took with my emotions so that I could keep doing what I thought constituted a “good wife”.
I kept the house clean, home schooled the children, cut the grass, did the grocery shopping, laundry, packed his lunches and cooked his dinners.
But, I hurt my heart and soul by not validating the pain. I didn’t know how to live as if I was worth something, too.
Later, the truth met me that there were some things no one can fix, no matter what they do. That truth saved me.
“Am I selfish for not wanting to study open marriage with my husband?” Is he right that we should be able to discuss these things together?”
My husband ordered a book for us to study on the topic, which I agreed to study with him. I was desperate for his approval and reasoned that God could keep me in truth by His Spirit.
But when the book arrived, I could read one page before begging him to remove it from the house. My husband was disappointed and said that time was the best time of our marriage as he felt we could talk about everything.
Do you see the number this put on my dependent brain? He wasn’t mentioning SIN; he was talking God’s will, an open mind, best time of our marriage because we could communicate about everything.
He used everything I wanted most to pull me into the thing I wanted least. Hear me carefully on this—this is a very, very common tactic for narcissists to use.
I needed help to keep my head on straight. And whether or not your situation is as drastic as mine was, you need the same help. The kindness we get one day mixes with the abuse we get another day, until it is very difficult to think clearly on our own.
Keep your brain sharp. Keep your mind above the fog. Reach out for help. This is point number three. Please don’t do what so many men and women do—stay silent out of “respect” for their spouses. That, my friend, is not respect; that is fear.
Those who truly love you will assure you that you’re not selfish to want answers. They will tell you that you’re right on track. You need to hear truth verbally, whatever it is—and you need it now.
This time, don’t walk to a closet to cry it out–walk to a counselor’s office to find answers. Trust Jesus and His heart for your emotional healing and mental clarity, trust that others will surround you with love, trust that you can and should reach out.
I paused before I spoke, carefully weighing each word—and more importantly, each tone of each word.
I had waited for two months to talk with my ex-husband about something that needed to be talked about as soon as it happened (painful things with other women). But, I was terrified to talk even though what had happened was wrong.
That doesn’t sound healthy, you say—and you’re right.
My suffocating experience in marriage led me to research healthy womanhood with a passion. There had to be more to relationship in marriage than what I experienced. Surely this was not what Jesus talked about in 1 Peter 3.
Surely if a wife who loved and served her husband discovered something wrong in her husband’s life, she should be heard?
I knew the answer was yes even though I didn’t experience it. I weighed my words carefully and spent years in confusion and emotional distress because I tried so hard to avoid the hurtful conversations I knew would happen if I tried to communicate.
Thank heaven this is not what a wife is meant to have in marriage.
Let’s take a look at some powerful women in the Bible. Deborah was a prophetess, a wife, during one of the most troubled times of Israel. She’d sit under a palm tree dedicated to her, called “The Palm of Deborah” while the people of Israel came to her for judgment.
When they were oppressed under Jabin, king of Canaan, Deborah called Barak and told him the Lord asked him to go out to war against the king’s army. In verse eight Barak says to her, “If you will go with me, I will go; but if not, I will not go.”
Deborah goes with him but lets him know that the glory won’t go to him because the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hand of a woman. (Judges 14)
The battle rages hot but as is always the case when God is on our side, Barak’s army won until each man fell. Every man but one, that is.
When 900 chariots of iron weren’t getting him anywhere, Sisera fled on foot to Jael’s tent. Why this tent? Because there was peace between her husband and the king.
Jael kindly invited Sisera into her tent, comforted him with words of peace, fed him hot milk, and covered him up warmly. He fell asleep and she took a tent spike into her hand, a hammer in the other, and pounded away, into his brain until he was dead.
Then, she reported it to Barak.
Israel’s victory began with two women, one of which obviously went against her husband’s wishes when she chose to fight on the Lord’s side. Get this—she killed a man who was at peace with her husband. The only vibe we get from scripture concerning this act was one of approval, God fighting with her, with them.
She aligned herself well. Remember this, sisters—when your husband opposes God’s kingdom it is of utmost importance that you choose the right side.
Now, lets hop on ahead to 1 Peter 3 where God talks about one of His exemplary women, Sarah.
“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conversation of their wives………as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord. And you are her children if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” (1 Peter 3: 1 & 6, ESV)
How do we make sense of this seeming contradiction? By taking the entirety of the Word of God rather than zoning in on one verse. God has a perfect plan for His women and it shines through all of scripture.
Jael quietly did what she needed to do. We don’t read of her becoming feministic, abrasive, or brash. We simply see a woman of great strength with an ability to rise to a God-given occasion to fight for His people.
In that moment, her husband was second to God, not competing with God. This is what we need to remember: our husbands do not compete with God for equal place in our lives. God is number one, always.
I believe God was number one in Sarah’s life and that was the only reason she was able to honor her husband. God was proud of her and used her as an example.
There’s an entire culture of honor we ladies need to live in, walk in, and speak in. We can do this even when we need to say no to our husbands.
My situation forced me to not only say no, but to testify in court against his actions. From closing my mouth in order to keep peace, to opening my mouth and refusing to make peace, this was one bear of a journey.
The Lord let me know one day as I was walking that my husband would leave, and that I would be the one to speak up against his actions. I still didn’t know the extent of gross sin I’d be dealing with, but my heart cried out, “Please Lord, please no. Please not me.”
I wanted so very much to please him instead, but it had become impossible.
When rubber hit the road things not only got worse, but sickeningly disturbing until the entire town was in an uproar. I had to speak with detectives and law, court, and fight for my children until my knees shook.
I could no longer obey, “submit” or pretend to be okay.
And bit by bit, I learned that it was okay for him to be unhappy with me. I’d take my emotions by the shoulders, give them a good shaking and tell myself, “Sara, if he was happy with you, you’d be in the wrong. It’s a good thing, a very good thing, that he’s unhappy with you.”
Sisters, please hear me on this. You are not responsible to make your husband happy, or to keep peace. BUT, if you walk in love and honor, you will make a good man very happy.
If you’re walking in love and with Jesus by your side, you’ll treat him with honor. You won’t yell and be obnoxious. You won’t nag.
You’ll be feminine, gracious, and eager to bless him.
But hear me on this—you will also communicate honestly as you honor him.
You’ll be able to say the hard things.
You’ll be able to say no if he wants to veer right off track into obvious sin.
If he’s pulling toward another woman you’ll be strong enough to stand up to both of them with a better option—that of saving your life-long covenant with your husband.
If the need rises, you’ll be Jael in Sarah’s world.
Sisters, there is no other way.
Abigail brought food to David and God took care of her belligerent husband who became so angry with what she did, that he died. God blessed Abigail for feeding his servant when her husband was selfish enough to cause a war. (1 Samuel 25)
But take note on the extreme cases these examples are. Jael won a war and Abigail stopped a war. Many women today create wars instead because they are too selfish to think past their own skin.
Femininity or feminism?
Feminism tries to prove to men that we can do what they can do. It is obnoxious and nothing short of abusing the word, “woman”.
Feminity thrives in a culture of honor. We honor ourselves when we honor those around us. We are ‘yes’ women with the ability to say no when the need arises. We are graciously strong and refuse to buckle under sin and abuse.
We can stop wars and win wars, but never create wars unless standing for truth creates one of necessity. We are, as Jesus asks us to be, “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16, ESV)
I’m going to open my veins here and let them bleed a little on a topic dear to my heart.
I love being a woman.
I love it so much that I have no problem owning the fact that men possess attributes I do not. The same is true of women—we can do things men cannot do. But hear me out just a little here……….
It took me forever to burn things from my marriage, but I finally did, carrying a pile out to burn up in flames because my marriage was so far gone. I even sold my bed and all the pillows, then slept on the floor as I cried some deep tears.
In some ways it was merciful for things to get as bad as they did, or I would have hung on forever. But I finally knew I had to be done.
God met me there and told me, “Sara, you are still fully woman and fully feminine, with or without a man.”
Those words from Jesus have been my saving grace. No man can rob me of the gift of being fully woman. Since then, I’ve been able to enjoy, even more, all the things I did before.
God has this ironic way of redeeming everything for those who love Him, and the gift of being able to appreciate goodness even more, as a result of the ugly I’ve been through, has been part of my redemption in it all.
I still dress up, wear make-up, and purchase an occasional new piece of simple jewelry. I still love fashion even though most days I’m knee deep in cleaning supplies at the job. Every once in awhile I still take out the curling iron, and I still love an elegant glass of wine.
If anything, those things mean more to me now because I’m joining the work force each morning and filling my car with gas along with a gazillion men who are all building houses, maintaining lawns, and pouring concrete. They make the mess; I clean the mess.
But recently, as I praised my ten year old son for his masculine protection over our home and family when someone ransacked our car in the night, I was bombarded with upset women because I dared imply that men are more protective than women, that we should all be content with our gender and simply live it up.
I even dared speak against transgender lifestyles. I’m not into the pop-Christian culture where sin is blatantly condoned.
But that’s another topic in itself. Back to daring to mention that men are protective.
I was blown away. Surely most of those women would happily take a protected place should war break out and the men around us rushed to the front lines to protect their homes and families. (I’d honestly love to see a line of feminists when the call to bear arms comes along. I dare say that at that moment, they’d love to let men be men.)
Of course there are female soldiers, too. But I’m talking majority here. There is simply no doubt that most men have a protective instinct and most women have a desire to be protected.
My little boy’s eyes lit right up as he planned how to scare a thief away from our car. And I, as his mother, could only stare at this tiny ten year old and wonder why he wasn’t afraid.
Say that on face book though, and you’ll get all kinds of “Women are definitely the strongest gender” kinds of comments.
I’m not sure what we have to prove here. Do women really feel obligated to do and be everything a man does and is?
For crying aloud, men can’t grow a human in their own bodies, give birth, or even care for a baby as instinctively as women can. We are just as strong, yes, but in a different way. There’s a (God-given) reason most little boys play guns and most little girls play dress-up.
Of course some girls are naturally “tomboy-ish”–and I happen to love scary adventures, mountain climbing, and such as well. We’re not making cookie-cutter descriptions here, but calling appreciation to the fact that genders are different and families need BOTH to function well.
We are just as important, yes, but we are not the same. If God wanted females to be as good at everything men are, He would have just created all of us male.
I’m weary of the twenty-first century where femininity is looked down on rather than appreciated. Have women forgotten they are bearers of beauty, kindness, and love? The world needs us—and every real man knows it.
When women release their femininity for something they think they should be, instead, something difficult comes in its place.
Insecure women bring control, unrest, and ugliness into this world. I’d say this universe needs the opposite—and I’m frankly honored that God created us for the task.
The other day I was cleaning a bath tub for a client when suddenly a massive something with a million legs came speeding up an unused drain. I screamed just a little, stepped back, and wondered what to do.
I could be the bravest ever and say with millions of other women, “Who needs men?” I could squash that creature with a wad of toilet paper. I could overcome every fear I’ve ever had of crawling creatures, and just do it.
Or, I could be okay with my fear, walk out to the garage, and ask the gentleman to please help me with this mini-animal scrambling around his tub.
I chose the latter and stayed far away until he walked out with a smile, a dead creature, and an apology. I thanked him, re-entered his bathroom, and made it cleaner than it’s ever been.
See this—I wasn’t weak for wanting help with a crawling creature speeding about with a million legs in the bath tub I was cleaning. And he wasn’t less of a man for not wanting to clean his house.
I own a cleaning business because I’m good at cleaning and I love organizing. Most days we clean three homes, some of which are obviously bachelor’s pads. Now, some guys are cleaner than women, but there’s a reason we often use extra soap on man caves.
See that term, man cave?
A woman will most likely call her home a nest. She’ll have plant rooms, dining rooms, a sitting room—all geared to love, nurture, and create a haven.
Both genders are strong, yet in opposite ways because we are meant to compliment each other and bring to this world what the other does not. When we both do our part, we create a beautiful balance. When we compare, fret, and feel less than, we create void by default, because when someone isn’t filling a spot, the spot is empty.
If women try to be men, what is left for real men to be attracted to? Who is there to care for, to love, to be hero for?
Before you bristle, ladies, remember that a man is biologically created to be a hero. Even Disney knows this. There’s a reason Cinderella wears the glass slippers and her real man rescues her.
Real men need real women, even in the twenty-first century.
Before you go haywire on me with all kinds of hormonal reactions, may I remind you that I write this as a single woman making my own way in the world?
I know how to start, own, and grow a business, hire employees, and manage a thriving company.
I know how to pay my bills, do my own yard work, use a weed trimmer, fill the lawn mower with gas, and check the tank for oil.
I know how to use a chain saw and I’ve spent hours cutting up fire wood with my children.
I can manage my website and work with people from one end of the spectrum to the other.
But, I’m still fully woman and it’s totally okay to have a man get that crawling whatever out of the bathtub while I stand there shaking.
We have nothing to prove, but everything to be.
Do what you need to do in life, but nurture those around you, bring beauty to every place you go, and find full satisfaction in being a woman. Appreciate and acknowledge what men do and are for you. Only an insecure woman has something else to prove.
You are so needed. Not half of you, but all of you.
Let every real man keep right on opening doors for women, and let every real woman thank him with a smile.
The attributes we do not possess are meant to be fully met in the other. Goodness calls to goodness as we both live fully in this world.
Single women, this is for you, too. You are every bit as much of a woman, and the world needs you. Remember to stay kind and bring both internal and external beauty to those around you.
So if every boy is born with a question, what questions is a girl born with? Some people say, “Am I beautiful?”
I believe it’s, “Am I accepted?”
When God went to form Eve, He could have used dirt just like man. But he chose to instead open Adam’s side and remove a rib. Adam was human.
There was blood and sacrifice involved.
Eve lived because Adam sacrificed his body.
When she was brought to Adam, the man verbally proclaimed her identity over her. His approval was not based on how well she performed her role. At that moment she had not done anything.
He approved of her, because she was HIS. She was taken out of him…and the man celebrated his sacrifice.
When Jesus came to earth, He left His acknowledged identity. He left His honor, His comforts, His dignity and His preferences. Laying down his life was much more than the cross. And when His life culminated on Golgotha and He died on the cross, His side was pierced and out flowed both blood and water.
His side was opened.
There was blood and sacrifice involved.
The church lives because Jesus sacrificed His body.
And Jesus verbally proclaims her identity. His approval is not based on how well she performs her role. We are approved of before we have done anything. He approves of us because we are HIS. We live because of Him and Jesus CELEBRATES His sacrifice.
There is a REASON for everything God says and does.
Women were created to be a physical representation of the church.
We are worth sacrifice.
We are valuable.
We are vital.
We desire to be loved, approved of, accepted, chosen and seen as blameless in our husband’s eyes, even IN our unacceptable state, because that is how Jesus sees His church. Innately we desire what we were created to receive.
And THAT is why men are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church.
He chooses her above his own reputation, comfort, conveniences and preferences. Put that with a woman who gives back to him all the honor, respect and admiration she can muster …you have something unstoppable.
You see, what most men don’t realize is when they truly forsake all others and cleave only to his wife and LAY DOWN THEIR LIVES, the honor, respect and submission they crave will be a spontaneous outflow of gratitude. Just like the church’s worship, respect, love, praise and celebration and the church’s spontaneous overflow to JESUS for what He has done.
Satan’s goal isn’t only to keep men isolated.
He is also out to keep women from feeling loved, because he knows that if he can keep us from feeling loved, we will have a hard time to truly honor.
There are many men who refuse to forsake all. Instead they cling to their identities, reputations and entitlements. If Jesus had done that, there would be no church.
But I don’t believe fulfilling our role depends on the other’s performance.
We have no excuses. And we will get into that later on.
We need to understand GRACE.
You love him with his imperfections, just as Jesus loves YOU.
John 15:12 “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.”
In order to GIVE this kind of GRACE, we have got to have experienced it ourselves. We cannot give what we do not have.
We have got to understand the grace God pours out on the church. We have got to be able to see ourselves in God’s eyes. Our identity has got to come from GOD…not our husband.
When our HEARTS are turned towards the FATHER, no matter what our actions are, He loves and accepts us. He accepts us when we are unacceptable, because our position is TOWARDS HIM.
It’s when we turn our back to Him, no longer willing to receive HIS input into our lives, that creates the void between us. And I believe that is what sinning against the Holy Spirit really means. It’s repeatedly choosing to block out His voice and refusing to listen. It’s hardening your heart. God doesn’t turn His face away. WE are the ones who turn.
Grace is being accepted when we are not acceptable.
It is trusting the identity that JESUS spoke over your life. That never fluctuates by your performance. The approval of God on your life is not dependent on the approval of your husband.
And when we can live in unshaken grace, we can extend unshaken grace.
You cannot extend what you don’t possess.
Pt. V: LIVING OUT EZER
Every military establishes a strategy BEFORE the conflict.
OUR STRATEGY: RESPECT & HONOR
Matthew 10:16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.
Let’s back up and review.
God believes in male and female equality (Gal 3:28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.)
God strategized, by establishing order and divvying out strengths/weaknesses.
We are not to look at our roles as “greater and lesser”. Jesus is “under” God, but we all know He isn’t lesser.
Women are a physical representation of the Bride of Christ and we relate to our husbands the way the church relates to Jesus.
every boy is born with a question: “Do I have what it takes?”
We know Satan wants to answer this question. His agenda is to prove to the man that he is as insignificant and incapable as his deepest fear whispers he might be.
Respect isn’t something we do because it’s the “right” thing to do. Remember, God doesn’t get bright ideas just for the thing of it. He does everything with a purpose. Showing respect is for a certain RESULT. It’s to accomplish something.
Have you ever asked the question, “Why should I honor, respect and submit?”
Unlike many authorities, God is never threatened by our questions. Acts 17:11 Paul commends the Bereans for questioning and studying. His reasons are big enough for questions.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
To understand the meaning of a word, we need to back up and look at two things.
The etymology (original definition) of a word
And the context
So let’s do that here.
The Greek word “submit.” hupo-tasso-mai
The Greek word “submit” is a combination of a verb with a prefix. The verb “tasso” could be translated as “set, arrange, order.” What we miss right away in English is that this verb was a military term for arranging soldiers in ordered formation to confront an enemy. It was primarily military language for “designating, commissioning, appointing or deploying. Or “assign, appoint, arrange.” The ending of the word tells us we’re in the passive/middle voice.
Literally, we could read the verse, “deploy yourself under”.
Now we could read the verb as it appears in Ephesians 5:22 as “place yourselves under your husband” and you might be technically correct, and then you might look, as past translators have, for something like “be subject to” in order to render the verse in better, quicker English.
But…you lose the military context of hupotassomai, which is about forming up for battle and about deploying or stationing yourself to support.
Should we even be surprised? If God chose the military word Ezer to define woman’s role, doesn’t it make sense that He would chose another military term when assigning her the strategy?
What we are talking about is not an ancient Greek word for abstract obedience, but a concrete metaphor of military support!
Context of its use:
This translated word, “submit/deploy” is embedded within a passage that provides an extended military metaphor.
Eph 1, God’s power and plan:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,. (He just gave us the end goal.)
We celebrate the fact that we are adopted into God’s own family.
Vs 9 “God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ–which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time He will bring everything together under the authority of Christ.”
This is why He does the things He does. Think of this next part as his strategy, equipping us so we can help him accomplish this. This is going through Ephesians and giving a basic overview of subjects covered.
We are reminded how we are made alive again.
Importance of peace and unity among believers.
Explains how we are a temple of God.
The giftings to each believer. Your giftings are to forward the Kingdom of God, NOT to make you feel good about yourself.
Living as Children of light in a practical way.
Living by the Spirit’s power
Chap 5 Spirit-guided relationships “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (He talks about how we should walk as children o light…and then goes on to specific instructions to relationship: wives, hubands, children, servants…)
And THEN it goes into:
Putting on the Whole Armor of God
At the time, these letters were being written to challenge hierarchy, not support it.
Numerous times Paul talks about how men and women are “one body, fellow heirs, and husbands to love their wives as their own body.”
1 Cor 11:11-12 But among the Lord’s people, women are not independent of men, and men are not independent of women. For although the first woman came from man, every other man was born from a woman, and everything comes from God.
Lots of women cringe a little bit when reading 1 Cor 11. But I’m pretty confident that in Paul’s day, it was the MEN who were doing the cringing.
Eph 6:10-18 (Read this with your relationship with your husband in mind.)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”
Now, I want to explore the meaning of the word, “head” used in Ephesians. I believe in God’s order of authority. We see that authority order lived out in Father God-Jesus-Church. Take a moment and dwell on how that order is lived out. I know a lot of us have experienced negative church experiences, where we haven’t experienced the Church living as a beloved Bride. But she is. And as we go into this, let’s mirror the God-Jesus-Church order and line it up with God (3-in-one)-man-woman order.
GOD (3 in 1) – MAN – WOMAN
“22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
The meaning of the world translated as “head.”
The Greek word used here has two meanings. “Head” and “Origin.”
A “source. Like the head of a spring or a head of a river. ”
We don’t respect or submit because the man has better ideas. We don’t respect and submit to him because he is always right. We don’t respect or submit because it’s wrong to disagree.
And let’s think again. WHY does the church submit?
If we need to submit like that, we need to understand this.
It’s not to gain approval–we are approved of because of what JESUS did for us…not our own works. It comes from a genuine feeling of THANKFULNESS that spontaneously outflows. And that is how it should be in submitting to our husbands.
We respect him because we are accomplishing a goal.
We are strategizing WITH GOD.
We have a point to prove.
We have a question to answer.
We have a man to help.
And we are given the tools to accomplish that.
And this leads into something else. This is why I don’t believe in excuses. We aren’t victims–even if you find it impossible to submit with the same attitude that the church does. Remember that God is using military language, and war is never easy.
1 Peter 3:1-22
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
1 Timothy 2:11-12 “Women should learn quietly and submissively.I do not let women teach men or have authority over them.
WHY? God did not intend these verses to be a three point plan on how to have the least conflict in marriage. He’s not afraid of conflict. God actually values tension.
I want you to remember that you are strategizing with God. Remember, God is the one who created man….and He knows how to teach you the language of a man’s heart.
And it goes right back to the question haunting your man’s every day. “Do I have what it takes?” To a man respect, honor and submission means, “I value you. You got what it takes. Your mistakes do not change the way I perceive you and YOU are more important to me than being right.”
It allows him to put his guard down, as he has nothing to prove.
It creates a safe space.
It opens his ears so he will listen to you.
It gives us a platform to speak into his life.
It is so much BIGGER than just doing what he says.
Like everything else, it’s your heart and what motivates you.
There are a lot of women going about the motions of respect and submission. They never dispute or challenge. They agree and comply. But all these motions are just for “doings sake.”
The purpose is forgotten, and just like a church loses life when religion sets in, so honor loses its power when it is no longer done on purpose.
2 Timothy 3:5 Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
The goal is not to “do the right thing.” We need to know what we are doing. WE need to be aware and active. We women have the Spirit of God inside us. We host power in that Spirit. And with the power invested in us, we can come against the devil and his agendas.
There is devastating damage when a church embraces religion. When the outward actions are put before the inward heart. When DOING is more important than BEING.
And God created us to exemplify the church.
Remember the ditch of Deadly Compliance? That passive control? Putting on a form of godliness for our OWN benefit. So we can feel good about ourselves. There are many women who submit just like that. To feel good about themselves. And it destroys their home, their husband, their children and their own lives.
Proverbs 31:10-12 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her,and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm,all the days of her life.
We often think of finances when we talk about your husband trusting us. But can you prove to him that he can trust you with his failures, or does he always have to prove to you that he was right? Can he trust you with the painful parts of his past, or is he afraid that you will think less of him? Do you know RIGHT NOW what his present struggles are? Does he know you are co-laborers TOGETHER, with Christ, or does he feel like he is slogging up the path by himself?
So we build trust and believe in him.
We create safe spaces.
We have patience.
We do not fight for a place. We PREPARE a place.
Now some people stop at honor and respect, but Ezer isn’t just about making a man feel like he is capable of going out to battle, it’s about being willing to go out with him and fighting FOR him.
1 Corinthians 7:13 “If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he is consent to live with her, she should not divorce him.For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband.”
I know. Most of us are married to really decent guys who love God and go to church.
And as women, we desire the approval and acceptance of our spouse more than anything. And what holds us back the most from being Ezer is fear. Fear of criticism, fear of rejection, fear of conflict. Fear of vulnerability. Exactly what Sapphira was afraid of.
Do you remember what Peter said about Sarah?
We are her daughters if we aren’t afraid.
If your actions are motivated by fear, they are the wrong actions.
So what do we do?
Stop and renounce fear. Refuse to participate.
Fear will not only affect any decision you make, but it will make your husband react as well. When a woman is afraid it makes a man go on the defensive. He will feel like you don’t trust him and he will tend to want to control or else he will give up and stop trying. Neither stance is the response needed for healing.
When you allow yourself to see what is really going on, If all you can do is stand against fear, know that that in itself does a lot. There is power in recognizing a hurt area in your husband’s life, seeing for what it is, and standing against fear in your heart.
Why? Because standing against fear takes the power of God. You engage the darkness with light. You are willing to accept the tension it brings. And what is the opposite of fear? Yes, it’s faith. Faith, knowing that God is there. It’s not you and your words and your suggestions. Standing there, allowing yourself to see what is going on, and standing silently in faith before the Throne of God. Your husband doesn’t even have to know you are doing it. He’s feeling your love and respect. He is aware of your honor. Your presence means safety and warmth.
PRAYER IS WARFARE!
2 Corinthians 10:4 “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”
Luke 10:19 “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”
Matthew 18:18 “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
We do not have authority over the man, but we definitely DO have authority over the spirit world!
Using your authority:
First we need to understand where it comes from.
Matthew 28:18 “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Go therefore….”
God himself is the power behind our authority!
We need to understand it belongs to us.
The Bible says that you are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). Jesus is the Head, we are the Body — and His authority is perpetuated through the Body. When Jesus rose from the dead, He transferred His authority on earth to His Body, the Church. In God’s mind, when Christ was raised, we were raised.
Ephesians 2:6 “ the God raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.”
Both the Head and the Body are seated there, next to God, in the place of power and authority.
That means YOU are seated there! You are seated in the power position, and you are His heir (Romans 8:17). That means that everything that’s His — including His authority — now belongs to you.
You have got to understand your true position of power in order to use it. Remember the verse that I read “Having a form of godliness but denying the power”? Meditate on your position in Christ until you fully grasp the revelation that you are seated with Him, and YOU ARE the one He moves through.
Then use your authority by speaking out what His Word says, using the Name of Jesus.
Think about that! When you use the Name of Jesus, believing that you’re seated with Him at the right hand of God, you are backed by all the power in heaven! Every knee must bow to that Name (Philippians 2:10).
Jesus made it very clear that His Name is the key to all authority:
“Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 13:13-14).
How does this work out?
You know your husband’s weaknesses as well as satan does.
You can identify the vulnerable areas and approach the areas satan is destroying in your husband’s life and come against them in Jesus’ name.
If it’s a relationship with a child, you can pray over that area. Even while an encounter is going on, you can pray against satan’s agendas. You can barr him from entering into the relationship.
You can pray that Holy Spirit will enlighten your husband to lies he believes. And you can ask Him to strategize WITH you by giving you thoughts, questions and words you can speak into his life.
All this can be (and I believe should be) done without your husband knowing it. All he is aware of right now is your honor, your trust, and a new confidence and strength that radiates out of you.
Remember, it’s not your husband you are taking authority over. It’s darkness.
For some of us, this is the hardest part of all. It feels super vulnerable to allow the Spirit to flow out of us to our man. And honestly I have no formula to give you, except love.
When Holy Spirit speaks, the motivation is ALWAYS love and empowerment.
If you are not motivated by love, it’s not the Spirit of God.
And the right words spoken in the wrong spirit are NEVER right.
Have you ever prayed outloud over your man?
Have you put your hands on him and blessed him?
Have you looked him in the face and told him, “
Holy Spirit is in you. I believe in you. I see Jesus in you. I really love the way you related with that child. I’m so thankful for you. May your spirit rule over your mind and body today. Thank you for all your do for us.
Are you intimidated or afraid by these suggestions?
If so, I ask you why? It’s worth exploring.
And I remind you that just like Sarah, you should not allow fear in your life.
I am not sure when He will tell you speak life into the man in your life, or what words God will give you, but if you allow your heart to overflow in honor. If you stand against darkness. If you pray in the spirit. I know that in the moment you need them, God will give you in the exact moment you need them, the words he needs to hear.
So what would have happened, if Sapphira would have been willing to be Ezer?
What if she would have made herself a safe place where Ananias could have voiced his insecurities? Showing honor, voicing appreciation, refusing to cower, refusing to bow to the spirit of fear…and yet asking nudging questions, little by little to guide him into exploring the places in his heart he’s afraid to go.
And once she was a safe place and Ananias opened up, sharing his insecurities, she held his heart and PROVED her trustworthiness. What if instead a lecture or silence, she spoke words of faith and love. All bathed in respect and honor. Proving to him that he wasn’t a “lesser” man in her eyes. Proving to him that he isn’t his worst fears.
And yet, when the time came. If he still decided to go ahead and pretend religious righteousness, she could have stood for what is right. She wouldn’t have lied to Peter.
She wouldn’t have been afraid.
Believe me, you are up to this task!
God has equipped you with every skill needed to be Ezer.
He gave you an identity to represent in physical form the most treasured part of His life. His bride. His church.
He has given to physical characteristics to see past the physical day-to-day.
He gave you the tools and strategy you need to reach your husband’s heart.
He gives you grace–seeing you as accepted even when you are unacceptable.
He gave you all authority to resist darkness.
And He has given you the strength to see it through, because He promises that you can do ALL things through Him.
Matthew 16 the disciples start worrying if they have enough food because they forgot to bring any. Jesus reminds them of all the miracles He worked, providing for their needs.
And then in verse 13 He asked a question:
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
I believe that we can take that verse literally.
Jesus will provide not only the daily bread you need, but He also has given you the keys. When we know who Jesus is and thus know who we are in Him, any lie, stronghold or struggle the man in your life faces, cannot withstand an Ezer. The gates of hell cannot withstand us.
“Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she’ll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she’ll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she’ll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she’ll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her.”― Erick S. Gray
The Hebrew word for “help suitable” is pronounced, Ezer Kenegdo
Ezer is the word God chose to use when defining woman’s role. It’s a very difficult word to translate into English, as the word “Help” has a very broad usage, everything from acting as someone’s assistant to rescuing someone. Generally ezer and related words are used in a military context where someone is actively receiving help against an enemy. When this word is read in it’s Biblical context, there is a strong sense of coming to someone’s defense. Proactively coming to help someone in their need. Some people had said that “rescue” would have been a better word, but though the context of the word is often used in rescue situations, Hebrew had a word specifically for “rescue”….and God could have used it if He had wanted to.
In the Old Testament the word Ezer is used 21 times. Only two of those times does it apply to the woman. Three of those times Ezer is used for nations to whom Israel appealed for military aid and sixteen times God uses the word Ezer to apply to Himself when God is talked about at Israel’s helper.
And because we know that God does all things perfectly, let’s explore those verses:
Ezer used for God as Israel’s helper.
““O Lord, …give (Judah) strength to defend their cause; help them against their enemies.”
Deuteronomy 33:7 ESV
““There is none like God, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty.”
Deuteronomy 33:26 ESV
“May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion!” Psalm 20:2 ESV
“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.”
Psalm 33:20 ESV
“But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!”
Psalm 70:5 ESV
“O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.”
Psalm 115:9 ESV
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
Psalm 1211-:2 ESV
“He destroys you, O Israel, for you are against me, against your helper.” Hosea 13:9 ESV
What these verses have in common is that Ezer is used consistently in military context.
The Ezer is undoubtedly a warrior.
Kenegdu. This is sort of a mix of three words. The ke part means “according to” and the negd part means “in front” or “opposite” and the u part means “of him.” If you stick these together in English and translate them literally, it doesn’t really make any sense, which is why translations vary a fair amount. The central idea seems to be that God is making someone a helper that is the “opposite of Adam” in some way. In English “opposite” sounds more negative, which is why it isn’t translated that way. This probably means that she is “opposite” like “corresponding to.” A very loose (and more interpretive) translation might read that God made Eve to be the mirror image of Adam, that they aren’t the same, they aren’t copies of each other, but they do fit each other. Expounding the idea a bit, I think it would be implying that their differences are made to be complementary. She is strong where he is weak and he is strong where she is weak, and that would be why she could be such a necessary help to him.
We’ve all heard the comparison that mens’ brains are waffles and womens are spaghetti.
Men in general like to compartmentalize things and for a woman, everything is connected to EVERYTHING!
God never does anything on a whim.
Neither is He like us and makes a decision and then has to make another to compensate for missing a vital piece of information.
That means that men, with their common thought patterns, traits, instincts and tendencies are just as they should be.
That means men are SUPPOSED to be less communicative than women.
They are naturally less emotionally driven.
They are driven to conquer.
They were created to fix things.
They also were created with a co-partner in mind! (That means they are SUPPOSED TO need your help at remembering and finding things. Women, don’t complain about something that is our JOB.)
They were made to doggedly put one foot in front of the other. Day after day, shouldering responsibility and persistently doing life.
Their life is a life of doggedly doing.That is one of their greatest strengths as well as being one of their greatest weaknesses.
And that means that women, with their common thought patterns, traits, instincts and tendencies are just as they should be.
That means we are suppose to need to use words.
We are created to be emotionally driven.
We were designed to desire to love and be loved.
We were designed to be ATMOSPHERE CREATORS.
It’s our job to help him find the mayonnaise, the words, and the strength to keep going.
We were created to have a desire to be seen and heard.
We were created to be valued, honored and cherished.
It is said that every man is born with a question on his tongue and it haunts him the rest of his life: “Do I have what it takes?”
Remember the “opposite, mirror image” male and females are to each other? Satan wants to answer that question, but I believe our differences were created to answer it. (And in case you are wondering, women were also created with a question…but we will get to that later.)
Instead of our differences working together, satan has everything geared towards division. Movies, media are classic for this. Emotional damage is sustained by both genders and both men and women’s coping patterns of avoidance and protection are being used to divide and isolate.
Women stuff their emotional tendencies and try to toughen up. They feel like they need to prove that they don’t need or desire the security a healthy man brings.
Men are mocked for not seeing the ketchup in the fridge and pretend they don’t care.They feel inadequate, so they have a constant sense of needing to prove something. A lot of domination we see today comes as a result of being threatened and insecure.
Now, God has a sense of humor absolutely, so while it’s okay to laugh at jokes, take a moment to search your heart. Do you secretly despise him for something he was created with?
Satan’s tactics are two-fold.
Keep women from recognizing what Ezer is, and by default, men are isolated.
And to keep people threatened, shamed and insecure to ensure that humans will try to dominate humans.
God gave man dominion over the earth and the things in it, but He never gave humans permission to control humans.
We were created to be different. We process things differently. But we are designed and equipped to fulfill our role well.
I get the mental image of two warriors trekking down a jungle trail.
The man keeps to the trail.
He goes at a steady pace.
His determination and desire to conquer keeps him focused.
He keeps his head and bearings.
He has the physical strength to overcome obstacles.
He is focused on reaching the destination.
The woman is right in step next to him.
She is intune to the surroundings.
Alert to danger, the sound of water or sensitive to approaching enemies.
She veers in and out of the jungle around them.
She is a keen strategizer.
BOTH are equipped in weaponry.
Both are secure in the other’s knowledge and skills.
Both cover for each other in an attack. They have learned to work with each other, covering for each other’s weaknesses, and trusting each other’s strengths. They aren’t threatened by the other’s gifts, instead they are thankful for them and they count on using them. There is nothing to prove. They are one unit with one mission.Because survival depends on BOTH being strong.
Now, with this in mind, let’s read over the verses where Ezer is used for the woman…
“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Genesis 2:18 ESV
And to give a picture of what God was envisioning when He said that…
“Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs.””Deuteronomy 33:29 ESV
What do people call when being attacked by a dog?
What about if a person is drowning?
At that moment, they are not asking for an indecisive person offering them tea on a tray.
They are begging for active relief and assistance!
That, my friends, is what we are.
We are “Help.”
We are the answer to that cry.
We are a partner to work as a team.
We know our spouse’s weaknesses and they know ours and we cover for eachother.
We are a co-strategizer to defeat the odds.
We are perfectly fitted together so our differences lock together to make a formidable force.
We are Ezer.
God never does something on a whim. He is intentional. There is a reason God chose the military term “ezer” instead of a cozy and comfortable word that would translate as “companion or encourager.” Lack of good company wasn’t the reason why man shouldn’t be alone.
Pt. III: WORKING IT OUT
I don’t believe that “Ezer” only applies only to married men and women. “Ezer Kenegdo” explains the reason why women are in the world. It applies to your relation to all men you come in contact with. Why? Because Jesus was single and totally and completely fulfilled His mission. It was HE that coined the phrase “life abundantly”. In Matthew 19 He gives logical reasons for remaining single. Paul defended and even encouraged singlehood.
Marriage is a physical representation of what Jesus did for His Church
Singlehood is a physical representation of Jesus WAITING for His church.
Jesus is still human, He is still single and He is still waiting.
Marriage is a lot like having kids. Complicated. Worth it? ABSOLUTELY!
But it can complicate healing in the individuals involved. Soul ties and dependence are created, and though absolutely God-ordained within the confines of marriage, satan has come in with sin and wrecked havoc. Remember that whatever God states as “good” satan singles out to destroy.
This next part may seem like I am speaking to wives, but I’m not. If you are single, listen with an open mind and evaluate what you have been taught in the past, your reactions, your preconceived notions, and your relationships with the men in your life. And who knows…you might someday need this. 🙂
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
2nd Corinthians 2:11
“So that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.”
Whatever God wants, we know that the devil works towards the opposite end. But the cool thing is that we can recognize the devil’s tactics.
If God says, “It isn’t good for a man to be alone,” we can be assured that the devils goal is to isolate men. Like every road we have ever seen, there are two ditches. And both were created to isolate the man.
The Ditch of Feminism
Because satan plays two sides of the coin, you can be sure that he is trying to raise up controlling, domineering men. It is a definite spirit with an agenda of control in an unhealthy manner. I do believe though, that the most domineering men are the most insecure as they are trying to prove their competence by domination. But I’m not speaking to men. I’m speaking to women.
We have a job, regardless of what is going on on the other side.
But nevertheless, there is also a Spirit of Feminism. Jezebel, we sometimes call her. One of her goals is to persistently show men that they are inconsequential. Movies are classic for this. Men are portrayed as the oafs who can’t find their shoes, can’t find the mayonnaise and who can’t manage the kids. Men are no longer heroes, instead we are led to wonder how they manage without women. Again, Satan turns what was a God-ordained, intentional gift of needing women into a shame which incites a negative reaction.
“If a man can do it, women can do it too…if not better.”
When we are in this ditch, we feel like we have something to prove.
We fight for the man’s place.
We want their titles.
We use our influence to silence their opinion.
We feel threatened.
We secretly despise him for who he is.
The end goal of feminism is to show men they aren’t needed. That they aren’t leaders.
It makes sure that a man knows that he is incapable, and never gives him a chance to prove otherwise.
And I ask you, is this not the very spirit that makes men want to dominate? It doesn’t matter which gender this spirit lives in, it’s wrong. What is in us that compels us to prove our worth?
When a woman allows feminism to live out of her heart, men are alone.
This ditch shouldn’t surprise us, because though feminism wasn’t created by God, it is a direct result of the fall.
“And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” Genesis 3:16
So the power struggle was born.
God is holy and good. He doesn’t create evil to punish us. Yet He is omniscient, so He knows all things. And just like we know that a room gets dark when we turn off the light, He knew the result when sin entered the world, and so He did what He could. He warned us.
But it’s good for us to remember again, that Ezer was created before the fall.
Our place is not a punishment.
The Ditch of Deadly Compliance
This stance of wordless obedience is actually a form of passive control. It is intentionally blinding yourself and accepting decisions regardless of the consequences. It is exactly what Adam did to Eve. He stood with her, received the fruit and (seemingly) unquestioningly ate it. THEN, when God called him out, he did what? He blamed Eve, washing his hands of all guilt and playing the victim. And ever since then, we women like to play the same game right back.
The heart of it is so ugly. Deep down in the center of it is, “It’s his decision. If he wants to do this, the outcome is his fault.” We wash our hands and submit. And it’s so sneaky because it looks so good.
It even looks “Biblical”.
BOTH of those ditches gives the devil what he wants. Neither empower the man to fulfill his God-given role because in both of them he is isolated.
Jezebel either smashes masculine worth or incites male dominance.
Deadly Compliance never questions. It mindlessly and mechanically goes about seemingly doing the right things, but with no purpose and power.
And satan has a hayday. He can feed men lies all day long. A man can live out and rule over his family, all the while completely isolated in himself and out of line of the partnership God intended. All the while never being questioned.
And he is exactly where satan wants him.
Let’s explore a situation where a woman walked in this ditch…
Ananias and Sapphira
NKJV: “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession.And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
NLT: “But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount.
With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.”
Amplified: “Now a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s full knowledge [and complicity] he kept back some of the proceeds, bringing only a portion of it, and set it at the apostles’ feet.”
ESV: “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
I’m going to start reading between the lines here…
We don’t know the full conversation between them, but we know that historically at this time, men didn’t normally ask for their wives opinions when conducting business matters. It’s very unlikely that Ananias would have thought to ask Sapphira’s opinion before deciding. Also take note of the word usage: “Aware of it. Consent. Full knowledge.” It’s not like the scene painted in Esther when Haman’s wife actively planned the gallows that was to hang Mordecai. It does not say, “Plan with. Decide together. Conspired to.”
Ananias made a decision and Sapphira knew what he had decided. And she chose to go along with it rather than risk conflict. She remained silent.
She wasn’t willing to be Ezer.
She left Ananias alone.
Before we are too hard on her, let’s just think for a moment. She probably also was used to not sharing opinions. Just the fact that Ananias felt like he had to pretend to gain acceptance shows that he was a deeply insecure man…and insecure men often take even suggestions as a threat, let alone an outright question. There’s a good chance he had anger issues, rejection issues or perhaps he had a silver tongue that made her feel stupid.
When Peter called her and asked her if they had sold the piece of property for the amount stated, she didn’t know her husband was dead. She couldn’t hide behind his decision and play the victim. But she stood there and was afraid. I am certain she had a flashback of what would happen if she spoke the truth and Ananais found out. So she chose her husband over what she knew was right. And she paid the price.
What should she have done? Let’s explore it.
1 Peter 3:4-6
“But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands,as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.
… And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”
And this is the catch.
Women were created to want to be desirable to men.
We crave their admiration.
We crave their approval.
We crave acceptance.
We want to make them proud of us.
To stand up and speak up risks all of that.
But I believed that God instilled in us the gift of foresight and He gave it to us for a reason.
There is a REASON why “everything is connected to everything.”
We know when our husband is losing his children’s hearts.
We know when he is coping with childhood wounds.
We see when he is driven by insecurities or threatened by authority.
We can list the lies he believes.
We often understand his motives better than he does.
We see the future and where it is leading.
All these are part of our calling! We were designed to see all these things!
For many of us, the “submit and respect” commands have gone so deep we feel guilty for seeing our husbands weaknesses. .It feels easier to just ignore and agree than to engage our concerns. Or, we allow our panic to force us into nagging him prematurely.
You might see rejection ruining your husband’s relationships.
You might see how fear makes him control his family.
You might recognize how he uses humor as a protection against vulnerability.
You might recognize how hurts make him harsh with the children.
Or you may see how insecurity keeps him from living his potential.
We were created to see past the outward, and into the reason behind the action.
But so often, we are afraid.
We are afraid to acknowledge our husband’s weakness because we haven’t experienced healing ourselves so we aren’t sure there is healing for him.
We don’t know what it’s like to experience unconditional acceptance, so we don’t know how to give it.
We feel like recognizing his failings is somehow disrespectful.
We don’t trust ourselves to respond rightly to them.
There is hurt inside of us that will be exposed by being honest with how we feel, and so it’s easier to just ignore it than risk vulnerability.
We don’t know how to be okay in imperfection.
We aren’t patient enough to prepare a safe place.
And this is the main reason why Peter tells us, “do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
Remember how we talked about how men’s instinctive responses are God-given? Men are destination oriented. They don’t see the mayonnaise in the fridge because their eyes were created to see the big picture. They are well aware the fridge is full…it’s the mayonnaise they can’t find.
Men don’t like being told what to do.
In a healthy man, it makes them decisive, level headed and confident.
In a healthy man, we women admire those traits. They make us feel safe and protected.
But remember, just as God created men with their characteristic tendencies,
God also created US women “Kenegdo.” We are “opposite: as pertaining to.”
EVERY strength has a weakness.
Men are do-ers. They find it easier to “do” than to analyze uncomfortable feelings.
Women tend to be feelers. We know everything has a reason behind it.
Men are leaders.
They doggedly stick to the trail.
They were created to be competent, and can be threatened by too many suggestions, because suggestions can sound like they aren’t perceived as being capable.
All these things make them the leaders God sees them to be. These characteristics are not our enemy. I find it remarkable that our perfect God is so okay with imperfection that he created human beings with strengths and thus weaknesses on PURPOSE.
So if men don’t like receiving directions, how can we help them?
Do you remember how every boy is born with an unanswered question burning on his heart.“Do I have what it takes?”
Satan’s goal is to make sure that question destroys him. And though it is said that a little boy’s father should be the one to answer that question, I believe that women’s job is to answer it again and again and again.
Respect and honor is meant to do just that.
Inside you is the map to help guide your husband into wholeness into the places in his life that he will never go on his own. Holy Spirit is there to help to navigate it–all without him knowing. This is where “respecting and submitting” comes in.
But first, we have to know a few things ourselves, because this next part is what makes respect and honor powerful….
I shoved two more bags of “stuff” into the car with great satisfaction. There’s nothing as good as clearing the house of excess.
Minimalism is on an all time high. You get the look—crisp white walls with minimal décor and a few succulents gracing a shelf or two. Very different than the oldies look of stuff, stuff, and more stuff.
Just recently I turned old brown paneling into a crisp white wall—well, actually, a painter did–a super kind one who didn’t charge me a penny for his labor. I sold old furniture and purchased new décor. The results were remarkable.
I love minimizing.
Having less is great until we carry that over into kingdom living. In God’s kingdom, there is lavish excess and he wants us to tap into it, daily. But, it’s so easy to be frugal with our dedication to God.
Loving Jesus means abundance and passion, excess comfort in all circumstances, and care for every detail of our lives. And such a good God deserves maximum focus.
Americans often give Jesus just enough attention to “get into heaven”. But loving Jesus isn’t about getting to a place; it’s about knowing a person.
When all you want to do is get to heaven, you’ll treat Jesus Christ like one of those lovely succulents on the shelf of your home, there to grace your atmosphere with His presence and make your life beautiful. But you won’t breathe deeply of the very essence of Christ as you go about your day and your heart won’t really vibe with the good news of being born again.
Words like “born again” will sound like foreign language. Who says that, nowadays?
You’ll feel like Nicodemus when he asked Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time in his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:4, ESV)
Or, you’ll feel like I did today as I sat a little wearily in a large crowd, but warmth and excitement overtook my heart as the pastor spoke about really knowing Jesus.
Knowing Jesus is different than knowing how to be good. I know what it’s like to be a good girl, but have no peace. That’s because Jesus isn’t interested in my goodness; He’s interested in me seeing that I need His redemption.
I remember the day I realized that no one can be good enough for God, and I had this vile sin nature within me that even my outwardly good life couldn’t answer for. I went to Jesus Christ for his free gift of mercy, and found that the best day of my life came at the end of my own resources. I found mercy only when I realized I desperately needed mercy.
But I didn’t stop trying to be good enough for God. I had always, always, always tried to gain the approval of people by being good. And, I figured God would kick me to hell if I wasn’t good all the time. My efforts exhausted my heart, and still I had little peace.
Then, Jesus showed me who he was. A beautiful, wonderful Savior who was more like a Father. An intimate Friend who was closer than a brother. A Lover who would love me unconditionally. Someone Who was always present, always available. Someone who wouldn’t rebuke me or point out my flaws unless it was met with equal mercy and forgiveness.
I fell in love with THAT PERSON, and there was nothing minimal about it.
I began to pray that God would maximize my love toward Him and all those He loves.
I want to be His hands, His feet, His heart in a world of brokenness and pain (of which I know much).
I learned to have fun and live fully. I learned to laugh even when I was crying—because the joy of the Lord was my strength, and He gave me richly all things to enjoy. I learned that the key to living a sanctified life was being deeply in love with a sanctified Savior.
You can’t be connected to Someone without becoming like that Someone.
This is why, when others talk of church buildings, religion, and denominations, my mind draws a blank and my heart doesn’t resonate. Religion is nothing to me, but Jesus is everything. And sometimes, like He did, I find more love and grace with non-religious people than I do with those who line the pews of a stained glass church.
When they tell me, “I don’t know if I’m a Christian, but I do believe in God”, my heart (and sometimes my mouth) says, “Please make sure you know the person of Jesus Christ.”
We can be minimalists with every THING, but not with every ONE.Jesus Christ is more than a sweet idea gracing our lives and making sure we get to a certain place; He’s a Person who wants to fill our lives and gift us with supernatural GRACE.