Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Marriage Challenge Day 3: Perspective

I was overwhelmed with all the fabulous comments that all of you made yesterday about creative ways to encourage your man. I made a big long list of them to share with you today, but then decided it would be too lengthy - so I have posted them in a note on my Facebook page if you are interested in reviewing them and getting some new ideas to implement in your own marriage. Thanks everyone!

This was so fun, that I decided to draw two winners last night, instead of one, so.... drumroll please...
The winner of the stress CD and notecard set is: Melinda Brown
The winner of one stress CD is: from a blog called shutterhappyhope


So if one of these is you - send me an email with your mailing address. Congrats!

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In the first few years of our marriage, my husband and I had different ideas of what marriage was supposed to be like, and when those two worlds of thinking collided, friction resulted.

Although we had both accepted Christ as children, and grew up in Christian homes, neither of us had a very strong faith. In fact for the first years of our marriage, we went to church pretty irregularly. But when our first child was born, we sought out a church home, both of us knowing the importance of raising our children to love the Lord, even though we were not doing a very good job of doing it ourselves.

Even though we were not actively walking in faith each day, I still longed for a 'spiritual leader' in my home, and for years, I had a skewed vision in my heart of what that was .

Many women carry the wrong image of what a spiritual leader looks like, because we look to our pastors and elders of the church as our role models. We see deacons or other male leaders in the church and wish that our husbands were more like them. In the same way, I had that picture in my head of what a spiritual leader was.

I envisioned a man on his knees every morning, maybe even wearing a nice blue suit, with an open Bible, pouring over scriptures and treating everyone in his life with extreme compassion. I had a picture of a perfect husband, who never hurt his wife's feelings, never betrayed her trust, never made her feel neglected, and met each and every one of her expectations.

But one day, I heard something that shattered that mental picture completely.

I was listening to a speaker talk about marriage and faith. I listened intently about what God expected of men and women, and how we should fulfill our roles as spouses and parents. Then she began talking about the spiritual leader of the household and my ears perked up.

I was ready to have my opinions fully validated by this woman, whom I was sure shared my mental picture of mister perfect. I was fully prepared for her to even express some sympathy for those of us who did not have a spiritual leader in their homes.

However, what this speaker said was not what I expected to hear. She did not describe a spiritual leader of the home with the description that matched my mental picture. She did not describe any prince charmings on white horses. And she did not describe deacons in blue suits, pastors or Bible-toting elders.

She simply said, that a husband who is the spiritual leader of his home is one loves God, loves his wife, loves his family, and provides for their needs.

Hmmmm. Wait a minute. What about all that other stuff? What about what I want him to do? What about how I want him to be? What about my need for a Godly husband? What about praying, and knee bending, and bible toting?

Friends, God really stepped on my toes big time with that one. Ouch.

You see, until then, I had only been looking at the churchy-spiritual things that my husband was not doing. I had been focused on the 'Godly-man mold' in my head that he was not fitting into. I had been taking for granted the things that he did do that found favor in Gods eyes, because I was consumed with frustration about the things he was doing that God did not look favorably upon.

Certainly, he needed to strengthen his walk with the Lord, as did I. Certainly he needed to make some changes in his lifestyle, as did I. And certainly he was not living a life that was fully devoted to Christ, and nor was I.

But he was a good man. He loved me. He loved our children. He helped keep the nursery at church. He donated his time and money to people in need. He was a hard worker. He came home from work every night. He provided food, shelter, necessities, and more.

Not perfect, not without fault, not without mistakes, not without room for improvement in some areas - but nonetheless, a leader in our home.

God impressed upon my heart to try to see my husband through His eyes, instead of my own. He called me to see him for who he was, not who I wanted him to be.

I was not able to do that overnight and it took a while for me to embrace that new perspective. There are still days when God has to remind me about that. But after God placed that new mental picture into my head of what a spiritual leader was, I have never forgotten it.

It is probably safe to say that it is the deepest desire of every Christian woman's heart, to have a husband who loves and serves the Lord, and who lives each day as a portrayal of a Godly man, basing all of his decisions on whether or not God would approve. I know that has always been my hearts desire, and it is probably yours too.

I still pray daily for the Lord to draw my husband closer to Him, and to orchestrate things in his life and in his heart that will continue to make him love the Lord more and more. I pray for his faith, and his courage to live out his faith, especially in the face of temptation and important decisions. I pray for him to have the confidence to pray with me, and our children, and for our faith to grow as a family unit.

And many of those prayers have already been answered. The faith of my husband, along with my own, has come a long way in the past few years. In fact, my man was recently elected to serve as a Deacon in our church, and you can just imagine that I was one proud wife!

I feel very blessed to have a believing husband, but I recognize that not every woman has that. In fact, I have some close friends whose husbands are not believers, and it breaks my heart to see the turmoil in their hearts of knowing that their spouses do not know Jesus.

However, spiritual leadership has to begin somewhere, and if your husband is providing for your physical and financial needs, and loves you and your family, then he is halfway there when it comes to meeting Gods expectations of him.

Maybe he does not outwardly express his faith or do some of the churchy-spiritual things we would like, but if he is a believer, and he provides and loves, he is the spiritual leader of your home.

If your husband is not a believer, never give up hope that God can open his eyes and orchestrate events in his life that will help him begin to thirst for a relationsihp with the Lord. The Bible says in 1 Peter 3:1b, "...if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives."

Maybe you have spent years praying for your husbands heart, with no signs of him coming around yet. Dont lose faith that God can reach him, and that through your continued prayers, God will help him have the desire to strive to be more, by watching the way you live your life.

Never underestimate the power that a praying wife can have on her husbands heart.

When my husband learned several months ago that he had been nominated to be a Deacon at our church, he prayed about it, and wanted to be sure that was what God was calling him to do, and he also asked for my opinion.

I confided in him that I had been praying hard for years, for God to call him into a position of spiritual leadership and deeper faith. A few weeks later, I heard him telling some other men to watch out for what their wives were praying for, because God listens and you never know what will happen when a wife prays. I thought that was priceless!

Your challenge today is to ask God to help you see your husband through HIS eyes. To look at him with the expectations of what God expects of a spiritual leader, and not the mental picture we may have in our head. To not compare him to other husbands who we think are more spiritual, but to pray for God to move in our husbands heart so that he can begin to embrace his role as spiritual leader, as well as physical leader. To keep praying for his heart if he is not a believer, and trusting that God is working on his heart in ways you cannot see yet.

Also, seek out the Holy Spirit's guidance in seeing the little ways that God is changing your husbands heart, instead of only focusing on the outward, more noticeable changes in behavior or actions. God may be at work, in little ways, that eventually turn into big ways, and it will be well worth the wait.

When a wife prays, God listens, a mans heart can change, and great things can happen. Lets change our perspectives today about the most important men in our life, and "see" what happens. Smiles.

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18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tracie-
Thank you for this wonderful reminder of how we need to pray to see our husbands. My marriage is almost 3 years into recovery from an addiction that has just about destroyed us; however, by GOD'S grace, HIS power, and HIS love, I'm committed to loving my husband unconditionally and standing by him through much prayer and much hope that our marriage will not only survive this, but both of us will come out of it much stronger in our walk with GOD and our love for each other!!!
Thank you for this 14-day challenge!!! I needed this pick-me-up right now!! GOD is using you in incredible ways!!!
Have a BLESSED day-

JazzyTurtle said...

Thank you Tracie. I REALLY needed this one. I have the same image in my head about a spiritual leader, well not anymore after reading your experience. Thank you for the courage you have to share your stories with us to help us grow in faith. See you tomorrow!

Peace, Love, & God Bless,
Shelon

melc328 said...

You are so right, it does cause friction. In fact, my husband and I were recently arguing about this issue. Thanks for pointing out that there are other ways than just the churchy-spiritual things. I too, had the same image of how a spiritual leader should be.

Great challenge, I really needed this!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much. I have struggled in this area as well and I appreciate the perspective on a Spiritual leader. We want our husbands to be perfect even if we aren't!! I am so glad you shared this information with us. God has a way of showing us what we need, right when we need it most. Have a blessed day.

Anonymous said...

Tracie,
Thank you for giving us this Marriage Challenge! Just reading your blog these past few days has blessed me and opened my eyes to myself! I have a wonderful husband! He is everything I am not. I have been so quick to judge him in the way he handles situations with our kids and how I don't think he is being the "spiritual leader" that I think he should, that I have not seen how ridiculous my behavior is sometimes!! I am so humbled right now before God about my behavior and realize that my husband has been our family's spiritual leader all along! God is so good!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracie and ladie,
Congradulations!!
Melinda Brown & shutterhappyhope.

Tracie thanks for the fabulous job you are doing here. You are being a blessing to many.

I don't have facebook was wondering if you could email the list to me??

Have to say my husband is a spiritual leader...and has been doing a wonderful job at it. Few areas where I need to work on.

Loved God's word you had so fitting....

Hold on ladies:

O God of second chances, fill us, direct us, empower us, bless us that we might walk in the way of your cross.
Amen.

Thanks Tracie and everyone:)
Rhonda

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much!! I am so encouraged by what you have shared from your heart today. My eyes have been opened to what a true spiritual leader looks like, and I am blessed to have one in my home. Thank you Father for being so good to me.

Laney

jerridsjunction said...

Thank you so much for this picture of a leader in your home. For those of us who are waiting for that spiritual leader to step forward it was a great new thought. My mind picture has been changed and I now have a better idea for prayer and a closer walk.

Thank you also for this challenge. I pray every marriage is strengthened by it.

Joyful said...

Thank you for this Tracie. So true. What encouragement.

Yesterday, I not only prayed for my husband, but with my husband. As I prayed with him, I thanked the Lord for specific qualities I see in him...his dedication to our family...the way he provides for us...the abilities the Lord has entrusted to him etc... That only came after a day of asking the Lord to show me something good for which to be thankful. Too often the negative appears in neon lights, while the positive is written in small print.

Asking the Lord to magnify the good and change my perspective,
Joy

~Grace and Peace said...

Tracie,
So I'm not the only one who imagines a bible toting, devotion leading, immersed in praying, blue suit wearing husband! Your story is very encouraging.

My husband recently came to the Lord on my birthday. It came after 5 years of praying (and tears, lots and lots of tears) on my part. He told me to let him walk his walk with God because well, he knows me. I was ready to give him bibles, commentaries, devotions, etc. to help him along. But he wouldn't have any of it. He wouldn't even go to church with us on Sundays which was a big disappointment to me. How come I'm not seeing any changes, Lord? But little by little I see and hear things from him that let me know God IS working. It's just on a different timetable than mine.

Colleen said...

Tracie,
I have regrets in my long marriage of 26 years, and one of them was that my husband was not the spiritual leader of the family that I wanted him to be. Three of our sons are adults now, and I feel the time has passed that he would have influence on their spiritual lives. Looking at the perspective of a spiritual leader using the definitions of loving and supporting the family makes me see my husband as the best leader he could ever be. He is completely selfless. What better example of Christ is there, and why didn't I see this before? He always puts the needs of the family first, and I know my sons have learned more from their dad than I will ever realize.
Thank you, Tracie. This challenge came at the best possible time for us, as I try to rekindle a romance that was left to die. I need to learn to love and believe in my husband in new ways, and with God's help I will. I pray the Spirit will continue leading you, and will work in my heart to bring about real change in how I think and feel about my married life, my husband and myself. THANK-YOU!

shutterhappyhope said...

Encouraging and challenging post.

Rachel said...

Thank you for this eye opener. As the daughter and granddaughter of ministers I had this clear picture of what I wanted my husband to be spiritually. And I have had a lot of days of frustration because he wasn't who I though he should be. Thank you for helping me to see that It's not my will. It should be GOD'S
will in all things.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Tracie, how convicting. I never thought about viewing my husband as a spiritual leader in this way. Thank you for being so transparent as this has opened my eyes to see my husband in such a more positive way--to concentrate on his positive Godly strengths and pray that he will grow as God desires, not my will for him.

This marriage challenge is incredibly timely and God-ordained for my life at this season. Thank you for sharing your heart and life experiences so that we may grow closer to the image of the godly woman Christ wants us to be.

Ellen said...

Traci, thank you for your encouraging words. I,too, had an idea in my head of what I thought my perfect husband would be. I was widowed for over 12 years and prayed "fervently" for the perfect husband. When I met the wonderful man I am married to, he didn't even resemble what I had "fervently" prayed for. We've been married for 2 years now and even though my husband isn't perfect, God has changed him into the perfect man for me. God is Amazing!

Rachel B said...

God is "stepping on my toes" BIG TIME through this challenge, Tracie. Ouch! No pain, no gain, right? Thanks for the encouragement and challenge. A day behind, but will catch up today.

Anonymous said...

Tracie,
I thank God that He answer my question through your marriage challenge, especially day3. It made me realized that i am so much blessed that HE has given me my husband, to think that a lot of wives are crying in prayers to change their husbands heart, while i wasn't able to appreciate the the kind of husband that i have. i just don't understand before why he wants to be a preacher,rather than practice is profession?He can be an ordinary church worker or member. I now realized that God has set him apart to do HIS will.

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