Thursday, February 18, 2010

Marriage Challenge Day 4: Provide

Todays challenge is about providing... but wait....isnt the man typically supposed to be the primary provider? Yes, of course, although there are times when the wife is the primary provider or makes more money than her husband, which is perfectly fine as well. However, today I am not talking about financial or physical provision, but about providing the intangible and heartfelt things that make our husbands feel loved and appreciated. The word 'provide' for todays purposes, are about providing for the heart, not for the home.

Lets take a brief interlude here, though, and say what you are all probably thinking right about now, on this fourth day of focusing on our husbands.... "But what about me? What about my needs? What about my feelings? What about my desires? Why is it all about me changing, and nothing about him changing? What about his faults? What about the problems that he has brought into our relationship, or the hurt he has caused me?"

I know! I have to keep trying to push those feelings aside too sometimes, especially as I am spending so much time right now focusing on marriage. My mind is guilty of drifting back to negative thoughts, reviewing my mental lists of his faults and mistakes, and thinking of ways that he needs to change.

Maybe you have some of those thoughts too, which is why I thought it was important to acknowledge that we all have them, and remind us not to be too hard on ourselves. No matter how much we desire to be a good wife, we are only human. In fact, if we didnt have some self focused tendencies, and have some past hurts bubble up, we would not be normal.

And that is exactly why Gods Word says to love and respect unconditionally, otherwise, it might be impossible to come up with our own motivation to do so, especially when heartache and bad memories seem t outweigh the desire to pamper a husband. That is exactly why God calls us to treat others the way we want to be treated, not the way we may actually be treated. But frankly, that can be a real challenge in any relationship - especially in marriage.

Day after day of the same old annoying, aggravating habits can take a toll on a relationship. Extreme betrayal and hurt feelings can take a toll on a relationship. Unforgiveness and anger can take a toll on a relationship.

So if we are not careful, we can become so consumed with what our husbands should be doing better or the things they have done to hurt us or neglect us, that bitterness and resentment can mount high - and these feelings certainly do not do much for keeping a marriage strong and healthy and happy.

As I began writing today about providing for our husband's every day needs, I recalled a blog post written by my sweet friend Renee Swope a few years ago (click on her name to read the entire post), which was called "Faith In The Little Things". Below is an excerpt from it:

Sometimes I saw my role as a wife and mother as "average" responsibilities - one-talent kind of assignments. Plenty of people have the same assignments, I thought. Without realizing it, I believed it wouldn't matter much if I were a little selfish, inconsiderate or impatient here and there. But God wanted my willingness in every area of my life - here and now.

Why would God require absolute obedience? Because He wants us to trust Him. He knows that when we're obedient with ordinary assignments we can be trusted with extraordinary assignments. He says when we are faithful with the little things, He'll "put us in charge of many things" and give us a deeper joy than we have ever known. (Matthew 25:21) Author Beth Moore reminds us that "the answers God gives us in our tomorrows often flow from our faithful todays."

I just thought Renee's comments were so perfect for todays topic, because so often, it is not the big things that prevent me from providing for my husbands needs, its all the little things.

Honestly, sometimes I get just plain tired of picking up socks and underwear off the floor, looking at the pile of clothes in the chair beside the bed, and wondering why I am the only person in the entire family who knows how to open the dishwasher, operate the washing machine, or take out the trash.

But I know I can change my attitude and my heart anytime, by focusing on the fact that God has placed me in the position of provider for needs, for my wonderful husband and for my sweet children. This is truly a position of honor and blessing, and one that God has called me to do in this season of my life.

When I begin to get resentful, I sometimes have to quickly remind myself to be thankful for all these little things that I have to be faithful in doing, even if they are not noticed or appreciated - because God has appionted wived to be the heart of the home, and a huge part of that is to meet needs, big and small, of those she loves.

Just think, it could be worse.... if I didnt have a husband, I wouldnt have dirty clothes in a chair; if I didnt have kids, I wouldnt have so many dishes; f I didnt have a home and money to buy groceries, I would never have to worry about cleaning or taking out the trash. And so on.

I would definitely not trade my husband or family for an easier, less-stressful or less clutter-filled day. These are the little things that God has called me to be faithful in, and I am eternally thankful for this blessing of being a provider.

Renee's post inspired me years ago to be faithful in meeting the every day needs of the husband whom God has placed in my life, and to consider him a blessing instead of a commitment. Now, trust me when I say that I do have my bad days at times (just ask my husband!), but generally I am better at keeping this positive mindset than I used to be.

Friends, your challenge today is to think of some little ways that you can show love for your husband, and provide for his need of wanting to be taken care of and doted on. I think one of the favorite ways my husband likes to be 'provided' for (no, its not what you are thinking, but we'll get to that later!) is making him breakfast on Saturday morning... .not just a warmed up chocolate pop-tart - but a big ham and cheese omelet, grits, country ham, and anything else that would fall into the category of a down home southern breakfast. It always makes him smile, and it makes me smile too.

So try to think of some ways to bring a smile to your husbands face when he walks in the door after a long day at work, or when he wakes up on a lazy saturday morning. Think of a few things that you know are important to him, and make an effort to do some of those things today and in the coming weeks. Consider ways that you can bless him, without feeling the need to be thanked for it.

And in your prayer time, ask God to help you be aware of what his needs may be, and to pick up subtle hints that he may give of what he wants and desires, especially if he is not the kind of man that shares his needs and feelings openly. Sometimes their basic or most common complaints can be clues to what their heart really longs for.

Okay friends, I am signing off for now - headed into the bedroom to put up a pile of clothes on the chair beside the bed. Maybe it will go unnoticed, but thats okay, because God blesses our faithfulness as we allow Him to work through us to meet the needs of others.

Matthew 7:12 Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God's Law and Prophets and this is what you get. (The Message)

Ephesians 4:32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (NLT)

Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. (NIV)

Marriage Challenge Day 4: ProvideSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend


Eva from NS said...

Dear Tracie
Thanks so much for this series. I'm saving the quote from Beth Moore that "the answers God gives us in our tomorrows often flow from our faithful todays"
and sharing with my daughters 25 and 28 who are both trying to serve God.
My husband brings me coffee and toast in bed on the weekends because I am the one who goes out to work through the week while he works from home. I earn more money than he does which is tough on him especially in circles where it is assumed that the husband is 'the provider'. Comments?

Anonymous said...

eve, I to earn more than my husband and have carried our families health insurance through out our marriage and I'm really starting to feel recentful.... My husband is a very good husband in many ways, he is faithfull and helps much around the house and with our daughter... however, he does have an addiction problem and I'm at a stage in mylife that for the first time in my life I don't know that I can stay with... we were highschool sweathearts and have been togethr over 20 years... so even thought I can't imagine living the rest of my life with him.... thoughts of my daughter and grandchildren discovering his addictions... but I also can't imagine life without him by myside for my daughter and grandchildren...oneday.. Please pray for my marriage.

Shelley Hurley said...

Thanks so much for this series but especially today's post. We have had some family challenges pile up on us and the easy answer has been to retreat. My sweet husband has recognized that I needed providing for and has served me each and every day. I am thankful for that but at the same time am filled with conviction that I, too, have not been providing for him. Thank you for reminding me and challenging me. I am now off to restructure my priorities for the day and make sure that I am serving God while serving my family today in the little things!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracie,
Thinking of you this week often.

May you feel his strength continuosly.

"Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ."
Acts 5:42

Little things...they really do add up. Thanks for this reminder today.

Today: I just sat down to do my quiet time. A phone rang. It didn't sound like my phone when my husband calls. When he left this morning he grabbed my phone the two look alike. Well it was his phone and Him calling me with my phone. He wanted to know if I could meet him to switch. Complaining thoughts started coming in. "How could you grab my phone?" Thank You Lord for my husband is providing....and a big Thank You to Tracie Miles who brought this to my attention today.

A Big hug to you Tracie.

Anonymous who posted at 6:36 AM...
I will be having you in my prayers your comment touched my heart this morning and I have you in my thoughts and have been thinking of you.
...First here is a hug! A really big long hug that is.
...Now for some encouragment quiet time for you.
...First with each relaxing breath, allow the Spirit of God to enter your being. Feel this presence deeply as you prepare for these few minutes with the Lord.

Philippians 1:16, "I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus."

These words from the letter to the Philippians offer great hope. The confidence conveyed can bolster drooping spirits. We are each a work in progress, never a finished product. As long as we cooperate with God's plan, the good work continues in us until the day we die and meet God face to face. We may feel stuck or that our life lacks purpose. maybe we think we're too old to change our thinking, or too young to take on responsibility. but there is always more to life than the present moment. We can be confident that God is at work in and through us, and desires-and will bring about-so much more for us.

Do I truly believe that God is continuously at work in me?

What changes do I notice in my thinking when I remember that other people are also works in progress?

God of hopefulness and surprises, thank you for the good work you're begun in me. Grant me the grace to be patient with all that feels incomplete within me.

Everyone thanks!!
Prayers & Thoughts,

bguido said...

Thank you so much for this 14 day challenge. I have been able to share it with some of my closest friends and feel accountable to MAKE A CHANGE in my own marriage. So far I have seen God do some amazing things in my life and in my heart. I can't wait to see what the next "P" is... I keep trying to guess it right (although I'm always wrong). Thanks for this little game in this great challenge!


LeeAnn@Encouragement Is Contagious said...

I'm smiling right now Tracie! It just feels good to be going through this series with you.

Now tomorrow morning, when I get up to get ready to go to work, and stop to pack my husband's lunch for his job, I am not going to get resentful inside when he doesn't do things like that for me! Just being honest about the me feelings that trap me sometimes. But I know this is one of the things that really makes him feel loved and like you said, I want to be in the heart business and provide from the heart!

Moranda Clark said...

As I explained earlier, my husband and I are actually divorced. We have been separated for quite a while and then he filed the papers and as of Feb 5, we are divorced. During the separation, I prayed and believed that we could be reconciled, I still believe that today. I am trying to participate in this challenge as much as possible. I have prayed daily for him, I have emailed him and tonight I had one of his favorite pizzas delivered to his house. I know that it does not make up for the things that have already happened, but I am trying to make all interactions with him as positive as I can. Please pray for me to become the woman that God has called me to be and hopefully a woman that can love my husband the way that he needs to be loved.

Eva from NS said...

Dear Anonymous 6:36am
I will pray for you. How old is your daughter? I know it must be difficult for you. You want to be supportive but not 'enabling' (enabling the addictive behavior) Have you thought of a support group or counselling for family members of addicted people?
Rhonda led you and all of us in a lovely prayer. Thank you.