Wives, Do You Envy Your Husbands?

Portrait of frustrated business woman sitting in office

Not many wives would probably say they are “jealous” of their husband in the traditional sense.  When we think of jealousy, we usually picture other women: their creative mothering, skinny figure, padded bank account, gorgeous home…

But let me ask you (as I ask myself):
Have you ever wanted to be the final authority in your family’s big decisions?
Have you ever wished you had freedom to go on special “man trips” or have the same amount of time away from the kids as he does?
Have you ever wanted to change the same amount of diapers your husband changes?
Have you ever wanted to sleep through the crying while he wakes up instead?
Have you ever felt a little pang of frustration at his paycheck compared to yours?
Have you ever thought he had it easy when you have it hard?
Have you ever wanted to say, “You figure our dinner tonight…and clean up too!”

Envy lies beneath the surface of all these thoughts.

When Daydreams Lead to Bitterness
One of the first times I felt the passionate sting of “husband envy” was during a family vacation with our small children in tow.  Each day, my husband would sleep late into the morning, while I woke up early with three hungry little boys (just like I did at home).  I found myself feeding everyone breakfast, eye rolling his behavior to our extended family members, and thinking to myself, “This just isn’t fair!  I want to sleep in and have a vacation too, but I’m the one stuck with the kids.”  As the minutes rolled by, I felt more frustrated and thought of ways to sabotage his slumber.  Even now, I sometimes find myself wrestling with this as he occasionally sleeps-in later than the children on the weekends, but with God’s help, I’m changing my outlook.

Allowing my husband to sleep is a way to serve and bless him.  He regularly gets up with the kids during the night while I get to continue sleeping, but I seem to forget all of his sacrifices when I’m feeling shortchanged.  And if I really need more rest on a Saturday, I know a prayerful and well-timed conversation would be more helpful than a heart brewing with envy.

Maybe you can relate, or maybe you battle envy on a different front.  Maybe you assume your husband couldn’t possibly understand the challenge of being a working mom—responsible for nursing, changing diapers, and packing bags all before commuting to the office by 8:00am.  Or maybe as a stay-at-home mom, you’ve sometimes felt like a martyr for the family, dealing with mess after mess all day long while your husband gets dressed for the quiet office.

I’ve talked to many wives and moms who admit to daydreaming about switching places with their husband.  They replay the differences over and over in their head:
He gets emails, I get dirty diapers.
He gets adult conversation, I get baby babble.
He gets breaks, I have to pump in the bathroom at the office.
He gets an after-hours drink, I have to rush to day care.
He gets to golf on Saturday, I have to entertain the kids and clean up.
He gets (fill in the blank), I have to (fill in the blank).

This is the same type of poisonous comparison and envy that infects our relationships with other women.  It’s just being practiced within the context of marriage.  When we declare our state of life unfair, and determine that our husband’s life is the better one, we’ve let a spirit of envy steal our hope in the gospel.

Why the Gospel Frees us to Rejoice
Before God, we are all equal with our husbands.  We are equally created in God’s image, equally sinful, and equally in need of a Savior.  You and your husband may live in different worlds, but these truths unite you before God.

When you believe that you deserve death and condemnation for your sin, AND that you’ve been given incredible mercy through the death of Christ on your behalf, you realize your greatest needs have been met.  Any other blessing God gives you is just a bonus to enjoy in this life.  But how does this practically translate into real life?

Knowing who you are in Christ means that you can trust God’s unique plan and purpose for your life, without needing it to be like anyone else.

Understanding what you really deserve allows you to rejoice for all the great things your husband gets to do, without feeling bitter or prideful.

Believing that God is good and offers good for your life allows you to take hard circumstances and face them with joy given by the Holy Spirit.

Seeing Christ as the greatest servant allows you to take the place of a servant in your marriage, looking for ways to lay down your life instead of take on the life of another.

As wives, we don’t have to live discouraged and embittered by our husbands’ opportunities.  Instead, we can lay down a heart of jealousy, rejoice in our differences, and thank God for the work He has given us to do.  Who knows…we might even start realizing how good we have it, and discover joy in the unique life God has given us!

Cal, Emily, Lewis, Brad, and Gabriel + baby boy #4 due in August!

Meet the Author
Guest blogger Emily Jensen is a wife and mom of 3 boys under the age of 3.  And oh yeah, she has another one on the way!  When she isn’t wrangling little warriors, she’s passionate about sharing gospel applications for the daily lives of women.  Emily blogs at fromthejensens.blogspot.com.  You can also follow her via Twitter and Facebook.

Interested in contributing a Guest Post?  Click here!

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What the Young Can Teach the Old about Love

In the summer of 2005 Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana, Lance Armstrong retired, and Clint Harrison asked me to marry him.  I was twenty years old, and if you’d given me wings I’d have sailed straight to the moon.  I’d like to think I took off the rose-colored glasses every now and then by reading marriage books and talking to wiser women, but the truth is, everything was tinged with Tinkerbell-like optimism.  Sprinkled with pixie dust and all the most tender hopes of my heart.

The day he asked me to marry him.
The day he asked me to marry him.

Once while we were engaged, we stole away into the woods by our college campus.  It was the perfect fall day, and Clint (filled with his usual supply of boundless energy) told wild stories,  chased me through the leaves, and laughed like a kid.  And then I saw them.  Each one of our future children…running around his legs, jumping on his back, squealing in the Autumn air.  It was one of the happiest moments of my life.   A moment when I knew I was about to begin a beautiful adventure, the one I’d been waiting for.

I thought about that girl today.  The one standing in the woods with a ring on her finger and stars in her eyes.  I couldn’t help but wonder how she would feel if she could see me now, nearly ten years later.  Would she be proud of the woman I’ve become?  Or disappointed?  Would she look at my life and smile?  Or frown?  I’ve always thought I could teach that girl a lot if I owned a time machine.  I would teach her that in the adventure of being a wife and mom, sometimes you look more like the wicked step-mother than the gracious queen.  Sometimes the palace smells like the stable, and the prince makes you want to joust instead of dance.  I would teach her that embracing boredom is brave and chasing fairytales is foolish.  That the princesses of perfection and performance are actually the enemies, and the monsters of suffering and difficulty are the friends you must learn to love.

I would teach her all these things, and I imagine she’d be better for it.  But today for the first time I wondered, if I shut my older and wiser mouth for just a second, what might she teach me?

Might she remind me how long we waited to be loved by a man, and how perhaps those dirty socks by the front door really weren’t worth the ugly words?  Would she remind me that we once held baby dolls in our arms and longed for the day when they would be real?  I think she would.  I think she would remind me of all that and more.

I think she would tell me there’s a fine line between “growing realistic” and growing cynical.  And that irritation…or endearment…are choices we make every day.  I think if that girl from the woods could see me now, she’d tell me to open my eyes.  To realize I’m rich in all the ways I’ve always hoped to be, save one.  I am poor in gratitude.  And as a result my heart may be older and wiser, but it is also harder.

So you know what I am thankful for today?  I am thankful for that girl.  That young, naive, foolish girl…with the soft and tender heart.  And I am praying that I welcome a little more of her back into my life everyday.

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Here’s to the Woman Inside the Mom

I love this blog for many honorable reasons.  But I also love it for one selfish reason.  It’s mine.  All mine.  I never realized what a commodity that could be until I became a mom.  In the beginning, I was only asked to give up little things–time, sleep, my waistline.  And then they started crawling and I surrendered a little more–tidiness, order, all of the keys on my laptop (which, FYI, can actually be popped right off.)  Then one day I blinked and there they were–chattering away a mile a minute, going to pre-school, making friends, getting their feelings hurt, asking big questions, challenging my authority, drawing me pictures, jumping in bed to kiss my very pregnant belly and perhaps ride it like a cowgirl…  And I realized there wasn’t a square inch of my personhood they hadn’t entirely and eternally invaded.

I love them with these dry, un-manicured hands that wash their dishes and scrub their faces and brush their hair and tie their shoes.  I love them with these swollen ankles that race around town taking them places.  I love them with this horrifyingly out-of-tune voice that sings them to sleep, and lays down the law, and tells them stories about when I was a little girl.  I love them with this face that will probably wrinkle up like a prune by the time I’m 45 because it’s so used to smooching small cheeks and making silly faces.  I love them with the eyes that always know where they are, the ears that hear their cries even when daddy is snoring, and the mind that remembers Tuesday is Johnny Appleseed day and we must wear red to school.  I love them with the soul that begs God for their salvation, and I love them with the heart I have lifted out of my chest and tucked away in theirs.

Truly, I love this lot of mine.  And yet, at the very same time, there are days when I go to a coffee shop and see college girls writing papers and giggling about boys, and I remember what it was like to have a mind that was completely my own.  To be consumed with nobody else’s problems.  To think about nobody else’s needs.  To dream dreams just for me, and pursue ambitions just because I could.  I remember what it was like to have things that were mine.

This blog is one tiny corner of my world that’s all mine.  It’s the place where I remember that there’s more to me than grocery lists and Windex spray.  And for one or two hours, when I sit down in this virtual world, I don’t think about the crusty broccoli under the table or the mismatched socks in the hamper.  Instead of looking outward, I look inward.  I think about the woman who picks up the broccoli and sorts through the socks.  I think about how she feels, what she needs, who she is.  It would be so easy for me to lose her.  In the mayhem of everyday life, it would be easy to go through the motions and then collapse in front of the TV.  To grow completely out of touch with the woman inside the mom.  To shush her, ignore her, numb her…until one day she bursts into tears at the dinner table and everybody wonders why.

That’s one of the reasons I write.  Because I need to stay in touch with that woman.  I need to know how she’s doing.  I need to speak the gospel over her heart and life.  Otherwise, she won’t make it.  Sure, she’ll still flip pancakes and drive carpools, but underneath it all her heart will grow hard and her spirit cynical.

With all that being said, I’m posting today because in the next few weeks my life is going to get crazy.  In the midst of holiday hoopla and an exciting new job for my husband (hooray!), we are going to meet our third little daughter in just two weeks!  Yes, yes (to the kind onlookers in the grocery store), my hands are going to be very full…but so is my heart.  And as my home gets louder, this blog is going to get quieter.  For the next few months I will miss you, and the way the woman inside of this mom gets to connect with the woman inside of you.

But believe me, even in this crazy season, whenever I get the chance I will still slip away and find time to check up on the woman underneath the nursing tops and smudged mascara.  I will find the time to speak gospel truth over her.  And I hope that sometime this Christmas, you too will be able to slip away, mix up some hot chocolate, and spend time with the woman inside of you, and with the God who loves her so very much.
Merry Christmas!

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How Mama Bear Hurts Her Family

animals-bear-angry-brown-bear-wallpaperI’ve never loved the “Mama Bear” analogy.  When I think of “Mama Bears,” I picture moms who bite teachers’ heads off, and elbow their way through crowds so their kids can get the best seat at story time.  I’d much rather be a Mama Swan, peacefully gliding through life with all my little cygnets in a row.  But I’m not.  I’m the Swan-faced mom with the heart of a Grizzly.

The truth is, you don’t have to be loud and obnoxious to be a Mama Bear.  You just have to care too much about the well being of your family.  You have to idolize it.  To bow down and worship it, so that if anybody in your household isn’t okay, nothing’s okay.  You see, the thing about Mama Bears is that deep down, we long to control our universe so that we can protect the people we love.  If we’re Christians, on some level we know this is impossible.  But that doesn’t stop us from trying.  How can we stop trying?  Then things might really fall apart.  So we spin our wheels endlessly, longing for that moment when we can take a deep breath and say, Life is good.  Nobody’s in the hospital.  Nobody’s having nightmares.  Nobody’s miserable at work.  Of course, this kind of peace is fragile as an eggshell.  It’s like building your home on a foundation of toothpicks.

And boy, is it exhausting.  I knew there would be a lot of work in becoming a wife and mom; I just didn’t realize how much of it would be done with my heart instead of my hands.  The more people we add to our family, the more my heart has to carry.  Worry, concern, love, joy, pain, affection, fear.  I don’t even want a dog, because I don’t have the emotional capacity to care for one more living thing!  There are days when my husband walks through the door with a heavy expression on his face, and I want to hold up a hand and say, “I’m sorry!!  The anxiety meter has reached maximum capacity.  Put one more burden on my plate and I will drop dead right here in the kitchen!  Then you’ll have to finish cooking.”  Instead I usually opt for the quick-fix: “What’s wrong?  Just tell me.  Tell me now.”  Maybe I can slap some gospel truth on this one real fast and check it off the list before the spaghetti sauce burns.  

But it doesn’t work that way for one simple reason.  I’m not Jesus.  All my outward attempts to “fix” our universe are just that—outward attempts.  They’re the toothpicks straining under the weight of the house that will always crush them flat.  I still remember the day Clint looked at me and said, “Can you just let me be not okay?  Can you just love me when I’m not happy?”

But if you’re not okay, then I’m not okay, I thought.  And just like that, I finally got it.  Wanting him to be okay was never really about him.  It was always about me.  I didn’t want to abide with him in a season of long-suffering.  I wanted it over.  Fixed.  So that I could go back to being happy.  I’ve known that Mama Bears (like me) are protective and controlling.  But this was the first time I realized we’re also selfish.  So selfish, in fact, that we’re willing to short-circuit what God wants to do in someone’s life, just so we don’t have to endure the discomfort of watching it.

When little Susie has no friends at school, Mama Bears (like me) don’t want to walk the long, painful road of teaching her to trust Jesus.  We just want to make the heartache go away.  We want to throw a block party and invite every 5-year-old in Georgia.  But what if God destined this to be the first time little Susie turned to Jesus with a real problem?  What if this heartache set the stage for her first experience of believing God and seeing Him act on her behalf?  Isn’t that worth a little suffering?  For Susie…and Mama Bear?

But the only way we will become the kind of woman with the ability to abide instead of fix, is if we abide in Christ.  David once sang, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea” (Ps 46:1-2).  Don’t you long to have such assurance on the day your private mountains fall into the heart of the sea?  On the day your husband loses his job?  Or the pediatrician says you need to see a specialist?  Or your grown child phones to tell you she’s getting a divorce?

I guarantee you, Mama Bear longs for it.  Because she understands life on the other side.  She lives in the house built on sand, and even on the good days, she fears it’s sinking.  I wish I could say it’s easy to pick up that house and plop it down on the Solid Rock of Christ.  I wish it was a one-time thing.  But it’s not.  It is a moment-by-moment choice to yield and to trust.  Then, and only then, can we minister to our families with the sort of love that says, “Come as you are, messy and in pain.  I will abide with you.  As long as it takes.”

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4 Reasons Men Fail to Engage at Home

20111112_STP506In many Christian homes, the man of the house comes home from work only to plop down on the couch and turn on the TV. They are distracted at dinner. They are unmotivated in their role as a father and husband. Why don’t they seem to care?

This is a common problem, and it is not just deadbeats and sociopaths that fail to engage at home. Even sincere Christian men struggle with engaging at home consistently. I, personally, am deeply convicted about my responsibility as a husband and father, but I still have good days and bad days when it comes to being engaged at home.  This article shares 4 reasons why I have struggled to engage at home.

Learn more about guest blogger Aaron Smith below.
Learn more about guest blogger Aaron Smith below.

1. Work goals and rewards are more tangible than family goals.
Like most men, I like solving problems, and that makes me thrive in the work world. At my job, all of my goals are well-defined and the path to success can easily be broken down into tangible steps: “Do these calculations…fill out this report…” Sure, there are surprise challenges and delays, but at least the problems and the goals are well-defined.

At home, on the other hand, I sometimes get lost in what I am trying to accomplish. What are the actual steps that lead to a stable marriage or Godly children? Oh, how I want a formula for being a good dad and husband… “play two games of hide-and-seek on Mondays, bring flowers home for my wife every Tuesday, read Scripture at dinner, and voilà… perfect family.”

But, unfortunately, there is no formula for having a loving marriage or for raising Godly children. Only God can make our family efforts succeed. But God still intends for men to make plans and to lead their families the best that they can. I think that this is why I find it much easier to stay engaged at home when my wife and I have a clear set of goals for our family.

2. Men feel entitled to “veg out” after work.
When I was single, I could work really hard for a couple of days, and then just “veg-out” for a few hours to recover. But, now as a father and husband, I don’t have that luxury. But, I still regularly have days at work where the stress and pace really take it out of me. I often want to just come home and watch TV. Being entertained is so much easier than engaging. Sometimes, I even rationalize to myself, “Why shouldn’t I take a rest? I have worked hard all day. Don’t I deserve a rest?”

In general, the answer is no. I have a responsibility before God to actively love my wife (Eph. 5:25) and to train my children (Eph. 6:4).  I only have a few hours after work each day, so if I am going to be faithful, I will need to spend most of that time engaging with the family. I don’t have the prerogative to regularly “check-out” from family time.

The times when I have succumbed to the temptation to veg out, are times that I have lost sight of how much I am needed at home and my responsibility before God. Also, when I find that I have nothing left to give my family at home, it usually means I am giving too much of myself at work (see next point for more on this).

3. Men make work an idol.
The line between doing my best at work and making work an idol often seems like a razor’s edge. I may start the week desiring to work hard for good reasons: to provide for my family and to glorify God with my talents. But by the end of the week, I have fallen into idolatrous motives — looking to my performance to give me significance and trusting in my own efforts to bring me happiness.

And as soon as I wrap my happiness and significance up with my work, I become a slave to success. Delays or setbacks at work continuously tempt me to work longer hours. Even when I come home, I keep drifting back into thought about how to solve those pesky problems at work, and how great my life will be when I overcome them.

The problem here is that I forget the Gospel. Christ has already accomplished the work that gives me significance. His death on the Cross has made me holy and blameless before him, a beautiful bride for Christ (Eph. 5:25-27). Also, I don’t have to trust in my own efforts to provide for my family’s needs. The God who made all things knows all my needs and cares for me; He will provide. He has given me His Son — how shall He not also give me all things (Rom. 8:32). When I keep these Biblical truths in my mind, I have much more energy left to give at home.

4. Men don’t take advantage of opportunities to meditate on God’s Word.
Anytime that I struggle to stay engaged at home, I probably have not been spending enough time meditating on God’s Word. Psalm 1:1-3 promises the following to those who regularly meditate on God’s Word:

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”

What an exciting picture! I long to be a husband and father who bears good fruit during each new season of my family’s life, and the only way that this will happen is if I regularly renew my mind with God’s Word.
IMG_2035I’m happy to introduce another talented guest writer!  Aaron Smith is a husband, dad, engineer, and blogger.  He spends his days designing hydraulic systems, and his evenings at home with his wife Christel and their two children.  In his spare time (or in his words, the time he should be sleeping!) he blogs at Faith and Life.  Check out his blog, share it with your husband, and leave him a comment below!

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What I Want My Daughters to Know about Biblical Womanhood

I’ve meant to return to the subject of biblical womanhood for a while now. But always when I approach this tender topic, I see the faces of vulnerable women from a thousand different walks of life. And my words refuse to come together.  But suddenly today, when I sat down to write, I saw just two little women.  And when I thought about what I want to teach them about biblical womanhood, everything became a little more clear.
P1060364Dear daughters,
Being a godly woman begins with surrendering your whole heart to Jesus. This means Jesus defines who you are–not your friends, the world, or even yourself. The Bible says that those who surrender their hearts to Jesus are blessed, chosen, holy, adopted, redeemed, favored, and forgiven (Eph 1:3-11). My precious daughters, no matter how you feel, or what happens to you, that is your identity.photo-37

Surrendering your heart to Jesus also means obeying Him. Often (just like your mom) you will be tempted to be the boss of your life, following your own wisdom. But the Bible says “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (I Cor 1:25). If you build your life around Jesus, submitting to the perfect wisdom of God, He will make you the woman He wants you to be, which is the true definition of biblical womanhood.

As you grow, you will learn that the world tries to define womanhood by outward actions and appearances. Many people believe beauty is the ultimate goal of womanhood. Our culture will tempt you to believe that the prettier and sexier you are, the more valuable and loved you will be. But this is a lie! I P1060530Peter 3:3-4 says that our main focus should not be looking pretty on the outside, but rather having a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious to God. Do you know what a gentle and quiet spirit is? The word “quiet” doesn’t mean you can’t be loud and bubbly (which your daddy and I find absolutely adorable.) It means your heart is as quiet and peaceful as a baby resting with its mother (Ps 131:2). You see, when you listen to Jesus’ opinion of you, you will not be anxious about fitting in or being the most beautiful. Your heart will be at peace. And that is true beauty.

Some people believe finding the right man is the ultimate goal of womanhood. But this will always lead to disappointment! If God wants you to be single, you may believe the lie that you’re less adequate than wives and moms. If He wants you to marry, you may believe the lie that a man can provide lasting fulfillment. My sweet girls, stand guard against both thoughts! God has always based biblical womanhood, first and foremost, on our relationship with Him, not men. If He does bless you with a godly husband, then respect, cherish, and honor that man, for he is a gift!  But do not look to him for your ultimate hope and security.  That is Jesus’ specialty alone.

Finally, my dear girls, beware of defining biblical womanhood by what you do. If you fall into this trap, you will forever be comparing yourself with others—how well you cook, clean, decorate, and discipline; whether or not you stay at home; how you invest your time and P1060370talents. This can only lead to pride, shame, guilt, and judgment. Always remember, biblical womanhood is about attitudes more than actions. It is about having a soft and submissive heart toward God and His commands. Most of God’s instructions in the Bible apply to both men and women. But there are certain passages written specifically for women (Ti 2:3-5, Eph 5:22-24, Prov 31, I Pt 3:1-6). Embrace the teaching of these passages with a grateful heart! They were not written to burden you with guilt, but to teach you God’s perfect will and design for women. He alone can, and will, empower you to be the woman He wants you to be. And in becoming what He wants, you will find the greatest freedom and joy.

All my love forever,

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To Those Battling Biblical Womanhood

woman_read_bible-400x400Recently someone asked me to respond to an article bashing biblical womanhood.  Admittedly, it’s one subject I’ve been fairly silent about.  Partly for fear of the backlash.  But mostly because I am the last person who deserves to write about it.  It’s not that I ever rejected the Bible’s call to submit to my husband (I Pt 3:1, 5), or have the sort of spirit that’s beautiful in God’s sight (I Pt 3:1-4).  In fact, I embraced such teaching as sound doctrine from a wise and sovereign God.  The problem was, I couldn’t live it to save my life.

As a kid I was fairly compliant.  So naturally, when I walked down the aisle, I believed this whole biblical womanhood thing would come easily for me.  Sweet and submissive as a baby bunny.  Boy, was my husband lucky!  Then somewhere within our first year of marriage Xena Warrior Princess rose up within me and slaughtered the bunny.  What I once believed to be compliance, I now recognize was pride.  Back then it manifested itself in the arrogant belief that I could fulfill the call to biblical womanhood in my own strength.  Once I realized I couldn’t, it manifested itself in utter outrage that I should ever be asked to.  Why should I submit?  I’m smart and gifted.  I can get it done twice as well in half the time.  And so I became controlling, disrespectful, and angry.  But I could never control things as completely as I wanted to, which only made me more furious.  Finally, all the anger gave way to deep discontentment.

Maybe you can relate.  Maybe you can’t.  Maybe the entire notion of biblical womanhood makes you want to gag.  Here is my challenge.  If the thought of submitting to an honorable man feels old-fashioned or degrading to you, then for just a moment, set it aside.  Forget all about submission and respect as it relates to a man, and ask yourself the one question I was forced to confront: Am I willing to submit to God? 

I finally came to see that my real fight was with Him.  It wasn’t my husband’s role I wanted, it was God’s.  I longed for the authority to control my life as I saw fit.  Like Satan himself, my heart cried, “I will make myself like the Most High” (Is 14:14).  I’ll never forget the day God opened my eyes to what I was becoming.  As I cried on my knees, He gave me a new verse from Isaiah: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (26:3).  Oh how I longed for peace!  And I saw that it only came by way of trust.  Deep down, if I really trusted God, I could stop trying to be Him.  Then instead of being thrown into turmoil by the things I couldn’t control, my mind would be steadfast.  And all the anger, anxiety, and discord I’d welcomed into my heart and home would be replaced, at last, with peace.

We often view submission as oppressive, but I’ll tell you, as I submitted to God that day, I’d never felt freer in my life.  The truth is, biblical submission has and always will be foundational to Christianity.  To quote Webster, to submit is to “yield to the authority of another.”  Is this not the very heart and soul of the gospel?  Indeed this is the example Christ Himself set, when He submitted to the Father’s will, becoming obedient to the point of death (Phil 2:2-8).   And that is exactly what’s required of any who would follow Him.  The call to Christianity is not a call to rule, but to die (Mt 16:25).  To become a bondservant, a slave, to the One True King (Rom 6:22).  And in so doing, to discover life and freedom for the very first time.

Do I believe God has a distinct vision for womanhood?  Yes, I do.  If He wanted men and women to function in exactly the same way, I believe He could’ve made one gender.  We could’ve reproduced asexually, like star fish.  But He didn’t.  He could’ve made Eve first.  Or inspired Paul to urge men to be keepers of the home, subject to their wives.  But He didn’t.  He intentionally created both men and women, and through Scripture revealed the equal but different roles for which He designed them.

If you struggle with the doctrine or application of biblical womanhood, would you be willing to begin by yielding to the authority of Christ, then asking Him to teach you His vision for womanhood, as revealed in the Bible?  Not what you want the Bible to teach, or think the Bible should teach, but what it actually teaches.  Because as Wayne Grudem points out, when we tweak Scripture to suit our preferences, what’s ultimately at stake isn’t merely manhood or womanhood.  It’s the authority of the Bible itself.

So, to the dear reader who asked for my thoughts on biblical womanhood, it is with great love and humility that I offer this response.  In case you’re wondering, I still know what it’s like to struggle with respect, to long for control, and to be sick of managing a household.  But because of His grace, I also know what it’s like to experience glimpses of harmony, when my husband and I embrace our God-ordained callings because we trust that His design is best.  And I can say this—it is beautiful, it is peaceful, and it is freeing.

Other Resources:
7 Misconceptions about Submission by Mary Kassian
Biblical Womanhood in Five Minutes An audio interview with John Piper
Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth
 by Wayne Grudem
Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by John PIper & Wayne Grudem
What’s the Difference? by John Piper

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Can You Really Raise a Child with an Unbiased Worldview
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Making Peace with Family Systems {or Why Everybody Fights So Much Over the Holidays}
Making Peace with Family Systems {or Why Everybody Fights So Much Over the Holidays}
Getting Real About the Girl Behind the Grin
Getting Real About the Girl Behind the Grin

Two Different Men

largeWhen I was but a youthful girl
Of four and seventeen,
I chanced upon two different men,
Whose natures were unseen.

One was handsome, tall, and dark,
With gallantry to spare,
He swept me off my feeble feet,
And made me twice as fair.

I came to know him by a word,
As we dined and danced,
For while he brought the stars to life,
I called him sweet Romance.

The other man was odd to me,
For he never left my side,
Though often I was known to gripe,
And roll my eyes and chide.

He did not lure with mystery,
Pour gifts upon my greed,
In fact at times he grew so dull
I scarcely paid him heed.

But as the days gave birth to years,
My skin came loose and gray,
And when I searched for my Romance,
He’d wandered far away.

I trembled in my lonely bed
With sickness and with fear.
“Do not cry,” a soft voice said,
“I am ever near.”

The other man stroked my face
And dried my weathered nose,
He brushed my hair with shaky hands,
He gently held me close.

“Where is the one who stole my heart,
Fierce and young and brave?
Why would he arise and leave
An old man in his place?”

With wrinkled lips he smiled and said,
“We’ve always been the same,
Both he and I were but one man
Resolved, your heart to claim.

He was grand and I was small,
When first we caught your whim,
And though I grew from day to day,
You always preferred him.

But now, my dear, as dusk draws near,
I have grown so vast,
That though he was the first to win,
It’s me who’ll be the last.”

I held his face between my hands,
I cried into his tears,
Until his old familiar touch,
Had swept away the years.

At last I knew there was one thing
That I could be sure of:
And so I whispered in his ear,
“Then I shall call thee Love.”

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5 Dating Tips for Single Guys

Dating011-medium-newLet me begin by saying I realize your lot in life is as far as Fiji from mine.  I have no idea what it’s like to be a single guy in 2014.  But you and I do have one thing in common.  Both of us care about single girls.  Recently, some of my favorite ones have opened my eyes to the terrors of dating in the 21st century.  WIth that in mind, I thought I might offer a little insight into wooing the fairer sex.  I’m certainly no expert–my only qualification is this one extra X chromosome.  But for what it’s worth, here’s some advice from a girl:

Be confident in who you are.  I know it’s cliché, but nothing exudes insecurity faster than showing-off.  Trust me, no matter how politely she smiles, she knows you don’t really have $100,000 to invest in an up-and-coming business, knows you didn’t once date Katie Holmes, and is probably groaning inside if you’re telling her how much you can curl.  If there’s one thing she really will be impressed by, it’s sincerity.  Being genuine and humble demonstrates confidence.  Ego brags.  Confidence doesn’t have to.

Focus more on the “connection” factor than the “cool date” factor.  In other words, don’t drop $150 on a botanical garden carriage ride and then stare at her like a mute statue or *shudder* text your friends the whole time.  Sure a cool date’s great, but it will never make up for a lack of connection.  Which means you need to plan more than the date–you need to plan the conversation.  I once read a marriage book that said women long to be explored.  It’s the reason girlfriends can talk for hours at a coffee shop.  We want to be discovered…more than we want to smell botanical flowers, or perhaps best yet, while we smell botanical flowers 🙂

Err on the side of being a gentlemen.  With the rise of the women’s-lib movement, I can see why it’d be confusing to know whether or not to open her door or pay for her meal.  But you’re a lot less likely to offend by being more of a gentleman than less of one.  If she tells you, “I’ve got it” when you open the door–no big deal.  But if she’s looking for a gentleman and ends up having to pick up the tab, don’t expect a second date.

Adjust your expectations.  If you’re waiting for a girl who looks like J Lo and loves college football, don’t hold your breath.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t have standards, just consider them carefully.  That shy girl from church may just need a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll to become the most interesting person you’ve ever had a conversation with.  That really un-athletic friend of your sister’s may look at you like you’re Lebron James when you play basketball like Kevin James.  Or maybe not.  The thing is, there’s only one way to find out.

Don’t be afraid to stand up to her.  There’s a big difference between a control-freak and a leader.  One is rooted in pride, and the other is rooted in love and service.  Once you’ve built a trusting relationship with her, be brave enough to speak into her life in ways that will challenge and edify her.  At the end of the day, no matter how much we balk, (most) women don’t really want a yes-man.  They want a man they can respect.

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Do You Ever Worry You'll Fall Out of Love?
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Why Women Wander
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Making Peace with Family Systems (or Why Everybody Fights So Much Over the Holidays)

Years ago in a Marriage and Family class, my professor drew big circles on the whiteboard to represent family systems.  He talked about “closed” systems and “open” systems, and all sorts of other terms that eventually filled his circles with arrows and scribbles and a general sense of disorder.  This holiday season I found myself thinking a lot about those circles.

Every day I live in my own circle.  It’s the “Me and Husband Family System.”  It has its own set of priorities, entertainment preferences, conflicts, and agreements.  This Thanksgiving we loaded up the minivan, drove four hours, rang my parents’ doorbell, and stepped back into the “circle” that raised me.  Mom and Dad’s family system.  It was as familiar as my mom’s fried rice, and yet it fit like skinny jeans after a pregnancy.  How can something that made you who you are, no longer fit who you’ve become?  

My answer came three weeks later when Christmas rolled around and we spent a week living in another “circle,” the one that raised my husband.  I realized that marriage is a little like tossing two family systems into a bag and shaking it until they smooth each other out.  In the end what you take out of the bag is entirely new.

Sometimes it’s beautiful, like a stone polished with friction.  And sometimes it’s broken.  Sometimes we realize the pieces we were given were never whole to begin with, and trying to build something healthy is like assembling a bicycle with broken parts.  Even if we can make it look normal on the outside, it will never race down a road.  So how do we make peace with family systems?  Here’s what I’ve been mulling over:

Recognize that every family system is flawed.  From the moment sin entered the world, nobody had a shot at doing this “family” thing perfectly.  So, what if we just admitted it?  What if we gave our parents, and our in-laws, and our parents’ parents the freedom to be human?  To have made mistakes that impact us and yet to be treated with dignity, love, and forgiveness–the same way Christ has treated us?

Acknowledge the specific failings of the family system.  I think there are two unhealthy tendencies for dealing with the failures of a family system.  We either want to sweep them under the rug, or we want to frame them on the mantel.  Neither is beneficial.  Think about your own children.  Would you really want them to pretend they haven’t been hurt or negatively impacted by the mistakes you’ve made?  To quietly grow bitter toward you?  Or worse yet, to repeat those mistakes?  As terrifying as exposing the failures of a family system can be, when it’s done with a commitment to love one another, it can be liberating.  Messy as a bachelor pad, but liberating.

Lay the past to rest.  None of us own a time machine.  Which is why framing past failures on the mantel is so devastating.  Nobody wants to be defined by their mistakes, nor made to pay for them again and again.  At some point we have to deal with the ugly under the rug, then forgive and lay the past to rest.  Throw it in the trash with the turkey carcass and all the other things we’re officially “done” with.  That is grace.  And we all need it.

Accept personal responsibility for the family system you’re creating.  Believe me, I know how comforting it can be to blame someone else for all the things you dislike about yourself.  Your inability to trust.  Your penchant for shutting people out.  That anger problem you have.  But the hard truth is nobody will be held accountable for our lives except us.  The beautiful side to that truth is we’re not slaves to the past.  In Christ we have everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pe 1:3), everything we need to grow, to change, and to overcome.

As I move into this new year, I’m reminded again that Jesus is the essence and the fullness of Hope, one of my favorite things about Him.  There is no hurt He can’t heal, no relationship He can’t restore, and no failure He can’t redeem.  His presence within us is our hope of glory (Col. 1:27).  Our only hope of glory.

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Can You Really Raise a Child with an Unbiased Worldview
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