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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Usually, It Isn't Enough To Be A Good Wife

We, women of a mother's age, balk whenever we hear of a young woman barely out of high school getting engaged.  At least I do.  Perhaps because I know what she doesn’t know yet.  I know that she will put all of her emotion into this man that she’s newly in love with.   She, if she is odd and knows who she is, is in danger of forgetting all of that in a desire to bond and connect with him.  Most times, she doesn’t know who she is yet.  She’s unaware of the gifts and talents that God has given to her for satisfying her longing soul by moving faithfully within His will. 

In Genesis, when God is explaining the consequences for Adam & Eve’s prohibited snack, He says to Eve in Genesis 3:16 “…Yet your desire shall be for your husband...”  This puzzled me when it was brought up at my weekly Bible study.  I’d never paid any attention to that phrase, most likely because it’s followed up with that “and he shall rule over you” phrase which we have all heard more times than we’ve enjoyed.  My friend from Bible study gave me a fresh perspective on this.  She said, “We will always be longing toward our husband.  Even if he isn’t meeting all of our emotional needs, we will always be longing for that and looking to him.”  Suddenly, I realized how many problems in marriages surrounding me directly reflects back to this explanation.

How many times have I sat in church without my husband and my thoughts distracted away from the message, wishing my husband was there, or, rather than taking the word for myself, I considered his circumstances, his unhappiness, his stress, his needs and applied the sermon to them in his absence. 

How many times has my mother gone to see the changing leaves, out for lunch, to church or a community event and felt lonely because my dad didn’t want to go with her. 

There is much undone by women of God because we want the companionship of our husband but he doesn’t share our desire, interests, mission or purpose. 

It may seem that we are simply living a self sacrificing life - but I believe that we are sacrificing our purpose and work on this earth for God in order to cling to our husband.  In God's design for a marriage, he tells a man to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and they should be as one flesh.  He does not say to leave God and cleave to his wife.  I can't imagine he would want a woman to do so.

How many women have spent years with a physically or emotionally abusive man because she just could not break that bond she felt for him.  A bond that is one-sided and certainly not glorifying to God, as she allows the years of destruction to rob her of joy, purpose, fruits of the spirit, inspiration, thought, or direction from God because her desire for her husband overshadowed it all.  This is truly the worst case scenario of this curse. 

We’ve each been created as individuals.  We’re not appendages of our husbands, nor are we tools or extensions of our husband's spiritual identity.  God addressed Eve personally - he didn’t say, “Adam - you figure out what to do with your wife, as it doesn‘t concern me personally.”  We have an individual identity with God, and though our emotional longings threaten to pull us away - we’ll miss much of the fruits of the spirit that have little to do with who we are married to, if we don’t acknowledge and then move in accordance to the identity God created within us.

Many wives will tell you that the stress from her husband’s job takes him far away from God and from a spiritual dependence upon him.  He doesn’t trust God through the difficult times, or believes that he is on his own, which is obviously an exhausting heart condition to operate from.  Adam’s punishment was to experience exhausting labor because of a curse on the ground.  Regardless of our husband’s profession, we can see the same result of exhaustion due to the stress of obstacles that thwart his efforts as the thistles and thorns have done to farmers for millennia. 

Our preoccupation with our husbands can misdirect us away from God in the same manner.  The true consequence of Adam & Eve’s faithless and disobedient behavior is a distance from God.  Physically they had to leave the garden, and spiritually, we’ve allowed our preoccupation with our husbands to pull us away from Him ever since.

As women, it’s important that we teach a young woman that she will always have an identity with God that is her own personal intimate relationship and responsibility.  Her husband cannot live that out for her.  She will of course feel love, desire, devotion and a deep connection to her husband - but she must also have a conviction to not allow it to push God so far into the background that she can't hear his voice.  She may have a work or mission that she shares with her husband, or she may have one that is completely personal, and she must have faith that God wouldn't fill her with the talents, passions, purpose and conviction to complete that work if it doesn’t matter to him whether she acts on it or ignores it.

A young woman should know who she is to God before she commits to being a wife to a man.  She should know God’s voice and hear it clearly before she tragically reduces it to background noise as her desire turns toward her husband.

And ALL of that was what I’ve heard in my spirit for the last couple days that I was quiet and obeying God’s recent mystifying, yet persistent conviction that I needed to hang up the telephone, go to a festival by myself (while my husband gathered our last cord of firewood and I was unable to help because my hand was burned), paint my nephew’s bedroom (in solitary quiet without so much as a radio), and enjoy taking the long way home - so that I could hear Him tell me to believe Him, trust Him, and write this - because it's always the right time to hear God and act upon his instruction.