This was a number of years ago in a moment of silliness. But today, this woman has tolerated me for 32 years and is grateful, can you believe it? Especially when I post pictures like this?
I certainly haven’t deserved 32 years with her. For far too many of them, I was me. I mean the natural me that tried to do the right things in my own strength. She will tell you she doesn’t deserve me, blah, blah blah. Don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond blessed! It’s just that my memory is stuck on how I behaved and what she really needed. The blessing is she thinks about how she behaved, etc.
Now, if you stop and think about it, that’s exactly the opposite of the way our culture trains us to function. I got a call last night from a husband seeking counseling for himself and his wife as their previous counselor told him, “Get out now. She’s too messed up.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard such distressing stories from people. And yet, it fits. That’s the way our culture trains us to think. Marriage is typically “Contractual” as opposed to “Covenant.”
As I said, for far too many of our 32 years I was me. But before anybody gets the wrong idea, I need to throw a wrench in the spokes here and stop this hard. Narrowing a wonderful passage down to just one verse for our purposes, in Isaiah 55:9, we are told that God’s ways are higher than our ways. Well, last time I checked, I’m pretty far from being God. So that verse must apply to me too.
Yes, I hold up our marriage as something my counselees should look forward to (much to my bride’s chagrin). But, there is so much that had to change from when we were in crisis on the counseling couch until we developed what we have. And in all honesty, what had to change was me. If you even remotely follow the belief that the man is to lead, then read on.
A disclaimer: I have very strong beliefs about what this does and doesn’t mean and frequently contradict what people believe, but I base my teachings not on doctrine or tradition or cultural morays, but on scripture and scripture alone. I have a hunch that will never make it into this blog, but we’ll see. It is intended for a future book however.
But if you hold that a man should lead, then this may make sense to you. I had decided it was time for a change. Since I couldn’t change her, I had to change me. But every time I tried, I ended up back where I always ended up. I was stuck with being me. That was when I remembered some advice I used many years ago.
The story of the burning bush runs from Exodus chapter 3 into chapter 4. Starting at Exodus 4:1, we see Moses begin to show a little nervousness. Obviously, the awe of the spectacle before him and all that he had been told already just wasn’t enough to convince him. By verse 10, despite a couple of shows of God’s proofs that He will send with Moses, the man said that he had a speech impediment. Surely that would get him off, right? God replied (according to the modernized translation by Matthew) “Mo, who do you think made your mouth? Do you seriously not trust me to handle that? Just go and open your mouth and I will give you the words to say.” Moses said, “Umm, no thanks, send someone else.” Now God saw this coming and had already called Aaron as right at that time, he appeared within view.
Now, understand please, that the only reason anything is in the Bible is for you. Seriously, not because you’ll have to take a test at some point, but because you can use it. Exodus 4:12 is what we call a conditional promise. You do this, I will honor it and respond. Moses refused. God already knew he would, he had called Aaron to go to Moses, about 3 days earlier for him to show up at that precise moment. (Simple distance and speed equation) So why on earth would God have Moses include this in his telling of the story?
I won’t go back 30 years to when God taught this to me, but just to when I was trying to be a better husband. The first real step I made was when my wife was not responding as I would have liked and I would quickly pray, “OK God, this one’s on you,” and allow Him to take control. This is a strange and foreign idea, I know. And it didn’t fix things immediately. But it changed me, and eventually, she started to catch on. She will now tell you that I gave her room to change and grow. She feels that because I eased up, she could relax and not be on the defense so much and have more time to respond instead of react, etc.
There’s so much more, but that’s a good first step. After all, I was, as Paul would put it, allowing God to be strong in my weakness.
And now, this beautiful woman and I are just crazy about each other! I pray our story will help others.
Oh and by the way, you can tell her I used the picture below for this post, OK?