The call of a Christian wife: what is it and how do we practically live it out as women?
We live in a world of extremes.
The general culture either makes too little of a marriage commitment (thereby discarding the values that hold relationships together.)
Or too much of relationships, making an idol out of marriage.
Today’s post is a note to the wife who is trying to love her husband, but wonders if preserving her marriage won’t result in displeasing her Maker.
Specifically, I want to pull back the curtains and show you how our calling to love God first doesn’t change because we got a ring and said “I Do.” (Also read 6 Ways Your Relationship With God Transforms Marriage).
Qualities of a marriage
For years and even though I considered myself well-schooled in the ways of a Christian marriage, I found myself paddling rather shallow waters.
At one point, I worried that I loved my husband too much (See Can I Love My Husband Too Much? Letter to Self).
Additionally, I was concerned that my pursuit of God would drain me of all margin and energy for a marriage relationship.
Obviously, there is no competition when it comes to loving God and loving our husbands. It should be God first, then husband.
However, for wives in the newlywed years (who are my primary audience,) the specifics of how that looks like can be lost in the overwhelm that is the newlywed season.
The call of a Christian wife – embracing discomfort
I’ve been thinking about some things that have burdened my heart lately. Aspirations I’d like to give some leg to, but for which I don’t have specifics.
Last week, I had a mental image that helped me understand where my focus should be today in light of the shifts I want to see in the next season.
As far as my hopes for 2020 and beyond are concerned, I have been operating from the Inside->Out.
Instead of Outside ->In.
This is what I mean.
When I think of my life as a small circle that is inside of God’s larger circle*, I should be drawing from the Outside to the Inside.
Not Inside – what I can do, what I can control, my resources, margin, and skills – as the measuring rod for what is possible in the next season.
This is what I took away.
The only way not to be overrun by my burdens is to remember God surrounds my life.
The God who created the worlds, both seen and unseen.
The One who sees the end of things from the beginning.
The Creator who curves the skies with brilliance and slices the night with sparkling stars.
The King who numbers the hair on my head and knows the secrets of my heart.
This God, who is majestic and powerful, yet gentle and humble, invites me into the depths of who He is, and out of those depths, my whole being rises to find meaning, direction, purpose, flow.This God, who is majestic and powerful, yet gentle and humble, invites us into the depths of who He is and out of those depths, our whole being rises to find meaning, purpose, flow #marriage #2020
When I focus on my burdens – my small circle – using my abilities and margins and very limited inward compass, as the ruler for what God might want to do in my life tomorrow, I am restricted.
But when, with the help of His Spirit, I seek to cultivate an Outside->In perspective, I don’t worry about the cyclone of the many moving parts inside my circle, because
the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, is guarding my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
A miracle happens when I stop using my insufficient wisdom and abilities as the measuring pole for tomorrow’s possibilities.
When I look to God – through fellowship, reading His Word and prayer, listening to and obeying the voice His Spirit – everything goes right-side-up and affects everything I into contact with.
Living Outside->In is good practice for marriage
Far too many wives and husbands are using the burdens of their marriage circle to judge the goodness and extravagance of God.
They are holding onto what they know, terrified to look outside, perhaps knowing all too well that looking outside themselves, fully engaging with God might result in a very uncomfortable experience in their marriage circle.
For me, beginning to look to God for 2020, not my abilities, has come with discomfort. There are dreams I might have to put aside. I have to trust God knows the unknown and will reveal Himself when we get there.
The Call of a Christian Wife – Embracing Discomfort
Today’s thoughts are for the wife, who is coming to the realization that pleasing and “loving” her man might result in displeasing her Maker.
To the wife who feels there’s more to marriage than “make my husband happy.”
To the woman who is contemplating marrying a man who doesn’t love God and whose values aren’t aligned to His Creators. (Also See 7 Relationship Secrets Every Single Woman Should Know)
To the wife who is still wrapping her mind around “two loves” – her Creator and her husband.
I want you to know this
A married relationship is a small circle within God’s large circle.*
Until our lives are all about seeking, loving, and pleasing our Maker, we will fail to flourish in the areas He sends us to.
Until our focus is Outside->In, we’ll be overtaken by the demands and pulls of our small circles because we haven’t leaned into the miracle of a life that is Outside-In.
Here’s some good news.
Choosing God, at the expense of everything else, including things or people we love, doesn’t happen because we are smart or good at juggling and balancing.
It happens because God is good, and He sanctifies our appetites and desires.
He wants to be known, and He helps us know Him. He pursues us and helps us to stop running and accept His pursuit.
The Godly Woman and Biblical Marriage
When we serve our husbands from a place of lack (where God has not been most prioritized), all we are giving are crumbs compared to the depths from which we can love when God is fully known.
A hard lean on God is our safeguard against idolizing marriage.
Because when we aren’t clear about Who the man and woman in the marriage owe allegiance to first, we create a union that is far from its original purpose and intent.When we aren't clear about Who the man and woman in the marriage owe allegiance to first, we create a union that is far from its original purpose and intent.
Then the following happens
1. We start to think that happiness in marriage is the measuring stick for a healthy marriage.
We live by the idea, “happiness in marriage is as grand as Christ-likeness.”
Indeed, we can be happy and Christlike, but the point I am making is following Jesus will sometimes lead to hard unhappy places.
2. We despise the days we struggle because we think Christianity means protection from marriage troubles.
We churn with cynicism and indignancy because we don’t understand the presence of suffering doesn’t mean the absence of God.
3. When we are not living from the God-circle*, wives can’t hold their husbands accountable (and vice versa)
Because we have placed man above God, roles above our allegiance to God, preservation of a marriage union above sanctification.
4. When we don’t understand that we are God’s children first, before we are spouses,
We create marriages that can’t weather the storms and seasons of life because they are founded on the wrong foundation of spouses, not the God who owns the people + the institution.
5. We misunderstand Scripture.
Apostle Peter wrote “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” 1 Peter 3:1-2 ESV
There are many ways to divide this text, but let’s talk about one of ways not to.
When Peter said “wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives” he didn’t meant a wife can change her husband.
We know that because everywhere else, the Bible talks about God as the One with the power to change hearts. (Ezekiel 36:25-27)
So when we read this verse (and many others like it), we need to include a larger Biblical context which is “the Word of God, not the word of (wo)man always has an upper say.”
Peter is talking about a wife being a positive example to her husband. Not a wife being responsible for the spouse’s decisions to be a Christian (and all that Christianity entails.)
The power to change then does not rest at the relationship level but the individual level.
Saying all that to say this: we misinterpret Scripture, such 1 Peter 3:1-2 when we don’t take the entire counsel of God into consideration.
In a sense, we pull from what is familiar or popular or cultural and use that to gauge God’s next step to us.
However when we live from the Outside->In we create room for Spirit-led decisions because now we are not living to please ourselves or our spouses but God.
Going back to that text again
We know that a wife should not silently endure abuse, adultery, abandonment, or general unhealth in her marriage in the name of trying to win her husband without a word.
We realize that being a positive example to her husband includes living by higher Christian values such as love, dignity, respect, and boundaries. (Also see Boundaries In Marriage: 5 Guidelines For Setting Limits with a Difficult Spouse)
My goal today was to address some of the values and motivations that influence our actions in marriage, particularly when we are at a cross-road.
We don’t have to be ruled by popular culture, our own limitations and fears, or even our hopes!
We can tap into our higher calling as we live Outside ->In.
I believe that switching-on-the-light and identifying some of the motives behind our decision-making process stokes a boldness and clarity like nothing else can.
We can answer the call of a Christian wife – to know that God does not live inside the boxes of our perceptions or limitations.
We can breakout through the power of His Spirit. We can catch a glimpse of His love and involvement in our lives. And only then will we loosen our grip on our small circle.