Monday, November 27, 2006

Living Graciously with My Husband...Some Practicals

1. The power to respond graciously to my husband (and to others) is found in God's grace toward me. God's grace teaches me to have self-control in my thoughts and words (Titus 2:11-12). God's grace helps me overcome any fears that I may have that might tempt me to use unkind or nagging words. Going to God for grace also removes any temptation to lash out at my husband because I am feeling insecure or because I am feeling bad about myself. (Hebrews 4:16, Epheians 2:4-10.) Tuning in to God's grace can help me to act and speak graciously with my husband.

Here's a quote I love: "Mercy is a beautiful gift we can give to those around us. We can be rich in mercy because God is rich in it, and he has given us his unlimited source of it." From A Gentle and Quiet Spirit by Virginia Lefler.

2. As a gracious woman, it's important for me to be emotionally vulnerable with my husband so that I do not develop harsh or bitter attitudes. However, there are two ways I can go about communicating with my husband. The first is driven purely by emotion and borders on whining or nagging: "You brought your work home again? Why don't you pay more attention to me?" The second is gracious: "Honey, I'd love to spend some time with you. When would be a good time for us to hang out together? What would you like to do? Take a walk?" Both statements express the same need. The first is negative, faithless, and critical. The second is positive and solution-oriented, and it also demonstrates faith.

3. Being able to respond graciously, as in the second example above, takes a lot of insight on my part. When I am feeling emotional, I don't always know why. Feelings-wise, I can be like the proverbial frog in a pot of slowly heating water. I can become emotionally and physically exhausted without realizing it until I'm at the point of boiling over with tears and whining. When I reach that point, dear hubby has to help me sort out my feelings. It's far better for me to pray about everything and worry about nothing, as Paul counsels. That way, I can deal with things as they arise and before I lose perspective. Then, I can identify what I need to communicate and think of a positive, solution-oriented way to present it.

4. "He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend." Proverbs 22:11 Two keys to great friendships are a pure heart and gracious speech. I had never applied this verse to my friendship with my husband until I read A Gentle and Quiet Spirit by Mrs. Lefler. But, now I consider Esther, whose pure heart and gracious speech won the heart of her hsuband. Of course, he was literally a king. God worked through Esther's pure heart and gracious speech to move the king's heart to save the Jews from their enemies. My husband may not have the same powerful position that Esther's did, but I can still show him the same kind of respect that she did -- respect fitting a king. I can speak graciously to him and act graciously toward him. Most important, I can be gracious toward him in my thoughts, which are the wellspring of my words and actions.

5. The word grace means "favor". God shows his favor to me in countless ways, most importantly through the cross and resurrection. God's favor results in kindness, truth, compassion, mercy, love, patience, faithfulness, forgiveness, etc. Something to ask myself on a regular basis: Do my speech, actions, and attitude convey favor toward my husband? I've found that when I'm not showing favor towards my husband, it's usually from two roots: 1) I am fearful about something or 2) I am favoring my own self to the point of not showing favor towards my husband.

6. It is difficult to be gracious when we are uptight and afraid. It is easier to be gracious when we trust. Our Lord graciously washed the feet of his disciples -- He performed the role that was usually taken on by only the lowliest of servants. He was able to do be gracious in this manner because he knew who he was, where he had come from and where he was going. (John 13:1-3). Jesus didn't feel like he had to "prove" anything. He was secure. He was able to freely demonstrate his love his disciples -- despite the fact that he knew that one would betray him and the rest would shortly desert him in his greatest trial. So, considering Jesus' example, it's good for me to ask myself some questions: Am I trying to prove something? Or, am I secure in God's love? The answer makes all the difference in how gracious I am in my relationships, especially with my husband.

7. Lots of prayer, proper exercise and rest, and some plain old fun go a long way toward helping me be gracious toward my husband. Of course, being tired doesn't excuse a lack of graciousness on my part. And, there are times to set my needs aside in order to meet the pressing needs of others, even when I am feeling tired and spent myself. Though Jesus was tired and had chosen to rest at the well, he put his tiredness aside to meet the spiritual need of the Samaritan woman. And, through her, a whole town was converted.

But, just as there is a time to push through for Christ's sake and for the sake of others, there is also a time to rest, to spend extra time alone with God, and to simply have fun. Our family is busy, and happily so. But, for the past three or four weeks, our schedule has been extra packed. At the same time, I've been fighting a cold and ashtma. This was made worse by an overnight stay in a relative's home who had two pets that triggered my allergies. Now that we've come through this push time, it's time for me to rest and to take some extra time to be with God. That may mean saying no to an activity scheduled for tonight.

I know there are a lot of different opinions about what Peter meant when he said that women are the weaker vessels. I have an idea that he was talking about our physical vessels -- our bodies. After all, Peter says this in conjunction with the thought that we are co-heirs with our husbands of Christ -- In God's eyes, we are his precious heirs and no less so than our husbands. But, I know that my husband can work longer hours than I can and get by with less sleep. He can also handle a packed schedule better than I can. Because of this difference, I need to communicate with him so that he understands my physical and emotional limitations better. Ironically, I also need to listen to him so that I can understand my physical limitations better, myself. Sometimes, he will see that I am"about to hit the wall of my limitations before I do. He is able to help me make better decisions about using my time so that I can attend to my physical and emotional needs. He helps me sort out when to say yes and when to say no to activities and needs. I also let friends help me with this as well.



Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post, this really spoke to me as I have had to battle with some of the issues you raise in recent days.

The quote by Virginia Lefler is just beautiful! I will remember that :)

I also think that we as women are weaker vessels in that we must come under the protection of our husbands both physically and spiritually - which is why I believe women shouldn't be church leaders because we step out from that protection. It's not that we aren't equal in the eyes of God but simply that our marriage must paint a picture of what the church should be under Christ...I'm not explaining myself well.

Great post Elizabeth, thanks.

Elizabeth said...

I think you expressed yourself very well, Mrs. Blythe. Good points. :)


Susanne said...

Very convicting. There is much to think on here and lots of practical steps to take. I'm going to mark this as unread so I can keep coming back to it and go over different parts.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Suzanne,

Well, I am being convicted by studying this out, myself! We'll all grow together.