Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A new Challenge, A New Positive Goal

One of the qualifications for elders and deacons in the church is that they must manage their families and households well. See I Timothy 3:4-12. Well, for the past few years, God has given my dh the privilege of being an elder in our church. The Lord put this dream on his heart when he was a very young man, and I believe that the Lord has been preparing him for this role throughout our married life. I feel privileged to be able to be by his side as he carries out his God-given mission.

I love supporting him in his role. I do not consider that I have arrived, but I aspire to keep growing and learning how to be a wife as we move through the different stages and responsibilities of our life passages. It's so fun to still have things to grow in even after 26 years of marriage. (I just have to interject that our 26th anniversary is on the 29th!! I love our anniversaries!)

Here's a thought from elder's wife Virginia Lefler in The Calm and Gentle Heart that is calling me higher, right now: She says, "I do my best to make our home run as smoothly as possible so that he (her husband) can focus on other things, but there is no area that I feel he should stay out of. I welcome his input in any area of my life. There were earlier times that I felt insecure when he would make suggestions, and I would bristle at his "intrusion" in my area of domain. Now, I ask more questions. I’m much more secure as I've learned about God's expectations for my role. Do you let your husband manage your household? One of the greatest obstacles a husband can face in managing his household is that his household refuses to be managed. As a wife, you can make his work impossible. If you won't follow, he can't lead you."

For me, this goes back to the fact that our submission is voluntary and not demanded. The scriptures do not command husbands to order or coerce their wives into being submissive (nor do they tell us to demand or coerce our husbands into loving us or being considerate of us as the scripture instructs them to do.). Instead, the Word appeals to our hearts to follow Christ's example in our role as wives. Phil. 2 tells us that Christ put aside his equality with God in order to do his father's will -- even to the point of going to the cross. And, because he was willing to do so, he opened the door for those who respond to the gospel to receive the gift of salvation. If Christ’s submissive heart did so much for us, then how can we refuse to follow in his steps? God raised Christ up because of his reverent submission; we can trust in God’s promise that he will do the same for us. Thus, submission must come from within our hearts, out of a desire to please God.

Sometimes, our positive growth in our Christian walk is spurred by a moment of painful awareness. When I glanced through Mrs. Lefler’s book this morning, I was struck by her statement, “I do my best to make our home run as smoothly as possible, so that he can focus on other things, but there is no area that I feel he should stay out of.”

Ouch!! I do have a few areas which I secretly think DH should stay out of, one of which is how I run MY kitchen!

Like Mrs. Lefler, I have as my goal to manage the house in a way that DH doesn’t have to worry about it. I do want him to be able to concentrate on the heavy responsibilities he carries as an elder and as the co-owner of a small, start-up company. But, sometimes, I get a picture in my head of what that means, and I forget to take DH’s own desires for how the household should run into account! I forget that I am running the household under his oversight. Then, I bristle when he offers input, particularly when it comes to when the fridge should be cleaned or how the kitchen should be organized.

This is all the more silly when I consider that DH welcomes my input in areas where he knows that I have more talent and training. But, the bottom line is that I am insecure because I am not the world’s best organizer. Now, I am very creative and do have many household talents. But, to be honest, keeping things in order is not my natural forte. Dear Hubby is an engineer by education and by profession. He’s not so creative as I am, but he does have an excellent spatial sense and a good grasp of how things can be done most efficiently.

Our strengths do complement each other so well. DH has so much to offer me in helping me attain my own goals of creating a comfortable, smoothly running home.

If DH’s input is so helpful, why do I bristle? Mrs. Lefler put her finger on the root cause: It makes me feel insecure when DH crosses into what I view as my feminine sphere. Insecurity is a form of pride. Insecurity comes because we seek to get our security from our own performance, rather than from our relationship with God. I somehow think – wrongly -- that if DH notices an area where I can improve or if he makes a personal request that is not in my agenda, it somehow means that I am not living up to my ideals of being the Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 woman.

Sarah, in the Bible, didn’t see it that way. When Abraham wanted to entertain the strangers who turned out to be angels, he gave Sarah specific directions for the meal. He said, “Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal, knead it and make cakes.” Then, he ran to select and prepare a calf.

Now, if it had been me, I might have said, “Oh, Abraham, I know how to cook a meal for company. Leave it to me.” But, there is no record that Sarah resented Abraham’s instructions.

The truth is, God has blessed my hubby and me both by giving us complementary talents. DH’s wisdom is an asset to my life, not a threat to my security. Besdies, if I manage my household to suit myself or someone else, but I leave out DH’s wishes, I haven’t fulfilled my true role as my husband’s wife.

So, I have a new positive goal: I will be able to say, as Mrs. Lefler does, “I do my best to make our home run as smoothly as possible so that he can focus on other things, but there is no area that I feel he should stay out of. I welcome his input in any area of my life.


Anonymous said...

What a lovely post full of wisdom. Thanks Elizabeth :)

Elizabeth said...

Thanks, Mrs. Blythe.