***I recently was presented this list of 14 Marks of a Wise Woman and I instantly felt overwhelmed. I want to be all these things! To glorify God by being wise and discerning. To honor God in my attitude, the way I speak, and how I react in difficult situations. In this series, I will be exploring each of these 14 Biblical virtues (please also see proverbs14verse1.blogspot.com, which is the source of this list), in order to find ways to apply these principles to my life in practical ways. I hope you will join me!***
If you’re just joining us, here are the previous virtues:
4. Loves her husband and children
and so train the young women
to love their husbands and children,
What does this mean?
Part of me was like, “yay! An easy one! Everyone loves their husbands and children, this’ll be a cinch.” But then I realized that I don’t even truly understand what love means. God loves us with a love that we cannot comprehend. And having a true heart of love is HARD. Even when I can finally manage to do the right action, I’m dragging my unwilling heart along behind, hoping it will one day catch up.
So yeah, this definitely won’t be an easy topic, like I originally hoped ;)
A few thoughts on what love is… We can learn a thing or two from how God loves us (well, more like EVERYTHING). He is deliberate, purposeful, and sacrificial.
And real love is costly. God shows us this through sending His Son to die for us, beings who were not worthy of rescue. Real love demands sacrifice of what we hold most dear – our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. Real love has nothing to do with natural inclinations or feelings either (we are ‘naturally’ sinners, remember!), and can’t be found in a heart that focuses on itself.
I think the first step here is to love Christ more. He IS Love after all, and as Christians one main purpose is to love our Savior. R.C. Sproul eloquently states – what I could stumble around for hours trying to pinpoint – in his book, The Intimate Marriage, “In the New Testament, love is more of a verb than a noun. It has more to do with acting than with feeling. The call to love is not so much a call to a certain state of feeling as it is to a quality of action.”
How can I love my husband and children as a Christian?
Let’s get practical. In order to better love my family, first I must work on my love of Christ. Okay, got it. But what does it mean and what does it look like? It means PRIORITIZE. God comes first, then my husband, than my kids, then everything else. Period. This is hard to do in a practical sense because fulfilling the needs of my husband and kid(s) are an ‘easy’ way for me to show them love. God doesn’t have needs. But He does have a deep desire to share Himself with me. To build a relationship with me. Not because HE needs it (He is triune, afterall), but because *I* do. But I need to make myself available to Him. So, this means putting prayer, bible reading, service, and meditation/thinking about Godly things in my schedule for the day. Literally adding it to my google calendar or writing it on a piece of paper as a ‘task’ for the day, if it will help. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Word will never pass away.” (Matt 24:35) Not to be morbid here, but my husband is going to die. My kids are going to die. I’m going to die. The only thing that will be left from my life is whether or not I served the Lord by lifting up my family to Him. And I believe this can only be done through constant prayer, bible reading, and awareness of God’s calling in my life each and every day.
The famous love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, is a chapter that tends to rub me the wrong way. Not the words itself, but how it’s typically applied. I can’t count how many weddings I have heard this chapter read or referred to. And it’s always in a romantic ‘isn’t this wonderful’ sort of way. And yes, marriage is wonderful. But the love chapter was not written for married couples, first of all. It is written for EVERYONE. Paul is writing 1 Corinthians to a immature and unspiritual church body, and focused on conduct that is not appropriate for Christians. The ‘love chapter’ itself is nessled under Paul’s discussion of how to use spiritual gifts. Not very romantic. But oh so practical. He is saying that God has given each member of the body (church) a role, and each is to do that role, in love.
I personally like to carry this over to the family, because we also have our unique roles and these roles must be lived out in love.
How can I love my husband and children as a wife?
So if my purpose as a wife is to serve my husband (be a helper), the best way I can show him love is to serve him in love. AKA, no grumbling of the heart, no hoping he will return the favor by serving me in the ‘I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine’ sort of way, no begrudging him if he forgets to thank me for dinner, the list goes ON & ON, it really does. I’m not saying let your husband walk all over you, but you should not base your actions on what he does. You are responsible for YOU and YOU are the only thing you can change.
However, as a side note, I do recommend that at a time when no anger, irritation, or self-righteousness is searing through your veins, that you have a serious discussion about the things you feel wronged about or general sin in his life that he is not addressing. If he is a God following man (I am so blessed in this way), than you need to do this – you are called to do it. Iron will only sharpen iron if the blades collide. Confrontation should be done, but it MUST be done in love. Not with a superior attitude, not with a grudge, and not with ‘the fist of change’, but by a wife who knows that her lists of sins are just as long as her husbands, and she genuinely doesn’t want to see him fall, by continuing in the actions. Sometimes the best way we as wives can be helpers, is to show our husbands they are wrong. Not as a game or a power-trip, but because we don’t want to see them continue to hurt themselves in this way.
If I were ever ask point blank if I loved my husband, I would wholeheartedly say yes in an instant. Of course! Now, I know not everyone is in my situation. My husband is easy to love. He is kind, considerate, puts forth effort for things that I want to do, etc (no, he’s not perfect, but I am very blessed). I know that some of you have husbands that are more difficult to live with. But I will also say, it’s hard to live with anyone, even someone ‘perfect’ (excuse me while I laugh). Because we’re all sinners and we’re all prone to frustrate each other. Every. Minute. In my opinion, it’s one of Satan’s most successful efforts – thwarting people by making them seek happiness in a spouse. A spouse is a partner. Not a means of fulfilment. Only Christ and a relationship with Him can bring us true untainted joy.
A spouse is a partner in life. They are meant to walk along side you as you both strive to live a God-honoring life in relationship with Him. And you are made to make each other grow. But I think at this juncture I’ve made my point and am starting to repeat myself… moving on :)
How can I love my husband and children as a mother & keeper of the home?
If my purpose as a mother is to ‘train up a child in the way he should go’ (Prov 22:6), then I need to do that with love. So patience when he makes mistakes, having hard conversations with him about things that are awkward (because who else is going to talk to him about it and influence his perspective – his friends?!), listening to him, and taking time for him even when it’s difficult to. I think it means turning off the TV (we don’t have TV, so that’s an easy one), computers (light up toys anyone?), and other ‘oh-he’s-fine-he’s-independent’ crutches we cling to because we want our ‘alone time’ and start spending more direct time with them, teaching them.
And I don’t mean flashcards. I don’t have anything against flashcards, but that’s not what I mean here. Whether I want him to or not, my son is going to learn by my actions more than anything else. Do I get angry when things don’t go my way? Do I worry about random things so much that I become a complete control freak? Do I disrespect my husband by proclaiming he doesn’t put on the diaper the way *I* think it should be done? Do I complain about heat, unpleasant sounds, and any other type of discomfort when I can’t do anything about it anyway? Do I find a copious amount of excuses for why I can justify all these prior feelings? Unfortunately, yes – these are some of my specific sins. I’m sure you are well aware of your own. So consider that you can only share with your children what you already possess. If you lack patience, self-control, an ability to keep your mouth shut, etc etc, it’s unlikely you will pass those traits down to your children.
And this brings us to a key point. You cannot share a relationship with Jesus unless you yourself have one. You can read as many Bible story books to your kids as you want, but it WON’T MATTER. Kids need to see that you cling to Christ when times are hard. That He is your hope when life feels hopeless. Because life sucks. And only Christ can bring joy. And that He does! I can only hope and pray this is what I am teaching my kids through my actions.
What about you? Do you have any practical suggestions for how we can better love our husbands and children?