You know how everyone always talks about “that still small voice” of the Lord speaking to you? Yeah, yesterday was the opposite. The still small voice was a very obvious face-palm of “HEY, MEGAN, PAY ATTENTION AND LISTEN” straight from God delivered through the ever fabulous Rhonda Stoppe. Rhonda gave us some great advice for living a “No Regrets" marriage: peaceful, polite, predictable, purity, pretty, passionate, perfect love. Now I don’t know about you, but I struggle with every single one of those.
Peaceful…Really? I have a two year old child, a two year old dog, and a husband who thinks he’s two. My house is the farthest thing from peaceful. However, Rhonda made me question the source of the lack of peace. Is it from having a two year old and a dog who love to be mischievous? Or is it because of me? Am I actually the one causing unnecessary strife in my family? I am a grudge holder. I was raised in an unforgiving household and I have, unfortunately, carried that over to my adult life. Romans 12:18 tells us, “So far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” *sigh*
Polite…I grew up in the south where “yes ma’am, no sir” manners are second nature. The south is all about respect, but when it comes to marriage, I apparently lose all my senses. When you read the commandments of marriage, a husband is commanded to love his wife while a wife is commanded to RESPECT her husband. God knew we, as women, would love and nurture naturally. However, respect is something we must seek daily for our husbands. I have a hard time respecting my husband when I feel like I’m the only one that works 24/7 and I don’t receive any monetary compensation for this crazy job. If he was puked on, peed on, had to wipe butts, and clean up after people at work, he’d probably request a hefty raise. How can I respect someone when they don’t work nearly as hard as I do and they get paid for it?
Predictable…Ha! I laughed out loud at this one. I am so incredibly unpredictable because I am so fueled by my emotions, regardless of how irrational they may be. My husband truly walks on eggshells around me. I can see the hesitation in his eyes anytime I ask him to make a decision. He’s preparing for my angry explosion if he makes the “wrong” choice. In reality, I’m just completely irrational with unpredictable expectations. Some days I want the house spotless, some days I couldn’t care less.
Purity…This has been a struggle for me all my life. “If I hide iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear my prayers” (Psalm 66:18). Basically, if you ruminate on all the wrongs your husband has done, God’s gonna get tired of hearing your complaining. I mean, I can’t speak about what He thinks, specifically, but that’s what this verse says to me. As we’ve already established, I’m a grudge holder. You can deduce how impure my heart is with harsh thoughts and feelings towards those who have done me wrong, namely, my husband.
Pretty…This is another laugh-out-loud one. Although it is nice to look good for your husband and whatnot, that’s not completely what this point was about. I mentioned at my table that MOPS is seriously the only time I wake up and get myself together and looking nice. Luckily for us, 1 Timothy 2:9 says dress nice, modestly, etc., but ALSO “by means of good works as befits a woman making a claim to godliness.” Rhonda spoke about a book that surveyed men about how they viewed women. The majority of men said that if a woman was confident in herself and recognized her self-worth and inner beauty, physical appearance did not matter as much.
Passionate…This wasn’t so much a laugh-out-loud topic, as it was an internally-screaming-until-I-explode topic. Have sex with your husband. Seriously. Women crave emotional intimacy and love. Men are hard-wired for physical intimacy. A man will never truly be able to explain the deep connection that making love creates. I know this is hard to believe with society today, but given how the Bible speaks on the topic, I’d at least try to believe it. Sex with your husband is affirmation that he is successful and desired. When he signed up to be with you forever, he agreed to want only you and love only you. Don’t make him regret that decision by withholding intimacy from him. What would you do if he just didn’t care about how you receive intimacy and closeness from him? I think I’m going on three weeks without having sex with my husband. We’ve been going through a rough season, on top of illness. Maybe that’s why he seems so angry at me every day.
We’ve talked about steps to take to live a No Regrets Marriage, but I think the real application is in the last tip: Perfect Love.
Perfect love comes only from our perfect Creator. I’m going to be real with you here because I really believe healing comes from truth. A few MOPS moms have watched me struggle with identity crisis, trying to find my worth in God instead of people. Rhonda Stoppe really spoke directly to my heart when she said that we put our husbands on a pedestal. We expect them to fill us and love us and be something to us that they were never designed to be. I think this is especially true for my situation. Most of my fights with my husband are about how I don’t think he did something the right way or he didn’t think of me when he did it. I expect him to love me in a way that is not possible for him. I expect him to be completely selfless and giving.
While I know that God calls us to be Christ-like, I often forget that perfection from my husband is unattainable. I forget that I am not perfect either. I think that IF Ben was perfect, IF he did this or that, THEN I could be better, too. What I need to realize is that’s not the truth.
*Deep breath*….Given my past and my chronic struggles of identity, I decided start going to Celebrate Recovery at Big Valley. I do not share this for sympathy or attention. I share this because I know how bad things have been for my marriage. I know how badly my pride has hindered our growth as a couple, especially towards Christ. I know how badly I need help. I know how close we have teetered towards divorce. Celebrate Recovery is not just about alcohol or chemical dependency. The tag line is ‘hurts, habits, and hang ups.’ I have never learned how to get over my past hurts. I have terrible habits of outbursts of anger, sometimes violent. I am hung up on not knowing my identity in Christ. In CR and in MOPS I have been told over and over again to love God above all else. When you love God with all that you are, His perfect love will flow from you. This is extremely hard for me. I have never had an extended exposure to Christ-centered marriages. I haven’t seen how others love God first and then love for their spouse comes second. Rhonda Stoppe said, “The secret to a happy marriage is not how much you love your husband, it’s how much you love your Lord.”
I know every single person reading this has been hurt by someone they love dearly, someone they would die for, maybe you haven’t forgiven them. We all need to remember this, no matter how badly they have hurt you, how deep your wounds, it will never compare to our transgressions against our Father. It will never compare to the wounds inflicted upon Him. Yet, He loves us. He died for us. He FORGIVES us. If God can do that for us time and time again, especially with how deep we have wounded Him, can’t we forgive our husbands for not being perfect? Can’t we remember that our worth is in the One who gave His life for us? Can’t we remember that, though our husband is our life partner, our eternity is found in loving Christ above all else?
“When loving God becomes your passion, loving your husband for who he is – and not who you want him to be – will become a natural outpouring of your love for Christ. – Rhonda Stoppe
I love you all so much!
PS: God revealed this verse to me multiple times yesterday, so for anyone that needs it, know that mercy and love will be found from MOPS, even if your faith is wavering. Trust me, mine has and you loved me anyway.
Jude 1:22 “And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering.”
If you’re having a hard time trusting God or seeking Him, reach out. You don’t have to do this alone.