That Day My Husband Told Me What to Do

by Phylicia on April 14, 2014

299Yesterday, Mr. M and I went fishing. In order to go fishing, I must have significant collateral: cute clothes, magazines, food, water, and pink gear. My fishing chair is pink. My fishing rod is pink. I couldn’t find a pink bobber so I settled for a fluorescent red with a pinkish hue, after my sweet husband scoured the outdoor aisle for his picky wife. Satisfied with my set up, I ‘went fishing’: AKA, sat in a pink chair reading, motionless fishing pole in hand.

Mr. M doesn’t mind my fishing technique as long as I’m there beside him. He doesn’t ask much: just that we can be together, whether that means shopping, reading aloud, watching subtitled foreign films or working out.  He goes along with my penchant for wearing the same color as him to church and coordinating our shirts to match at the gym. He leaves me love letters throughout the house, fixes anything that breaks, and tells me I’m beautiful the moment I open my eyes each morning.

So when my husband ‘tells me what to do’, I listen.

Many readers of the modesty series took issue with the fact that my husband asked me not to wear a specific item of clothing because he deemed it inappropriate for public appearance. I received comments and emails from women who declared he had no right to ‘tell me what to wear’. He was ripped to shreds in online forums by women and men alike who neither know him nor care to. And therein lies the fatal flaw.

They don’t know him like I do, and it is because I know him that I take his advice.

As a Christian wife, I look up to my husband and seek to honor him with my behavior. And he in turn protects, provides, and guides me when I need advice. I don’t always need it. I am a very independent woman by nature and spend every waking moment as busy as possible, so his advice is valuable guidance as I juggle work, volunteer activities, freelance writing, blogging, cleaning, cooking and anything else.

There are reasons my husband is qualified to give me direction concerning my life choices, and there are reasons why I listen to that direction.

1. Because he is trustworthy.

“The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.” (Prov. 10:9)

I take my husband’s advice because he has proven himself worthy of my trust. In decisions spiritual, financial, and social, he has proven to me that his heart is to do what is right in God’s eyes before anything else. He is not impulsive, endangering me or our future with flawed decision making. While he has failed before and will in the future, I will continue to give him the benefit of the doubt because he does the same for me. And ultimately, God gives us both grace when we fail Him, so we owe that same grace and trust to each other.

2. Because he is discerning.

“I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.” (Psalm 119:125)

I listen to my husband’s input because he is steady, dependable, and analytical, whereas I tend to be fast-moving, quick-tempered and impulsive. Like the time I wanted to buy mismatched wingback chairs for our office: in my head I saw a haven of outdoorsy-ness perfect for his ‘man cave’, but he wasn’t so keen on $90 for one blue chair and one red. So I listened to him and left them behind, and I am very glad I did!

His view of life is farsighted, and while sometimes this puts a damper on the ‘fun’, his dependability provides the backbone to my trust in him and I know his opinions are good ones.

3. Because he has a different perspective.

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” (Prov. 12:1)

The female perspective on life, ladies, is not the only perspective. I know that’s hard sometimes.

I frequently ask Mr. M’s input and opinion on movies, music, clothing, food, work, and anything that crosses my fancy. I love his opinions. He is funny, he is serious, he is particular – and most of all, he is willing to indulge my little whims. I can read a Ladies Home Journal aloud and show him pictures of Easter dinner menus and he will offer ideas that I never would have imagined. We marry men because they are different from us; we don’t want clones of ourselves!

So once married, we can’t shut them down and shut them up as if their opinions and advice have no merit in our eyes. Our opinions are not the only right ones, and the men we marry should be able to grow us into even better versions of ourselves by offering a perspective other than our own, especially when it comes to issues that affect the both of us. Finances, church decisions, home management – these are all issues that involve both parties in the marital relationship and are benefited when we both contribute.

4. Because he seeks to honor God.

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” (2 Tim. 2:21)

I take my husband’s advice on my life decisions because I know his heart is to do God’s will. With this in mind, I can filter what Mr. M is saying through what I know of God’s word, and this provides double guidance to my decisions. When my husband asked me not to wear tight pants in public or to keep a low cut tank-top at home, my first impulse was resistance. But when I checked his advice against God’s word, I realized that my motive in wearing those items was my own glorification: looking hot, getting attention, and emphasizing the material instead of the spiritual. My husband’s intentions were in line with God’s intentions: thus, I listened and obeyed.

When women see the word ‘submission’, they often fly into such a blind rage they can’t hear or see the true definition. This is it: setting aside our priorities to give way to the priorities of another, whose goal is the glory of God. That is biblical submission. Without God’s spirit guiding a man, it would be very difficult and often inadvisable to submit to his leadership. But when you are married to a God-honoring man, you have little issue with following his advice, because it is good.

5. Because I respect him.

“…each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” (Eph. 5:33)

Respect for Mr. M is both an emotion and an action – just like his love for me. There are days I am overwhelmed with how much I respect him, and there are days I am very busy and exhausted and I have to consciously choose to be respectful. And when I show him respect, I show it in the manner he best recognizes it.

As I respect him, he loves me more. And as he loves me more, I respect him more. It is the classic healthy cycle of Emmerson Eggerich’s Love and Respect book and program, but before Eggerich made it famous God designed it to work this way. When I take my husband’s advice, he feels valued and respected. When I scorn his opinions as silly or inferior, he feels as if his ideas have no merit in my eyes.

Our ideas and thoughts are part of our identity, so when we despise someone’s thoughts and ideas, we essentially despise them. When I show my husband disrespect I directly assault his heart and confidence. I’ve seen far too many wives daily assaulting their husbands’ confidence and then wondering why their husbands are not leaders. I fear that ending, and I know my capability in that area. So I choose to respect my husband, and he chooses to love me.

Do I blindly accept everything he says? No. We have many lively discussions about topics on which we disagree. But once I hear him out, and he hears me (because he always listens), we come to an agreement. And most of the time – because he is analytical, patient, and discerning – he’s right.

Therefore, he’s not ‘telling me what to do’ at all. In the example of the yoga pants, all he did was give me advice and ask me to comply with a request. And he has every right to do that, just as I have every right to make requests of him. He asked me to do something, and he will continue to make requests of me as long as we are married. That is the nature of the marital relationship. Maybe it is a chore around the house; maybe it is for a specific dinner time; maybe it’s to be more positive about something. Maybe it was to cease wearing a low-cut shirt or – yoga pants! – outside the house.

He has that right, and because he loves me, I listen. Each time we choose to respectfully indulge our husband’s opinions and consider them as we make decisions, we honor God, because we are treating a brother in Christ with the honor and order God desires.  And for the record, every decision I’ve made with the advice of Mr. M has been a good one!

So while there are some who pity me for unconditionally respecting my husband (even though there are days I definitely fail and I am new to this endeavor) and for complying with his requests, I rejoice! Every day it is my delight to do what he asks because I am treated like a queen. Giving up sweet notes, fixed garbage disposals, daily ‘I love yous’, little presents and kisses and surprise dinners and historical trips just to have my own way sounds like a pretty lame trade.

When you’re treated like a queen, you don’t mind treating your man like a king.  I hope every woman finds the same happiness I do in giving up the small things to experience the best!

{ 5 comments }

You Must Use Words.

by Phylicia on April 13, 2014

I leaned forward on the bus seat, staring forward through the massive windshield. Every College For a Weekend (one of four major campus events we do per academic year) I ride and monitor a charter bus shuttling students to an offsite camp for outdoor activities. And every CFAW I have the same bus driver: Jerry from Ontario.

In the eight hour day together I ask about his six kids, his wife, and life in Canada; he asks whether I bought a new car, how married life is going and how large this event will be. We work together every two months for one day. He enjoys his trips to Liberty University – the world’s largest Christian university – and requests to come to campus when we need the bus.

Jerry is not a Christian.

There is a commonly quoted phrase by Saint Francis of Assisi: “Preach Christ, and if you must, use words.”  The concept of this statement encourages us to live a life that in itself proves Christ is real, whether or not we ever open our mouths.

He had a valid point, worthy of emulation. But while I’m certainly no Saint Francis, I’m here to tell you that when it comes to the gospel in today’s culture,  we must use words. 

We live in an age of pay-it-forward tolerance and niceness, God-bless-you-sneezes and gas station devotionals. We live in a time where good manners and generosity are not characteristics monopolized by church-goers, but are traits cultivated by do-gooders across the globe. Wordless kindness is nothing more than humanitarianism. Unexplained generosity and goodness, by itself, does not preach Christ.

Can God use it? Definitely. But in today’s culture, kindness and voiceless cause-chasing do not identify us as Christians. In fact, I have seen as many atheists, deists, spiritualists and narcissists volunteering for the underprivileged as I have seen Christians doing the same. The gospel is not preached by character alone.

The gospel must be voiced.

We think evangelism – we, Christian young women of America and the world – and from our apartment living rooms start seeing ourselves handing out tracts at a downtown coffee shop. ‘Friendship evangelism’ takes on greater appeal as we hope our friends see Christ in us simply by our standards of life and living… though we never dare talk about our faith. It’s hard! It is undeniably hard to risk losing friends by voicing the gospel. But it is a risk we have to take when we confess the name of Christ.

‘Friendship evangelism’ has two veins; the first is the aforementioned ‘look at my life and believe’ method. The second is what friendship evangelism should be: coming to know someone so well that not only do they see Christ in our character, in our lives, and in our priorities, but they hear Christ in our words. They cannot escape knowing the source of our confidence and peace in this life. They can only escape the gospel when they escape us!

Think of Philip, in the book of Acts. Running up to the chariot wheeling an Ethiopian eunuch down the road, he asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” (Acts 8:26-40) It was a personal question and a personal encounter which Philip then used to preach the gospel. The gospel is preached as we seek to know people: to bring them into our lives, acknowledge them, and give them the gospel at the appropriate time… using words.

Jerry and I never see each other except at CFAW, and prior to this last event we’ve spent two eight-hour days (in the span of six months) riding back and forth on a charter bus, chatting. That’s it. He is thirty years my senior with strong opinions about guns, politics, and childbirth; I’m a 23 year old Liberty employee just doing my job. But as I’ve gotten to know Jerry, I’ve realized that he thinks very critically about life. He’s not just a bus driver cruising North America. He is asking hard questions.

“I don’t know about it all though,” Jerry was saying as he wheeled the massive bus down a gravel road. “I mean, we’re all ending up in the same place anyway, that’s what I think.”

I was quiet. Then I asked, “But Jerry… what about the serial killers? We just talked about them earlier. Are they going the same place too? That’s not very fair.”

He snorted. “No, it’s not! But I mean, what’s the alternative? There’s some sort of afterlife but who knows what it is, and I don’t get to say where we all go. I suppose the same place.”

“It wouldn’t be just for a serial killer to receive the same ending that we do, do you think?”

Jerry laughed. “Well, no. But basically this earth is going to go through an extinction, and man just has to find another planet to go to and start all over. We aren’t the center of this universe.”

“Just for a moment Jerry, entertain a question – ” I teased, because I knew he liked to argue his opinions. “What if we were the center of the universe? What if a loving God made this world and filled it with people because he wanted a relationship with just them? No aliens, no other worlds. Just us, made by a God who loved us.”

Jerry chuckled. “Okay.”

“Alright. So we’ve been made by a God who loved us – don’t you think that in the end, when we die, he’d want us to have a place to go then, too?”

“Well I guess so,” Jerry replied. “But I don’t think we will be divided into ‘good’ and ‘bad’. I don’t think we can say ‘he is not going to heaven’ and another person is.”

“Gotcha. But earlier you said that serial killing was wrong. Is it?”

“Definitely!”

“Alright, well what if to them, serial killing was right?”

“If their brain is telling them to do something it doesn’t mean that their soul is bad,” Jerry explained. “If you replaced their brain, they wouldn’t do those evil things.”

I paused. “So you are saying that they are not responsible for their actions because they are the product of a diseased brain?”

“Sure, and if they replaced their brain they wouldn’t be like that.”

“Alright, I see what you’re saying,” I replied. “But what if, right now, I punched you in the face? Would that be wrong?”

“Well yes.” Jerry laughed.

“What if I thought it was right?”

“You’d be wrong, and you’d say you were sorry right after.” Jerry was still laughing.

“But let’s say I didn’t. Let’s say I did it, and wasn’t sorry, and I thought it was right. The problem is that you think it’s wrong, I think it’s right, and a bunch of other people may think different things about it. Pretty soon none of us can say what is right or wrong, and there is no way for us to have laws or government. We have complete chaos. So you see, Jerry, we have to have a standard of Good from outside the human realm in order to navigate right and wrong. Without an ultimate standard, we have nothing to go by.”

He paused, then said, “That makes sense.”

“So let’s say there is this ultimate standard of Good. If God made heaven, then it must be perfect because is the ultimate perfect standard. If we aren’t perfect, then, we can’t enter that world when we die because we would ruin it. Even though we may think we are ‘good people’, we’ve all lied, cheated, stolen or done something to hurt other people. Any of these would disqualify us from entering a place like heaven. Right?”

Jerry nodded. “Yes, I guess so.”

“So because I am Christian, this is what I believe: God loved me so much – because he made me, why would he make me if he didn’t love me? – that when he saw that I couldn’t get into heaven in my sinful state, he reached down to me and made a way for me to be with him when I die. Instead of me working hard to reach him – with rules, traditions, prayers, and rituals – He reached to me and sent Jesus Christ. We believe that Jesus was perfect, God’s spirit in a man. When he was killed, he took the punishment I was going to have for the bad things I’ve done. He stood in my place. And because of that, I can live every day knowing my eternal destiny is secure, and I have God on my side every day of my life. I love him and pray to him out of gratitude for his gift to me, not out of rite and ritual. Does that make sense?”

Jerry smiled. “Yes it does. Thanks for the pep talk.”

“Don’t think of it as a pep talk… just think about it on your long drive tomorrow.” I laughed. “Now did you get that pair of sunglasses you wanted?

That’s an excerpt from a much longer dialogue, and I don’t share this conversation to get applause from readers or glorify myself: please understand that. But my heart is so burdened to communicate to young Christian women that it is not enough to silently live the Christian life. We MUST share the gospel! We MUST know the gospel! We MUST be able to give a defense for our faith! There are people out there we work with every day who know us as ‘good girls’ and never even know why.

Jerry could have left that day thinking I am no more than a nice college girl who makes conversation with him. He would never have known that Christ makes me who I am, and that in the midst of my loudest failures God’s grace sings a song over my life and saves me every day. A nice chat will never save a man’s soul from his eternal destiny.

I start to choke up as I write this because I fear for this generation of Christians. We are introverted about our faith and extroverted about ourselves. We think our good deeds and behavior are enough to testify Jesus and they are not. Seek to love and know those around you – yes. Love them and treat them well and be kind to them – yes.

And then tell them why you do it.

Tell them it’s Jesus doing it through you, not Mohammed or Buddha or a humanitarian cause. You can’t articulate that in action.

You must use words.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Rom. 1:16)

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