Tag Archives: good habits

What kind of friend are we?

19 May

It occurred to me while talking with my son about sharing with some friends a decision our family has made that they may not like, we have some growing to do in the area of friendship.

How to be one, and what qualities we’re really looking for in a friend.

And I have to say…. I think our first two natural responses might be off the mark.

Most people when asked…. “what quality do you cherish most in a friendship?” they reply “trustworthy.”

Ok, don’t misunderstand me… trust is needed and a GREAT quality.  But do we want trustworthiness for the right reasons?

I wrote this out the other night to a friend sharing my heart and it’s still on my mind.

So…I’m just thinking out loud here but what if we held ourselves more accountable for our actions instead of blaming our friends for not keeping all our dirty laundry quiet?

What if we put in place a standard that took away the depth of all our secrets that weren’t really secrets but things we shouldn’t be doing? An accountability measure that said “If I’m afraid someone is going to find out I said this, or I did this….then I shouldn’t be saying it or doing it.” Not one that says “How dare she/he tell someone what I said about someone else?”

What would the world look like if we taught our children that finding good friends is not about finding the best secret keepers…. but about finding the people with the least amount of secrets they hold a noose around our neck to keep quiet for them? Or actions to cover up for them?

I think we have become a people of friend jumpers because we want to be able to get away with gossip and secret lives without anyone else finding out about it. And then we blame everyone else if we end up exposed.

If we aren’t the kind of friend who has anything negative to say about others, then our friends become safe and secure with us building true intimacy and security.  They long to honor our friendship, and won’t blab true secrets that need to be kept.  Especially… because we’re telling those things to people who mimic the same standard…. if they aren’t blabbing about others, they likely won’t blab about us.

Lets be the kind of friends who don’t need to add “Don’t tell anyone I said that.” to the end of our sentences and then we won’t be disappointed if people struggle to keep quiet.

 

Women especially take on the label “catty” and often times, rightly so.  That label comes from speaking gossip, inability to refrain from repeating gossip, a fallout from distrust, and a grudge against another person.

Any secret that needs kept about ourselves first and foremost should be selectively shared with only those who are righteous in the way they relate to us and about others to us.

Practical Application:

What kind of friend am I?

Do I gossip about others?

Do I have a lot of negative opinions about things?

Do I say or expect the phrase to be assumed “don’t tell anyone I said that?”

Am I holding a grudge against someone for throwing me under the bus when really… I had no business saying what I said in the first place?

Am I a friend jumper because I’ve been untrustworthy or I tell secrets to untrustworthy people?

When it never comes….

12 Apr

So I told you at the end of my last post, I had some life-giving words to give.

I did it.

It was not easy.  Well, it was easy but …oh, just let me explain.

It took me a long, REALLY LONG, time to speak these words.

I knew years ago, they needed spoke.  But as I’ve talked before about how to give a real apology, I knew I wasn’t ready yet to not try to justify myself… or include “you hurt me too.”

In my opinion, one of the biggest hindrances to forgiveness is when we try to tackle both people’s issues at the exact same time.  Often what happens is, neither feels their issue was addressed properly and nothing truly gets resolved.

There is a time to tell someone, “you really hurt me when….”  but it’s not the exact same time you’re saying “I’m sorry that I….”

And I wanted to say that first part really badly.

Normally, I’m all about face to face apologies.  There are exceptions.  And in my case for this one situation, it was a letter kind of apology.

It was easy to write.  I did have a lot to ask forgiveness for, and I knew it! God had convicted me a long time ago, and I had repented and asked forgiveness years back.  So, there wasn’t any doubt about what I had done or why I should be sorry about it.

However, what came next was hard.

The waiting.  Knowing the letter had been read, but waiting for some kind of a response.

You never know *if* you will get a response, what it will say, or what it won’t say.  But you have to wait anyway.  We all do.

Best case scenario, you get a quick response, total forgiveness and an apology for what they may have done in or because of the situation.

That doesn’t always happen though.  And then we have to control our emotions and lead our hearts with what we’ll do next.

This might seem silly to some, but I waited 48 hours for a reply, and it felt like eternity.  In that time, I felt very vulnerable and exposed.  It seemed like my raw honesty was being ignored.  Or minimized.  Or maybe even mocked?

I wrestled being hurt or offended. But I was preaching and preaching and preaching to myself… DON’T pick anything up.  This wasn’t about me.  This was about them.  Entirely about them!  I owed an apology.  And I gave a sincere, genuine apology.  If I didn’t hear anything back, that was OK.  I didn’t have to.

The response was very nice.  I was forgiven in full.

Praise Jesus!

Yet, that one last thing was missing… “I know I hurt you too.”

…….

 

Guess what?  It’s OK.  That’s not news to my heart.  I knew that YEARS ago too.  And Jesus is the power to forgive… not simply by the receipt of an apology.

Sure — I believe in apologies.  That’s why I gave one.  But… Jesus’ paid the debt for everyone’s sins.  Mine, theirs, yours… all of us.

I don’t need to require payment to forgive.

I can forgive quickly and fully because Jesus’ has forgiven me of much worse.  He paid my sentence.  He paid their sentence.  IT IS FINISHED.

 

If you’re still waiting for that response, forgiveness, or admission of guilt from someone else….. can you look to the cross this Easter and say:

IT IS FINISHED!

Practical Application:

Am I still being a debt collector? Am I requiring payment that Jesus’ already paid?

That one “thing” we don’t understand.

29 Mar

Your husband has it, my husband has it, every husband on the planet has it.

It’s their “thing.”  The one “thing” that is just, them.  They can’t separate from it because it’s literally part of their personality. It’s part of their make-up.  It’s part of what makes them tick.  It’s ingrained in who they are as a person.

And try as we might…. what makes “this” the “thing” is that we as their wives, don’t understand it at all.  In fact, we might be polar opposite and even frustrated by this.

That “thing” isn’t the same for every man.  It could be, but it isn’t always. Especially because what makes it the “thing” depends on who they’re married to.  And no two wives are the same; and no two husbands are the same; and no two marriages are the same… so I just can’t blanket post this.

But I know what my husband’s “thing” is… and I recently heard from another wife what her husband’s “thing” is, and even though their things were TOTALLY different…. I felt what she feels.

I can relate on the deepest level.  The confusion.  The frustration.

The wanting SO much to accept him and respect him unconditionally – not judging or condemning anything about him (especially when his “thing” isn’t even a sin at all!) and yet… all the while…. secretly wishing you could change it. Maybe even praying desperately that God would change it.

My husband is an introvert. He’s quiet (until you get to know him), shy, hates being surrounded by people he doesn’t know, does not make new friends easily at all, would prefer very small crowds, and hates speaking when called on without his own initiation.

I am an extrovert.  I’m not shy at all.  I am not intimidated by large crowds of people I don’t know in the least.  I make new friends quickly and make it look effortless, and I am always willing to share whether I know you or not.

I wrestled for a really long time feeling like this difference meant one of us was wrong.  And since my personality was mine…. I felt like mine was the correct way to approach life.

I remember feeling very judgmental thinking that he could change if he wanted to.  And that he was being a stubborn jerk just so he didn’t have to change.

Sound a little prideful much?! Just in case you’re not sure… Yes, yes it does.

I’ve done really well accepting this difference and appreciating how he enters a room and takes everything in, in a way I never do.  I can now see that there are strengths in his reserved approach to things and his natural tendencies give him time to access places and people who are present.

But. Sometimes his personality still puts me in positions where I’m not “getting everything I want”.  Which is a great way for Satan to attack me and tempt me to disrespect my husband, give into selfishness and ultimately hurt my marriage.

A perfect example was just a couple of months ago.  We recently changed churches and the church was offering a class after service to better explain their beliefs, ministries, church doctrine and practices.

At the beginning of the meeting, the pastor asked everyone to go around the room and say their names, where they were from and how long they’d been going to church there.

I SO wanted my husband to do this.  For me, I want him to come across as the leader and protector of our family because HE IS.  It’s not for public attention, it’s actually to avoid public attention.  It gives the wrong impression in my mind for the woman to do all the leading in public, but for her husband to do all the leading in private.  It makes for an inability to ask his permission/ideas when on the spot and looks like I need to speak for him or over him.

It’s hard to have a gentle and quiet spirit that is submissive to your husband when you have to do all the talking in public. You’re put on the spot to sometimes answer questions and make decisions without his input.

Of course, the worst thing in my mind had to happen.  The first table to go started with this scene:

The pastor called on the husband to speak and he said “oh my wife will do the talking, I learned that a long time ago.”  Hysterical laughter broke out throughout the room.

Awesome.  So when it’s my turn, and I talk instead of my husband… everyone will think the same thing about me.

I looked at my husband, and he was about to get up and walk out of the room because he hates that type of environment.  So, he sat there quiet, and I did the talking.

We left and I was horribly embarrassed. Not because my husband did anything wrong.  I was embarrassed because I was concerned with what I thought others were thinking (without even knowing for sure if they were.)

Did I need to be? No.  Does it matter what others think?  No.  Is it more important for me to be the helpmate my husband married and use my personality, gifts and abilities to add what would bless him most and benefit our marriage best? Yes, absolutely.

But my flesh needed some time to accept that on that day.

Here are the words of another wife describing her husband’s thing:

“I’ve planned every date we have ever gone on. We did go out to eat a week ago, but then just ran errands together even though I suggested fun activities because he was just too tired.. He says the way that he most relaxes it to do a household chore with me like weed the garden or plant our vegetable garden or helping a sick cow… To be honest, those are not fun for me. I do them because I love him. I would like to go to a bed and breakfast, stay all day in bed one day, go hiking another day… He would rather just stay here on the farm. But I am on the farm A LOT. I just haven’t figured out how to do this…he connects at home…I need to go out. Yes, I’ve told him this. I even offered that we go out and do something fun and I help him with a chore.. The chores have gotten done. Dates…maybe 1/4 of the time and I plan them… I guess I wish to be pursued, but he just doesn’t have the energy.”

Basically, he relaxes at home, she relaxes by going out.  Is he wrong? Is she wrong? No. Not at all. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard on her flesh not to scream out that he should want what she wants!!

They say opposites attract, but it seems after they’ve attracted, they battle to become the same to stay together, instead of appreciating what makes them opposite.

Really, this is just another opportunity for us to lay ourselves down and be thankful for the differences in who we are as humans.

Practical Application:

The next time his “thing” brings the temptation to be hurt or angry, stop right then and think about two things that are actually STRENGTHS about his thing.  Think about those things and how you might actually be lacking in that area, and how he helps balance you out.

And then, if you’re really feeling courageous (because Satan will definitely tell you that you’re about to encourage his nasty habits and ruin any chance for change) PRAISE him for his “thing.”

Little Reminders.

27 Mar

I’ve been doing pretty well since my total broken melt down last Friday.

I have mourned deeply, but been very purposeful about not wallowing or being the victim and intentionally LETTING and ACCEPTING my husband’s forgiveness.

The best thing we can do when forgiven, is forgive someone else.  It’s a true sign of maturity that those who know they’ve been forgiven of much, forgive much in others.

Which is why I purposely posted about forgiving the unforgivable in my life with my follow up post.

I have been forgiven without condition and I have learned to forgive without condition.

But.

There is ONE little (GINORMOUS) problem in moving forward. Try as we might escape him, Satan and his demons are always roaming the earth looking for someone to devour.  It comes in the subtle whispers, or even often loud pressing thoughts in our mind, that say “remember.”

Some times it’s simply what seems to be out of nowhere.  You’re going about your day and this person crosses your mind, and while thinking about something pleasant, all the sudden, a memory of a past hurt scrolls through your mind.  “Remember when they …..  don’t you remember how that made you feel?”

Some times it’s in a current gesture that tempts you to take it the wrong way.  “When she said ‘this’, was she really meaning ‘this’ like she use to say and do to me?”

Some times it’s in the actual memories of someone else. Like for me last night! We’re in the middle of talking, cuddling, being romantic… and we are casually talking about when we were first dating and teasingly a memory comes out of his mouth.  And it felt like a brick was thrown at my face.  Not because of anything he did, but in the reality that absolutely he’s forgiven me, but he’ll never forget.  It’s a fact. Part of history.  Can never be erased. (Satan wanted nothing more than to destroy that moment of intimacy and push us apart. **Women, be warned, some of the worst temptations often come while trying to be intimate or while having sex with your husband.  Satan’s greatest pleasure is to destroy the marriage bed.)

Some times it’s in the words of someone else.  “So & so told me blank is going on with them right now.”  What?  How did I not know this?  Are things not as reconciled as I thought they were? Did they really not mean it that they forgave me?

 

We can purposefully allow our minds to think about past situations, but sometimes it seems to spring on us without any thought at all. So what do we do with that?

Well, we have to make a choice before it happens.  You can make a choice while it’s happening, but it won’t be nearly as easy to do.  Walking the narrow road takes premeditated thought, and practice.  Just like when I talked about training for trusting your husband.

Here’s the two options:

1.) Dwell on these thoughts, doubt, struggle, weep all over again, pick back up offenses and lock myself back up in a prison.

2.) Decide that memories are a beautiful reminder of how far God has brought me. Rejoice.  Be thankful for the one thought, as an opportunity to worship God, and then wrap my heart up in praise instead of entertaining a conversation with Satan who longs to use my past to destroy my future.

Simple? I’d never say that.

Life changing? ABSOLUTELY!!

If Christianity were easy, there wouldn’t be a narrow road.  We’re not looking for easy here.  We’re looking for possible.  We’re looking for God’s power to come in us and enable us to do the unthinkable.

As my husband always says “Those who forget their past are doomed to repeat it.”  God doesn’t remove consequences or memories because they serve as security gates for us to remember the danger of walking without Him or making choices that separate us from Him.

If we forgot how much we hurt someone, we might easily hurt them again in the same way…. or at the very least, take them for granted.

If we forgot how much we’ve been hurt by someone and how God has empowered us to forgive them, we might easily cut ourselves off from everyone who has ever hurt us isolating us in a prison we don’t even realize we’re in.  Bitterness takes a root so deep that is changes our ability to truly love God or anyone else because hate and love cannot co-exist…we can’t curse and praise at the same time.

Learning to forgive is freedom.  Remembering the power in us to forgive is a refining tool to becoming more and more like Christ.

Learning to be forgiven is freedom.  Remembering the grace and mercy extended to us is a tool to seeing in the flesh a glimpse of what Jesus did for us on the cross for ALL of our sins and draws us closer and closer to him.

Both are needed in this life.

Satan may long to use this against us…. but we don’t have to let him.

We were made to be warriors.  We were told to put on our armor. We were commanded to go out into the world making disciples.

Want to be ready for Satan’s attacks?

Practical Application:

Make a choice right now that reminders of the past are just reminders to rejoice.

Train for attacks.  Be in the Word every day, Pray, and prepare for temptations (EXPECT them), so you’re never caught off guard.

 

If only I learned this years ago….

14 Mar

It’s a common phrase isn’t it?  We’ve all said it.  We’ve all heard others say it.  And we’ve all contemplated how our life would be different if we only knew then, what we know now.

This has never been more true for me than in my marriage.

If I only learned years ago, like 12 years ago, that unconditional respect was a command in Scripture and how to speak and act in a way that was obedient to that command…. my marriage would have been SO different the first 10 years.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have felt like I married an un-romantic dud.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have treated my husband like he was my child.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have thought I was just as much the head of this family as he thought he was.

Maybe, I would have submitted with joy to his ideas instead of insisting that I was always right and so much smarter than he was.

Maybe, my husband would have listened to me more if I was more careful with his feelings.

Maybe, my husband would have talked to me more intimately if he felt safe enough to be vulnerable with me.

Maybe, we would have really been “best friends” instead of just trying to say that we were because it sounded right.

Maybe, my husband would have met more of my needs because he would have felt more fulfilled too.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have been tempted to entertain emotional attention from anyone else.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have been so jealous.

Maybe, we would have had lots and lots of hot and passionate sex.

Maybe, we would have learned to enjoy each others hobbies and looked forward to doing things together instead of him appreciating his time away to do his own thing so frequently.

Maybe, we would have served each other selflessly instead of expecting our feelings to trump the others.

Maybe, my husband would have helped me more around the house because he wanted to instead of digging his heals in and ignoring me.

Maybe —- this list could really just go on forever and ever and ever.

This isn’t just the case with my marriage.  I feel this way about a lot of things in my life.  I’d love a time travel machine to do it all over again.

But.

I don’t think entertaining “if I’d only learned this years ago” is where Jesus wants us to camp out with our thoughts.

I certainly won’t take credit for this phrase because I didn’t come up with it… but it’s incredibly true.

Everything we face will either make us BITTER or BETTER.

We can wrestle with the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s in our mind and maybe we don’t feel like at the end of the day we feel “bitter” about it.  We just feel like it would have been such a different life if we’d only known.

Bitter does seem like a strong word when reflecting, however, what if it isn’t as strong as it sounds?  What if, it really does trap us with negative memories when we reflect like that.

Secretly, do we kinda resent some of those situations still? Do we still feel like it was a negative time in our life?

I know that even though I love my husband beyond belief and have totally forgiven him and been forgiven by him for the mistakes we made in the beginning of our marriage— if I sit and really think back on some situations that were really hard in our marriage, I can start to feel hurt again.

There is one memory in particular of a time when I felt devastated.  And this one really bothers me because I didn’t feel like I “deserved” it.

You know what I’m talking about…. there are memories where you can see why he said something mean because you said something mean first.

This wasn’t like that.

In fact, we’ve talked about it numerous times over the years and he has even said the phrase “if that happened today, I would NEVER do it like that again.”

I know he wouldn’t.  And yet, if I dwell on that memory for ANY amount of time, the hurt tries to push back in.

Christianity is all about being intentional.

We don’t “accept Christ” accidentally.  We don’t just miraculously grow closer to Him just by being alive.  We don’t stumble over an open Bible and learn.

And we don’t become BETTER without being intentional either.

What if…. it was a good thing that we didn’t have marriage all figured out before?

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say.  I don’t think we should keep engaged couple uneducated so they can live the wrong way for a long time because that’s better for them.  Of course that is not better at all!!!  We’re crazy if we keep this knowledge to ourselves and do nothing with it to benefit other believers!!!!

But – God wastes ABSOLUTELY nothing when it comes to our lives and experiences.

Walking through failure, especially in marriage, gives us an irreplaceable way to learn patience, forgiveness, mercy, grace and self-control.

Not only does this further our understanding of what Jesus has given us, but it grows our characters in a way to advance the gospel that can be some of the most powerful testimonies ever!

Of course if we never sinned in our marriages, we’d be an awesome example of getting it right and that God’s way is perfect and beautiful.

But getting it wrong gives us the chance to be BETTER and reach couples just like us who also got it wrong and need the truth.

Practical Application:

If only I learned this years ago….. I wouldn’t know forgiveness like I do today.

If only I learned this years ago…. I wouldn’t be able to relate to wives out there who have blown it big time just like me.

If only I learned this years ago…. I wouldn’t be nearly as aware of just what it took for Jesus to take all my sin to the cross.

Of course, getting it right in the first place is best.  But getting it wrong can lead us to a beautiful place of BETTER.

Raising a man or parenting a child?

10 Mar

My upbringing has a lot to do with who I am today.  Partially because good habits and wisdom were examples for me to follow, and partially because bad habits and foolishness were examples for me to learn from too.

My parents are amazing.  I love them both so much.  They raised me to know Jesus, and that’s all that matters to me today.  Any sins or mistakes they made are all forgivable battles they were up against.

I hope one day my kids think my husband and I are amazing.  And they love us both so much.  And they are grateful that we raised them to know Jesus and make Him lord of their lives.  And they’ll look back on us with mercy and forgiveness for all the sins and mistakes we’re making too.

There are no perfect parents.

We will all make mistakes and have some regrets for how we did or didn’t do things.  Should we live in that regret? No. Regret is a trap that steals our future because it holds our heart.  You can’t live in the past and be present in the future at the same time.

That’s why, right now, TODAY, we have to make intentional choices in raising our kids so they’ll have the good habits and the wisdom we want them to have in their hearts as they become adults.

For every couple, the list of importance may look different.  We all put priority on parenting concerns that were present and weren’t present from our own childhood.

For me, I have a pretty long list.

But, I’m only going to talk about one today.

Preparing my boys to lead their wives by making good choices.

From my own experience, when I got married,  I was drowning in an ocean of feminism so far that it seemed nearly impossible for a life boat to even see me by how far I was submerged under the water. Nor would I have even looked for one, I adapted quickly to the water and thought constant swimming under the crashing waves was “normal.”

And worse, my husband thought this was normal too.  From the example of his parents, and the constant overwhelming influence of the world, taking a stand in this situation felt more “wrong” than leading like he was created to do.

Women often know nothing of unconditional respect, but they know immeasurable amounts of insight on how to demand respect and take charge as a competent, capable and intelligent woman.

This mindset in the work place has spilled over heavily into marriages.  And the divorce rate is THROUGH THE ROOF!

Chances are, my boys are going to find women who are brainwashed to be a leader at all cost.  To have a voice for her rights, to demand respect, and to never back down from her beliefs and desires.

My job as a mother?  To example for them the kind of woman to look for and to understand their God-given commands to lead, provide and protect their wives and children.

I think the number one way that mom’s fail in this department is forgetting to show their sons unconditional respect too, not just their husbands.

Am I saying they stop being the parent?  NO!!

But I’ve seen more often than not, mom’s embarrassing, belittling and correcting their teenage sons in front of other people.  Being a teenage boy is tough.  Especially if they are trying to be a godly man.

Pointing out his mistakes publicly, with condemnation or with dismissal of his feelings is setting him up to expect this kind of treatment and will lock up his courage to lead and emotions with a chain that most will never ever be able to unlock.

A mom can discipline her son in private. She can correct behavior and speak with respect in the process.  She can set boundaries with what she will or won’t do and what she expects in her house without crushing his ability to be a man and react appropriately.

Men (even teenage boys) learn best when they are allowed to figure out problems and make decisions for themselves.  If they make a mistake, the weight of the consequences is a good lesson for how to make a better decision in the future.  If they succeed, it shows them what decisions to make in the future to get these same results.

But any time a man is embarrassed, he never learns a lesson.  He becomes so angry and enraged by that feeling of being belittled that the person who does the embarrassing becomes the problem instead of seeing their own mistake.

Let me give an example to help drive this home.

Your teen son has a group of friends over Tuesday night after school.  You notice that he forgot to take out the trash and that is his weekly responsibility.

A.) You yell at him in front of his friends to take out the trash immediately.  “Get down here right now. What’s wrong with you? You should know better! You’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached. You’re grounded.”

B.) Call him in the other room privately.  Make him take the trash out right then. And then tell him he’s grounded for the weekend.

C.) Take out the trash yourself.  Friday night comes and your sons asks to go to a party.  You answer, “I’d love to let you go.  Unfortunately, on Tuesday I had to take the trash out because it wasn’t taken out yet.  That is your responsibility and when it isn’t complete, your freedom in this family is restricted.  If you’d like to take the trash out next week, next Friday is open to you and your friends for a great time.” And then walk away.

For me, I think option C is the best choice.

There is no childish condemning, or embarrassment.  There is behavior and consequence.  He’s going to get the point a whole lot better than if he was embarrassed or spoken down to disrespectfully. And he isn’t be forced to do the right thing and then still punished even after like a child.

Yes, he’s still a teenager and not an adult… but each parent needs to make a decision if they are trying to raise adults or if they are trying to parent “children” until they leave the house.

If you want your teen son to be a good husband and father, treat him like he is worthy of that calling instead of training him the way the world is to be a dog on a leash and scolded when he misbehaves, especially by the women in his life.

Practical Application:

How are you doing speaking unconditional respect into your son(s) lives so they have the responsibility of being a man on their shoulders?

Are there any habits or disciplines that might need adjusted so he can understand behavior and consequence better than embarrassment and anger?

My oldest son will be nine in a week.  And I’m already seeing where I have rooted habits that I need to change.  I can’t be aware of this enough.

 

 

What’s the story on “My Demon” now?

7 Mar

Do you remember the post I wrote titled “My Demon” from September 21, 2012?  I was just over a month into my new respect journey when this revelation kicked me in the gut. (If you’ve joined since then and never caught it, it’ll help to understand this post by reading that one first.)

In fact, that one post was shared on numerous sites (including Peacefulwife – which is when a lot of you who read April’s blog started following this one too!)  I answered a whole lot of emails and comments on this topic because it rang true for just so many of us women.  And it was very evident at the time, I was just “one of you.”  The post wasn’t written by a scholar in the least.  My real, honest emotions and thoughts are what made it relatable to others. And the revelation and wisdom came straight from God – because I’d lived 10 years of marriage at that point (and 29 years of life) running wild with the thoughts and emotions that presented themselves at any given time. And never knew any different.

April sent me an email and asked me what I thought about writing a follow up to “My Demon” – 18 months later.

Here is a sentence from her email:

“I think it would be neat to hear how you hear the demon’s voice now, how often, the intensity, what you do, and how much stronger God’s voice is now and the kinds of things you focus on and think about now.”

I pretty much immediately told her, “I’ll think about it” while in my mind saying – “No way!”  April’s blog is amazing.  It’s eye-opening, full of brilliant wisdom, insightful, helpful, and pointing out deeply painful but necessary truths to helping women change and save their marriages from a lifetime of misery!  But even more than that — it’s hopeful.  Even the things that are hard to read, are hopeful.  Change can happen, my marriage can be better, I can be a better wife, he can open up and lead as these changes take place — there is HOPE for something new!

And the truth?  I don’t think a follow up to “My Demon” is going to offer the hope April normally posts on her blog.

But — maybe, just maybe, there are women out there who are just like me.  And this post might be for you! So, I’ll answer these questions.

(–  how you hear the demon’s voice now, how often, the intensity)

I still hear my demon’s voice loud as ever and ALL THE TIME! He’s still a raging maniac full of accusations and specifics that beg to be entertained.  He knows me full well, and the areas that I’ve learned to shut down permanently are rarely touched and new areas where he wasn’t attacking before, he’s thrown some boulders at wildly.  He’s no joke.  The closer I grow to my husband – the more respect I show my husband – the stronger the spiritual battle.  The bigger threat we are to him, the more desperate he becomes and the more vicious his behavior.

(– what you do, and how much stronger God’s voice is now and the kinds of things you focus on and think about now.”)

I’m back and forth on what I do.  I’m such a sinner.  More often than not, I refuse to entertain the begging thoughts and accusations against my husband.  But sometimes, I still stumble in my flesh and I dabble in the game.  My journey for respect hasn’t magically or quickly removed all my selfishness, expectations, and ability to see all my husbands faults and sins with a magnifying glass. Especially because WE TRULY ARE A BRAND NEW COUPLE, and in ways that I never stumbled before, there are all new ways to tempt me.  Now, my husband does things for me he’s never done before and talks to me in a way we’ve never communicated, and if that seems hindered, it’s even harder not to jump to conclusions or freak out a little bit at the thought of that going away.

I hear God’s voice and I have allowed His truths to change so many of my behaviors and patterns, but I can’t say He’s always screaming louder than Satan.  I have to intentionally be still and silent to hear God and in the middle of my wrestling — some times I feel so wound up I can’t sit still. Even if that just means pacing the floor in frustration while my husband is at work.  It’s still a choice like it was before to go to Him and listen. In my experience, God rarely screams.  Satan however is a beast, and he’s deafening at times.

What I focus on and think of now is being intentional AND unrelenting.  (I talked about this word in January.)  I make an honest attempt at turning my wild thoughts back on myself.  Why do I feel this way?  Am I giving too much weight to my husband’s short-comings and not nearly enough to his strengths and character? How did I handle this situation?  Do I have disrespect to apologize for?  Is what I am tempted to say full of things that will be helpful to us, or hurt us?

At the end of the day — this respect journey has changed my life!  I want every single woman on the planet to read the books I have, read the blogs I have, and see the world in a different way than it’s being portrayed and pounded into us in every direction.

Life is BETTER with respect.  Life is BETTER with God.  Life is BETTER fighting the good fight.

But does this journey ever get easier?  No.  I’m so sorry if that crushes anyone’s hopes.  Maybe your experience will be different from mine.  Or maybe some of you older and wiser women are out there saying “Oh honey, you just haven’t been doing this as long as we have, you need more time.”  And maybe you’re right.  But at this point, I doubt it.

I think Scripture paints a pretty clear picture that walking the straight and narrow will be hard.  Persecution comes, trials come, heartache comes, and we’re all sinners until we cross over to eternal life.

Is there power in the armor of God? You better believe there is!!! When I intentionally get up in the morning and put on every ounce of protection I can muster on my body and mind – God is faithful to give me strength and courage to PRESS ON in the battle.  But He never makes it easier, even though He’s with me.  He only makes it change me by refining me IN the fire.

Is God’s way worth it? Absolutely.  Is God’s way getting easier? No, it’s not.

But I’d never look back.  I’ll keep fighting the good fight and being refined in the fire pressing on toward the prize.  No matter how loud Satan is, how often he attacks, with what intensity he beats me down and no matter how many times I stumble and fall.

Practical Application:

If you’re out there wondering why you’re not a good enough Christian wife because this hasn’t “gotten easier yet?” – STOP IT! That’s still Satan beating you down.

MY belief? The more Satan attacks, the evidence that you’re walking the straight and narrow because he’s threatened.

In the battle…. try so hard to find that still and quiet place so God can refuel your strength, courage, wisdom and power to keep going and resist Satan’s voice.  You can resist… but I doubt he’ll ever shut up.