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Summary of Lessons Learned in October 2012

by LaShawnda Jones 
(unless otherwise noted)

Click on a lesson to link to its corresponding blog post.

Lesson 1: Marriage is all about the partnership of two individuals who have chosen to become one. A partnership between a man, who is created to work and a woman, who is created to help. The partnership works best when the husband accepts the mantle of responsibility to provide for and lead his wife and children, and the wife accepts his covering which equips her to support and manage the needs of her husband and their household.

Lesson 2: I have to wonder if you considered other hateful words but recoiled from the backlash.
Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor.
No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.
Come join us someday at Special Olympics.  See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged.
~ John Franklin Stephens, Open Letter to Ann Coulter

Lesson 3: [I’m] encourage[d]… to continue to speak in faith even when entering a conversation with someone who has different viewpoints; when the Holy Spirit is present, understanding will come. 

Lesson 4: “I really need my own husband; you guys are awesome!”

Lesson 5: What I took away from our conversation was the need to pay more attention to the masculinity in the man. To treat a man’s masculinity as something I wish to nurture rather than destroy.

Lesson 6: I pray that when I marry, I learn to have an open ear and heart for my husband always. I pray I don’t become a woman who poisons the well of communication in my marriage.

Lesson 7: Life is hard, exhausting work. If you aren’t willing to put in the work for your own life, then don’t be surprised at the outcome. If you only show up for the easy events, you’re going to miss out on the true blessings best identified by experience, maintained by conditioning and enjoyed with passion.

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Wife… do you respect me?

excerpt from The Worker: A Man of God by LaShawnda Jones

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”   

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.  ~ Genesis 2:1-7 NLT

It could be argued that Eve had no respect for Adam’s relationship with God. As evidenced by her actions, her lack of respect for that divine relationship altered her marriage – for the worst. Eve was presented to her man in the midst of paradise. There was no shame in her baring or her interactions with her mate. Adam was responsible for teaching her everything he knew. He told her of God’s instructions to him regarding the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (a.k.a. the Tree of Death). Eve acknowledged Adam’s teachings when she told the serpent what God had said regarding the forbidden tree and it’s fruit.

Imagine Adam escorting Eve proudly through the Garden paradise God had created just for them, eagerly showing her the wonders of God’s expressive love for them. Imagine Adam stopping here and there to introduce her with the pride of belonging – the pride of oneness – as his wife. As his help mate. As his companion in all things. As the woman who would bear his likeness and his children. The woman who would share his authority over all the earth. Imagine Adam proclaiming, “Tree, greet my wife! Honor your mistress with the rustling on your leaves! Sky, salute the helper of my soul! Clear away the clouds so the Sun may meet its rival in the glowing countenance of my wife’s face.” Adam was a man about the Garden with the best part of creation on his arm – he knew it and wanted every other part of creation to know it, too. Imagine the level of intimacy Adam and Eve shared. The amount of joy they must have taken in one another. Exploring, teaching and learning together all day, every day. As Adam shared what he knew, he learned again from her perspective. And as Eve took in what he shared, she also taught him something new. Each new day must have been an enlightening revelation. The oneness of their union is evident in the oneness of their growth… and the oneness of their fall.

God first – always makes your wife a priority

Father God tells us, if we respect Him, we need to get to know Him.

The One who knows our needs better than we do says, if we love Him, simply do as He says.

The Word of God says, respect for God is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. (Proverbs 1:7, 111:10)

Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. ~ 1 John 5:3-5

You know the story. One day, Eve forgot herself. Or perhaps, Adam didn’t make himself as clear as he should have

On the surface, Eve disobeyed Adam, but looking deeper, we see that Adam allowed Eve to disobey a direct order from God.

God says that the one way you can show that you love Him is by obeying His commandments. That’s it. Do what I say, says the LORD Almighty, and I will know that you’re committed to this relationship with me. I will know that you love me. I will know that you put no other before me.

When Adam stood by and allowed Eve to do what God had explicitly told him not to do, he was essentially putting Eve before God. How? Eve was in a selfish state of mind where she was seeking something she thought was being withheld from her. She wanted something she thought God was being stingy with. The thought of being equal to God appealed to her ego. Adam stood by and participated in their shared disobedience because he essentially chose to please his wife over pleasing God. That is the wrong turn Adam took early in his marriage.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. A man should be intent on pleasing his wife, just as a wife should seek to please her husband. Remember, Eve wasn’t seeking knowledge only for herself; she desired it for both herself and her husband, whom she passed the fruit to. However, our desire to please our spouse should not supersede God’s instructions to us. Essentially, Adam and Eve got in trouble when they put each other before God. Had they both made God’s instructions a priority in their relationship they may have still been in the Garden of God today! Don’t get this twisted – putting God first DOES NOT mean NEGLECT your spouse. God’s primary concern is our relationship with Him and how our love for Him is manifested in our human relationships, in particular, within our marriage relationship. Obeying God will never harm your relationship with your spouse. However, in your obedience, you must include your spouse. If a husband has received instructions from God (which means his life is going to change), it is his responsibility to share those instructions, and his interpretation of them, with his wife. One of three things will happen when a man shares his thoughts and intentions with his wife:

    1. She will not stand in agreement with him
    2. She will stand in agreement with him, without question
    3. She will ask a series of questions to help her figure out how she can best assist him

The partnership of marriage

A wife is either for or against her husband. No wife is neutral. But, a wife can become discouraged.

If your wife has no idea where she fits into your life, your work, your assignment, or your purpose, she will not feel useful to your life or valued by you. Within the marriage relationship, a woman’s value is tied to how she aides her husband, and how he values her contributions. This is embedded in woman from the beginning – from the moment of Eve’s installation as Adam’s helper. In contrast, a man’s value within marriage is tied to how he cares for his wife and family – they are the expression of his life and his offering to God. This is also embedded in man from the beginning – from Adam’s first instruction to tend to the garden and to care for it.

                Dear Worker, what has God told you to do in your life? How has he told you to honor Him?

                Are you doing what He told you to do? Is your wife aware of your assignment?

Your wife is assigned to your life as your assistant. Her primary role and function is to support you in your assignment from God. You honor God by honoring your wife’s role in your life.

Love and respect – different sides of the same coin

Don’t mistake your wife for a cost-free laborer, unworthy of your consideration. The woman who believes on Christ has already been redeemed by His blood. She is precious, indeed. Treat her as such. When you marry, whatever your Kingdom work is, you are automatically registered as a partnership. You have an ally like no other – one made to fit you and your needs specifically. You are two individuals, but one entity. You have different points of view, but one vision. When it comes to the direction of your enterprise – your marriage – you, the husband, are responsible for communicating the destination; however, your wife may be the logistical genius who plots out the route step by step. But you are both responsible for keeping your marriage enterprise on course.

1. esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability
2. deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment
3. the condition of being esteemed or honored
1. to hold in esteem or honor
2. to show regard or consideration for
3. to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with

The fear of the Lord – Reverence for God; respect for his law, his will, his government, himself; the fear of offending him, which will lead us to do right. This fear is not that of a slave; it is not mere dread; it is not terror. It is consistent with love, and springs from it. It is consistent with calmness of mind, and promotes it. It does not produce terror, but rather delivers from it, and preserves the mind from alarms. The word here rendered “fear” is a noun of the same origin as the word rendered “reverend” in the previous verse. The suggestion to the mind of the psalmist that the “name of the Lord” was “reverend,” or was to be venerated, introduced this thought that such reverence is the very foundation of wisdom.

Is the beginning of wisdom – The foundation, the origin, the commencement of being truly wise. It is so. There is no true wisdom which does not recognize the being, the perfections, and the claims of God. The highest wisdom – the most lofty endowment of man – is that he “may” know and honor God. This, in capability, makes him wise above the brute creation; this, in exercise, makes one man more wise than another; this, when it springs up in the soul, makes a man more wise than he was before – or, is the “beginning” of true wisdom in the soul. (Barnes, 1834)

Compare Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10; Deuteronomy 4:6; Job 28:28; Ecclesiastes 12:13.

The difference your heart makes

Dear Worker, you earn your wife’s respect by what you share with her and how you treat her. Let me assure you, your sharing has nothing to do with money or material goods. Your sharing has everything to do with your heart and your spirit.

Many women believe the falsehood that a good relationship and a happy marriage is predicated on their husband’s income, bank account, worldly possessions, social connections and all the luxury he can afford to lavish on them. Many men believe the lies. I stand as a witness that has seen similar-thinking men and women co-exist in some of the unhappiest and unhealthiest marriages because they believed that marital bliss could be found in an elite job and a secluded neighborhood; a luxury car and an exclusive country club. They believe marital bliss is one materialistic goal away.

To the contrary, no matter how hard the husband’s work to give these wives what they said they wanted – all the trappings of wealth and worldly success they could afford – they end up empty. Deep into the years of their marriages, each husband will come to the conclusion that they can’t buy their wives enough to satisfy them, because there is always something newer, something bigger, something better, something more. There will always be something that another woman has that will make this wife feel her lifestyle is inferior – that her she is not as well-provided for as she should be by her husband. But in a quiet corner of her empty home, speaking softly to a friend on a dark, starless night, or sitting at a dining table set for the family, with a seat waiting to be filled by the head of household who was too busy working in an effort to maintain his wife’s declared need for the next best thing, the woman who constantly looks outward for satisfaction will break within. As she crumbles, she quietly weeps and prays for her husband to come home and hold her. Come home and share a meal and conversation with her. She sobs to her friend that all she wants is for her man to be with her sharing his presence and his thoughts, giving her his attention and his time. Depositing his knowledge into her. Right below the shallow surface, this woman (like every  other woman) wants her husband to be content to hold her and love her.

“Seriously,” she tosses at her friend, “what do I need with another piece of jewelry? What good is a larger house when it will only increase the echo of my loneliness? What value does an exclusive education have when my children don’t even know their father? And what child can respect a father they don’t know? What authority does a man have in his own home when respect is absent? Truly, what good is it for a woman to be given all the trappings of wealth and good living, if she has lost the heart and soul of her husband?”

This woman may fail to explore another reason her children have no respect for their father. Respect is something that is observed and taught. Children learn from watching those around them. They will first learn how to respect their father by their mother’s treatment of him. If a woman has no respect for her husband, her children will most likely follow suit. But this all comes down to the diminished presence of many men in their homes. If a man is not present, how can he lead his wife and correct his children? If he is not present, when does he speak words of life into his household? A man needs to be present in order to rebuke the outside influences on the minds, hearts and spirits of his wife and children.     

If a man only provides the bare necessities, but fails to nourish his family with God’s word which also grows into a hedge of protection around his household, then what has he truly done with his life? What is his presentation to God for the use of his body and his life when his family perishes from lack of true spiritual care?

In Proverbs 24:27, God elaborates, “Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.” There is no instruction after “build your house.” Preparation comes before the household arrives. The worker may have to work continuously, but he needs to know that once his house is built, once his wife is claimed and mated and their family had been started, the household takes precedence over the outside work.

The look and feel of respect

Dear Worker, you may wonder if your wife respects you. Or you may not wonder at all and just wish that she did. I’m going to put this on scripture: Man, if you do for your wife as Jesus did for His Bride – he gave His life as a complete sacrifice in order to wash and cleanse her, to prepare her for holy presentation to God – then your wife will respond by falling to your feet and washing your work-wearied, sun-dried toes with her tears. She will dry your aching arches with her hair. She will anoint your life with everything that is in her. That’s respect. That’s honor. That’s favor and blessing. That is an expression of gratitude for the man God joined her to. That is, indeed, love.

In the second chapter of Proverbs, the Father warns His Son to beware of the immoral woman calling out to him form the side of the road. That woman is promises only fleshly pleasure and if he heeds her call, she will lead him to his death. After Eve had listened to the serpent, she turned to her husband to beacon with the promise of fleshly pleasures – worldly wisdom. Adam heeded her call because he chose to follow his wife into the realm of lustful deceit – a realm where the desire to get outweighs the desire to give. As a result, Adam and Eve and all the children seeded within them entered into a cycle of death.

Wisdom will save you from the immoral woman, from the seductive words of the promiscuous woman. She has abandoned her husband and ignores the covenant she made before God.  ~ Proverbs 2:16-17

If God is not a priority for your wife, chances are He is not a priority for you. What is important to a man becomes important to his wife. Her faithfulness increases the more you share with her. This way, husband and wife have a shared focus, a shared purpose, and a shared commitment to their assignment.

Adam failed to impress upon Eve the absoluteness of God’s instructions regarding the trees of life and death. He had to have failed in expressing that in honoring the word God had given him for his life, and his family, she would also be honoring her husband. Likewise, in honoring her husband, she was also giving honor and glory to God.

Adam was not clear enough on that point. He was not adamant enough about the absoluteness of God’s command. He was not insistent on Eve’s need for obedience. How can I possibly say that with any conviction? Because I believe the Word of God and throughout God’s Word he talks about the passion of the lover and the heart of the receptive bride. A heart that is turned towards its’ mate. Eager to please its’ partner.

Confront the darkness in your wife

Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible.  ~ Ephesians 5:10-14

Eve is the prototype and archetype of woman. She is no different than any of her daughters through the millennia. Created in a sinless state, in a paradise set apart from the world, she was still susceptible to the wafting whisper of corruption. In all her perfection, and even in a perfect environment, Eve was still vulnerable to the evil that is disobedience to God’s Word. Adam did not cleanse his wife when she exposed her shifting heart to him. Adam did not rebuke the spirit of deceit that gained a foothold in Eve’s mind. Adam did not speak against the evil influence taking precedence over God’s Word in spirit.

Though we were all created in a sinless environment, we have all been born into a sinful nature. Yet and still, that is only the middle of the story. We have all been offered redemption through Jesus Christ – the first Worker, the first Son, the first Husband, the first Vessel of God’s love. Jesus is man’s first and best example for all aspects of human life. Study Jesus to learn about true manhood. Follow Jesus to experience a close brotherhood. Keep your eyes on Jesus to be the best husband you can be – by emulating Jesus, he will shine through you. It is through the provision of Jesus Christ that mankind can return to God – again and again. God provided Jesus to us as redemption for every aspect of our lives. Jesus is not only the conqueror of death, He is our chief life warrior as well. Equally as important as dying to our nature, is living in His Spirit.

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved usand offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.  ~ Ephesians 5:1-2

In marriage, this means that through the Christ that has already been provided as a sacrifice and deposit for the hearts of Believers, a man and wife can turn to each other to offer redemption and to be redeemed from each and every fall – each and every stumble, every instance of poor judgment and all their wrongful acts caused by their insecurities. Mercy, grace and forgiveness are all rolled into redemption. Redemption is the active process of reclaiming something of value to the owner – the person the redeemed belongs to.

                Dear Worker, do you value your wife?

How can Eve, or any woman for that matter, respect a man who doesn’t speak life into her? To do so would be against God’s layout for marital relationship. God’s Word does not say, “Wife, respect your husband simply because he is a man. Or simply because he is your husband. Or because he is the father of your children. Or because he bought you something. No. God’s Word in Ephesians chapter five compares the husband to Christ. As Christ is submitted to God. As Christ is the head of the church. In this way, wives should submit (defer) to a husband who is submitted to God. In this way, a husband who loves his wife as he loves himself is worthy of his wife’s respect. This isn’t just flowery speech, it’s a law of the Spirit of God. Any woman living in the Spirit would respond to her husband’s words of life and acts of love.   

Think about it, what did Christ do for the church?

He died to Himself, so that His Bride, the Church would have a more abundant life. Through His one-time sacrifice, He is still building His Church. His Bride is still seeking Him. She is still growing and changing. She is looking forward to the day she can see her Husband face to face because she remembers what He did for her – how He gave His all for her. (Ephesians 5:22-24, 33)

Perhaps the question of Christ’s action should precede the question of Wife…do you respect me? What a man values, he honors by investing himself, his time, and his presence into. What a man values will carry his mark. What a man values will be revealed by him in every area and aspect of his life. There will be no corner of his life that will be unacquainted with what a man holds above all else. For the sake of God’s praise and the sake of your family, let what you value most be your God and you wife – in that order.

Speak firmly from a faithful heart

Adam had a responsibility to His God and his wife to speak up for both. To honor both by defending both. It is possible to do. If he had spoken words of life into Eve in her moment of weakness, he would have maintained his authority, strengthened Eve spiritually, and saved both of their lives. If Adam had chosen to speak words of life into Eve at the moment he saw the serpent sway her conviction, he would have defeated the serpent with the simple act of obeying God, which doubled as a wife-builder. That simple act would have had eternal reverberations – just as the act Adam actually chose does. But the most profoundly important effect, had he chosen to obey God and speak against the evil in the Garden infecting his wife, is that Adam would have glorified God with his faithfulness.

All that, by simply telling his wife, “No, we are not going to do this thing. We are not going to be disobedient or irreverent or disrespectful to God’s spoken will. We are not going to respond to His love with a hateful act. In this house (Garden of God) we will obey and serve our creator, God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth – and the Maker of you and me. Woman, you will stand with me and agree with me against this threat and we will honor our God together.” Or some such variation….

FYI – that’s hot!

A man who speaks with conviction about his God, and he and his wife’s roles in executing God’s plan for their relationship, is beyond attractive. His words become a life-long memory in the heart of his wife. A caveat: it’s only hot, however, when the wife believes with her husband. If her husband had already deposited God’s word for his life and assignment within her, the Holy Spirit will activate a believing wife’s heart to hear you.

I’m telling you, Eve (and any other wife) would have obeyed that “this-house-is-united-not-divided” command from Adam (and any other husband). Obedience would be given not because a growling man spoke from his ego while thumping his chest, but because a faithful man, fearful of displeasing his Lord and destroying his family knows that he needs unity with his wife to defeat everything that comes against them.  No matter what the state of your relationship, a woman will willingly stand next to a husband who wants her by his side. No matter how strong or outspoken your wife may appear, she wants to listen to and depend on the leader in her husband.

Faith, Respect, and Unity add priceless value to your marriage

A disrespectful wife breeds separation of purpose in a marriage.

A husband who doesn’t value his wife breeds her disrespect.

What comes first? Does it really matter? No. Not if you have the power and authority to change it.

The man has the power and authority to change the nature and temperament of his marriage relationship and his family environment. The man, the husband, the head of the household, God’s worker, has only to do what the Word of God tells him to do. Pursue your wife. Lead your wife. Disciple your wife. Share your life with your wife. Infuse her with your fragrance – a fragrance that only envelopes her through your broken and contrite heart. Your pride may attract her attention, but it’s your humbleness that will keep her heart turned towards you.

The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit….  ~ Psalm 51:17-19

Dear Worker, when you do all you are instructed to do for the woman God has blessed you with to be your crown and your joy, then you will know your wife respects you by the way she honors you, blesses you, watches you, waits for you, prays for you, longs for you, and yearns for your presence. Your wife will respect you for correcting her. She will appreciate that you value her so much that you risk her displeasure so that you may rejoice in her life.

Wife… do you respect me? is not a question a man who models himself after God’s heart will have to ask often or at all.   

 Related posts by LaShawnda Jones:

Husband… do you love me?

A Foolish Woman vs. A Wise Woman

A Faithless Man vs. A Faithful Man

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Husband… do you love me?

One of the sad realities of this world is that many people throughout your life will claim to “love” you, but very few will actually put action to it – including your spouse. Quick to speak, slow to act love isn’t love at all.

Learning about Love

But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.  ~ Ephesians 4:20-24 NASB

A number of years ago, before I got serious about God, I wrote a poem, Words, Part 1, which explored my relationships with people who claimed to love me, but whose actions toward me were destructive and hateful. For many years I didn’t understand love because of the way it was represented through my friend and family relationships.

Even before I understood that God was calling me to Him, before I consciously took a step on this journey, I knew how important the correlation between words and action was. My confusion came from believing the world-view of love: if people say it, it must be true. I didn’t have knowledge of the God-view of love: expression through selfless action for the benefit of others.

The Word of God says that one cannot love unless one has accepted His love. Since God is the first to love, He is the source of love. We love each other because He loved us first. (1 John 4:19) God is love. One has to live in God and be inhabited by God in order to accept and channel love. (1 John 4:15-17)

I didn’t understand love because I had no understanding of God. As I have grown to know God, my understanding of love has increased. My increased understanding of love has led me to a better expectation of my husband’s character and behavior towards me. God has also developed my discernment, which greatly improves my ability to see the difference between what is truly Christ-like and what is only a mask of Christ-likeness.

Truth and revelation will change you

I am so glad that you always keep me in your thoughts, and that you are following the teachings I passed on to you. But there is one thing I want you to know: The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.  ~ 1 Corinthians 11:2-3 NLT

One of the truths that has been developing in my life over the last few years is that a woman cannot really show a man love. She can only return the love he first gives to her.

It is out of order for a woman to express her love to a man who has not expressed his love for her to her. It is out of order for a woman to try to prove herself and her devotion to a man. It is out of order for a woman to seek to attract a man’s attention. It is out of order for a woman to pursue a man. I get that now. That’s a hard pill to swallow for some men and women. Accepting such behavior from women is part of the game some men play to “collect” women and play them against one another. A man is not going to tell a woman that she is out of order for giving him excessive attention – at least I have not come across such an honest and direct man.

I was that woman who needed to be told such. I was that woman who thought something and said it. I was that woman who felt something and expressed it. I was that woman who made herself available according to his schedule. I was that woman who kept offering to share herself, her time, her talents, her resources, her knowledge, her support, her life. I was that woman who over-exposed herself – who hung herself out to dry. Not any longer. Now I see how out of order I was. Now I see that it doesn’t matter at all if I love a man, if he has no love for me. It doesn’t matter what I do, if he doesn’t want to do anything for me. It doesn’t matter what I say, if he has no words for me. It doesn’t matter if I’m in his presence, if he prefers to be elsewhere. It doesn’t matter what I want to give or have to give if he doesn’t want anything from me.

What I want really doesn’t matter, if he doesn’t want me.

Dear Jesus, that is a hard pill to swallow. That is a devastating truth to be confronted with. But the Holy Spirit’s comfort makes the pain bearable and transforming. Now that I realize that my prior behavior was out of order and I have taken steps to correct myself, I can look at men more objectively. I communicate in a different way. Actually, I’m no longer interested in initiating conversation at all. I’m no longer interested in putting any effort into any type of interaction. Why? Because now I know and accept that it is not my effort that will determine the initiation, development, course or destination of a relationship. My response will contribute to the outcome, but my effort has no real value initially.

The male was created to be a “doer”. The female was created to “support” the male in what he does. Look at it this way, if a woman starts “doing” things that is within the male role and function, and the male is not interested in assuming the female role and function of supporting the woman as a “doer” (i.e. there is no agreement between the two) nothing in the relationship is going to operate well because the relationship is out of order.

Love needs a giver and a receiver

But among the Lord’s people, women are not independent of men, and men are not independent of women. For although the first woman came from man, every other man was born from a woman, and everything comes from God.  ~ 1 Corinthians 11:11-12 NLT

A woman is made to receive. She gives from what she has been blessed or burdened with. A man is made to initiate the process of giving. Whatever a man gives to his woman is what he will get back from her. If he is loving, caring and attentive, she will be loving caring and attentive in return. If he is dismissive, evasive, and distant, she will become dismissive, evasive and distant. The woman does not set the tone of a relationship – the man does. The husband creates the environment in which his wife and their marriage will flourish or die.

That concept was difficult for me to wrap my mind around because, in my family, I’ve only been exposed to men who either abuse their women or ignore them. I’ve learned that men who don’t care for their wives won’t care for their household. So, essentially, I grew up surrounded by women who became “doers” because the men in their lives weren’t doing anything constructive. Today, we call such women, strong and independent. I have long maintained that I’ve never known a woman who wants to be strong and independent – certainly not the woman who has to be. I speak as a woman who has been characterized as such. There are some who may describe me as outspoken and aggressive. In my time, I saw a few people cringe when they noticed me heading their way. My early experiences taught me the “doer” behavior and mentality: if I don’t do it, it won’t get done; if I don’t initiate, it will never get started; if I don’t say something, no one will know anything.

I thank God for His gentle Holy Spirit. At first the quiet gentleness is easy for a loud bullish woman to ignore. But once there is knowledge of God and an understanding of love, everything that works against God’s design, plan and purpose for you will be rooted out of you. You will undergo a transformation that bears no resemblance to your former self. The Holy Spirit has been teaching me to zip my lip and to measure my words. I’ve been learning the painfully awkward lesson of sitting and waiting! Of all things, God wants this “doer” of a woman to sit and do nothing…. I obey while patiently asking daily, “Father, am I there yet???” (Okay, maybe we’re still working on the “patient” part….)

Throughout scripture, God the Father and Jesus the Son are depicted as the Bridegroom, first mated with Israel (land and people), then mated with the church (the body of Christ). In this depiction Israel and the church are made holy by God’s presence – the Holy Spirit – among them or in them. We are told to pursue the fruit of the Spirit in order to manifest the glory of God in our lives. Well, if we go further and align the husband’s role with Bridegroom a.k.a. God/Jesus and align the wife’s role with the Bride of Christ/Holy Spirit we will see very well the call and response, the action and the reaction throughout the Great Story that provide behavioral instructions for our conduct within our marriage relationships.

God is active in His love. Jesus sacrificed His life for His bride. There is no ambiguity in the way the Father and Son communicate and represent love. For this reason, I now know and appreciate that I will recognize my husband by his actions toward me and for me.

Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the Lord’s own mouth.

The Lord will hold you in his hand for all to see—a splendid crown in the hand of God.

Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his bride. Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem, just as a young man commits himself to his bride. Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride. ~ Isaiah 62:1-5

Love requires presence, connection and action

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it to make it belong to God. Christ used the word to make the church clean by washing it with water. He died so that he could give the church to himself like a bride in all her beauty. He died so that the church could be pure and without fault, with no evil or sin or any other wrong thing in it. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies. The man who loves his wife loves himself. No one ever hates his own body, but feeds and takes care of it.  ~ Ephesians 5:25-29 NCV

Husband, do you love me? It’s a question one supposes a wife should not have to ask. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of living in the world is picking up worldly habits. Worldly men have distanced themselves from Love – they have lost their intimate knowledge of God. How can a man with no knowledge of God, who is Love, truly love his wife? How can a man, who straddles the world and the Kingdom of Heaven, love his woman fully when he doesn’t love God fully? It’s not possible.

If you believe the Word of God, then you know that love is a manifestation of God. We can only love through His Spirit, which means (1) there has to be a connection, and (2) the connection must be maintained. If a man has God’s Spirit operating within him, he is going to be active in his expression of love for his wife. He is going to pursue his wife daily. He is going to speak words of life to her constantly. He will never cease praying for her to be made into the image of Light – a deposit from him, through him and for him. A reflection of who he is in Christ. The love of a husband changes his wife so deeply that her former self dissolves into the greatness of their shared identity. She takes a new name as her husband’s wife. His claim on her is her covering. Her acceptance of him is his blessing and his joy.

Husband, do you love me?

Then let me hear your voice.

Husband, do you love me?

Then cleanse and wash me.

Husband, do you love me?

Then shepherd me.

Husband, do you love me?

Then cover me.

Husband, do you love me?

Then feed me.

Husband, do you love me?

Then disciple me.

Husband, do you love me?

Then present me to God.

Husband, do you love me? A simple question, but the affirmative response requires a great deal of committed action. (John 21:15-22)

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Interview: Matt & Sarah Hammitt on Their Marriage & Song (Lead Me)

Goodness, there’s nothing to add to Matt and Sarah’s words. They discuss elements of their marriage that lead to Matt writing Lead Me for his band, Sanctus Real. Click below to listen.

The Story Behind “Lead Me” – Sanctus Real from BrightBulb Entertainment on Vimeo.

Read more about the song in “A Tale of Two Couples: Lead Me at a Glance”


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Duality of Man: Strength and Vulnerability

From The Process of Asking for, Receiving and Giving Love and Forgiveness (Available January 2011)

And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lords strength, in the majesty (power) of the name of the Lord his God. Then his people will live there undisturbed (securely), for he will be highly honored around the world.   ~ Micah 5:4 (NLT)

The week of Thanksgiving brought several personal revelations to me through the resurfacing of a dormant family relationship. Then over Thanksgiving weekend, I had a series of dreams that expanded on those revelations.

The most vivid dream in the series involved a man (not a relative). In each  scene the man appeared in, he was standing tall with firmly planted feet and a broad welcoming smile. Perched on his left hip, like an attachment, was a big baby boy who looked to be three or four years old. He was a beautiful boy with bright alert eyes – piercing, really – and a much older mischievous expression. Physically, the toddler didn’t resemble the man at all, yet there was an element of sameness and familiarity.

The man greeted me and indicated in the conversation that the toddler was one and a half years old. I commented that the baby boy was more than twice the size of the average toddler his age. Even as I said that, I was reaching over to hug and kiss the baby/toddler. The man’s face was glowing with joy when I stepped back to face him. He then embraced me. End dream sequence.

Upon waking, I was confused about elements of the dream. Primarily, who was the big baby/toddler boy? As I mentally walked back through the dream, I discarded the thought of the boy being the man’s son or other relative, and concluded the baby/toddler was the man himself, representing a part of the man that was less mature in some areas, even though he looked over-developed. Mostly, the baby/toddler seemed to represent a part of the man that was extremely vulnerable, even though he appeared to ooze mischief, knowledge, awareness and confidence.

What happened in the dream to inspire this retelling?

The man presented his vulnerabilities to me and I embraced them (symbolized by me hugging and kissing the baby/toddler). The joy the man received from that acceptance lead to his willingness to accept me (symbolized by him embracing me).

The focus scripture in service this week came from Micah 5:1-6. Verse 4 (He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD) stood out to me for two reasons: 1) The man’s solid stance in my dream brought to mind security and strength 2) I’ve been listening to Santus Real’s song, Lead Me. The lyrics are a beautiful blend of a man’s strength and vulnerability through his multiple roles and responsibilities. The refrain is written from a wife and child’s perspective:

“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can’t
Don’t leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, what about us?

Show me you’re willing to fight
That I’m still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone”

The song is a prayer for God to lead the man – the husband, the father – to be the strength of his family – the provider, comforter and defender – through God’s grace and power. It’s a moving prayer of a man laying bare his uncertainties and asking for the strength to love his family through his presence and with the best offerings of his life.

It’s such a vulnerable plea, but there’s so much power in it.

The convergence of all these elements had me analyzing aspects of my life. Specifically, the lack of strong hands in my life and the fact that there has never been anyone (father or other) standing or fighting for me. And I marveled that my hunger for love had turned into such a state of starvation that I’ve ceased to feel. Wonder of wonders… how different would my life be had I been blessed with a father who lead rather than destroyed?

It all rolls up to love. The best expression, the most lasting impression of love that we will receive in this life is through our father, mother, and spouse (husband or wife). If they aren’t led by the spirit of God, His love for us will not be experienced through them and we could remain hungry for love, chasing useless things in a lonely life because we have no idea how to be love or how to receive love.

Fortunately, these sad, lonely low points of neglect and uncertainty puts us in a special space for grace. I thank God for my vulnerabilities and my willingness to accept and embrace them. The more vulnerable I am, the stronger God’s presence in my life becomes.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.   ~ 2 Corinthians 12:8-10