Outlet Covers

I couldn’t help, but laugh at what I found.

I had just had a conversation with a friend about how quickly our kids grow, and here I sat looking at a wall outlet in my daughter’s room. A wall outlet neatly plugged with covers. Covers meant to keep my daughter from inserting foreign objects into the outlet: covers meant to protect her from harm.

But, here’s the thing. My girl . . . she’s ten.  She’s  old enough now to know how to safely use outlets. She’s old enough now that she no longer needs those covers to protect her. But yet, they are still there.

As I struggled to remove the covers, I found myself expressing my thanks that our family has reached this stage in life where we no longer need outlet covers. But, at the same time, I found the task bittersweet.

Much of mothering is like that isn’t it? We spend our days caring for the needs of our kids, setting boundaries, implementing consequences, and trying to speak truth into their hearts. We do this day in and day out and often ask ourselves if we are doing this mothering thing right. Have we’ve done too little? Have we done too much? Or have we done exactly what was needed?

I think it is normal to ask yourself those questions, but I think it is also important to remember one thing. God doesn’t make mistakes. Those kids of yours? God knew you were the mother they needed, and each day He gives you an opportunity to help them grow into the people He created them to be. How will you make the most of that opportunity today?

Choose today to show patience and kindness. Choose today to use words that build others up instead of tearing them down. Choose today to extend grace, to help others without complaining, to do the right thing even when it’s hard. Choose to make the most of today with not only your kids, but with everyone God brings across your path today.

Today is a gift. Hold tightly to it and joyfully make the most of it.

 

Psalm 118-24

 

 

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Loving your tribe

As I looked around the room, I couldn’t even begin to stop the tears that ran down my cheeks. Each person in that room I loved so deeply. And . . . in that moment, each person in that room was hurting so deeply. My heart ached.

It was not the weekend we had expected. A late night phone call brought us all together to this tiny hospital conference room. This room where hard decisions had to be made. Hard decisions that no one should ever have to make on their own. Yet, as my gaze settled upon each face in that room, God made one thing very clear.

In the midst of our grief . . . our tribe was there.

In the following days, I found milk in my fridge and bread on my counter. Meals were dropped off, messages of love and support sent, and prayers lifted up.

In the midst of my grief . . . my tribe was there.

My tribe.

Some are connected to me by blood. Others, through the work to which God has called me. But regardless of how they fit into my life, I am certain of one thing. God doesn’t make mistakes. Each person in my life is there because God saw fit to put them there.  And, as part of my tribe, I am to love them. I’m to love them just as Jesus loves them.

In the book of John, Jesus spoke these words . . .

“Now I tell you to love each other, as I have loved you.”

John 15:12 (CEV)

Love as I have loved you . . .

Loving others isn’t always easy. Sometimes it is hard to love those in our tribe. But, loving those God has placed in our lives is exactly what He wants us to do. Think about those whom God has placed in your life. Think about those who make up your tribe and who God has asked you to love. What would loving them well look like? Would your life look any different if you started loving others as He loves you?

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https://me.me/i/our-job-is-to-love-others-without-stopping-to-inquire-4505108 

 

 

 

This Is Not the Finish Line

I sat down beside him and pulled him close. As I wrapped my arms around him, huge tears began to roll down his cheeks. My heart ached as he leaned in and quietly began to sob. What could have possibly happened to my youngest to hurt him so deeply? And then, the words began to tumble out in between his sobs. He had tried so hard. He had practiced and practiced but, despite his hard work, he still wasn’t good enough. It didn’t take long for me to remember that today he had had gym class. And today was the day that the entire class would be timed on how fast they could run. Today was the day that the two fastest boys and the two fastest girls would be chosen, to represent their class during track and field day, which was to be held in just a few weeks. 

Now, my boy knows that he isn’t one of the fastest boys in his class. Two of his best friends always beat him. No, my boy hadn’t set his sights on being chosen to actually run in the race. His goal . . . was to serve as an alternate. More than anything else, he wanted to be chosen as an alternate. An alternate is the one who is called upon to run if the need arises. And  that . . .  was his dream. It’s been his dream for the past three years. But, today . . . he got beat, and my heart broke for him. 

My heart broke further as he then went on to ask me if I thought he was good at anything. I pulled him closer and spent the next few minutes reminding him of the many ways he is gifted, the many ways he is special, and that God created him perfectly just as he is. As I finished speaking truth into his little heart, he threw his arms around me, and said, “I love you, mom.” And in that moment, I heard God tell me, “This! This is your ‘Best Yes’. This time you just spent pouring truth into his heart . . .  it was one of the  assignments I had for you today. Taking the time to speak into him as only a mama can . . . it was part of your purpose for today. This was a ‘Best Yes’”

“Best Yes” assignments. God has them for each and every one of us. But, can I ask you something? Do you ever find it difficult to see the assignments He has for you? Are you like me and wish that God would make it just a bit easier to see His plan? Sometimes I wish that He would just post signs that read “Meghan, go this way” or “Meghan, do this.” Or, perhaps, He could just send Jesus right back down here to lead me by the hand. It doesn’t quite work that way, does it? It isn’t always that easy to see where God is leading us. But, there are a few things that we can do, to help us see the “Best Yes” assignments He has for us more clearly. 

First, be present. To be present is to be available or to be in a particular place.  To be present is to completely focus your attention on either the person you are with or the task that is at hand. I recently read an article, “8 Ways to Be Present” by Tom Stuart, leader of Ignited2Pray Ministries, that expanded on this definition. He said, “Being present requires a focused engagement of every aspect of our being including the physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual.” Being present is turning our focus away from those things in this world that can distract us: those things that can keep us from seeing the assignments God has for us. It’s turning our focus away from those things and towards God and His presence in our lives.  To be fully present, is to do as Psalms tells us. It says to,

“Shut up . . . Shut off . . . Shut out . . . and in the silence . . . sense God: connect!”  Psalm 46:10 (STREET)

We need to shut up. Now, I know as women that we have like 20,000 words we need to get out in a day. But, when it comes to the conversations we are having with God, we need to do less talking and more listening. So often, I find myself telling God that He needs to do this or He needs to do that. So often, I find myself acting as though I am the one in control of a situation. Guess what? News Flash! I’m not. I am not in control. God is. We need to spend more time quieting our own voices so that we can better hear His. We need to shut up.

Shut off. In his article, Tom Stuart talks about how we live in a world where the technology is getting more sophisticated by the day. Technology not only makes our lives easier, but it can help us to multitask more efficiently.  And as a mom, we feel that having the ability to multitask is essential, right? However, he makes one point that is worth mentioning. The very same technology that we feel makes our lives easier is the very same technology that easily distracts us and demands our presence. Think about that for a moment. How distracting is technology for you? Think about your phone for example. How often do you check it? I always have mine with me, and if I can’t locate it, I admit that I start to panic just a bit. I’ll also admit to you that I have answered it in the middle of eating dinner with my family, and I have replied to emails or returned a quick text as one of my kids was talking to me.  Technology: though it can make our lives easier,  it’s turning our focus away from the people or tasks that need our attention. It’s distracting us, and it’s demanding our presence. Set some limits for yourself, and shut it off.

Next, we need to shut out. Just like technology can so easily distract me, so can the opinions and the expectations of this world: opinions and expectations that are rarely truthful. It’s important that we learn to shut out what the world says and focus instead on the truth we find in God’s Word. It’s His truth that gives us freedom. In the book of John, Jesus says,

“If you hear My voice and abide in My word, you are truly My disciples;  you will know the truth, and that truth will give you freedom.”

John 8:31-32 (VOICE)

It’s His truth that gives us freedom, not what the world tries to speak into our hearts. We need to shut out the world and open our hearts to hear His Truth.  

After we shut up, shut off, and shut out, we then can sense God’s presence and truly connect with Him. With our focus solely on Him, it will be easier to discern which of those assignments before us are ours. With our focus on Him, the path that we are to take will be more clear. Being fully present in His presence, we will following His leading. And, as we following His leading, we will be fulfilling the purposes He has for us. We will be living out our Best Yes. 

Another way we can see our “Best Yes” assignments more clearly is to pay attention.  Like I mentioned before, there are times that I wish God would very directly point out the direction He would like me to go. But, think about this. What if He already is? What if He has been clearly pointing where I am to go, and I’m not seeing it simply because I’m failing to pay attention? What if my “Best Yes” assignments are right before me, but I’m too busy doing life to see them? 

Lysa Terkeurst says, “We will have a very hard time paying attention to (our) Best Yes (assignments) if we live lives that are completely spent. Instead, why not completely spend yourself on the assignments that are yours, those moments you shouldn’t dare miss, the calling that pulses in your soul, the love you and only you can offer?” 

What it we intentionally chose to cut back on our commitments: the commitments we make for ourselves and for our kids? What if we chose to put down our phones, turn off our tv and spent quality time with those people we love? What if we spent our days doing those things that really matter? What if we dared to explore that spark God placed deep within our souls? What if we dared to ask God to open our eyes to the brokenness that surrounds us? How different would our lives look?

In Colossians, Paul says,

“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.”

Colossians 3:2 (MSG)

We are living in a world that is broken and hurting. What is it that God wants you to do?Think about it. What is it that God wants you to do?  Sometimes we get our minds fixed into a way of thinking that Lysa Terkeurst calls a fixed mind-set. We see our abilities, our talents, our skills, our relationships, and our intelligence as limited and lacking. We feel that where we are today is where we always will be. We feel . . . stuck. But, God doesn’t want us to remain stuck. He wants us to have a growth mind-set. He wants us to see our abilities, our talents, our skills, our relationships, and our intelligence with potential. He wants us to see ourselves like He does: as beautiful, unique, and created with purpose.

Where we are today is only our starting place. It is not our finish line. God has a precious plan for your life. He cannot be limited in what He does, and if He choses to use you, He will. Have the courage to take that first step in the plan He has for you. Have the courage to be engulfed by that fire that He set ablaze in your soul. 

I’ll close with these words from Lysa. “Indeed, in God’s plan, you and I have a part to play. If we know it and believe it, we’ll live it. We’ll live our lives making decisions with the Best Yes as our filter. We’ll be a grand display of God’s Word lived out. Out undistracted love will make our faith ring true. Our wisdom will help us make decision that will still be good tomorrow. And we’ll be alive and present for all of it. Now let’s go and live the Best Yes life.” 

The “Best Yes” life. Live it. Live the life to which God has called you. That fire within you . . .  find it. Find Your Fire, tend to it, and let it shine brightly. May it shine so brightly that others can’t help, but see Jesus when they look at you. 

 

 

References:

Biblegateway. www.biblegateway.com. Accessed 30 Apr. 2019.

“8 Ways to Be Present.” Stuart, Tom. Ignited2Pray Ministries. https://tomstuart.org/2012/01/04/8-ways-to-be-present/. Accessed 30 Apr. 2019. 

Terkeurst, Lysa. The Best Yes, Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands. Nashville, Nelson Books, 2014.

Be Still

I’ve felt out of sorts this week. I’ve not been myself.

It’s been a busy week. A week in between commitments that I’ve used to catch up on some things. There have been appointments, trips to restock the pantry, completion of paperwork that should have been done a couple of weeks ago, and spending time with dear friends before they leave for a mission trip. It’s been a week of good things. A productive week. And yet, this morning, I feel a bit empty.  Can you relate to that feeling at all?

As I’ve been reflecting on that this morning,  I realized that in my busyness to accomplish everything on my to-do-list this week, I have neglected to do one very important thing. I have not taken the time to “be still”.

Psalms tells us to,

“Shut up . . . Shut off . . . Shut out . . . and in the silence . . . sense God: connect!” Pslam 46:10 (STREET)

How often this week did I intentionally take the time to be still? How often did I sit in silence, close my mouth and quiet my thoughts? How often did I shift my focus from all I hoped to accomplish and look into the face of the One who has planned my days from the very beginning?  How often this week, did I shut out the world, turn off my phone, turn down the music, and sit in the presence of the One who loves me above all else? How often did I sit . . . in the silence?

Silence. My heart longs for it. It longs for it because it is in the silence that I can clearly hear the voice of the One who calls me by name. In the silence,  He reminds me of who He is and of the call He has placed on my life. A call to things greater than simply completing my to-do-list.

The silence. It is what my heart longs for . . .

God longs for us to be still. He longs for us to spend time with Him, to understand who He is, and who He created us to be. Have you been taking the time to “be still”? Have you been taking the time to quietly sit in His presence?

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https://www.facebook.com/tobymac/ 

Who Do They See?

I sat directly between the two and couldn’t help, but marvel at this meeting. You see . . . there was a past here. To my left, sat my daughter, and to my right, sat a teacher that our family loves and respects so deeply.

School has always been a place where my daughter feels she has to be guarded; a place where she is unwilling to let her true light shine. And, for an entire year, my daughter sat quietly in this teacher’s classroom. And, for an entire year,  this teacher gently and  persistently worked to earn my daughter’s trust. For an entire year, she worked to help tear down those walls my daughter had so carefully built to guard her heart.

And here we sat three years later. My daughter is chattering nonstop. She throws herself into fits of giggles as she uses different voices, and at one point is laughing so hard she is actually snorting. This girl beside me? This . . .  is my daughter in her truest form. This is who she really is; a girl who loves life, who passionately loves and defends her people, and is one of the funniest people I know.

Yet, she only lets her guard down for a few. Only a few get to fully experience my daughter’s true self. And . . . it’s a gift.

And that got me to thinking . . .

What do others see when they look at me? When others look at my life, do they see me in my truest form? Do they see a woman who’s life has been transformed by the love of Jesus and whose heart is completely captivated by Him? Or, do they just see the outer shell of the wall I have built to guard my heart?

In Matthew, we are told this:

 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:12-16 (MSG)

Can others see Jesus through my life? Do others see Him through my actions or hear Him through my words? What about you? Do others see a picture of Jesus when they look at your life?

Each of us was created uniquely by God, and we were created to shine brightly for Him. Let your light shine. Let your light shine so that others may see Him.

 

 

Taking the Time to See

Last night, as I sat and listened to my kids share the highlights of their day, I was reminded of something. When I was in the fourth grade, my teacher announced to our class that we would be putting on a play for the others students in the building as well as our parents. We would have two productions, and everyone in the class would be assigned to perform in either the student program or the parent program.  You could feel the excitement ripple through the room as she began to assign parts. Now, I have to tell you that up to this point in my childhood, many people would have described me as being quiet. I was extremely shy and never one who enjoyed being in the spotlight. So, you can imagine my surprise when I heard my teacher announce my name for one of the lead roles for the parent program. A lead role! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever see myself taking on a lead role in a play. But, can I tell you something?  Any anxiety that I may have felt over taking on that role was quickly diminished because of one thing and one thing only. My teacher . . . believed in me. She believed that I was capable. She saw the potential within me that I didn’t see myself.

As I sat listening to my kids last night, I found myself thanking God for another teacher. A teacher, just like my fourth grade teacher, that took the time to really see my kids. To see what makes them unique and to see the potential within each of them.

And that got me thinking . . . How often do I do this? How often do I take the time to really see people? How often do I look beyond the face they present to the world and look for the beauty that lies within? And . . .how often do I tell them what I see there? How often do I share with them the beauty that I see that they may not be able to see themselves?

Our words, friend, can be an incredible gift to others. Take the time to really see people. Take the time to see them and then encourage them. Knowing someone believes in them could mean more than you realize. Don’t underestimate the positive impact you can have on another just through your words.

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Loving Our Men Well

If you ask my husband how things started between the two of us, he will be quick to tell you that it all started with a pity date. Yep, you read that right. A pity date. And . . . if I’m being honest, it’s true.

It was the fall of my freshman year at college. Just a few weeks into the semester, I found myself running late to a study skills course I was taking. I rushed into the classroom and stopped short when I saw the room was full. Every seat was taken except for those  . . . in the front row. In desperation, I scanned the room once again and found a solo chair available smack dab in the middle. As the professor prepared to begin, I climbed over backpacks and people to secure that seat, stepping on many toes in the process. Feeling flustered, I sat down, quickly pulled out my notebook, and focused my attention on the lesson at hand. It wasn’t until our break that evening that I took notice as to who I sat beside and whose toes I’m sure I squashed. I turned to my left and found myself locking eyes with a young man. Little did I know that my entire life was about to change.

It was a couple of weeks after this, that I found myself walking back to my dorm with this man at my side. As we walked, he gathered the courage to ask me if I’d like to go out some time. My response came quickly. No. My answer was no because I was in a relationship with someone else. I will never forget the look that crossed his face. He looked completely . . . crushed. Later that evening, I was unable to get his face from my mind. I looked his number up, called him, and asked him to join me for dinner one evening in the cafeteria. He accepted my date, asked out of pity, and the rest, as they would say, has been history.

This summer will be 18 years of marriage. 18 years of tackling life together and dealing with the chaos that comes with raising three kids. 18 years. It sounds like such a long time, but it has gone by so quickly. And, these past 18 years have taught me a lot about my husband and the role he plays in our family. These past 18 years, God has been teaching me how to love him better, how to support him, and how to help him move toward those Best Yes assignments that God has for him. And that’s what I want to share with you. I want to share what God has been teaching me about what the men in our lives truly need. And . . . it might be different from what you expect.  

If I were to ask you what is the one thing that husbands need most from their wives, what would you say? I think most of us would agree that sex has to be number one on his list, right? Guess what? It isn’t. 

A number of years ago, a dear friend recommended that I read a book called, “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn. Shaunti, is a social researcher and author who, along with her husband, has interviewed thousands of people and written several books about the differences in how men and women think. Her goal in writing this particular book was to share the very foundations that our men’s thinking is based upon so that we are better able to understand and support them. In her research, she found that it isn’t sex that our husbands need most from us. It’s our respect and affirmation.

Respect and affirmation. What is meant by those words?  To show respect is to consider someone with high regard. It’s to have a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important and should be treated in a dignified manner. To affirm is to declare support for, defend, or to encourage someone.  Both respect and affirmation go hand and hand and are foundational for the well being of the men in our lives. Both are needed as our men walk the paths God has for them. But, how important are they really? How important is it that our men feel respected and affirmed? 

Through her research, Shanti discovered that three out of four men said that they would rather feel unloved than disrespected. Three out of four. I find that statistic astonishing. Astonishing because as a woman, I have a hard time wrapping my brain around it. For me personally, I would rather feel loved than respected. Every . . . single . . . time. But, our men, they are different. They thrive under the respect and affirmation we give them. And, it is God’s desire that we do this for our men. In Ephesians, we find these words,

“Nevertheless, each husband is to love and protect his own wife as if she were his very heart, and each wife is to respect her own husband.”

Ephesians 5:33 (VOICE)

What does God say that wives are to do? Respect their husbands. The Greek word for “respect” in this verse is “phobeo” which means to be in awe of or revere, and it’s used in the present subjunctive mood in the context of this verse. What does that mean? It means that this word “respect” is to be done now, in the present, and continuously. It’s not to be done only once or twice. It’s not to be considered done if you did it last week or last month.  God asks us to do it now and to continue to do it.

How do we do this? How do we show our men respect and affirm them? It starts by making the choice. It starts by making the choice to respect them even when it is hard to do. And sometimes . . .  it’s hard to do. 

I recently read a blog about a woman who has a hard time respecting her husband. She says, “Maybe you are married to a man who talks down to you, criticizes you or makes you feel inferior. Maybe he gets angry more often than he should, goes out with his friends more often than you’d like or simply doesn’t pay attention to you like he should. Maybe he checked out emotionally years ago. Maybe he’s rude, forgetful, or you don’t feel like you can trust him with even the simplest of tasks, much less your heart. Maybe you’re in an unequally yoked marriage where he isn’t a believer, and he’s making it very difficult for you to grow in faith with the rude things he says about Christianity and about you for believing in it.” How can we make the choice to do as God instructs and respect a man like this? 

First, reread the definition of “respect”. To respect your husband is to consider him with high regard. But, it also means that you understand that your husband has worth for one simple reason and one simple reason only. God loves him. God loves him. God created him and in His eyes, your husband is worthy. He is worthy of your respect.  

Now, this does not mean that you falsely praise your husband, that you let him treat you like a door mat, or that you can never express your opinion on any given matter. It doesn’t mean that you are insignificant, unimportant, or that you should completely dismiss his behavior when he wrongs you. It also doesn’t mean that you have the right to treat him like a child or act as though his opinions don’t matter. It means that you recognize that God is after his heart as much as He is after yours. Respect your husband for the simple reason that by doing so brings honor to God. 

Secondly, when God asks us to respect our husbands in Ephesians, it is a command. It is not a suggestion or something you just need to think about. It is something God instructs us to do. It doesn’t come with clarifiers such as: respect your husband only if he deserves it, respect your husband only if he earns it, respect your husband when you feel like it, respect your husband if he treats you well. It says to do it. It says that as a wife, I am to respect my husband. That is my responsibility. 

Now, you might be thinking, “Wait a minute. There is more to that verse than wives respecting their husbands. It also says that husbands are to love their wives and love them well. Mine doesn’t do that!” You are right; it does say that.  But, let me remind you of something. You can’t fix him. You cannot fix your husband. You cannot change him into the picture of what you expect a perfect husband to look like. Only God can change hearts, sweet friend. Only God can do the fixing. Scripture reminds us that,

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)

The Street Bible says it this way,

“In their hearts, they’ve got it all mapped out, but it’s God who’s in the driving seat.” God is the one in control. He is the only one that can bring about change in your husband’s heart.”

 Proverbs 16:9 (STREET)

How does He do this? In Ezekiel, God shares how He plans to restore the hearts of the Israelites, His people whom He loves. The Street Bible puts it this way, 

“God outlines how he’s going to bring them (the Israelites) back, clean them up and give them a heart transplant. ‘I’m going to operate on you; bin (literally put in a bin) your stone heart and replace it with one with feeling, one with a new attitude. I’ll infuse you with my Holy Spirit and motivate you to want to choose life by keeping the Contract. You’ll live in the land I handed to your ancestors. You’ll be my people. I’ll be your God.’”

Ezekiel 36:26 (STREET)

He gives them a “heart transplant”. I think He has the same plans for His people today. He desires to bring us back to Him and give us a heart transplant. He desires it for us, and He desires it for your husband. Friend, we cannot change human hearts. That’s God’s job. What’s our job? Our job is to invite God into our hearts and let Him transplant away within us. Let Him work on your heart.

As you step back and allow God to do the heart changing work only He can do, it’s important to begin taking action. Make the choice to follow what God has commanded and show your husband respect. How do we do this?

To begin, it’s important to understand the areas where our husbands need our respect and affirmation. The first is in his judgement. His judgement is his ability to make wise and sensible decisions.  To respect his judgement is to respect his knowledge, his opinions, and his decisions. Now, you may not always agree with him. I don’t also agree with my husband.  But, you can still respect his judgement. 

How do we do this? Ask for his knowledge on a given subject or affirm for him that you trust his decision-making abilities. I struggle with this sometimes. The perfect example of this happened last year. We were planning a family vacation and looking at two different cabins to rent. Both were within our price range and both would meets our family’s needs on our trip. I just couldn’t decide which one was the best option. I asked my husband to make the decision which he did. But, after the decision was made, I still struggled. I was unsure if the cabin he chose was the one that I really wanted. I wasn’t sure if his choice was the best for our family. So . . . what do you think I did? Did I sit back and respect his judgment? No, I didn’t! I began to verbally question his decision. Besides driving him absolutely crazy, I think he was hurt that I didn’t trust the decision he made. I encourage you that if you know that your husband has your family’s best interest at heart, trust his decision making ability. Trust the decisions he makes and respect his judgment. 

Next, our men need to feel respected for and affirmed in their abilities. Men have this deep need within them to figure things out for themselves. They find immense joy in using their skills and solving a problem on their own. Doing so gives them a sense of accomplishment and a sense that they conquered something. I can think of two examples that illustrate this. First, how many of you know a man who prefers not to use the instructions provided when assembling something? Why might he not want to use the instructions provided? He enjoys the challenge of figuring the assembly out on his own. Or, you may know a man who prefers not to use the GPS when traveling. Why? He enjoys the challenge of figuring out how to get from point A to point B on his own. 

Now, let me ask you something. What do we, as women, do, if our men are struggling to find a solution to a problem? We want to help right? We offer to take a look at the instructions or we offer to plug the address we are heading to into our maps app. In our minds, we are offering our help. But, in his mind, what are we suggesting? We are suggesting that we don’t believe he is capable or that we don’t trust him. And, if he feels we don’t trust his capabilities in the small things, how can he feel that we trust his capabilities with the big things? Unless your life is in danger, give your man the time and space to solve a problem on his own. By doing so, it shows that your trust him and believe that he is capable.

Another area where men need our respect and affirmation is in their accomplishments. In her book, Shaunti Feldhann shares that even though men may appear extremely confident on the outside, many of them feel that they don’t quite measure up. It is powerful for a man to feel that he has tried something, accomplished it, accomplished it well, and that someone noticed. Pay attention to what your husband is doing. Take note of those times he tries. Take note of those things he accomplishes. Then, make sure he knows that you noticed. Make sure he knows that you appreciate his efforts. Make sure he knows that you think he’s done something well. Respecting and affirming our men’s accomplishments helps them feel worthy. 

Now, let me caution you with one other point about our men and their accomplishments.  Just as your words of affirmation concerning his accomplishments can build him up immensely, your words criticizing his accomplishments or lack thereof can completely tear him down. Several years ago, we were selling our home and doing some cleaning prior to a showing. My husband folded our bathroom towels and put them away for me. When I walked into the closet, not all of the towels were pointed the same way. It sounds crazy, but in that moment, it really bothered me. So . . . I proceeded to refold all of the towels. To say that he was hurt was an understatement. He had tried to be helpful. But as I refolded those towels, my actions told him that what he had accomplished (folding those towels) wasn’t good enough. It was a long time before he would fold towels for me again. Friend, sometimes God prompts us to talk with the men we love about areas they can improve on. But, folding towels, is not one of them. Carefully choose your battles and remember that your words and actions can build him up or they can tear him down.

And that ties into the next area where we need to respect and affirm our men: in our communication. As I said before, we have the incredible power to build up our men or tear them down. With just our words, we have the power to encourage or discourage. With our words, we have the power to help or wound. Proverbs tells us,

“Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.” 

Proverbs 15:4 (MSG)

Don’t underestimate the power of your words. They can affirm and build up our men, and let our men know that we believe in them. Our words however, when used to criticize or nag, tell our men that we don’t respect them or that they have disappointed us. When it comes to the words you use with your man, choose them carefully. Use your words wisely to respect and affirm him. Ephesians tells us,

 “Watch the way you talk . . . Say only what helps, each word a gift.”

Ephesians 4:29 (MSG)

Remember . . . each word is a gift.

This idea of choosing your words carefully applies to another area where men need our respect and affirmation. Our men need our respect and affirmation in the presence of others. Now, if you are like me, you love to tease your husband. Teasing is one of the ways that my husband and I show love for one another. But, what I’ve been learning is that it is important to not tease my husband in front of others. What I view as teasing, he may very well see as criticism. What I see as good-natured fun, he may see as a put down. What I see as a good way to get a laugh, he may see as though I am questioning his judgement. When Shaunti Feldhahn conducted her research in this area, one theme came up repeatedly. What women often saw as teasing in public, the men saw as . . .  torture.  It was painful for them when their wives criticize them, put them down, or even question their judgment in front of others. The public “teasing” caused men to very much doubt their adequacy as men. Use caution before you choose to tease your man in front of others.

Now, this applies to conversations held in the presence of your man, but it also applies to conversations you may have about him behind his back. I understand that sometimes as women we like to gather in our little circles with other women and vent our frustrations. And . . . sometimes those venting sessions turn towards the struggles within our marriages. I get it. I’ve been there. But, here’s the thing . . . there is real danger in venting our frustrations with our men behind their backs. Why? There is a verse in Matthew that says this,

“For the mouth simply shapes the heart’s impulses into words.”

Matthew 12:34 (VOICE)

From our mouths, comes the truth held in our hearts. If we make a habit of sharing our frustrations or dissatisfactions with other women, those frustrations and dissatisfactions we are feeling are going to lodge even more deeply within our hearts. If we’re not careful, what we see as harmless venting can begin to deeply root itself within us. I understand that sometimes you are frustrated with your husband. I understand that sometimes he makes you mad. I’ve been there. But, do not get in the habit of voicing  your frustration to others. Get in the habit of voicing it to God. Share with Him what you are struggling with, and ask Him to fill your heart truth. Ask Him to help you show your husband the respect he needs and deserves. Ask Him. The more we choose to show our men respect, the more our respect for them will grow. Be intentional about making the choice to respect him even when it is difficult. Make that choice. 

The last area our men need our respect in is in our assumptions. We make assumptions every day. If I find graham cracker crumbs on the floor, I assume one of my kids has been in the pantry. If someone is tailgating me, I assume that they are a jerk in all areas of life. We assume things. As wives, we do this with our husbands as well. If we ask our husband to complete a task and it is not completed in the timeframe we expected, we assume that he needs to be reminded to complete the task. Now, sometimes he honestly may need to be reminded. But, sometimes we ask our husbands to do things at a time when they are completely focused on another task. When this is the case, they honestly may not have heard us and need reminded. Often though, he does remember and intends to do it. It just may not be as close to the top of his priority list as it is yours. When we assume he needs reminded, it can sometimes be interpreted as he is incapable of remembering on his own, or we don’t trust that he will get the job done. Another area that we sometimes make poor assumptions is in the caring for our homes. We may assume that our men don’t help around the house because the don’t care about us and are choosing not to help. That is rarely the case. Often, if he doesn’t help with something we think he should, it’s simply because he doesn’t see it. He doesn’t always see the laundry that needs carried upstairs. When our kids were little, my husband honestly didn’t always hear them cry in the middle of the night. I’ve learned that rather than making poor assumptions, I need to assume the best of him and clearly communicate my needs. If I ask him to take the laundry upstairs, he almost always does it. If I need to wake him to take a turn with a fussy baby, he almost always would. Always assume the best when it comes to your husband.

One man is quoted in Shaunti’s book as saying,  “It is so true that behind every great man is a great woman. There are a lot of men out there who are mediocre simply because their wives will not support them and bring them to greatness. And there are a lot of mediocre men who are destined to become great men-who are becoming great men-because their wives love and support them. My wife expects great things from me, even though I’m a pretty ordinary guy, really. She looks at me like I’m a genius in my field. She respects me in public and affirms me in private. I love her. And like all men, I want to live up to her expectations.”  – Unknown. 

The greatest gift we can give the men in our lives is to show them respect and to affirm them. Your love and support, can help them move toward those Best Yes assignments that God has for them. Encourage them to be the men God has called them to be. 

 

www.biblegateway.com

https://equippinggodlywomen.com/marriage/how-do-i-respect-my-husband-when-hes-a-jerk/

Feldhahn, Shaunti. For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men. Colorado Springs, Multnomah, 2013.