Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Competing wives

Psalm1Wife refers to the post Women suck at being failures and comments:

I have been thinking over this post lately. Specifically this part:

"A husband and wife team came to audition together and compete with each other. Something I would highly advise a wife to NEVER do."

I am curious about what you would suggest if the roles were reversed in a marriage and the wife had any undeniable talent where it was clear that she is far better than her husband. I understand not competing at a national level against him in something like american idol but what about more everyday stuff? If a wife is noticeably far better than her husband at something, should she not do it if it is obvious that it might affect his ego or affect him negatively in any way?

There are a couple of things to address here but both are advised with the same wisdom. One is about a wife competing with a husband and the other is a wife doing something that she is good at that might negatively affect her husband.

On competing and specifically the example in the post: this wife was not at all emotionally mature enough to compete with her husband. She, sadly, was in denial of who is actually the better singer for the competition, and had not prepared herself to be gracious in the event of her losing and him being chosen. This should have been thought out and planned for before the audition.

Moments like that will reveal what's inside a woman's heart - in that sense it is good, there are times we all need to know if we harbor ugly things such as coveting, jealousy, haughtiness, arrogance, etc. Having it revealed on a national stage certainly failed the task we as wives have at hand: Respecting our husbands.

Wives represent their husbands everywhere they go and in everything they do. Within a spectator there is something innate that gauges a man based off his wife's behavior and composure. Anything off putting or ugly does reflect poorly on the husband and with or without his acknowledgement of it, is disrespectful.

The motivation to compete with one's husband needs to be carefully analyzed. If the activity she wants to compete with him in is in anyway emotional to her, then no, she should not compete with him. If she at all still defines herself by her success in X, Y, or Z and isn't yet fully defining herself as "helpmeet", then no, there is no benefit to come from competing in X, Y, or Z with her husband.

A wife can not be a completer at the same time as being a competitor.

I am not saying that friendly competitions and games shouldn't be played, of course they should. RLB and I compete all the time in playing cards, pool, darts, other games, fishing etc. But I am not emotionally vested in any of those things. We'll even keep a running tally on some of those things to see who is ahead in the long run (he is) but losing in these events does not create one iota of drama in our lives. If it did, that activity wouldn't be performed.

If a wife is noticeably far better than her husband at something, should she not do it if it is obvious that it might affect his ego or affect him negatively in any way? 

The answer to this is clear if a wife internalizes the commitment to not do anything that would negatively affect her husband. Men won't usually feel the emotions of inferiority when their wives do that which they are better at doing. As a helpmeet, it is very beneficial for wives to bring their talents to the table. But there are husbands who are still working through some things such as pride and for that we turn to heart of the message in 1 Peter 3 -  "...that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives..." In addition to the message in 1 Corinthians 13 - love ..."doesn't seek its own..." 

A wife who has the ability to recognize something her husband is still working through (immaturity, pride, anger, coveting, jealousy, inferiority) will do well to patiently endure it with a quiet spirit so that he "may be won". So often wives literally get in the way of the work of the Lord with her impatience and she prolongs the spiritual growth her husband could go through. 

Let's take an everyday example into consideration. The wife is better at managing the bills and the finances. Her husband has decided that he needs to be the one who does this task. He isn't as organized as she is and will, at times, be late in paying bills. She has suggested she could show him the methods she uses to keep everything organized but he's not interested. What should she do? 

She should spend her time learning what it means to not live in fear. She should keep quiet unless to ask if there is anything she can help with. If he says "no", then without judging him, criticizing him, complaining or fretting, she should continue on without concern. She should pray for God's help for her to learn how to maintain a "without a word" commitment and for Him to do His work in her husband. If the lights get turned off, she should light some candles. If the bank calls about the mortgage, she should take a message and without attitude, pass it on to her husband. 

The actions are all pretty simple. That which will challenge her and will allow for tremendous spiritual growth on her part is truly walking out a non-judgmental attitude and spirit.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Evil festering

In her most recent post, Sunshine highlights a story that reminded me a good bit of the early years in our marriage. Go there and read it. What came to my mind was exactly what commentator Looking Glass mentioned:
Faith will always compel us to drive evil from our midst, but the temptation is always to allow it to fester.
 I remember being that wife in the story and I can imagine my husband felt similarly to the husband telling the story. That was before he had enough.

Thank God he had enough.

Fester - what an ugly word but a very apt description of what is going on in a woman's mind when she behaves this way. She is all consumed and trapped in the festering of everything that is not love as taught in 1 Corinthians 13. 

There are many sins that are obvious and well recognizable. As a woman, allowing evil to fester is not always one of them. Once this path is chosen it can become an insatiable downward spiral. She feels she has been wronged, she then dwells on that feeling. As she dwells more wrongs are recalled then more and more. New wrongs are noticed and focused on. She sets aside her faith, she hides from hope.

She is justified in her mind. The self pity, suffering, and depression cloud her judgment and render her helpless to stop. Any change in her demeanor or the manner she's chosen to punish her husband is tacit acceptance of whatever he has done that she feels wronged by. To change her countenance from misery to joy would let him off the hook. When she wakes in the morning, if her mind became refreshed and she's forgotten for an instance that she is to be upset, she'll quickly force it all back in. "Oh that's right, I am to be angry, smoldering...festering."

I feel sick in my stomach recalling when I used to do this. While I'd love to tell you that I no longer do this because of my own inner desire to pursue wisdom, I can not. RLB made this stop. Commentator Looking Glass mentions a bucket of cold water. While RLB didn't use actual water, his method was as effective. And while it may seem cruel and hurtful, what he did was in fact very kind. It was able to snap me out of it and get me tuned back in to faith, hope, and love and it silenced the evil, insatiable festering that wanted to consume me from the inside out.

"You done now?" 
"Are you over yourself yet?"

We didn't have any long drawn out conversations. Those simple remarks for me indicated the shit test had failed and no manner of sour behavior was going to bring me into his good favor. I knew he would shame me into getting right if I didn't make the choice myself.

I no longer can fester for very long. Joy is too much fun. A calm, relaxing atmosphere filled with forgiveness and unselfishness is really gratifying. But I sure do remember it well - yuck.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Nevermind the murmurings

13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. - Romans 7:13-25

What's this? Has Paul admitted that he's a sinner? That he has done evil? Surely he's not qualified to teach now. He's openly confessed to being hopeless. What a terrible teacher! Why, we need to learn from someone who is perfect! Not someone who claims to have something to teach us yet can't keep himself from screwing up! 

Yet this arrogant man, obviously out of sheer vanity, went on and wrote eight more epistles after this confession! You've got to be kidding me!  

The murmuring is getting louder - who should write? Who should speak? Who is a Titus 2 woman? Who is qualified? 

As the murmuring continues, the lack of faith is revealed. 

Consider a woman desperate in her marriage. She needs help and goes seeking it. Does the god you serve lead you? Does he guide your steps? Mine sure does. In fact I'll feel nudged toward something for a time and then I'll feel a pull to leave that thing, for a time. With exception to the Bible, not once has He led me to a perfect person to learn from. Every.Single.Time I have discovered something a little off in the teachings if I stick around long enough. Does that mean I should discard all I have learned? Should I do the literal opposite of what has been taught because it All must be tainted? Only a fool would believe it. 

Never follow the man, man will deceive you and lead you astray. Follow the principles of the man.

After all, we're human. All we have are principles because none, not one, is perfect except Jesus Christ.

When I sought help, I went to a woman who I had only met in person a few times. All that I had learned from her was through recordings. She is the woman who told me about the book Love and Respect. It was exactly what I needed to read at the time. I was so excited about what had been revealed to me in that book that I called her up personally to thank her. My eyes had been opened, I Got It!  To put it in a couple statements: I am to respect my husband out of obedience to God. Having no qualifications to meet for the position, God appointed him my head when we married and entered this Covenant. All showings of disrespect toward my husband, no matter the perceived justification, are disobedience to God. Even if my husband acts outside of the Word, I am to do what is right and am called Sarah's Daughter if I do and remain unafraid.

In my phone call to this woman, who I was thanking for the recommendation, I told her my revelation. And in one swift moment the reality of not following the man came crashing down on me. I confessed to her that even my greatest fear, my husband being unfaithful, would not be condoned by God for me to disrespect him. She adamantly disagreed, said she would never respect her husband again if he was unfaithful to her.

Want to know what God revealed to me in that very moment? She was wrong. My conviction was so strong and the revelation was so clear, there wasn't a thing she could say that could convince me otherwise. Yet she was the Titus 2 woman who taught me, by a book recommendation, how to love my husband.

Yet I hear these murmurings of fear and trepidation, "if you're wrong, you could lead a woman astray." How about this, let's let them keep God in that tiny little box and we keep believing on Him that revelation will come even through unlikely sources. 

We read it in Matthew, Mark, and Luke - let your light shine, don't hide it under a bowl.

If you've got a testimony - tell it. If you've got something to write, write it. If you've got struggles you're working out to His Good - let's hear them!

I admonished my daughters of this just last week. They are infants in apologetics. Doesn't matter. "When that sorry, misled girl who you have no choice but to spend time with, starts spewing her nonsense about being an atheist, let your light shine! Do not let fear overtake you, trust that He will give you the words to speak. Pray and then open your mouths and speak!"

You have no idea who needs to hear your story, your testimony, your struggles. You have no idea who God might lead that day to your writing or to your door who might need Exactly what you have to say at that Exact moment. Do not be silenced by the murmuring.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Take your eyes off yourself

For years now we have been teaching my daughters relationship theories. While they have been great listeners and have seemed to grasp the concepts we've taught them, they remained theories for them simply because they are single, young women who have had no way of implementing what we've taught them other than with their family and friends. That has changed now as our oldest daughter, with her father's approval, has started a relationship with a young man. Every day there seems to be conversations and situations where these theories are becoming reality for her. We are kept on our toes knowing that she is actively seeking wisdom, encouragement and practical advice. She has many questions and we are doing our best to provide answers for her. It really has been "game day" around this house and thankfully we've been conditioning with this in mind for several years.

As parents we do our best to instill confidence within them: do what you know to do, pray before you do things, walk confidently in Truth and Faith, reject fear, spend time in the Word, admit your mistakes and shortcomings, repent and ask for forgiveness and forgive yourself. And though she's had this teaching there seems to be a force that is overwhelming her with feelings of insecurity and fear. She's got a hold of something she doesn't want to lose and isn't it often the case that we'll focus hard on something more with a fear of loss than we will with an anticipation of gain?

One incident that she'll eventually be able to look back on and laugh occurred this weekend. She asked him a question that was no doubt one of the most adorable, ditzy things he's ever heard her ask. To make things worse, the rest of us heard her question and all laughed. I looked at her with a motherly smile and said, "oh's a good thing you're so cute." He agreed and continued to chuckle about it as we dropped him off at his house. When he was out of the car and we were on our way home a rush of embarrassment and insecurity came over her. In practice, it really is difficult to overcome having said something stupid, especially when you are trying your hardest to impress someone (which, of course, is the root of the problem).

I reassured her that she's not alone, we've all had plenty of moments where our mouths worked faster than our brains. Being married to a man whose IQ has been tested to be 165+, I can only imagine how often RLB shakes his head at me and thinks to himself "it's a good thing you're cute."  I asked her, "Don't you think I've said thousands of stupid things over the years?" Even my children, who have been gifted with RLB's intelligence, have had plenty of opportunity to laugh when Mom says something stupid. It really does happen to us all but it is our response to it that shows something that sheer intelligence is useless for; our humility and our sense of humor.

In addition to me, once again, explaining to her the nature of men, we were able to discuss a very valuable lesson that we all need reminding of. With men, there are plenty of things you can do that they don't mind and often find enduring. Saying the occasional ditzy thing is one of them. They'll tolerate that very well. What they don't want to tolerate is bitchiness.

She asked, "How can I get over this awkwardness I feel?" I told her the answer is very simple. It's not always easy, but it is very simple.

Take your eyes off yourself.

You literally can not be thinking of someone else and yourself at the same time. You can not be insecure and selfless at the same time. You can not be feeling embarrassment and compassion at the same time. Empathy and self-centeredness do not exist in the same space. You can not look outside of yourself while looking in.

It has been very rewarding watching her develop a desire to be this young man's helper. Just the other night when I picked her up from school she noticed his car was full of snow and ice. She said, "I should scrape his windows for him." I stopped the car, said "yep" and watched her (without an ice scraper, without gloves, and with cute, little, stupid shoes on) freeze while she scraped with a plastic card from my purse.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Does he qualify to be the head?

In response to this snippet of a comment made at Dalrock's:
In order to be truly head of his family, a husband must himself be subjugate himself to Jesus Christ.
Commentator JDG asks the obvious question:
 But who decides when a husband is subjugated to Jesus Christ?
Let's pretend for a moment that the first comment doesn't directly contradict what is clearly stated in 1 Peter 3 and consider a way in which a wife might determine if her husband is subjugated to Jesus Christ.

What are some things we might look for in a man that would give us a clear indication?

Would he talk about Jesus?

Multimillionaire preachers Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis sure do. However, in addition to talking about Jesus they do say a number of peculiar things:
 "The world is in such a shape that we can't get there without this. We've got to have this [private jet]," Copeland said. "That's why we're on that [private] airplane. We can talk to God."
 "Now Oral [Roberts] used to fly airlines," Copeland said. "But even back then it got to the place where it was agitating his spirit, people coming up to him; he had become famous, and they wanted him to pray for them and all that. You can't manage that today, this dope-filled world, and get in a long tube with a bunch of demons. It's deadly."
In fact there are scores of prosperity preachers who talk about Jesus but in my very limited discernment, strike me as untrustworthy and give me the heebee-geebees. Since we're talking about me determining whether my husband qualifies as head of my family, just my opinion applies right? In that case should my husband follow these preachers' leads, talking as they do, I would be left to determine that, no, they do not qualify. Perhaps it's just a cultural difference of opinions, some women might (and do) believe these types of men are in subjugation to Jesus Christ.

There is another man I know of whom you have never heard. I don't recall him ever talking out loud about Jesus. I've never witnessed him read a Bible. I have gone to church with him but not for many years. He's a giant of a man in my eyes though. He is quiet, usually soft spoken, and humble. He's the hardest working man I have ever known who has been instructed to stop working due to his health conditions. Not working has been very difficult for him. He knows nothing if not to be the worker, the provider, the one who tends the cattle. Throughout his marriage of 53 years he has led his wife and his family through times of struggle and hardship while still celebrating joyfully and treasuring the little moments in life that matter most to him. He's given his daughters in marriage and has lovingly held all of our babies. He's highly respected in the community and has filled in as a father and mentor to countless young men in his life. He'll never own a private jet yet in the depth of my soul I know he talks to God and believes Jesus Christ is his Savior.

For me, whether or not a man talks about Jesus would not be enough of a determining factor of if he qualifies to be the head of a family.

Perhaps we can determine if a man is subjugated to Jesus Christ if we know whether or not he's a sinner?

No, no, that won't work. He'd have no need for Jesus if he wasn't a sinner...

Maybe if a good priest or a pastor declares that he is?  That might work but where should a wife go to find a good priest or pastor? One of my local churches has a woman leading the congregation. Certainly she would be the best choice in analyzing my husband for me, right? I mean she must really be gifted and in touch with God to be above the Word and teaching men!

I'm drawing a blank. I mean sometimes you can just tell, can't you? That's it, if a wife can just tell that her husband is in subjugation to Jesus Christ then he is the head of the family and she should be in submission to him.

Okay, I'm done pretending.

 Commentator Just a Regular Guy has an excellent response
God established the husband as head of the wife in the same fashion that he established Christ as head of his Church. He places worldly authority in Governments, Elders, Husbands, Masters and Parents not because mankind is worthy but because God is a God of order and his ways are better than man’s. The fact that he chooses to do this in spite of man’s depravity brings him Righteous Glory. There are no temporal conditional qualifiers to God’s commands because his very nature is perfect, just, timeless and true and to imply otherwise by claiming what God ordained to be valid only when mortal expectations have been met is contrary to his nature and blasphemy.
The men my daughters marry will be their head. They will be in rebellion to God if they are in rebellion to their husbands. That's just how it is. It would do them well to look to the man who leads them currently who is the head of our family in determining who they choose to submit to for the rest of their lives. Regardless how they choose him though, he will be the head without condition or qualification - 'cuz God said so.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Women suck at being failures

Commentator Cynthia left this comment at Dalrock's which I wanted to highlight and share:

The sad truth of the matter is, some women do some pretty horrible things without realizing how horrible they are. We react without considering the ethics of what we’re doing, and once negative consequences become apparent, we explain it away. There’s not always intent to harm, even when injury is the outcome. Feminism has largely taken the burden of responsibility away from females; there is no longer any external societal pressure to honestly evaluate one’s motives or behaviors. We’re encouraged to run on pure instinct and fancy it morality. It’s feral, and objectively amoral, but with female solipsism being what it is, she may not understand that what she’s doing is wrong.

From what I’ve seen, the ability to mentally twist even the worst personal vice into virtue is an innate female quality that men neither share nor understand. To you guys, it all looks pre-meditated and therefore, cynical, but the truth is so much worse. Men generally stop when they know they’re doing wrong; women refuse to even see it in the first place. Not that women lack reason. Men typically evaluate the morality of what they’re about to do or have done based on reason and fact, but women tend rationalize based on emotion, self- evaluate only after the fact and will justify not doing so if they suspect the answer won’t be to their liking. Cynical women are aware of the hamster; most don’t see it until reality forces them to.

Last night I watched some American Idol auditions. A husband and wife team came to audition together and compete with each other. Something I would highly advise a wife to NEVER do. She seemed so sure of herself and that her singing ability was superior to his. You'll wonder too, while you watch it, how she could have believed that. Has she never heard him sing? 

She's a bit disrespectful and sassy to begin with and he comes across as a doting Beta husband who is about to learn, while being recorded, what his dear, sweet wife is capable of: the inability to stop, think, take a thought captive, take responsibility, and especially the inability a woman has, while in an emotional state, to hold back the vile thoughts that cross her mind as she rationalizes and justifies her failure. 

First it was the judges fault: "I did my best and it was sad that they couldn't just focus on my singing"

No, sweetie, they heard you sing, we all did. You have as sweet soft voice that should be singing lullabies to that baby. Your husband, on the other hand, should be singing on my radio filling the Meatloaf void (Celine who?).

Next it was, of course, her husband's fault - he was distracting her:  "Jordan was dancing with her on the ground." (Notice the pure shock on his face after she said that.)

Then came the emotional manipulation masked in brutal confession which was an obvious lie, ie a shit test: "I've never been good enough."

As a mother of teenage daughters, it has become my primary mission to train them to not react in this way. I keep a very attentive ear. If I hear a whisper of these sour thoughts and behaviors (and false humility or false self-deprecation), we discuss it. They are reminded, in even the most seemingly inconsequential situations to reject their solipsism and embrace empathy. They are instructed to stop. They are instructed to keep their mouths shut and think.

I am, by no means, immune to it. I walk myself through these steps. At times I fail. Analyzing and evaluating our motives and behaviors (before speaking) isn't fun - we are forced to recognize how foul our first thoughts can be. "What is wrong with me?" 

Our husbands can be very valuable assets in helping us with this. Most men, by nature, do not have this challenge and are usually very gracious about instructing us how they process things. We can be honest with them (they already know and remain married to us despite these shortcomings). When you've identified a circumstance where your initial reaction is to blame others, justify your behavior, and avoid responsibility or reality, ask them what their thoughts would be. Ask them how they avoid, in their minds, this desperate need to protect themselves by rationalizing. Observe them and pay close attention to their empathetic responses to people.

One of my favorite places to observe men is at sporting competitions. Our last 16 team wrestling tournament was perfect for this. We were in a very close battle for first place. All of our fans knew which matches needed to be won and which teams needed to lose in order for the points to fall in our favor. Our fans were loud, their fans were loud, it was intense and came down to the final two simultaneous matches. The final standings were being announced and as soon as we heard who took second, our fans erupted knowing we took first. As the celebration started settling down, the coach of the second place team walked up to our coaches and in the most gracious manner congratulated them, told them how awesome our young men wrestled and what an exciting tournament it was. His facial expressions were genuine without a hint of sour grapes.

Let's be like that, ladies. Let's reject the lie that our instinctual reactions are moral, let's develop awareness of our behaviors. Let's take every thought captive. Let's not wait until we're on national television and some blogger writes about our embarrassing display of the very worst of our natures. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2016 - trim and fit at 41

For 39 weeks I have been eating a low carbohydrate/high fat diet. I set out to lose 40 pounds at the age of 40. I am fast approaching my 41st birthday and am ready to admit failure. I've only lost 30 pounds.

My BMI when I changed my diet was 29 and today it is 24.5.
My waist to height ratio was 52.21 and today it is 44.85.

When I first began I averaged a one pound per week weight loss. That has slowed tremendously. I've been stuck at the same weight for eight weeks now. Though I do continue to lose about a quarter of an inch of fat every couple weeks. My activity level has been very low. I have not exercised much at all this last year. I'm excited that I still have the results that I do and believe I'll be able to continue losing fat at this rate without upping my activity level but I'm just not that patient. I'm eager to get back to lifting weights and doing some high-intensity interval training.

I can't express enough how easy this has been. I am so thankful I made the decision to believe it would work and implement the changes to my diet. The only will power that was necessary was in the first week of curing my sugar/carbohydrate addiction. I probably didn't do it "the right" way but the way I did it worked - I have not craved anything for over nine months. I am not tempted by food. In fact, the only signals I have to eat are the clock - I eat breakfast, lunch, and supper and occasionally, if I am active, I'll notice a dip in energy that lets me know I need to eat some fat. I don't ever feel a hungry feeling.

In addition to the weight loss, the positive benefits of eating this way for me have been:

-No more inflammation pain in any of my joints or tendons
-Fast recovery from injury
-Strengthened immune system
-Pleasant disposition - no ups and downs in mood, no depression or feelings of deprivation
-Excellent sleep
-If I drink a few too many - no hangover
-Improved eyesight
-Excellent digestion - I'm never bloated nor do I have any digestive discomfort
-Improved brain function - clearer thinking and improved retention of new information
-Consistent energy
-No PMS symptoms (except for one month when I was experimenting with intermittent fasting)

So now it's on to this year's goal of achieving a BMI of 21, a waist to height ratio of 42, a 20 pound weight loss, a commitment to doing some form of HIIT 3 days a week and to achieve my previous personal records in lifts.

Happy New Year!