As a husband, I often find myself stuck in stubbornness as a result of pride. When this happens, I have trouble hearing from God, others and unfortunately, from my spouse. Husbands, can you relate?
See, I know that I am called by God to be the leader of our family, spiritually and beyond. And often, I think I am doing a great job in this role, until something occurs that helps me see the speck in my own eye. Please understand, I am not one that is overly self-critical. I don’t necessarily lack in confidence when it comes to certain things. Nor am I the guy that beats himself up too much for the daily mistakes I make. Thankfully, I know that God’s grace is sufficient. Yet, if I am being honest, sometimes I can hide behind that grace and try to ride on its coattails, rather than do a deep introspection of my own behavior and responses. That is, until God decides that these need to be exposed.
For me, nothing can expose more to me the areas in which I may be lacking, than a complaint from my wife. If my wife is feeling inadequate or she’s lacking faith, I feel like I am the one that has failed. Yet, her complaints aren’t really complaints, but merely are expressions of what she desires for and from me.
The problem is that I perceive any constructive criticism I receive from her, others, and even God, as complaints. Essentially, what I hear is that I am not good enough. That I have failed in some way. That I am not living up to what is expected of me. Yet, when I take the time to eventually bring these things to the Lord, when I choose to let down my defenses, I actually hear His truth. His truth reveals to me that I am not perfect and that I am not without sin. That I have a constant need for my Savior. This folks, is not weakness or inability. This is me, an imperfect son of the Most High, in need of His correction, no matter who He uses to show me, just how much.
I am convinced that the enemy wants me to feel “less than” and like I am doing a horrible job. And he also wants me to make sure that everyone knows that I am NOT less than and I am NOT doing a horrible job! He tempts me to shout it from the rooftops! I am innocent! I am a GREAT father and husband! What the enemy wants is for me to be prideful of what I have already done. To be able to use the good moments from the past to make up for the present. What a deception! Unfortunately, I am often a willing participant in his ploys. I want to believe that I do not need to change or grow; that I am just fine the way that I am.
Proverbs 11:2 says that “pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” I never wish for my actions to lead to disgrace. I do crave wisdom from the Lord! Yet, my flesh and my upbringing often take over these desires. I can pick myself up with telling myself that I am not a bad guy. That I don’t do what other husbands do. I am doing a mighty fine job!
But if I am honest, nothing closes off conviction more than conceit.
Is it possible that God has placed my wife in my life to be the person He uses to help me along and keep me on task? Truly, I do believe He has placed her just in this place. I know He uses me to help her grow, so why wouldn’t He use her to help me grow? She always encourages me and reassures me that I am enough and that I do indeed lead our family well.
Janie and I talk a lot about sanctification. How God has used our marriage trials to set us apart, for His glory. Not everyone can air their dirty laundry and feel okay with it. But we know that we are called to do this, not to promote our growth, but to promote the growth that comes from the Lord!
We are still learning. I am still learning. It has become clear to me that humility is not a character weakness, but rather a place from which God can take the things that need strengthening into submission to Him. The antidote to defensiveness is accepting responsibility. Accepting that I am not perfect. Accepting that I will always be in need of a Savior, guiding me and growing me. And that my defensiveness should not me by response, but that, being teachable needs to be my desire.
Men, my challenge to you is that will seek the Lord in helping you grow. That you would hear your wife when she talks. Not as a complaint, but as opportunity to meet her needs and strengthen your own relationship with Christ, as well as your relationship with your spouse.