During the first week of homework from the Falling In Love Again With Your Husband study, over two days, Laurie asked participants to read through Psalm 119.

The homework prompted participants on day four of the first week, “Read verses 1-88. As you read, observe the psalmist’s affections and feelings toward God and toward the law. Also note what the psalmist says he has done or has determined to do with regard to the law and his petitions, requests, and pleas. When you are finished, write your own thoughts, affections, petitions, and desires in the space provided,” (pg 11).

Eighty-eight verses is a lot of verses. The next day participants were asked to read verses 89 through the end of the Psalm, which was another 87 verses. As a current participant in this study I will tell you that I did not want to submit to this request. Reading through those verses was going to take longer than I had planned to take in my quiet time those two mornings. I was thinking to myself that I have read this Psalm many times before so I don’t need to again. Begrudgingly I started to read the verses anyway. The Lord, in His lovingkindness, brought fresh perspective to the Psalm and allowed me to gain new insight. I had never truly paid attention to the amount of love that David had for God’s word and how much David had to cling to God’s word.

Current study participants meet weekly to get together in a small group to have homework discussion and to confess our sin that the Lord has revealed to us. During my small group’s discussion time we talked about how none of us had wanted to read that Psalm again, but how in the end it was the most refreshing part of the study. The greatest refreshment for each of us came straight from the Word of God.

Thistlebend is currently asking for feedback from study participants. The question was asked, “What was the most helpful part of the Foundational Overview homework?” Many answers seemed to be the same.

“The focus on the Bible and how it is a part of our relationship with the Lord. I liked the Psalm expressing joy about God’s word,” current Thistlebend participant.

“Loved Psalm 119….Came alive to me in a very powerful way,” current Thistlebend participant.

“Just being in the Word. Loved Psalm 119,” current Thistlebend participant.

As I thought more about this and read through the comments from other participants, it was a sweet reminder that sometimes we’re just not going to “feel” it. We’re not always going to feel like we want to read God’s word. We’re not always going to feel like obeying. We’re not always going to feel like serving our husbands and putting them above ourselves. Why? Because our flesh still dwells within us and our flesh directly opposes the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:17), which is our new identity if Jesus is our Savior.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul…,” (Psalm 19:7a). This is truly what happened to me and many other study participants. In spite of our flesh feelings, by God’s grace, we submitted to Laurie’s request in our homework and we read God’s word and it revived our souls.

Have you ever experienced this before? You followed God’s word even when you didn’t feel like it, how did it go?

Maybe it’s really hard for you to do something if you don’t feel like it, it’s really hard for me! We would love to hear that too, what’s a struggle for you?

Maybe you’ve read the Word of God and it didn’t revive your soul, or maybe you’ve read and obeyed and things still went wrong in your eyes. This is hard and it’s happened to me before too, what do you do then?

Please share, you are not alone!

Planted for His Glory

We are beginning a new study: Falling In Love Again With Your Husband.  

I need this study.

I am married. I love my husband. But I did not tell him the name of the study until the day we started. Why not? I was afraid. I was afraid my husband would hold me to a higher standard of being a “good” wife. On most days, I’d give myself a B- or C as a wife, which is shameful! I know I need to make changes — all of which involve dying to self, which is neither easy nor painless.

This week during our lecture, Laurie shared that when she was in elementary school, she would fantasize about what it would be like to be married to various boys and even practice writing out her “married” name! I laughed, not just because it was a sweet story, but because the thought was so foreign to me. I never thought like that as an elementary school student! I may have wondered what it would be like to be married during high school, but it took time for me to see myself as a wife.

I was not raised with Christian values. My parents were married, but the marriage was not happy. My father was absent and my mother was often overwhelmed. My parents separated for the first time when I was 13 and then for good when I was 16. Both times were due to infidelity. My mother was very hurt and bitter. So I didn’t have a great view of marriage.

As a non-Christian, I adopted our culture’s view of marriage. I believed it was fine to live together before marriage. I planned to — and did have — a successful career. I didn’t want to be financially dependent on anyone. And finally, I never heard the word “submission” in regards to the marital relationship. If I had, I would have been offended. My opinion was at least as important as anybody else’s.

So what did I do? I got married in my early 20’s, to another unbeliever. Our marriage was doomed from the start. I learned, though, unbeliever that I was, how sad and painful divorce could be.

Life took many turns for me, and in my late 20’s, I became a Christian. I got re-married in my early 30’s to a man that I didn’t (and still don’t) deserve, and God began to really work on my heart.

I knew the statistics: 50% of marriages end in divorce. What I didn’t know was that Christians divorce almost as often as non-Christians. That was baffling to me! Maybe part of this is because we are bombarded with worldly messages. We don’t even know what biblical marriage is.

Our culture says: No problem if it doesn’t work out. Get a divorce.

The Bible says: God hates divorce, so honor your commitment. Fight for it.

Our culture says: Women and men have interchangeable roles.

The Bible says: God created woman to be man’s “helper.” Help him be the leader of your home.

Our culture says: Giving in to your husband makes a woman weak.

The Bible says: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands” (Eph. 5:22-24).

This passage angers women. But if we read the verses that come immediately after this passage, we see that husbands are exhorted to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Christ DIED for the church. Husbands are instructed to be willing to lay down their lives for their wives.

God’s instructions are impossible to fulfill in our own strength. I fight my sinful nature daily when it comes to submitting to my husband and treating him respectfully. He often bears the brunt of my exhaustion and irritability instead of receiving my love and gratitude. Only God can help me place my husband’s needs before my own.

Whether I want to admit it or not, my upbringing, young adulthood, and culture have deeply influenced my views on marriage. It is so hard to turn from what I feel is right. But God tells me in His Word that He wants the best for me. As we begin this study, I am grateful that “the instructions of the LORD are perfect, reviving the soul” (Psa. 19:7 NLT). May the Lord’s Word revive my soul as I seek to be a better helper to the greatest earthly gift God has given me: my husband.

Growing in Grace

This past week Thistlebend began a new study called Falling In Love Again With Your Husband. To be totally honest with you, as much as I’m embarrassed to say it, I thought I was doing pretty well in this area. Both my husband and I love and seek after the Lord, and I truly love my husband and am thankful for him every day. So I was thinking to myself that I’m a pretty good wife. I don’t need anything “fixed,” because that’s just what my flesh desires—being fixed, perfect, complete on my own.

Painful to my flesh, but thankfully, the Lord quickly opened my eyes during Laurie’s lecture as she talked about how we cannot truly love our husbands until we first know the love of God and are able to believe in and live from this love that is being lavished on us. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). God must be at the center. She said that our call as a wife is to be Christ to our husband. This can still be true, even though it is the wife’s specific job to mirror the church and the husband’s specific job to mirror Christ in the marriage relationship (Eph. 5:22-33), because broadly speaking we are all called to “be Jesus” to those around us. For us wives, the person in closest proximity to us is our husband. To desire to be Christ to my husband, I would need first to believe and walk in the love that Christ has for me. Laurie also said that there is nothing other than self that keeps us from walking in and believing in God’s love.

I was quickly convicted as I listened to her talk. Yes, I would definitely say my desire for my marriage is to glorify God, but if I really think about my mindset in the day to day, that is not how I live or think about my marriage at all. Even deeper than that, I definitely do not live with the mindset of the call to be Christ to my husband.

I do, however, have the desire to be a “good” wife. I place “good” in quotations because as I really think about it, yet again, I am just trying to be “good” according to my own standards. So to sum up, my desire to be a “good” wife points to me—self. To me, being a good wife means having laundry done, cooking dinner, having my house clean, welcoming people into our home and being the perfect hostess, never running out of the things my husband loves, never yelling at him, always submitting to and trusting him to lead… I know all this sounds ridiculous. No wonder I am tempted to constantly feel condemnation, right? While some of these things are actually biblical, like submitting to my husband and trusting him to lead, and serving him is of course biblical as well, the motivation where it’s all coming from is not. These ideals I have in my head spring from my own way of thinking, not from a desire to be Christ to my husband.

As a wife, I am called to be my husband’s helper. What is better help to him than loving and serving him the way Jesus did and does? The Lord has allowed me to see that in my flesh I only serve and help him on my own terms. I do believe that my mind is organized in one big check list sometimes. I just love lists and agendas and can even plan things in my cute little planner to do for my husband that would be sweet to him, but if he asks me to do things outside of that plan, oh goodness, watch out, because I’m not going to be happy!

The morning of Bible study this past week, my husband came downstairs, and I was texting someone on my phone. He interrupted and asked me so sweetly to go out to his car and grab his gym bag for him and apologized right after asking me to do it. I have to admit, I was somewhat annoyed to have to go do that, but then he apologized again as I was walking out the door to go get his bag. I think he may have actually apologized three or four times. As I was walking to our driveway to get his bag, I was heartbroken. It was sweet of him to ask me in the way he did and to recognize that I was in the middle of something else when he asked me to do it. I couldn’t help but think,  however, that he must have felt like he had to be that sweet because I get so frustrated and angry with him most times when he asks me to do something that is not already on my agenda. How messed up is that? Being angry at having to hold off on laundry to actually do something my husband asks of me is absolutely not being Christ to my husband. By my way of thinking, the laundry is so important that it comes first over my actual husband so often. That’s just one example. It really is heartbreaking to think through this on paper.

Can you relate at all? If so, there is good news for us! If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, Christ is in you, and He is in me! HE is my new identity, and I do have the power within me to put off my way of thinking and replace it with His way of thinking all by His grace! I’m so thankful to just be smacked in the face with the truth that I’m not a good wife like I think I am, but that that’s okay, because that’s the old me. Again, “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). I can love and be a helper to my husband the way I am called to because the one who calls also enables.

Falling In Love Again With Your Husband is probably going to be a way more gut wrenching study than I thought, but oh how sweet it is to know that God is working for His glory and ultimately our family’s good as well through these lessons. If you are in Christ, this is true for you too!

Do you have lies you listen to about what it means to be a good wife? Would you be willing to share them in the comments? The more that we share, the more we will see that we are not alone.

O Lord, please give us the desire to be Christ to our husbands for your glory. Be the center, Lord!

Planted for His Glory