Sunday, November 06, 2011

a question of integrity

During my date with hubby last night we talked deeply.  There was some fun, superficial conversing too, but while I had the opportunity I decided to really dive in and ask him some questions that can sometimes cut to the bone.  I picked up on this from an older, Godly lady I revered highly - that had been married for years and years, thinking, for sure, she must know what she's doing, so I employed the tactic.  I do however recall her words of warning/advice that followed the suggestion - be prepared to hear everything he has to say and be swift to put into practice what needs to be - do not linger on the list.
Never-the-less, toward the end of our discussion, I asked him the question.  He's accustomed to the question by now, but has not always been.  We've both grown in this question!

"What can I do for you (him) to be a better wife/helpmeet?"

What better way to know than to ask the source, right?  Well, this can be a loaded question!  For him.  For me!  When I began asking this, years ago, I would more often than not get offended.  Not always outwardly evident, but none-the-less, offended - hurt - walking away with my head hung lowly, discouraged!  Boy did the Lord start a work in my heart at this point.  
One night it occurred to me that I was being silly.  Besides, what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for the other, right?  I mean - why was I [really] asking him this question?  Did it really have to do with being a better wife?  The answer that came back, after some prayer and soul searching, was astounding - pride.
Pride?  What does all that have to do with pride?  Answer:  everything!
When I got down to brass tacks, what I was really asking him to tell me was that I was the greatest thing since sliced bread and I didn't have to change a thing!  yeah right.
Hence, when he thought I really wanted to know what I could do *better* and started making a list for me, I was greatly offended.  WHAT?  I don't do enough for you, ALREADY?  And the list of things I already do FOR him began to materialize.  Yeah, bad-bad-bad!  I was offended, he was caught off-guard, emotions escalated, and many times a list of what HE didn't do for me materialized too.  So, I stopped asking.  Enought was enough!  I didn't want or need to hear a list of what I was doing wrong - a list of all my shortcomings.  Who does, right?  But then the Lord spoke softly when I read Psalm 139.  In one of my fits of anger after this question was answered honestly I was possessed to ask God to...
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
that's when God had His way with me regarding this matter.
It was at that point I would have rather had Daniel tell me everything I didn't already do AND everything I didn't do right AND everything he thought I did even worse!  Yikes.  
Pride was brought to the table and I was, all at once, humbled by the grace and mercy of God.  I began to pray, that very evening, for God to allow me to see my husband through His eyes.  And He was gracious to answer that request.  I returned to my husband that very night and did the hardest thing I've ever done.   From the out-pouring of my wretched heart, I sought forgiveness.  Please understand - time after time before this particular occasion I had apologized, but it was merely a passification and no more.  I didn't really think I'd done anything wrong - I just  didn't want the sun to set while my heart was angry.  We'd kiss and make-up and go on with life.  But this time was different.  I had been made aware of my own mire and wretchedness by the Almighty himself and I couldn't help but have repentant heart.  I have such a wonderful, caring, affectionate, providing, supporting, handsome, loving husband and I was treating him like some....I don't know.  Anyhow, I promised him that night not to ask that question again until I was ready to receive an honest answer.  It took some time, but I did ask again and although it was hard and my husband was leery and cautious to answer this particular question again, I took the answer like a medicine and changed what I needed to change - just like that wise lady told me to do so many years before.
See here... she knew what she was talking about!  Oh yes, did she ever.  And I suppose it was because she had traveled that same riveted road that I have now traveled.  And she knew what was about to take place - a very difficult change.  When God does open heart surgery, it hurts.  Allow me to remind you, she told me to hear everything he had to say and be swift to put those changes into action.  I can see now why that was her advice.  She could have gone into a lengthy explanation, but she knew, in wisdom, I had to learn for myself.  I wasn't at that point of understanding yet.  However, a bit more explanation might have helped soften the blow!  So, for posterity sake I'll add my own explanation.
First she told me to listen to everything HE had to say.  I now understand this portion was because once he gave me the answer to my question I would begin to read between the lines.  I not only listened to what hubby had to say, but also everything Lori thought he was saying too - for instance - "I would like to have dinner earlier in the evening..."  was translated 'you're being lazy and don't get dinner on the table timely and that's why we don't have time to do devotions and pray - what are you doing all day - sitting around eating bon-bons and watching soap operas?'.  I am my own worst critic and with hubby's suggestion it brought to the  table everything I was feeling about the way things were going as well.  I had been convicted by a few verses in Proverbs and those cantankerous feelings were oozing.  The other thing she told me to do was be quick to put into action the changes that needed to be.  Had I followed this advice I would not have had time to linger on what I thought my husband didn't like about me.  If I had been swift to put those changes in place - I would have gotten the positive feedback from my husband instead of the tearing-down of myself.
This question truly did become a question of integrity.
And just like every other sin - the more times I had a victory over it in - the easier it became to do.  And now, after all these years of asking that question, I look forward to the answer.  It has become a quest - to be the best wife I can possibly be.  And...he doesn't flinch when I ask it anymore :o)
Please note:  I do not write this blog post as an authority or claim to know all the answers.  My agenda behind writing this is truly just documentation for future generation.  And the testimony I have in Christ Jesus, as He brings me line upon line, precept upon precept, Glory to Glory - in each and every area of my life.

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