My Experiences with The Respect Dare
Titus 2: 4-5 … That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
As with many, our family has been through the wringer during the last couple of years. With illness striking often, financial struggles, job losses, death of close friends and family, struggles within the church family…and the list can go on and on. It feels as if we are on a merry go round and can’t get it to stop. Some days I feel like there must be some lesson that God wants me to learn…one that I am missing the mark on horribly!
When I think about all the disasters that befall on our family, it is easy to become dissatisfied and wonder why us? Why? Is there really a reason that would make it all ok? Perhaps we don’t have “more” disasters than any other family. We are a base family of 9 with spouses and grandchildren bringing a family meal to 22 between 6 households. This doesn’t start to count my siblings, parents, extended family or my husband’s family. Could it be that the forces of the universe are not against us personally? Are we just on the receiving end of the numbers game? While I would like to think so, it is so hard to feel this way when disaster strikes.
Being the mom to many, my heart is taxed with such a burden for my children. We are a blended family that has walked a long way to become united. When we married, we cross adopted our children so they would never have to worry about being step…anything, nor would they have to worry about what would happen if their other parent passed away. Yes – we were teased about being the Brady Bunch. Yes – we had a vertical learning curve on how to live together as a family. Yes – the battles were worth it. We soon added two more to our crew, rounding out with five girls and two boys.
Finding myself a parent to boys was different; having only girls up till then. Being married to a man that had spent 21 years in the Navy was different. He was a strong Christian man, with a strong work ethic and a stronger drive to have things run smoothly. Oh man, was he in for an awakening!
As the years gained on us, I found myself dissatisfied and complaining more and more about things that were either out of our control or things that just didn’t make a difference in the eye of eternity. Once we both got on the same page as far as what we wanted for our family and what was going to be the focus of our attention, we’ve learned to remain focused on God’s blessings and not on the things we would like to have or the world deems necessary. Oh, this hasn’t been easy.
The hardest area for me was to not make an enemy of my husband while we were struggling through issues. It is so easy to blame the ones closest to you for everything. Not enough money? Want a bigger house? More clothes? Better car? Well if only my husband…. This is a slippery slope to becoming discontent and like the lady in Proverbs (contentious and difficult).
I was introduced to The Respect Dare by accident. I wasn’t looking for a bible study that would change me to my inner core. I was searching for ways to deal with issues of older children struggling in their marriages. Stumbling on to The Respect Dare online course was the window I needed since several doors had been closed in my life.
The online study started and within a few days I knew deep in my heart that this was just what I needed. This was what my marriage needed. And…just the path that Satan didn’t want me to walk…one of submission and love for my husband.
I was unable to finish this online course because of health issues. Once recovered, I started looking into the class again because I had such a pull on my heart to change my marriage into something awesome not just stable. I never thought my marriage was at risk of ending. It just wasn’t as exciting, fulfilling or happy as I knew it could be. Of course I also knew that I would have to make the changes needed to build the relationship I wanted to share with my husband. I wanted my marriage to be the example for our children both male and female to be able to pattern themselves after as they moved into adulthood.
Once again I signed up for the online class….. This time I made it into week three; just long enough to start to see mountains that I had ignored in my life (the ole take the beam out of your own eye before pointing out the splinter in your partner’s eye). Many mornings were spent in prayer and tears as I slowly realized that I had not given my husband the respect he deserved and was due as a Christian man and husband. I mean, I had been raised by a single mom. Taught to never depend on anyone; always make sure you had an exit strategy and of course, never totally give yourself to anyone. This has been a continual battle for me. I so want to be the trusting, loving, never question wife…but oh the willful spirit in me raises its head all too often.
Again just when I started to see real progress, SLAM!!! Satan attacks our family. Job loss, illness, injury, and financial struggles piled up higher and deeper than ever before! Strangely, this time I was ready for it. I was ready for the attack on my marriage and had worked hard on remaining faithful in my Bible time and prayers. What I had not prepared for was being blindsided by an attack on one of my married daughters.
The following year was the wildest ride my family has ever been on. From snatching our daughter out of an abusive relationship, to helping her become established again, to seeing her marry a wonderful man that loves her more than life itself! God has shown himself to us in ways I never thought possible.
As things moved on in our lives, I have had to fight to resist the urge to complain. I would tell myself over and over that God has always provided for us. Scripture promises us that if we remain faithful, God will never leave us. I clung to this in the hard times and basked in it during the high times.
Recently I was asked facilitate an online class for a group of local ladies. The group was small and everyone knew each other. My biggest fear was that the confidentiality that is needed would be hard to maintain since everyone knew each other and their spouses. To top this off, two of my married daughters registered for the class! Oh my, how was I going to be completely open and honest with my struggles while sharing with the ladies AND not place my daughter’s in a position of being uncomfortable or hearing things about their parent’s marriage?
I made the commitment to get through the class by trusting in God to speak through me. If I felt the “experience” I had gone through would help the group, I was willing to bare my soul with the ladies. I knew that this class would change their marriages and any pain that I went through would be worth it in the long run.
Of course Satan came at everyone in the group! These ladies were all Christian ladies to start with, so when they all started lifting each other in prayer daily things started to change in a big way. Lives started changing as hearts started healing. Marriages started changing as the wives trusted God’s word and put it into action within their marriage. OK marriages started to be AWESOME ones!
I was blessed far more by this class than any of the ladies or their marriages! As I struggled through the class myself at times, not wanting to admit to my mistakes, I saw so much love and respect building in the lives of my daughters. Some of their comments brought me to my knees in thankful prayers. They posted about how even when they knew their parents were struggling either with each other or over outside forces, they knew without a doubt that we were a team. That we would be there for them and that even when I didn’t display the Christian wife attitude they were learning about, they knew that it was not from a lack of trying. I think they saw me as another Christian wife and not just a mom. One of them commented several times that they didn’t know how I got through so many challenges with all the children, a husband that traveled all week, homeschooled the group and still managed to keep things running at home. This touched my heart and healed so many wounds that I wouldn’t leave alone. All the what ifs, if I had onlys…. Seemed to be lifted off my heart and out of my memory. I could feel the healing touch of God in my life as a person, as a mom, as a Christian “aged” woman and as a wife.
What I want every Christian wife to know is that no matter how hard the situation or trial they are currently walking through; and if you are in Christ – there will be trials… these do not give you a reason to not be the wife of integrity as you are called. Rather, any trial or situation should be viewed as another opportunity for them to strengthen their marriages and families. Take each challenge to your husband and together take it to God. Lean on each other, don’t use one against the other. The blame game is Satan’s party house. Stay as far away from that as possible.
The Respect Dare is a 40 Day study on developing a deeper connection with God and your husband. Ladies, be warned…it will be a challenge. It will bring up every fear, hurt and emotion you have stuffed deep inside over the years. It will also be the best thing you could possibly do for your marriage. I can’t stop telling ladies about it.
Every wife should read it. Every Christian wife must read it!