Along this journey of examining the beliefs of complementarians and egalitarians, I’ve gone through a bit of a personal transformation. But mostly, I’ve learned a lot about myself, the pressures of this world, and how truly difficult it is to be changed by the Word of God and conformed to the image of Christ in this age. It is very difficult, but we know that with God, all things are possible and that He always accomplishes His purposes. So, I would like to offer some brief lessons that I have learned during our short course of marriage so far that may be of some benefit to Christian women who are struggling with their own native egalitarian tendencies while growing in grace as complementarians.
- Determine the source of your current beliefs and feelings
The first lesson I have learned is to figure out where the things that I believe and the feelings I have regarding my role in the marriage come from, and I think this is important for every person to consider. Do your views come from how you were raised? Perhaps, your views come from your larger cultural/societal upbringing? Do your views come from past responses to bad experiences and circumstances? Maybe they come from the Word of God? And possibly, do they come from several different places all at once?
Wherever your beliefs and feelings come from, it is important that you are able to identify them properly because this greatly aids you in being able to discern whether or not those beliefs and behaviors should be changed, discarded, or kept as you move forward in your Christian walk. Moreover, going through this process of asking and answering questions will allow you to begin to deal with past issues that you may have stuffed deep into the recesses of your mind and never wanted to deal with in the first place.
- Accept the past as the past
Now that I’ve mentioned dealing with the past, I’ve remembered how important this lesson has been to both my husband and me: accept your past as the past.
Having worked at a women’s college and being as chatty as I am, I’ve heard countless stories from people about their “past” throughout my life. And I can honestly tell you that there are a lot of hurt people walking around this world, and I am included in that number. I’ve gone through situations that have caused me to walk in fear for most of my life and had me wrestling with paranoia, extreme anxiety, burdensome guilt, a seared conscious that would not heal, and haunting memories that always stole the peace away from my heart and mind. But I had this one blessed truth to hold on to:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1
And I quickly learned to hold onto this truth as well:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
I pray that if you are finding yourself struggling to let go of things, especially guilt, and even when you feel accused and condemned in your own mind that you would cling to the truth of the gospel, the very good news that we have in Christ. If you have truly repented of your sins, you have a brand new life in Christ…a brand new life that you are fully able to live to His glory by His grace alone. So by His grace, cling to this truth, believe it, and continue to confess it.
- Read and understand the Word the right way
I think that the worst thing I ever did was to read all of the passages in the Bible that pertained to wives and women and try to just live them out. It was dumb. And it is incredibly disheartening. I mean, just take a look at Proverbs 31:10-31, and try to start doing everything on that list today. You will wear yourself out!
What I’ve learned is to rightly read the Word of God. Don’t just read a couple of verses here and there to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing, but read the whole chapter or even the whole book/epistle to get a clear understanding of what the Lord is saying. If you are reading Ephesians 5:22-24 alone, without considering the foundation that is laid in Ephesians 1-3 and the subsequent call to walk worthy of what we have received in the Lord beginning in chapter 4, then you won’t understand why submitting to your husband is important, and you definitely won’t have a good reason for why you are doing it in the first place. I encourage you to read all of God’s Word, and especially remember to read in context.
- Talk to your spouse
If my husband and I ever wrote a book offering marital advice, every other chapter would be entitled: Talk to your spouse! I know it sounds funny, but it is really easy to get advice from other people about what works in their marriage relationship (or what didn’t work) and apply it to your own marriage. And I just want to tell you to STOP!!! DON’T DO THAT!!!
Ladies, if you are married, you are the wife of one man…not everybody else’s man. Talk to your husband. Seriously, talk to your own husband. Get those kids distracted, get a good dessert, and sit down and talk to your husband. Talk about each of your expectations in the marriage. Talk about each of your desires. Talk about what you each want from the other. And I’m not going to tell you those conversations will go perfectly smoothly, but it is far better to have those conversations than to have unmet expectations and feeling unappreciated because you’re doing things that your spouse generally doesn’t like or never wanted you to do in the first place. (Been there, and done that.) Just go talk. It always helps your marriage, and it will help you.
- Don’t be afraid to work
One thing that I had to learn was to stop expecting personal miracles once I became a wife and especially after I became a mother. Just because I was a Christian and desired to have a godly marriage and become the perfect, godly housewife did not mean that God just snapped His fingers and changed me overnight. In fact, I haven’t experienced any miracles at all. I wasn’t transformed in a day, or even a week, few months, or years.
Instead, by God’s grace and through divine providence, I’ve learned to challenge myself over the years to do things I never wanted to do. So I’ve learned to make basic dresses for my daughter because it was cheaper than buying new clothes every few months for every growth spurt while we’re paying off debt. I’ve learned how to make bread (without a stand mixer or bread machine, I should add), and I even have a nice burn mark on my arm as a reminder of when I caught the dough on fire in the oven. I’ve expanded my repertoire of things I know how to cook well while also compiling a list of dishes that came out really badly and never ever need to be done again. It’s been hard work, and I’m accepting the fact that it will always be hard work. I encourage you to embrace it.
Challenge yourself to learn something new. Better yet, challenge yourself to get better at the things that could benefit your family the most. Use your family as your motivation to keep pressing forward and learn as you go. Some of you may feel motivated to start a garden to cut back on your food budget. Others might want to try cooking more to cut back on spending money at restaurants. I’ll be learning how to navigate the stock market and make wise investments because that’s something we want to do in the future. I say all of this to say, stop expecting overnight miracles. You are going to have to work at it.
- Don’t be afraid of changing
Let me perfectly honest here: Marriage will change you. Parenthood will change you. Your priorities change. How you want to spend your free time changes. Your definition of ‘fun’ changes. Even my love languages changed before and after marriage and after having our daughter. In a nutshell, I’ve changed, and I know that I’m going to keep on changing as the years go by. And so will you.
Now, we can bemoan these changes, or we can accept the fact that God is always at work within our lives. Through His mysterious providence, He brings things into our lives and removes things from our lives to force us to change, to cause us to bear fruit for His glory. And His way of doing it is absolutely perfect and fail-proof. Always remember we serve a faithful, omnipotent God who is mighty to save and relentless in accomplishing His own purposes in our lives for His own glory. And that means that we are all being changed.
Ultimately, as Christians, we know that the world is opposed to God and His way of doing things. We know this to be true because we once also opposed it. However, we have been brought into the household of faith, and we are called to walk worthy of that calling that we have received. I encourage all of you, but most especially my fellow sisters in the faith, to keep on walking faithfully to the Lord. Be fully convinced in what you believe and why you believe it. Endure the hardships, the backbiting, the insults, and the lack of support from loved ones as you strive to glorify God through your marriage and in your role as a wife and mother. Remain encouraged by the knowledge that you do not strive and labor alone because many are striving with you and many have gone on to claim their reward in heaven. Finally, I pray that this series has been encouraging for all of you, and that the short lessons provided in this blog offer you some encouragement as you continue in your walk. Blessings!