My man told me something the other day that stung.
“You don’t really trust me. At all.”
For my man to make such a bold declaration is not to be ignored. He’s typically the silent, stoic type, and I’m the expressive, reactor type. It’s taking time, but we’re starting to learn each other, and even grow from each other’s conflict differences, though sometimes my reactions make my man want to leave the room or car pronto. I can see it in his eyes and silence.
But when he made this declaration after I pushed him toward sharing with me what was really on his heart, I saw some truth in it.
I mean, of course I trust him in some ways. In a lot of ways. But I’m not going to judge my man for using an all-or-nothing statement—because I’m just SO glad he shared his heart.
And I felt on a gut level that what he was really longing for, what he was really wanting, was for me to trust him to lead a little more. To trust that he’s got some things. That I can lean back and relax.
Let me be a man for you was the heart speech I was hearing.
And this was the context of the conversation. Not whether I trusted him to be faithful or something like that.
I was invited to read Jen Weaver’s newly released A Wife’s Secret to Happiness: Receiving, Honoring, & Celebrating God’s Role for You in Your Marriage, and although I’m not married, I was interested to read it. I think it’s good for those of us who are dating toward marriage to read about marriage. To understand what this union is all about.
But I’m going to be honest, the concept of submission is still something I am reading about and praying about and talking about and wrestling with. I’m the typical 21st century woman, educated and independent and running her own business. Let a guy lead me? Fall under his leadership in my future marriage? Defer to his decisions over the household?
Wait a second.
Please don’t stop reading my blog if you’re fully comfortable with the idea of submission in marriage or the hierarchy model. I’m just being honest. This is something I feel deep down I am longing for, that might be God’s design, but it’s also something that goes against every fleshly fiber of my being.
Or does it, really?
Jen addresses a lot of these fears in her book: fears of being unequal or controlled, of relinquishing dreams, of abuse, etc. And while the words in her book are still twirling my stomach a bit, they’re giving me so many good things to think of and wrestle with—with my Jesus.
And this book is helping me to see the heart cry of my man.
And my own.
Chapter 7 in Jen’s book (“The Blessing of a Good Name”), particularly the section “Fixer Uppers,” took the wind out of me with its truths. And I think it’s one that would leave many of us ladies stunned for a moment.
Can we ladies just admit for a minute that we’re most often the ones going to our men with things we wish they’d change, or improve upon, or do better in, etc.?
How many times are they coming to us with a request to change?
Jen stunned me with how she tied in how our God-given nurturing qualities can turn into idol worship, as we try to mold our men into what we want as if we are trying to create our man in a “Make-a-Man” workshop a la Build-a Bear:
My attempts to mold Jared to the idyllic husband are not only tiring and futile; they’re idolatry. My husband is God’s creation, crafted in his image. In my zeal to improve—to fix his flaws and shape his actions—I trust my design instead of the Lord’s.
“What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation . . .” (Habakkuk 2:18).
If I set about fixing my husband, and then trust him as the leader of my family, aren’t I just trusting in myself? . . . it’s idolatry just the same to take the men God created for himself and fashion them according to our preferences (124).
Jen goes on to quote from Psalm 115 and the idols made by human hands and how “they have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see” . . . (125). And then—this is the kicker—she includes a list of traits that speak to the men the world is overflowing with, who have such similar limitations—the silent and inactive men. These lists include, for example, “It’s like pulling teeth to find out what the man wants, feels, or thinks”; his “seeking permission—not collaboration—before making plans”; and “he waits for direction instead of taking initiative to see and meet a need” (125).
I started to feel conviction and began to wonder if I have silenced my man in any way. So often I hear my women friends and culture talk about how we want our men to stand up and BE A MAN, how we want them to take the lead (it’s funny how my strongest feminist friends say this), how we want them to stop being so passive.
Have we ourselves contributed to this problem?
We women want our men to lead yet we don’t let them.
I mean, are we really letting them? Encouraging them in this?
There’s so much to quote from this chapter; I can’t even. Jen talks about learning to “relinquish [her] role as cocreator”:
I look at flaws and call them like I see ’em, but when I relinquish my role as cocreator, I make room for the Lord to speak straight to him. Coming to Jared with my wisdom, limited answers, and slanted priorities means the conversation depends on my abilities of persuasion instead of the power of God’s conviction. At best, I achieve a temporary result (126).
The next section, “Breaker Overload,” gets honest with how we tend to overload our men and how to trust God with them:
I ask the Lord to give me gracious eyes, to perceive and contribute to what He is doing in my husband. I don’t come with my own construction plans. When I speak, I want my words to carry the Spirit’s power, weighty because my heart is alert to the Master’s handiwork . . . to catch the faintest scent of God’s sweet move and pray it into being for my husband instead of pushing him into it . . . I refuse to overload this man with my own plans . . . No longer the artist looking to refine her work, my role is fun. I’m the attentive observer, noting the strengths and unique undertones of God’s masterful craftsmanship. Here in the middle of it all, I get the front row, behind the scenes, up close, and crazy intimate view of holy power at work in one of God’s beloved souls . . .
“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1) (127–128)
I’m going to admit right here that my man and I have had a lot of relationship discussions. Now, I’m not knocking open communication nor do I think Jen is either. I think there’s just some room for heart checks. There’s some room for thinking before speaking. For taking the issue to God in prayer. For checking my motivation. For remembering and admitting that there are differences between men and women and how we process things.
Am I silencing my man? Am I trying to mold him into what I want him to be for my own selfish gain or comfort? What if I let go of the control a little and went to God with some stuff, giving my man a little more freedom to breathe and grow and hear from God even?
Doesn’t this also give me freedom? Freedom for me to fully enjoy him for who he is? Who God created him to be? To learn all I can about this handsome human being God has placed in my life? His interests, motivations, passions, favorite music, funniest stories, etc.?
What if I took my hands off the potter’s wheel and trusted God with my man and the desires of my heart? If we’re really walking in our relationship with Jesus at the center, can I trust that our Father will speak to my man’s heart on behalf of me? That He knows what is best for us and for my man?
As Jen asks, “Could your husband miss hearing God because he’s focusing on your voice instead?” (131).
While I think we need to be careful with applying marriage submission verses to dating relationships, we can begin to practice serving and humility and—ladies?—empowering our men to be the men we are longing for.
Jen’s made some really solid points in her book, especially in this chapter, and I’m already excited to have another “conversation” with my man—one he’ll actually enjoy having, I think.
- What would it mean for me to trust you, babe?
- What would mean the world to you in this area?
- How can I show you I trust you?
How can we empower our men to be those men our hearts are longing for, perhaps a longing that is placed there by God himself? Those men who aren’t afraid to take the lead? To treat us like a lady? To love us with fierce tenderness? To provide us security and support, a strength in this world that can be too much sometimes, a world in which we have been made to feel we have to do EVERYTHING?
Whether you’re married or want to be someday, this book will broaden your mind and give you truth to wrestle with.
Have a blessed week!!!
I will be giving away a copy of A Wife’s Secret to Happiness: Receiving, Honoring, & Celebrating God’s Role for You in Your Marriage on Monday June 12, noon EST.
To enter, share this post and let me know in the comments where you shared it.
Also, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!