In this week’s dare, we get to talk about one of the things I’m most passionate about – teaching our children about love and respect in marriage through our actions and not just our words.
I think it’s important to read what Nina had to say yesterday, in that it doesn’t mean we as wives have to do EVERYTHING just because we are a wife or because we are at home. (For the record, I’m not sure a lot of manual housework like vacuuming or mirror-wiping would get done at my house if not for my husband.)
So a funny thing happened yesterday at my house. My daughter was asleep and my son was awake and he kept pushing her door open (the latch is funny) and trying to go into her room to play with her. He had my full attention and all the toys to himself and that was still what he wanted to do. Precious, I know. But we have the sniffles again and she needed the rest so every time he took off, I chased him down and brought him back. He was getting pretty frustrated so I thought I’d give him his favorite distraction – destroying my bedroom. Even that couldn’t appease him for long. But what he did manage to do while he was in there was pull a piece of paper of out of my bible and eat it. Yes, he ate paper. He eats a lot of paper these days and I find it to be rather similar to having a goat. The cutest goat ever. Anyways, this paper was where I keep notes on blog ideas as I get them during my quiet time. And now I can’t read any of them or the references.
I was lamenting this to my sister and I said I could only remember one post that was on there and I would have to write it this week or I would forget it and obviously paper isn’t safe at my house.
And today as I fought an uphill battle to even get to sit down at my computer, Dare 13 and this idea just kept swirling together.
God is good. All the time. Even when I took the toddler back to bed 4 times last night and didn’t sleep. Even when the baby screamed for an hour instead of napping. Even when that means he won’t nap in the afternoon when he’s supposed to, making a meeting difficult. Even when there isn’t enough coffee in the world for any kind of mental clarity, God is good.
I’ve talked before about how we talk about our husbands in front of our kids. Especially if they are home with you and hear you talk more, the view point that you have of their father will quickly become the opinion they carry of their father. And if you work outside of the home, they will soak in your interactions so quickly.
But at this stage of having these tiny sponges follow us around and learning so quickly how the world around them works, I think it’s even more important to be aware of how we handle situations. About how we choose to conduct ourselves on bad days. About how we choose to respect when it’s hard or he’s unkind. About submitting in things you don’t want to submit in.
What do I mean?
I mean that sometimes, we have to fake it till we make it. I give this advice to my small group ladies. And I have used it myself. (Note that I am not saying to BE fake or to not have emotion. I’m not saying to stuff down our feelings and become a doormat. If you’ve been here before you know that. But if you haven’t I feel it’s important to say it again.)
What I am saying is that sometimes when we have a choice to make – a tough choice like respecting in a difficult situation where our feelings are hurt or finding joy in the middle of (sometimes, literal) poop. And when we know in our head that we need to respect our husbands but our hearts are hurting, sometimes we have to fake it till we make it. Sometimes we have to go through the motions of the actions and emotions so that our mind, heart, body can relearn how to process a situation and do it better in the future.
I was blessed a few weeks ago to come across a verse in 2 Peter that is an incredible outline for the “fake it till we make it” plan.
2 Peter 1:5-7
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
Ok so what do I mean?
First, it is by faith that you have become open to learning about respect. That is God’s plan for marriage from Ephesians 5.
So add to that goodness. What does that look like? Goodness is remembering that we have decided to love a moving target and that we need to act with their best interests at heart. (James 3:13)
Then we add knowledge. We get a book (like The Respect Dare or any from this resource list). We get more books. We follow godly blogs. We find godly girlfriends and women of influence and seek their counsel and advice. (Proverbs 15:22)
But sometimes having knowledge means that we have to wait. When I first started teaching, my Mentor Teacher told me that the first she taught she made her students memorize all 16 verb tenses in French 1. She said no one had ever told her to spread it out, let it sink in, and let the progression take its natural course. This knowledge is a journey. So we will need self-control to go with you. (Galatians 5:22-23) To know when to speak and when to be silent. To know when to be proactive and when to be reactive. And to realize when we mess up (because we will mess up) and to have the self-control to try again and not hold mistakes from the other person against them when we are wanting so badly for them not to hold them against us.
The self-control will grow perseverance. (Romans 5:3-5) This is a journey. A marathon, not a sprint. We will see progress forward, and then lose ground. 2 steps forward, one step back. But we can persevere. We can continue. We can grow and do better.
And to this point, if we’ve had to grit our teeth and keep going, keep pushing, know that God is growing godliness because our reliance on Him is growing more entrenched with each passing day. (1 Timothy 4:8) The decision to continue doing this “respect” thing and keep moving forward shows where the light is piercing through and the godliness is blooming.
As the godliness grows, the mutual affection will pour out. (Romans 12:10) Yes, we’re still married to other sinners who will fight against us, fight with us, and hurt us. But as they see a tangible change in us and how we do things, affection will increase. Whether this comes out of them in a way we need/want isn’t up to us. They are on their own journeys with God. But it will exist. And God will use to grow both of us.
And finally, love. Real, deep, unconditional (to the best of our imperfect ability) love. Love that is a joyful choice because we can see how God is growing us through choosing to love this way. Beautiful, strong, enduring LOVE. (1 Corinthians 13:4-13)
How do we fake it till we make it? This is a pretty good model. But the every day nitty-gritty will look differently for you than for me. Our actions may not match our feelings to begin with. But out actions do have the power to start changing our feelings in very real ways.
Dare 13 is about showing respect in front of our kids and modeling the behavior for them. Even if that means we are painting a play set or doing the dishes or ironing shirts or going to the dry cleaners in the rain as a head action, the act has the ability to start changing our heart actions.
Dare you today to think of one thing you could do differently as you to start model respect for your children. If it making breakfast for your husband? Ironing when you HATE to? Is it having a special dessert with dinner? Would you share what that is and when you plan to do? And, come back and let us know how it went?
Be sure to check out The Respect Dare blogging team – Nina, author of The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband and Debbie, especially for parents of teens, tweens, and twenty-somethings, and you can subscribe to me in the sidebar. And connect with me on twitter @LeahHeffner and on faceboook on The Respect Dare community page.
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