Friday, May 27, 2011

What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

Nuclear Explosion, image courtesy of Trinity University, San Antonio, TX

What’s the worst that could happen?

It’s a question often posed when we are faced with uncertainty. It’s similar to the expression,

What have you got to lose?

As a man, I’ve often feared the worst possible outcome of a given situation; I call it the Job Syndrome:

"What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true."1

It’s my worst fear that what could happen has been initiated, I am no longer under the protection of God, and my situation has spiraled out of control. I wanted my wife to live up to an ideal of what I needed. I wanted to feel needed and wanted by her; I did not. I wanted her to hold my hand when we walked together; she would not. My wife wasn’t comfortable being openly affectionate towards me, and that bothered me; a lot.

But what I failed to see was what God was saying to me:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…2

God commands me to love my wife unconditionally; I didn’t. I was unwilling to give myself up for her. I know in the world of logical, intelligent thinking people, obedience to God is archaic, but that shouldn’t come as surprise because God declares that to the world His ways are foolish.

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.3

What does it mean to love my wife as Christ loved the church?

I’ve come to realize that I was so focused on what my wife didn’t do that I robbed myself of the daily opportunity to truly love her for the woman she is. I was stuck in an endless loop of conditions.

I was afraid. I was afraid to love my wife

As a man, this is an uncomfortable admission, but I was afraid of not being loved enough. I wanted what I was supposed to be giving her. God has helped me see that I was guilty of being selfish. I say this because; I know I never have a problem loving me. Some may have that problem; I’m not in that group. I take no solace in the belief that many other men have fallen prey to this fear. Men can be quite hurtful to a woman. Men can say things that are hurtful. Men can do things that are hurtful, but men can only do one thing that is necessary:

Love their wife.

A wife needs to be loved.

I’ve got to believe that God created women in this way for a reason. Women have such a capacity to love, yet they have a greater need to be loved. I could talk about how Satan perverts this need in a woman, but I’d rather focus on what happens when a wife is genuinely loved by a husband committed to obeying God.

We get hung up in the terminology of the scriptures.

Just as many men get tripped up in obeying the command to love their wife, some women are skeptical of committing to God’s command that says:

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.4

We both fear the worst if we commit.

The result is that I refuse to love my wife. I’ll love my job, or I’ll love things, but I won’t love her. I’m afraid to love her for a million reasons that are rooted in mythology:
  1. She may not be the one.
  2. She might reject my love.
  3. She may tell her family and friends what a dope I am for loving her.
  4. She may love somebody else.
But God didn’t give me options for extenuating circumstances, He didn’t provide me with conditions to love my wife; He simply commanded me to love her. I realize that I was given a tremendous honor by God to love my wife (which by the way I rejected). We men have been created by God to fulfill the need in a woman; the need to be loved.

A wife can love herself, but it is a poor substitute for the love of her husband. A wife can buy herself fancy clothes, expensive jewelry, shoes, and furs, but what is it if her husband doesn’t love her? A wife can get a pedicure, or manicure, but there's no cure for the absence of a husband's love. She can get implants, liposuction, tummy tuck, or a reduction, but there is no cosmetic surgery to give her the love of her husband. I can give her the one thing she desires, but is incapable of obtaining on her own; my love.

I can love my wife, but I’m too afraid.

What’s the worst that could happen in choosing to love my wife?

What’s the worst that could happen in choosing not to love my wife?

A wife needs to be loved.

What about you? What are the reasons you believe a wife needs to be loved? I look forward to reading responses from you.

I can think of three reasons why a wife needs to be loved, and next week, I'll begin to break down those reasons.

Almighty God and Father,

I have been ignorant of many things in this life; the greatest is why I need to obey Your word. I pray for the many husbands who are afraid to love, afraid to commit, and afraid to obey. Loving my wife should not be difficult, but we complicate the simple act of obedience. We fail to understand how neccessary it is for a wife to be loved by her husband. Open our eyes that we may see. Remove the gunk from our ears that we may hear. Melt the hardness that encases our hearts so that we may love. I want to obey You Lord. I don't want to live in fear anymore.


Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).Spiritual Sundays

Footnotes:
  1. Job 3:25, NLTB
  2. Ephesians 5:25, NASB
  3. 1 Corinthians 2:14, NASB
  4. Ephesians 5:22, NASB
References:
  1. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, By James B. Strong, S.T.D, LL.D., Riverside Book and Bible House, Iowa Falls, Iowa 50126
  2. Unger's Bible Dictionary, By Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, Chicago
  3. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  4. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  5. The New Living Translation Bible, by Tyndale Charitable Trust, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, ISBN-13: 978-0842384896
  6. Matthew Henry's Commentary, McDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia 22101, ISBN 0-917006-21-6

20 comments:

Lloyd said...

MTJ - I have been married for over 42 years. There have been a lot of ups and downs in our marriage, but the one thing we show to each other is "love" and "communicating" with each other. You touched on everything that our Lord requires us, as men to do. The thing that we must do is not getting too hung up on the word "Love" which can mean several things. When the Bible talks about Love, it is relating to the kind of Love that Christ has for the church. This is agape love, unconditional love that never fails. The love that God has for us.

I know that we (men) are only human and it is sometimes hard to swallow our pride, but if a marriage is to last in these modern times, both the husband and wife must love each other more than they do themselves, just as Christ love us and died for us.

The point I'm trying to make is this. If you truly love someone, as Christ loved the church, then you will be willing to set aside all pride, jealousy and anger and give yourself to them fully and unconditionally. As Christ loved us so much that He died for us...we, as men must show the same unconditional love to our wife. God bless you brother and remember that Jesus loves you. Lloyd

Patti Hanan said...

This is so beautifully written, and I love reading how God is working on you, and helping you learn from past mistakes. I believe that women need to be loved by their husbands because feeling safe in his love frees her to face the world and be all that God has called her to be. It is also a representation of Christ's love for his bride, the church. Thank you for this thoughtful post.

Esther Joy said...

Wow! God bless you for being so open and honest! Someone told me once that broken vessels carry the most water, which to me was a paraphrase of "when I am weak, He is strong" That's what I see in this blog today.
On a lighter note, Mel Gibson addressed women's needs in "What Women Want," but the movie didn't state it nearly as clearly as Patti did above!

Sherry said...

This was a good post and I am happy that you learned such a valuable lesson. throughout my life I have never received true love, the kind of love you described. The good news though is Jesus has given me more love than I have felt in a long time. I go to bed every night believing His arms are around me.
Thank you for your comment on my post.

Charlotte said...

Thank you for sharing so honestly and openly. I think both husbands and wives can learn a lot from what you have shared.

Charlotte said...

Thank you for sharing your heart. This is such an important subject. Everyone wants to feel loved. You have given a lot of food for thought in this post.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Sharon said...

This was a very honest post. Of course, I've grown to expect that from you - and it's so refreshing!!

You asked - what are the reasons you believe a wife needs to be loved? I can only speak for me. First of all, I had a strict, rather undemonstrative father. He was a good dad - just not a real verbal or affectionate one. So, there is a part of me that is still a small girl wanting to be a princess. That is one thing I want to feel with my husband - cherished. Also, society still has a way of making women feel somehow "less" - and a woman wants to feel important to her husband. And finally, I just want to know that all the little things I do in life matter - that they really matter to my husband. That the world is a better place - that HIS world is a better place - because I'm in it.

I am grateful for a husband who makes me feel special. Husbands who unreservedly love their wives end up winning - for they create in the hearts of their wives, love that they will return back to their husbands.

(Sidenote: I read a great book that, for me, really summed up what I want - It's called "Captivating" by Stasi Eldredge - just FYI)

GOD BLESS, MTJ - still praying for you and your wife.

MTJ said...

Lloyd: Thank you for sharing these words of encouragement. I agree, a husband must communicate with his wife. As you say, "men must show the same unconditional love to our wife."

Patti: Thank you for sharing this reason: "feeling safe in his love frees her to face the world and be all that God has called her to be."

Esther Joy: I've never heard this phrase on a broken vessels. Thank you for sharing it.

Sherry:I am learning through the love and grace of God what it means to truly love. It is this truth that I embrace in my life.

Charlotte: I pray that in some small way, a husband/wife looks to God for help in a troubled marriage.

Charlotte: It is God who has placed both the capacity to love and need to be loved within us.

Sharon: I like the reasons you gave for loving one's wife:
1. Wanting to be a princess
2. Cherished
3. A woman wants to feel important to her husband
4. All the little things I do in life matter...to my husband
5. HIS world is a better place - because I'm in it

Thanks for the book recommendation and prayers.

Virginia said...

Once I understood that marriage takes 3 (husband, wife, God), it made marriage that much better.
Thank you for sharing, a wonderful and honest post.
Sweet Blessings,
Virginia

sarah said...

this really touched me b/c I know it comes out of your own painful experience. You're using your pain to help others. Great post.

Renee said...

Your openness and honesty encourages us all to take a look at our own marriages and find ways to grow in love together. My husband and I have been married for nearly 42 years and for me his listening ear and deep faithfulness to God and our vows has been a huge blessing in my life. I pray I have done the same for him.

Pamela said...

I'm blessed to have a husband who shows me daily how much he loves me. I believe you are spot on that it's what we need. With love we are free to be who we are. God is teaching you some good lessons. It takes a big man to learn them.

Saleslady371 said...

In the New Testament, the scriptural answer is men need to love their wives and women need to respect their husbands. This is impossible to do unless Christ is center. But it works! When we both obey, I feel very loved. The Holy Spirit shows us what to say, what to do and most importantly what NOT to do or say. We are going on 40 years; it is slow-going!!!! But Christ is our hope and anchor.

Joan said...

Hi MTJ:

As others have said, I so appreciate your honesty and I do believe that God can and will use your current situation for His good and His glory. I know it's a hard thing for us to realize when we are going through adverse circumstances (whatever they may be) but scripture teaches us that He will.

In answer to your question, for me personally to be loved by my husband is to feel cherished, to feel safe and to feel secure. Someone to love me just as I am - with all my flaws. I'm not perfect, I make mistakes, and yes there are times when I have failed to be the wife I should be. But through almost 27 years of marriage, though we've had our ups and downs, our marriage has stayed strong. And I think it's the tough times - such as his diagnosis and treaments for cancer some 18 years ago that have served to make our marriage stronger.

As I typed this, I realized that when I said that I want him to love me unconditionally, that is how Christ loves the church. He doesn't hold our shortcomings and our mistakes against us - He loves us just as we are.

Thank you for another thought provoking post.

Blessings,
Joan

Pain to Purpose said...

great post, MTJ!

Toyin O. said...

wow, what wonderful post, this should be read by chritain men everywhere:)

Judy said...

Hi MTJ,

Wow!

As fallen human beings, we all make mistakes. And sometimes big ones. However, it's never too late to begin to pray (if you haven't started already) for our spouses to forgive us of our sins, admit to our mistakes, admit that we were wrong and how much we hurt them, and to ask for a second chance. God can turn even the most hopeless marriage around to the better if two people are willing to humble themselves and begin the journey of forgiving one another. It may take months of godly counsel and prayer, but it's possible and worth it.

It's wonderful to see how God is speaking to you.

A friend once told me that if a husband truly loves his wife as Christ loves the church, the wife will have no problem submitting and responding with great love toward her husband. This is so true. May God bless you with a miraculous reconciliation with your wife.

Blessings,
Judy

Mari's Cakes said...

Women need to be love because that is the language we speak. You won't loose anything my loving your wife, you'll only get back her respect and love. We need to feel love by our husbands, in order to have a healthy marriage. In my blog I wrote about the cycle of love and respect, it has helped my marriage out a lot.
Ephesians 5:33- However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Have a great afternoon :)

From The Heart Online said...

Hi MTJ :)

Thanks for sharing these very personal confessions - I trust they will encourage, edify and teach.

I appreciate this post. It underscores God's challenge to me to love someone that ... well, they're afraid to love me, and I'm afraid to love them. We both have this insane fear of rejection that keeps us distant.

It'll be a tough cycle to break. We've danced this dance so well for so long... I'm terrified.

But the 'worst that can happen' is that I choose not to and we continue on. The witness I could have been wouldn't exist, each of us would remain slave to fear of rejection, and I would continue the cycle by passing it on to my children and theirs, leaving it to them to break this cycle.

Alternatively, God will use my obedience to his prompting to act as a witness, to break this bondage of fear (in my life), and I will learn more about God's character, becoming more like Him in the process. Plus, I'll be less likely to pass all this junk on to my kids)

Yup ... totally worth the rejection, pain, frustration and tears that I suspect await me. Praise the Lord - He is starting something for the benefit of each of our hearts and for His glory :))

Dean Spencer said...

MTJ -

This is such a heartfelt post.

If we as men are truthful, most of us without exception love ourselves very much.

I agree that God doesn't give us a pass either on loving our wives, no matter what the reason. I admit, the one part that you caught my attention is the reason, "She may love somebody else." That's a tough one.

I came across this Scripture recently, in Ephesians 5, where husbands are called to love their wives as their own body, knowing that we nourish it and cherish it. To give my wife the same attention I give myself is quite a tall order.

To answer your question, why do I think a wife needs to be loved, I believe God designed their physiology that way. Women are more than capable to do many things themselves, and they're very capable of being in charge, to be leaders. I think God purposely put this need in a woman's heart to help establish a hierarchy and order in families.

This thought seems to go along with the husband being the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. Jesus loved us so much, He gave Himself for us. We desperately need(ed) Him for that and for so many other reasons.

So, in the same way, I believe a wife needs the love of her husband. It's an innate desire. God is a God of order and this just seems to fit His purposes and plans.

Great thought-provoking post MTJ! Have a great weekend!

God bless!
Dean