Have you ever tried to push a rope? Frustrating, isn't it? They're simply not designed to be pushed. Rather, they are meant to be used to lift or pull something along. A wagon, a sled, a bucket in a well. Now picture trying to push the wagon with the rope or to push the bucket up out of the well: silly, right? A major part of loving my wife well is having the understanding that I can't push her along on her journey with God. She is on her own journey and yes, it is my responsibility as her husband to protect her and provide for her, to love her and lead her so that she can blossom into who it is God has created her to be. However, she is also my co-equal partner, walking the same path towards being more Christlike. She's dealing with her own unique trials, temptations and tendency to drift.
When these bumps, potholes and roadblocks pop up on her journey it is my responsibility to look back and smooth out anything that might take her off track. If I'm doing my job as her husband, I'll be just a bit out front, looking ahead for potential pitfalls, but also keeping my eye on her, her progress and anything along the way that might cause her to stumble.
When she inevitably comes across an obstacle, I'll turn and look back to her and assess the situation. It's at this point that I have a choice to make: I can run back behind her and rudely shove her over the obstacle or into the pothole so that she "just gets over it" or, as I'm returning to her I can double check my previous work and make sure the way back to her is smooth and easier for her, then help remove as much of the obstacle as possible so that I can pull her over. Gently.
As I'm helping her over or around the obstacle she's reached, I must listen to her, but even more importantly, I must listen for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to confirm that I'm leading us in the right direction. We'd all be better off if we were more willing to take James 1:19-20 to heart:
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. ~James 1:19-20
Before you speak to your wife about the situation, stop and listen: first to the Holy Spirit about the situation so you'll have His ears to listen, then to your wife. Guide her as the Holy Spirit would: as a perfect gentleman.
Then she's overcome the obstacle, not because you've shoved her over it, but because you've carefully and lovingly guided her over it, having previously prepared the road after the obstacle so that she can more easily continue on her journey.
Call of Duty
Here's a short list of "mission objectives" for you as a husband:
- to create and prepare an environment where my wife can grow into the woman and gift that God has created her to be
- to constantly look both forward and back on our journey to protect her from potholes and stumbling blocks
- to lovingly and carefully lead her over or around obstacles
- to encourage her during the process
- to stay rooted in the Word so that I'm leading her in the right direction
I'm not out in front because I'm better, (and if you know me, it's definitely not because I'm smarter) but because it's my duty as her husband to be on point. It's my mission. It's myobjective. It's my duty. It's what you and I as husbands signed up for when we said the vows on our wedding day. Protecting and providing for your wife requires that you are constantly on the alert, looking for anything that might derail her, gently helping her move over and past the obstacles. Or even better, helping her avoid them entirely or removing them altogether.
Lead her gently and lovingly and you'll make it safe and easy enough for her to follow in the way that God intended. You can do it men!
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