Chapter 17 in Wife School is How You Contribute To or Diminish Your Husband’s Reputation. Even yesterday, I ran into a woman while I was shopping and we exchanged stories about our sons who are friends. She softly and cleverly bashed her husband, saying how he didn’t understand something and how he had wrongly responded. I know this guy, and I like him. But honestly, my respect for him dropped a few points. Be very careful how you talk about your husband. You and your husband are one, so you are really slandering yourself. Be smarter (and have more virtue) than that.
Week Seventeen, Day One
Is A Little Flirting With Other Men Harmless?
Nothing is more thrilling to a woman than being pursued. The tingle of feeling attractive and wanted in a man’s presence is a gift God gave women to enjoy with their husbands. Most of you experienced this during your courtship with your husband. He desired you, pursued you, and it was exquisite. But husbands often quit pursuing wives to the same degree after marriage. They have conquered you and are now moving out to conquer their work, hobbies, and various other callings.
So here you are, with the most thrilling part of life for a woman—being desired and wanted—gone. The unenlightened and untrained husband wants to watch sports, have sex, and then get a sandwich, which is totally pathetic in most women’s opinions (see Chapter 3 on the A of Acceptance in Wife School if you are still struggling with accepting your husband’s weaknesses). Repeatedly in Wife School Online, we have discussed how to fill a husband’s tank with the 8 A’s and thus, draw him to yourself so that you might influence him in a godly, wise direction. This would include asking for what you need in the marriage relationship. We have often discussed how difficult teaching your husband how-to-understand-you can be. It is similar to teaching him Chinese. However, a wife must persevere in teaching her husband how to meet her needs.
Nevertheless, we need to talk about how a woman inappropriately tries to fill the void of romance she is missing from her husband with the attention of other men. I’m not talking about adultery with other men (we all know that is very wrong). I’m talking about something that might, on the surface, seem innocent: flirting. Flirting is the first step, though, that leads to adultery.
It is very easy to rationalize when your romantic tank in your marriage is empty, and then to subsequently accept the attentions of other men. The arousal of other men toward you gives you that feeling again of being wanted and beautiful. You know what I’m talking about.
It is true that many men have failed their wives by not continuing to pursue them with affection and romance after the wedding ceremony. However (and here is the money), his failure does not give you the right to find tingly excitement from other men.
“I’m just being friendly” is what a woman might say, but what she is really doing is enjoying the attention and arousal of a man who is not hers. Friends, this is disrespectful to the max to your husband. I know that teaching your husband to pursue you is difficult and to many of you, thus far, has been a big disappointment. But flirting and drawing other men to yourself is wrong.
One woman said to me, “I can’t help it. Men just seem to notice me.” I wanted to say (but didn’t), “Well, sure they do, with the signals you give off the way you dress and act!” Some women ridiculously think they have some sort of magic power with men. No, these women are sending out signals that they might be a little available. I am thinking of a particular pastor’s wife right now who is as beautiful as they come. But because of her regal and pure demeanor, no one tries to hit on her. That is because men react to women according to how they dress and act. These are the two methods women employ to tell other men they are seeking their attention. A low-cut blouse with a portion of your breast exposed is a billboard that tells men you desperately want their attention. An extremely tight, short skirt is again, telling other men that you want them to notice you and pursue you. Don’t play innocent. You know it’s true.
Knowing how to dress takes discretion and wisdom. I know the current styles are immodest and I am certainly not going to be legalistic, because I love fashion as much as the next woman. But the code word is modesty.
The more immodest a woman dresses, the more she is telling the world that she is needy and hungry for male attention.
Yes, look beautiful. Look stylish. But know you are sending signals when you dress like a scamp. Are you a Proverbs 31 woman who is clothed in fine linen and purple? This woman didn’t dress honky-tonk. Personally, I like a modern, edgy look, so I am not giving any rules, for sure, but only the guideline of modesty. (I actually think funk is cool.) Maybe you have a blind spot in the modesty arena if your mother didn’t teach you how to dress appropriately.
Back to the subject of flirting. Know that flirting with other men means there’s a hole in your heart that you are trying to fill (inappropriately, I might again add). Yes, continue to work on your relationship with your husband and continue to endeavor to teach him how you would like to still be pursued. But find godly ways to fill your own needs instead of seeking the attention of other men.
One of the most disrespectful ways you can treat your husband is to solicit and receive the flirtatious attention of other men. (This is very different from receiving good-ole-fashioned, harmless friendliness from others.)
What does Proverbs 31:11-12 says about a wife? Her husband has full confidence in her…She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. Flirting with other men and receiving their under-the-radar sexual attention is certainly not bringing your husband good. It is more like putting poison in his coffee. Just ask your husband how he feels about this. Ask him how he would feel if you and another man were sharing under-the-radar-sexual-attention. Watch him come unglued.
Instead, be a woman of virtue. Be a woman of purity. That alley-cat behavior is below you. Decide you will pay the price of the long-haul of teaching your husband to meet your needs. We want our husbands to come into marriage with the romance software already downloaded, but more often than not, it isn’t. You have to win your husband’s affection and then he will open to your influence and then you can teach him your needs. That’s the way wise women have taught husbands their needs for centuries.
Godly women cannot find favor with God or their husbands if they are stirring up and enjoying the sexual attention of other men by flirting. Remember how rare virtuous women are? Be one of the magnificent few.
Back it up, Friends. Rein it in. Your husband will appreciate your loyal behavior beyond words. Know that it is extremely humiliating to your husband for you to stir up the feelings of another man toward yourself.
Ephesians 5:3 says, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality…because (this is) improper for God’s holy people.”
God’s holy people…that’s you, Friend!
Week Seventeen, Day Two
The Lost Art of Hospitality
Neil Warren Clark suggests that unmarried people write down a “Must Have” and “Can’t Stand” list for what they are looking for in a future spouse. Several of my children have written these lists and have them tucked away.
A group of mature young Christian men were over one night a while back and for fun, all the guys wrote their “Must Have” and “Can’t Stand” lists in my kitchen. (Some of the lists were pretty comical, as these guys were obviously cutting up. One guy wrote straight teeth on his Must Have list.) On a more serious note, one of the items in one of the boys’ Must Have lists was “loves hospitality.” I know his family and I understood the wisdom he had learned from watching his parents offer hospitality over the years.
Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing, looked for a wife who was “given to hospitality.” These men know a secret. Women who are given to hospitality reveal a lot of character traits about themselves. Hospitable women usually have a love for people and ministry whereas emotionally and spiritually immature people are repeatedly not given to hospitality (as they as just trying to keep their own heads above water).
Hospitable women demonstrate a servanthood quality because having people over is work. A woman given to a lifestyle of hospitality is telling us something about herself and it is this: she is a giver. In contrast, women who are lazy, self-focused, or caught up in addictions will not be able to offer hospitality to nearly the same extent as emotionally healthy women. This is not an iron-clad statement, by any means, about people, their subsequent hospitality, and their character. It is only a pattern that I have noticed over the years and this is only my opinion. For certain, though, hospitality does take a certain amount of “having it together” to pull off regularly.
Now, from the vantage point of Season 2, I realize that hospitality is something that successful and healthy families do. Families are like ponds. Without fresh water, they become stagnant, moldy, and full of disease. Hospitality is a way to keep the fresh life of other people streaming through your home. Let me give you multiple reasons that I think hospitality is so beneficial to you and your family.
With hospitality, your children will be exposed to multiple godly thinkers, not just you. Another reason that hospitality is so valuable is that your children learn and improve their social skills when they are around other mature people. I remember reading how Greg Harris, a guru in the homeschooling movement in the 90’s, said he repeatedly had godly people at his table, influencing his children all the time.
Another benefit of hospitality is that the marriage can get boring without the new input of other people. You must have friends in the marriage and hang out with others, or boredom can set in.
Having people over is a fabulous way to demonstrate a servant’s heart to your children. Your children will watch and learn as you invite “the least of these” and “the hurting” over and minister to them. There are three types of people in the world: those ahead of you spiritually, those like you, and those behind you. All three types of people are helpful to have over.
Hospitality is an amazing anecdote for loneliness. Also, having people in your home is a wonderful way to get to know people on a deeper level. Meeting others at a restaurant is great, but there is something special about meeting in homes.
Some of you are already good at this naturally. And to those of you who are not, I’m not suggesting you start having large groups of people in your home all the time. I’m only saying that hospitality is an interesting concept God gave the wise woman to bless her! Yes, bless her!
This is not another brick for your already too-full backpack. I know many of you are just trying to get a good night’s sleep and I’m not talking to you. However, this is one of God’s methods to bless your family with interesting people. It is one of God’s ways of having various people in your home with different opinions so you don’t get stuck in a narrow, judgmental mindset. It is, as I said, an opportunity for your children to see servanthood modeled, to learn social skills, and to hear other godly people talk besides you. A lifestyle of hospitality blesses others, but mostly, it blesses you.
Isn’t it interesting that the overseer in 1 Tim 3 must be hospitable? Being hospitable says so much about a family. People with dark secrets and recurring sin patterns aren’t given to hospitality. There is a certain transparency in a family if they have regular hospitality. It’s a lost art and we as Christians must bring it back. Our homes are to share. Our lives are to share. This is where the wise woman realizes that God’s ways are always meant to bless her and her family, rather than to give her one more thing to do.
I am certainly not the role model in this area. My friends Kendall, Karen, Michelle, and Leslie are, though. Their homes are repeatedly open to others. Actually, I just stand back and gasp as I watch them minister through hospitality. What beauty these women bring to their families and communities.
One more observation and again, this is not Scripture, but only my opinion: For me (and only me) there has been a direct correlation with my hospitality during the years and my walk with the Lord. I know, that sounds crazy, but it’s true. During the times that I was struggling with my walk with the Lord, those are the times my doors were closed. I’m not saying this is true for anyone else, but the correlation in my life is striking.
If your mother was hospitable, seeking to serve others through her home, there’s a good chance you watched this and caught it. But to the rest of us, we might need to put on our learning caps and do as the Lord said over and over again in Haggai, “Give careful thought to this.”
The problem with hospitality is, of course, how much time, energy, and money it takes. You will have to figure this out for yourself. Having people over also takes forethought, planning, and as I said before, work. Only a woman with margins can be hospitable.
1 Peter 4:9 says, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” Romans 12:13 says, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Titus 1:8 says, “… (an overseer) must be hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” And the verses go on and on (see the next section on A Life Well-Lived).
I used to read those verses on hospitality and think, “Dang, more to do, more to do.” Now I read those verses and say, “Wow, that’s so like You, God, giving us commands that bless us!”
Something to consider, my Friends, something to consider.
Week Seventeen, Day Three
What Is A Life Well-Lived For A Woman?
If you search on the internet for A Life Well-Lived, you will get thousands of people’s opinions about what that phrase means. Some of the myriad of examples on the internet were “laughing often, following your dreams, spending your time the way you want, taking care of the earth and its animals,” and on and on.
In Bible times, Paul was trying to help the church decide which widows should receive help from the church. Paul gives what I call “The 1 Tim 5 List.” I have found this list to be remarkable during the years, as to me, it is a beautiful list of activities that signify a woman has had A Life Well-Lived.
So let’s look at The 1 Tim 5 List and see how Paul thought a woman should have lived in order to receive help from the church in her older years. 1 Timothy 5: 9-10 says that a widow cannot be put on the list to receive help unless she is over 60, “has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.”
Catch your breath. That was a power-packed list, wasn’t it? Let’s look at each item in that list and see what it might say to us.
The first item is The 1 Tim 5 List is that she was faithful to her husband (see Day One of this lesson about flirting). The behavior of a woman towards her husband stands as the up front and center tenet to being a godly woman. Being a good wife is exorbitantly valuable in God’s eyes, as we have discussed over and over again. It is virtuous and honorable work to be a godly wife. Don’t ever forget how important this job is to the Lord. If you honor your husband in a godly manner, you demonstrate to the world how a believer should treat the Lord.
I really like the little phrase that Paul adds next. He says that this widow is well known for her good deeds, and then comes the phrase, “such as.” I like the phrase “such as.” In other words, there are many kinds of “good deeds” and Paul is listing some that he thinks are important, but this is not an exclusive list. Don’t you love the freedom here?
Let’s get back to the suggestions that Paul thinks are important in the 1 Tim 5 List. I love the first item in the “such as” list. It speaks of the magnificent and meaningful job of mothering! “Bringing up children” is the first good deed. I’m so glad that the thing that captures my heart— my children—is also what God has proclaimed a good deed. Children. What a lovely word. Is there a word that is more beautiful, besides the word Jesus, than children? The word rings with love, care, and nurturing. How I love my children and how you love yours. God gave us this intense love for them and it is a beautiful, godly attribute. Godly mothers love their children and want to rear them for the Lord.
The next item Paul lists is showing hospitality. (See Day Two in this lesson). God has given us homes and He wants us to invite others in. I have noticed that women who love hospitality often make efforts to have pretty dishes, and care about their curtains and sofas. The Proverbs 31 woman made coverings for her bed. She invested care in her home so that her family could live in peace and beauty and so she could extend the warmth of her home to others. She is not trying to show off, but to nurture and minister. I know this premise can get bent out of shape by women but there is a connection with godly women and a lovely home, a home of cleanliness, order, and beauty. This desire in your heart is God-given. You are right to want to have a welcoming home that nurtures the spirits, souls, and bodies of others. God loves the Christian home!
My goodness, have you noticed how much of Proverbs 31 talks about the food and the furnishings of the home? Did you know it is of the Lord to spend some time and money on making your home attractive? Clean it up, simplify, get rid of the piles and the mess. Your home is an important place. This is where God wants us to have ministry: in our homes! Fix yours up a little bit and then open it up.
The next item on Paul’s list of gems is washing the feet of the Lord’s people. In John 15, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. In my opinion, this verse has two meanings. The first one is the obvious one. In Bible times, people wore sandals and their feet got dirty, as there were few paved roads. Servants washed the feet of guests as they arrived. The obvious implication in this verse is to humbly assist others.
But there is another meaning, which I think is more hidden. Jesus said in John 15:10, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean.” I think He is saying that if we have been born again, we have been made clean, and our sins have been forgiven. So, the foot washing is a symbol of “repenting of and confessing your sins” as you walk your Christian life. If the 1 Tim 5 widow is going to “wash the feet of saints”, she is going to help them “repent and confess their sins,”which is helping others live the Christian life. This is discipleship, and it is beautiful. Helping others get right with the Lord is a work that I think God wants us as women to perform. In my opinion, this 1 Tim 5 woman helped others practically and spiritually.
Moving on…The next phrase in this wisdom-loaded passage is that the 1 Tim 5 woman was helping those in trouble. Now, that’s something to think about. How much do you like to help those in trouble? Usually, it means there is a wear and tear on you when you help others in trouble. Probably, you will be expected to either give time or money, two of your most precious commodities. I love it that Paul doesn’t tell us exactly what helping those in trouble looks like. He knows that we will figure this out. I love the freedom here, that we can minister through our gifts to help those in trouble.
And the last phrase that Paul lists in order for the 1 Tim 5 widow to make the cut to be put on the assistance list is the knock-out punch. This little phrase should describe our daily life. When other people talked about this 1 Tim 5 woman, they didn’t say, “She’s the best dressed woman I know.” “Her jewelry is exquisite.” “Have you ever seen anyone with such gorgeous hair?” What they said about her was that she was devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. This woman was a giver, not a taker. She had a lifestyle of being useful and helpful. When I run into a woman who is older and still obsessed about what restaurant she is going to, what cruise she just took, or where the designer jewelry show is being held, I know I am dealing with a woman who would not make the cut.
Dedie is a woman in her sixties at my church who just got back from a missionary trip to China. I talked to her daughter recently, who told me how she hoped to be like her mother when she got older. Then, on Sunday, I see Dedie in the kitchen at church, serving lunch. My hunch is that Dedie would make the cut.
Yes, it’s alright to buy cream to get rid of your wrinkles and yes, you can take nice trips. But is your very inmost being about being a godly woman who devotes herself to all kinds of good deeds?
The natural downhill slope is to become more selfish and more self-absorbed as you age. But God’s Word can change you. God’s Spirit can change you. You can learn and grow and become a woman who could make the cut on Paul’s list. Now is the time to think about what A Life Well-Lived looks like, and make adjustments to move in that direction.
Week Seventeen, Day Four
Conquering Discouraging Thinking
As you know, school doesn’t teach you the most important lessons in life. You don’t learn how to have rich relationships, you don’t learn about health, no one teaches you the proper use of finances nor do they teach you to discover and use your gifts—to name a few important subjects in life. You certainly don’t learn how to think properly about the obstacles and disappointments in life. I didn’t know there was a way to think until a few years ago and it truly changed my life.
I am not talking about when a person is born again, and they receive a new nature in Christ. That rebirth transforms your spirit. We will discuss that aspect in regards to being discouraged in a moment. Right now however, I’m talking about a skill that saved or unsaved people can learn as it is mental. This skill is to monitor the thoughts that enter our minds. Instead of letting negative thoughts meander around our brains unchecked, we are to control and choose which thoughts we decide are allowed to hang around awhile.
God has given Christ-followers a list of what to think about in Philippians 4:8. The thoughts that are profitable to think about are the ones that are “true…honorable…just…pure…lovely…commendable…excellent…or worthy of praise.” We are not to think about what is “awful, terrible, horrible, upsetting, sinful, or disappointing” all the time.
An example might help. This last weekend something happened to one of my children that if it had happened eight years ago, I would have fallen through the floor. (One nice thing about having six kids is that no one ever knows which child I’m talking about.) I mean honestly, eight years ago, I would have become unglued if this same situation would have happened. But since I have learned Philippians 4:8 Thinking, I was able to sail through, think proactively, and not dive down into emotional hysteria.
There are several aspects to Philippians 4:8 Thinking which we will now discuss.
The first thought to immediately think when you are presented with bad news is, “Somehow, God will use this for good in my life and in the lives of those I love, even though I can’t see it right now.” That kind of thinking—that there is a glad surprise around the river bend—will immediately pull you up and out a bit. We extract this truth from Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28. The ugliness of your current circumstance will try to tell you how bad this situation is. Having these sentences written in your TJ are helpful to have when unwanted situations arrive.
Another Philippians 4:8 thought that is helpful to think is that “although this seems horrible right now, other people have had hard things like this before and they recover and conquer the situation. Just because this seems horrible/terrible/crummy-to-the-max at the moment, we will get through this because God can shift things. God gives His children the ability to rise and press forward. We do not have to stay in ditches. Yes, this is an unwanted circumstance, but how I think about something determines my emotions.” (Remember the alley/park examples? WSA Week Two, Day One). And if I can believe/think that God is for me, that God can see the whole picture, that I am not helpless, but instead, I am actually very resourceful with God’s creativity pumping through my mind, then I can hugely corral my emotions in a positive direction.
Another example of what to say to yourself when faced with unwanted circumstances is a sentence like, “At least it is not X or Y” (think of something worse). This thinking enables you to access your gratefulness buttons and be glad for what this “wasn’t” (it can always be worse).
In contrast, if I let my weak mind tumble down into “how terrible, how awful, I’ll never recover from this situation, we’ll never be able to fix this,” not only will my emotions go bonk, my creativity for problem solving will be hindered.
For example, let’s say something tremendously severe happens to you, such as your daughter gets pregnant out of wedlock. That’s a very harsh situation to happen to a Christian family. The embarrassment, the questions about whether the kids should get married, decisions about who rears the baby, etc. are huge. That trial is heart-breaking for Christian families.
If that trial happens (God forbid), the first thing to do is to fight all the millions of downer thoughts that would come pressing into your mind. Try to replace them with Philippians 4:8 thoughts. Examples would be “God is going to eventually use this situation to bless our family.” “Other Christian families have gone through this and it didn’t undo them.” “This won’t change how people who love me view me.” “God has a plan to bless this baby.” “God has a plan to use this in the life of my daughter.” “We have the resourcefulness to find out how other people who have had this trial have coped…” and on and on. If you fall into “This is awful, this is terrible, how will I take this?” you will not only be terribly upset, but you can’t minister to others, because you need ministering to. In these situations, you need to rise above circumstances, be the voice of reason, the voice of hope, the voice of sanity, the voice of overcoming…not the voice of “poor-pitiful-me” and “how-will-I-make-it?”
Proverbs 31:25 says “She is clothed with strength and dignity”. You can’t portray strength and dignity if you are belly-aching in a ditch because your weak mind is out-of-control with negative thoughts. You have to believe God is going to use this hard circumstance for good and go forth in that faith. You have to control your mind and not let those negative, “how-horrible-this-is” thoughts parade across the screen of your brain.
We are to “gird up the loins of our mind” (1 Peter 1:13). Loins were the long, flowing parts of robes that people wore in Biblical times and if they needed to walk fast or work, they would gird up the loins of their garments so the flowing, cumbersome loins wouldn’t get in the way. We are to gird up the loins of our mind, not letting the flowing, cumbersome thoughts get in the way. Your negative, “woe-is-me-this-is-terrible” thoughts need to be girded up. They are not helpful; they are damaging. Kick them out of your mind by intentionally thinking about something else. Refuse to let non-Philippians 4:8 Thoughts rest in your mind.
This Philippians 4:8 Thinking has been life-altering to me. Just a few minutes ago, I was getting chicken off the bone for soup tonight and rather randomly, I thought about how I had failed in a significant area. The thought tiptoed in and wanted a seat in my brain’s living room. “No-sir-ee,” I said, “I’m not going to go down that discouraging path” and I got busy thinking about something else. We are not helpless with our emotions and mental health! Your thoughts are powerful but you can battle your non-Philippians 4:8 Thoughts.
The angst from this weekend’s blow has already subsided to some extent. But actually, I feel like I usually do in the morning. No despair. No down and out. In fact, I have joy this morning. Hope. Faith. “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and give you a hope and a future.” I choose to believe that God gave us this trial as an eventual blessing and to do us good.
Learning to think like this not only allows you to enjoy the internal landscape of your brain more, it makes you a much more delightful wife and mother. The woman is the heart of her home and if she is a Philippians 4:8 Thinker, that means she is watering her family with those positive thoughts, affecting how the others in the home think.
A young man was here this weekend, thinking life was terrible. “This situation is not terrible and horrible,” I reminded him, “only highly inconvenient”. We have to help young people learn to think right, too.
Use your Turquoise Journal to list the benefits of trials and unwanted circumstances. Frame the trial in a positive light. Don’t give any room to negative, pessimistic, down-and-out thinking. Be a woman who is clothed with strength and dignity and controls her thoughts, not a weak-willed, whiny alley cat. Be mentally strong and simultaneously, be ridiculously soft in your heart. (Now that’s a combo in a woman that I admire!)
I was a complete loser in this area for the longest time, but God has given me “beauty for ashes” (Isaiah 61:3). And He can do that for you, too.
I repeatedly harp on your mental health and exhort you to be a “happy, grateful, person-in-a-good-mood” because it is imperative if you want to be a delightful spouse (and as I’ve said, for you to enjoy you). Grouchy, negative, upset, depressed, unhappy women drain the life out of everyone (and what a bummer to live with yourself!). You will have many difficult and unwanted circumstances during your life. Since that is the norm, why do you kick and scream so when it happens? Instead, learn to calmly say to yourself (I actually have sentences like these written down in my TJ), “Oh, here’s a trial. Yes, this is highly unwanted, but I know these things happen. I will face it, walk through it, pray over it, research it, get counsel for it, and then, I will not let it dominate my thinking. I will put it on the shelf in heaven where I know God is using it for my good, even though I can’t see it right now. Yes, I will proactively seek solutions. However, I will not let this disappointment turn into discouragement. Life includes disappointment, but that is not synonymous with discouragement. Discouragement comes from repeatedly thinking about disappointment. Heaven will be free from disappointments, but life on earth will have an abundance of them. Therefore, I will learn to live above my trials by controlling my thoughts (focusing on ‘what is good’ and guarding against thinking about what is missing and disappointing).”
You do not have to be “a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6). This is a perfect description of what unguarded, negative, non-Philippians 4:8 thoughts do to your brain.
Now let’s talk about the spiritual aspect of discouragement. This morning, I read Ephesians 6:10-20 about spiritual warfare. Verse 12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Friends, you have an Enemy, seeking to destroy and devour you. Don’t try to fight him in your own strength. In the presence of the Lord, say to Satan, “Satan, get thee behind me. I don’t come against you in my own strength, but in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, be gone!” (That’s not praying to the devil. Dr. Rogers used to say it was like saying scat to a cat.) Spiritual warfare is real and alive. Pray a hedge of protection around your children, begging God to protect them from evil. Pray that the peace of God that surpasses understanding (Phil. 4:7) is downloaded to you from God. You have access to this peace as well as access to His phenomenal guidance (Is. 30:21).
We are body, soul (mental), and spirit. Let’s quickly talk about the physical side of discouragement. A woman who repeatedly eats a lot of sugar and refined carbs throws off her hormones. The women in my Skinny School groups say they have recovered their sanity by ditching sugar and unhealthy starches. We are mental-spiritual-physical beings and we must repeatedly address all three areas. You know how easy it is to be a coward when you are exhausted.
Discouragement is not something you have to accept and live with. Yes, you have to accept and live with your disappointing circumstances, but not with discouragement. The difference in the life of a woman with a happy heart over the years (versus one who is not) is like a bank account where $1000 is deposited weekly for ten years versus one where $1 is deposited weekly for the same time. I admit that for years, I often struggled with discouragement before God opened up this truth and told me that I could conquer it with His help.
This morning, my seventeen year old and I were talking as he walked out the door to school and he said something that could have been interrupted as abrasive. But because my heart was full and happy, I laughed and said, “Well, good-bye, Affirming and Encouraging Son.” He laughed and then went on to explain how “he was like me in this area and that it really wasn’t so bad if you look at it like this, blah, blah”. He hadn’t meant to be abrasive. I just had not understood him. So we laughed and shared a moment. What if my heart had been down when he said that? What if I was offended and started harshly correctly him instead of the light-hearted path? Girls, there are no/none/zero excuses if you are a Debbie-Downer. Slice off her head!
Go back and reread all the lessons on a happy heart, contentment, laughing at the days to come, etc. until you figure out how to get a heart that sings and rejoices in the portion you were given, knowing that you call on a God who listens, a God who cares, a God who moves in response to prayer. Fix your mind, fix your prayer life, and you’ll fix your discouragement.
Week Seventeen, Day Five
Losses Accumulate with Age
One thing I’ve noticed about aging women, is that if they are not walking closely with Jesus, some harsh characteristics inevitably appear. For example, I just got off the phone with a man about an event in which he and I are both on the publicity committee. He is very polite, competent, and honest. We were discussing the pros and cons of certain aspects of the event. As he was giving his opinion, in the background I could hear the harsh, shrill voice of his wife, correcting him, giving him non-negotiable advice, all with a recalcitrant, angry tone. He kept talking in a calm manner, incorporating what she said.
I was very uncomfortable, as I listened to the obvious tension and emotional turmoil in his wife. I’ve known this woman from afar for many years and it seems that as she has aged, she is more self-absorbed—and less self-aware. If women don’t constantly apply the principles in 1 Peter 3, Titus 2, and Proverbs 31, this is sadly the natural downhill slide. As the losses accumulate for aging women, they can become more opinionated, less gracious, and more contentious. We should be more loving, walk closer with Jesus, be more concerned with other people than ever, and more willing to be a poured out drink offering. I know this is hard for aging women because they lose so much of the power and influence that the culture gives them for their youth and beauty. But the power and influence they had was never for them anyhow, but was to be used for the Lord.
If you are aging and find yourself getting easily annoyed, telling people off, foregoing graciousness, or becoming cynical, then it’s time for you to spend some time with Jesus in confession and repentance. Jesus said He didn’t come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom. As we walk with Jesus, we should be more foregoing, more accepting, more forgiving, more gracious, more generous, and more loving.
We certainly should be more foregoing, patient, and forgiving of our husbands. As they age, they will slow down and inevitably, need more grace from us.
Charm is deceitful and beauty fades, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. A woman who fears the Lord will get more beautiful in her spirit as she ages.
Today’s prayer is from Habakkuk 3:17-19. I thought it was perfect to go along with Day Four on Conquering Discouraging Thinking.
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
Even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
Even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
YET I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.
God, continue to teach me how to be as surefooted as a deer, so that I can tread upon the heights in the midst of unwanted circumstances. Help me to remember that You are my strength! Christ in me! Alone, I fail. With You, I soar.
In Jesus’s name,
- Have you ever considered flirting as “crossing the line” before? What are your thoughts about this subject?
- Have you felt like hospitality was a burden before? Do you see now that it is something God gave us to bless us? Explain.
- When you think of A Life Well-Lived, what do you think of? What did Paul’s teaching say to you?
- How are you doing with your mental health? Do you have a happy heart? Or are you given repeatedly to discouragement? What is God trying to say to you? ______________________________________________________________
In the name of the One who neither slumbers nor sleeps, Jesus! Amen.