Note to women who are doing WSO in groups: please carefully guard what you say about your husband. I promise you, many of the other women will go home and tell their husbands everything you say. And it will shape how others in the group feel about your husband. And his reputation is yours (the two of you are one). So guard against anything negative. Remember the rule: only say things that he would want you to say if he were listening. (If you need to discuss a negative issue in your marriage, please find an older, trustworthy, godly woman, or see a godly counselor.)
The Genie says on page 42, “I’m trying to teach you relationship skills that will endear you to your husband, skills that will arouse affection in him for you.” And in Wife School, we address the skills to do that. But we are also going to address important heart issues for wives. Because the A of Appreciation is very similar to the A of Admiration (and is pretty self-explanatory), I will take this week to address some weighty issues of our inner person that relate to being a wife of noble character (Prov. 31:10).
Please read chapter 4, “Third A: The Appreciation Lesson,” in Wife School.
Week Four, Day One
Good Managers of the Household
(This section is primarily for the younger woman. Younger women and older women have different seasons of callings. Titus 2 is phenomenal in describing the difference.)
Let’s face it, men have a fantasy that their homes will be kingdoms where they rule as kings. It is the cliché picture of the 1950s husband whereby he comes home and relaxes in his chair with his newspaper, pipe, and slippers. His fantasy continues with a pretty, happy wife gloating over him with a beautiful meal and well-behaved and scrubbed-clean children—a meticulously well-ordered household. Rest assured, I realize I used the word fantasy, not reality.
I bring up this fantasy just to remind you that husbands like to come home to order. They are slaying dragons all day at work, and to come home to a total mess is not their choice. Titus 2’s advice to be “a good manager of the household,” and Proverbs 31’s advice to “look well to the ways of her household,” are very important instructions for women to heed. We must pay attention to this important advice of the Scripture.
Women get all kinds of ideas, and one of them is that managing the home is not that important. Let’s pull apart what Scripture says about women and the management of their homes.
The Titus 2 passage to young women continues to amaze me, especially now that I am on the other side of this passage and have slipped into the older woman. I have torn this passage apart in my interlinear Greek New Testament for years. (If you go to Scripture4all.org, you can do this, too.) The New Revised Standard Version translation reads that young women are to be good managers of the household. What does that mean?
The Greek word for “good managers of the household” is οἰκουρός, which means “watching the house.” This phrase has the same meaning as Proverbs 31:27, which says, “She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.” In other words, she is the one who makes sure all is right in her home: the food, the cleaning, the laundry, the clothes, the children’s needs, all of it. She can have household help, but the responsibility was given to her to be sure it was done well. (The Proverbs 31 woman had household help, and you can, too, if your budget allows it.) You are in charge of being a good manager of your household. You are to watch the house.
If I may say this with all respect, I personally don’t like the King James translation that translates this Greek word as “keepers at home.” I don’t think (my opinion) it exactly says that. I better like the NIV translation that says “busy at home,” but I think that misses the meaning, too, as the Greek word means “watching the house.” (Again, I’m respectfully submitting my opinion here.) I don’t even like the translation, “domestically minded,” because I think it insinuates a woman has her mind on housework and cooking, when the actual Greek word means “watching the house.” I think the New Revised Standard Version best captures the original Greek word that says young women are to be good managers of the household. In my opinion, this better fits the Greek phrase “watching the house.”
Now, to get down to it. If your husband is coming home to chaos and disorder, then you need to reevaluate some things. I know that sometimes women have to work full time outside the home. However, when I was in my thirties, I remember a godly friend who had little children. She said, “Working full time outside the home was one step above putting food on the table.” She wisely understood the truth that women need to be at home a lot in order to look well to the ways of their household. Maybe your kids are in school. Maybe you have only one or two children, and your mother helps you. Maybe you are in a terrible financial situation and truly are looking at putting food on the table. (And if so, my compassion and sympathies are with you.) But so often, women work outside the home and neglect watching the home so that they can have big houses, nice furniture, good vacations, new cars, designer purses, and the option to eat out often.
In my opinion, I think families are better off living in smaller houses, having older furniture, camping (instead of going on fantasy vacations), driving older cars, and eating at home, as well as having mom at home most of the time who manages the household. I know that’s hard to hear. But it is very difficult to be a good manager of the household and be gone most of the time.
A few women with little children can do it all, but this is extremely rare. Maybe you are one of those who can be a good manager of your household, hold a full-time job, and still be a happy camper who pours into her priorities (her husband and her children). But if you are exhausted, angry, and not being a good manager of your household, then please reprioritize. The difference in many households when they downsize and let mom be home more is gigantic. From years of experience, I can promise you it is much better to live a simple life and have mom at home than to keep up with an expensive social circle.
These are guidelines, not rules. If your mother is available and helps you a lot, you have more freedom. If you can afford household help and some great babysitters, you have more freedom. Or if all your kids are in school, you have more freedom. And the exceptions go on and on. However, if you are living in an environment without order and are not managing your household well, you must heed this centuries-old wisdom to correct it.
One more word to you wealthy chickadees. Some of you have time and money, and you are scooting around town, lunching, playing tennis, and even doing something very valuable such as ministry, helping a charity, etc. And much of that is good and fine. But what I’m saying is that if you are young, then your responsibility is to be a good manager of your household, and it comes before those activities. And if you are not doing well in watching the house, you need to reprioritize. Don’t say that your volunteer work is more important than the order in your home. It’s not, according to Titus 2. There is coming a day when you will have the time to volunteer and give away your gorgeous gifts. And it’s fine if you can do it all now. But few women can do it all, and the priority is a well-ordered household that includes good, healthy meals; clean clothes; a clean house; and order.
As a new believer, I once heard a lady say, “If your home is not in order, you should not have a ministry.” I so agree. Your home is your major assignment/ministry for this season of life.The older-lady season will be here before you can blink an eye, and then you can accomplish all of those God-given dreams. But for now, make adjustments so your family is your top priority, and a home in order supports that goal. I am not trying to stop anyone from using her gifts to serve the Lord (heaven forbid!). I am only trying to illustrate the priority and importance of reminding young women to take care of their homes and what goes on in them.
Believe me, this Titus 2 verse has slapped me around for years. My husband was working for a nonprofit Christian organization for years, and money was tight. The work of running a large, busy household was beyond difficult for me. The battle raged to take consistent excellent care of my household. Some women struggle more with household duties than others, but the call to be an excellent manager of your home remains. It is a calling we have from the Lord to look well to the ways of our households, not just barely getting it done. If you comb through Proverbs 31, the woman had excellent meals, beautiful clothes, and provisions of all kinds for her home. The idea that it doesn’t matter if things are just barely done is simply wrong. And no one is coming to make sure that your household runs well. It is your responsibility to learn to do it well.
Godly women throughout the centuries have struggled with this monotony and burden as you do. But they don’t neglect this important work that God gave us to do. I know it’s hard. I know it’s tedious. I understand completely. But I tell you, just as I would tell my daughter, it still must be done. And you must find a way to do it cheerfully. This again is all about your heart and your entitlement. (“I have such-and-such breeding” or “I have such-and-such degrees, so I shouldn’t have to wrestle with such minutia!”) Friend, it is a command from God, and there is no way out of this responsibility. Accept it. Embrace it. Figure out a way to conquer it with a happy heart.
If you can hire help, then you are free to do so. (We used to say that we paid the housekeeper and then the electrical bill.) Often, a little household help is invaluable. Many couples find a little money to hire help by driving old cars, infrequently going out to eat, etc. Even having some help come in for a couple of hours every other week to clean helps many young moms stay sane. But again, I know many of you can’t afford that (or would rather spend the money on something else). These are suggestions and ideas only, not rules.
I remember listening to a sermon by John MacArthur twenty years ago on the Proverbs 31 woman. I was in the midst of work up to my neck (six kids under eleven) and felt quite a bit of self-pity, to be honest. I remember how he said that the young woman was in the sowing season of life. And that if she sowed well, she would later reap. At that time, I really didn’t have any older Christian role models, so I doubted that. What I wanted was relief! But now that I’m on the other side of the fence, as far as age, I can attest that what John MacArthur said was true. This is my happiest season of life so far. My marriage is my favorite earthly possession, our children bring us great joy, and God allows me to have time to use my gifts. The young years are sowing; the older years are reaping. Sow well, young woman, even though it’s difficult. The reaping years are coming.
The call is for you to obey God in this season and do his will for you, and there’s no way around the Titus 2 list. So many young women learn that working full time outside the home is absolutely exhausting and detrimental to the welfare of their priority, their family. You and your husband will have to work on this. But over and over again, the wise choice seems to be to work from home, if at all possible (or to work part time). This is a very difficult subject, and again, these are guidelines, not rules.
To conclude this section, I remind you that the Greek word οἰκουρός means “watching the house.” Many young women greatly enjoy their work outside the home and are savvy enough to figure out great childcare, great domestic support, etc. And if you can do that, congrats. If your work outside the home is important to you, then work hard to find a balance for this busy season of life. But don’t sacrifice the well-being of your children or your relationship with your husband. I realize how difficult and unpleasant this section is. Ask God to show you his mind as you pray through Titus 2 and your season as a young wife.
Week Four, Day Two
She Can Laugh at the Days to Come, Part A
Proverbs 31 has so much wisdom packed in it that we must give ourselves to combing through it slowly. (I have never seen an essay on womanhood that can touch Proverbs 31.) Today, we will talk about verse 25b, which says, “She can laugh at the days to come.” Notice the writer didn’t say smile. Nor did the writer say she can handle. The writer said she can laugh. That is beyond cool.
I want you to sit and think with me about that verse. What is it about this woman that she can laugh at the days to come? Isn’t that a remarkable sentence? A remarkable word? The following is all my opinion. I am going to give you several reasons I think she could laugh at the days to come. It is from meditating and thinking about this verse for years that I write the following.
Do you know a woman with a happy heart who can laugh at the days to come? Isn’t she just delightful? Even her “Hello” and voice lift your spirit. We all love these women, and we must learn how to be one of them!
This Proverbs 31 woman is very busy and productive, yet she is not stressed; instead, she laughs. Being able to laugh is a measuring stick of your stress.No one is laughing when she is getting ready to hit the wall. I love how God cares about our stress (while few others do) and tells us that the wise woman learns to laugh at the days to come.
In my opinion, the first reason that the Proverbs 31 woman was able to laugh at the days to come was because she understood that since she couldn’t be ultrastressed and laugh at the same time, she kept margins in her life. We can’t be scheduled to the brim and still laugh at the days to come. Sometimes, we have to say no to good things in order to say yes to the right things, and that is a difficult thing to do (because we want people to like and respect us).
In Virginia, when our six children were ten and under (I had a newborn and was homeschooling), a gentleman from church called and asked if I would “take over the nursery and preschool department.” (Now, that is an important job, I admit, but the need is not the call.) When I declined, he was unpleasant and accusatory. Sometimes, we think that these people in authority are the same as God. The nursery work was important, but I was barely getting through my day, and I knew (clearly confirmed by my husband) that I was not to take on that responsibility. After I declined, his wife then proceeded to tell me that I “needed to be more balanced” (although she was empty-nesting and had only two children, and both kids had gone to school!). Well, to be balanced and to handle my family at that season of life, I would have needed a fifty-four-hour day. Don’t let others pressure you into something that is not of the Lord, however holy it seems.
I say this carefully, with fear and trembling, because I want you to hear from God and do his will. But Jesus says in Matthew 11 that his yoke (his will) is a “light and easy yoke.” When we are prayer led, Scripture led, and husband led, we will better be able to know what to allow and what to reject. Just be warned that others will try to press you and tell you that their agenda is God’s will (at school, at church, at the charity, in the neighborhood, in your extended family, and in your social circles). Get clear on your calling, and learn to say graciously, “I’m so sorry, but I can’t right now; maybe in the future.” Your stress depends a lot on your ability to say no. Stressed women don’t laugh at the days to come. Don’t blame anyone else, either. It’s your job to learn to say no. (I still struggle with this, and I’m sure many of you do also.)
Second, I believe the Proverbs 31 woman could laugh at the days to come because she understood that whatever hardship would come, God would match it with his comfort to get her through the trial. My husband was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease four years ago, and there was a time that he could barely walk to the bathtub. (At one point, the doctor said his illness was life threatening. But God has miraculously restored my husband for this season, so high-five, praise the Lord, thank you, God!) I still don’t remember how, but the peace that flowed into our lives during those eight weeks was remarkable. In fact, our lives grew richer after that experience. The grace showed up when we needed it. Our children were wonderful during this time. Friends showed up for visits. People brought food. Christians showed up to anoint David with oil for healing. It was an amazing time, in hindsight. I remember being downcast one day, sitting in front of Charlie’s Meat Market, talking on the phone with one of my best friends, Kendall. She said, “People can live happy lives with chronic illness.” I remember my shock at this statement. Why, my whole paradigm shifted. I went home and told David what she said. It was at this point that we changed how we viewed the illness and realized we could still have happy lives in the midst of it. God used that friend at our moment of need to give us grace.
God uses different strategies to bring comfort to our lives when we face difficult trials. But knowing that the grace will come when difficult circumstances arise helps us rest today and laugh at the days to come. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” However, God doesn’t give this grace until the very hour we need it. That’s why we fear hard things now—the grace isn’t there yet. I used to tell my husband how much fear I had about the possibility of losing a child. He would tell me, over and over again, that if it happened, the grace to handle it would show up. I believe the Proverbs 31 woman understood this principle that the grace will show up when you need it, and this trust calmed her deepest fears and anxieties. Therefore, she could deeply rest and laugh at the days to come.
I think of Amanda, a sweet girl in one of my prior groups. Amanda was given a precious baby with Down syndrome. At first, she was devastated. Later, she said, “What we thought was the worst that could happen turned out to not be that bad.” What happened? Grace showed up. Grace will show up for you, too, when you need it. We must all learn to trust that the grace will show up.
(This article will continue in tomorrow’s lesson.)
Week Four, Day Three
She Can Laugh at the Days to Come, Part B
(Continued from yesterday’s article)
Third, I believe the Proverbs 31 woman knew how to take her problems to God in prayer and leave them on the shelf in heaven while he worked on them. It’s one thing to pray and leave our anxieties with God; it’s another to pray over them and then continue to stomp around in their little mud puddles.
Early in my Christian life, I did a Bible study on having a quiet time called The 29:59 Plan by Peter Lord. I remember a striking thing he said that has always stayed with me. He said his first job every day was to get his heart happy in the Lord. Wow. What a way to live! Getting our hearts happy in the Lord means learning to leave our burdens on the shelf in heaven.
We have to quarantine our negative thoughts. Once when David and I were dating, he broke up with me (actually, he broke up with me twice, as I was quite the head case). I was devastated. I told God that I would not think about it, though, unless I were with God in prayer. I quarantined the pain. Yes, God changed me in other ways and brought David back, but I learned early to pray and put it in God’s hands and leave it there. We have to learn to leave our problems on the shelf in heaven, knowing that God has plans to prosper us and not to harm us and that he has plans to give us a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11). Believing the Jeremiah 29:11 concept that there is “a glad surprise around the river bend” is a great perspective to help grow happy hearts. (If you repeatedly struggle with discouragement, this is especially a huge concept for you. I recommend Jesus Calling to you.)
To balance the concept right before this, I now want to discuss the fourth reason the Proverbs 31 woman could laugh at the days to come. In my opinion, it was because she knew that she was very proactive. After David broke up with me, I got a new plan for my life. I was going to get a PhD in marriage and family counseling. Obviously, God brought David back, and we got married. But the point is, I didn’t sit around and sulk. I proactively made plans during the heartache to move on. I often wonder if the Proverbs 31 woman’s husband needed help with finances, and that’s why she had so many home-based businesses. Maybe she proactively assisted her husband in business because he was having problems. Look at how the Proverbs 31 woman proactively made sure her home was well provided for. Look at how she proactively took care of her beautiful clothes. This woman saw what needed to be done, and by golly, she did it. No blaming. No self-pity but a good work ethic to get things done. She knew she could bring this work ethic to whatever future trial she should encounter. As Dr. Adrian Rogers used to say, “Pray like it all depended on God, and work like it all depended on you.” This Proverbs 31 chick was pretty savvy.
Fifth, I think this fab woman could laugh at the days to come because she wasn’t struggling with insecurity or grandiosity, those twin beasts that make us struggle with addictions. (I warned you this was my opinion.) I think our Proverbs 31 girl had figured out two things. One, she realized how valuable she was to God. (Remember how a gentle and quiet spirit is of great worth in God’s sight?) And two, this woman had given up trying to be a big shot (there is such a clamoring in our hearts to be important instead of wanting to serve). This woman accepted herself, her lot, and her life. She wasn’t eaten up with feeling insignificant, with feeling overlooked, or with self-pity. She had figured out how to get emotional freedom. She had given up regrets. She had given up addictions, if there were any (no woman can laugh at the days to come if she’s battling an addiction such as alcohol, spending, prescription drug, or food). This smart woman had battled her pesky insecurities and her demanding entitlement issues in prayer, and she had won. Therefore, she could live each day with emotional freedom and joy. You simply can’t put a price tag on being able to laugh at the days to come. The best things in life are truly free.
The sixth reason I think this woman could laugh at the days to come is because she was free of her guilt. She had found forgiveness for all her stupid, willful, mean, idiotic, dumb, and low thoughts, mistakes, and actions. And then, she lived a virtuous life, daily surrendered to God’s will. (Remember, when you lose your life, you truly find it, as the Bible says in Matt. 10:39.) The freedom of walking daily in the Spirit and living by the priorities that God has set out in his Word is equal to the size of the Pacific Ocean. There is no freedom like this! Despair and depression come from living apart from God and his principles. No woman can be a happy song if she is making wrong choices or even if she is thinking wrong thoughts. Give up those foxes, “the little foxes that ruin the vineyards” (Song of Sol. 2:15) and the sin that so easily entangles (Heb. 12:1). You know what your sin issue is. Let it go.
The seventh—and final, ha!—principle I think this woman understood was that she could choose to use her one-of-a-kind creative genius and brilliant gift set to bless others. I believe she found her zone, that area where she buzzed and fired on all cylinders. I believe each of us has a genius, a gift zone, an area of brilliance, and we are to fan it into flame. 2 Timothy 1:6 says, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God.” Much of our boredom is because we are not in touch with our gifts. When we are not operating in our area of gifts, we are frustrated, bored, and critical of others. You have a gift. Discover it, fan it into flame, and give it away to bless others and receive great joy yourself. Learning how to “enjoy giving away your genius” will change your daily enjoyment and will help you laugh at the days to come. (If you have little children, you will have to be very careful about fanning into flame your gift during this season of life. But even pursuing and growing your gift for thirty minutes during naptime can mean a lot to promoting your emotional health.)
As I said, these ideas were my interpretation of this Proverbs passage. I’m sure there are hundreds of other applications. What I do know is that you must learn how to be content, have a happy heart, and laugh at the days to come. We will discuss this much more in future lessons.
Week Four, Day Four
Asking for What You Want
Now we will have just a teeny-weeny peek ahead at asking your husband for what you want. When you ask for something and the request is denied, you may respectfully appeal. But sometimes it is wise not to spend too much energy on why you want/need it. (You already went through all your reasons, right?) Now, just ask for it. One woman wanted some household help. Her husband told her that “cleaning the house was her job, and she couldn’t have household help” (even though they could easily afford it and that same husband hired a man to mow the yard). So, this woman put asking husband for household help on the top of her list of things she wanted to ask her husband for. This wise woman said to him (after she was rocking the 8 A’s), “I know you don’t think I should have household help, but I want you to consider giving it to me, just because you love me and I want it.” When you ask your husband for something, simply say, “I want you to consider it because I want it and you love me.” If he says a quick no, table it and know that you will properly, respectfully reappeal that decision later. You will not badger him (and later, we will discuss when the time to reappeal is right and when it is time just to accept his decision). We will need to deal with the manipulative nature of most women’s hearts when we discuss this. Obviously, this technique of asking should not be used selfishly to ask for a larger diamond ring when resources are tight. But I am talking about needs/wants you have that are legitimate. More to come…
Week Four, Day Four, Continued…
A Few Random Tips
Tip one: Husbands listen best when their hands are engaged so their minds are free. Examples are when men are painting, washing the car, planting flowers, or driving. Bring up topics when their hands are busy if you want to encourage better listening.
Tip two: Here is a sentence to say if your husband raises his voice to you. (You have given up raising your voice, right?) According to Gary Smalley, men are buffalos and women are butterflies. A rock hurled at a buffalo will barely faze the beast, but this same rock will seriously wound a butterfly’s delicate wings. (The phrase beauty and the beast will always be true.) When your husband raises his voice, often he is not aware of how hurtful this is to you because he does not understand what a fragile emotional constitution you have. That’s why men are exhorted to “live with their wives in an understanding way” (1 Pet. 3:7.) Men talk roughly to each other all the time and are not offended (notice how coaches talk to players). Don’t decompose and start a meltdown if your husband does this to you. Simply say in a sweet (not commander) voice, “Please talk to me as if you love me.” Don’t fall apart. He will calm down, and you can resume the conversation. However, don’t do this until you have earned the right to use it—that is, you have gotten rid of the emotional turmoil that you bring to the marriage, are accepting him, and are now filling him with the 8 A’s.
Tip three: One great way to honor your husband is to brag, brag, brag on him to the kids. “Did you guys know that Daddy is a great basketball player?” “Hey, kids, let’s be quiet. Daddy’s been working hard all week, and he needs a little rest and quietness.” “Isn’t Daddy generous to take us out to dinner?” A man longs for the admiration of his children, and you as the mom have huge influence over the children. Don’t ever be selfish and rob the children of their close relationship with their dad by talking behind his back to them. That is so-o-o selfish, and women with resentment toward their husbands do it all the time! You are hurting your children by keeping them from admiring their dad. Years ago, a woman called me and told me that her husband was having an affair. She thought that the kids should know so that they would not marry a reprobate like their dad. “No, a thousand times, no,” I said. “Don’t bring kids into the marriage problems, even with adultery issues.” The marriage has since reconciled, and the kids still don’t know about the father’s indiscretion. They adore their dad, and the family now enjoys great, fun times together. Don’t punish your children by robbing them of a close relationship with their dad because you are angry at him. Deal with your marriage problems without involving your kids.
Week Four, Day Five
Struggling with Loneliness
For years, I have been fascinated by the craving women have for intimacy. Because women do not get enough intimacy, they subsequently feel lonely. Women long to be known in the deepest part of their beings and then to be loved. It was years before I understood this craving women had and even longer for me to recognize it in myself. We will discuss several legitimate sources of obtaining intimacy in this section, which I hope will be helpful to those of you who struggle with loneliness.
The number-one place where women want intimacy is from their husband (ha-ha, no surprise). And truly, deep closeness and friendship in a marriage is extremely satisfying. But women, this takes years to grow in a marriage. Few women experience this deep intimacy and closeness until later in the marriage (after your husband has been taught to understand your heart). I cannot tell you how often I hear “My husband doesn’t get me” or “I don’t feel loved by or cared for by my husband.” You are now working on growing your intimacy with your husband if you are in WSA. But as we’ve said a hundred times, this takes time. The magic word is persevere. Some husbands can be taught to listen deeply early in the marriage, and some husbands learn over years. However, I have never seen a husband who was given the 8 A’s, who was hugely respected, and who was patiently taught what his wife wanted and needed who didn’t eventually get it. I’m sure there are some, but I have never seen them. Your husband probably gives you some intimacy now, but just know that more is coming. (Yippee!)
The second source of intimacy in which a woman draws is from the women in her family. For example, two of my best friends both have multiple sisters, multiple daughters, multiple sisters-in-law, and great relationships with their mother. Another friend, Mindy, told me how her mother was her best friend, and her eyes got moist as she explained how her sweet mother is now waiting on her in heaven. If you have women in your family with whom you are close, then rejoice, because this is a gift from God to help you meet your intimacy needs. I have noticed that these women often have less of a need to pull on their husbands because so many of their needs are met by other women in their family.
A side note: a few women have brothers who help fulfill their intimacy needs, but this is not nearly as common as female family members. Also, very few women claim that their mother-in-law is a source of intimacy. The daughter-in-law of my friend Paula claims this about her mother-in-law. (By the way, this should be a goal for all of us with sons.)
Another and not-surprising source of intimacy is close friends. How refreshing to take off your mask and be able to let it tumble out, just as it feels! Friends are one of the best gifts on Earth. Treat yours well! Bury the mistakes of your friends in the cemetery in your backyard, and focus on how you love and give to your friends, not on how you’re loved and given to.
Another source of intimacy can be from an older woman who agrees to mentor you. These older women are often happy to listen to you and care for you. And actually, you can receive intimacy by mentoring a younger woman. Anyone who is younger than you—college? high school?—is a great person to pour into. You will be surprised how satisfying it is to give to a younger, needy woman and how many of your intimacy needs are met in these relationships.
But even with all of those great sources of intimacy mentioned above, God never planned for any of us to get all our intimacy needs met. Instead, he wants to be the friend who sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24). We are fully known by him and accepted in the Beloved. We are to get our most important intimacy needs met in our relationship with God! Then, when we are full of that relationship, we are able to be givers, not primarily takers, in our relationships with people. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Once you find deep intimacy with God, you will quit needing so much intimacy from humans. (You will still need huge doses but bathtub portions, not swimming pool portions.)
Here is a fantastic list of Bible verses on loneliness and the incredible promises that God has for us: openbible.info/topics/loneliness
My husband is my closest human friend, and I’m sure that is either true for you or your goal. But know that a woman’s friendships are incredibly helpful and necessary to keep the husband from having to carry the intimacy load all by himself.
Loneliness is a serious condition. If you are struggling with relationships, friendships, and intimacy, just know that you reap what you sow. If you want to know what you’ve been sowing, look around at what you are currently reaping. If you listen well; if you are deeply interested in others; if you are loyal, trustworthy, dependable, generous, sensitive, and honest, you will find deep satisfaction in relationships. Again, failure in the past does not predict failure in the future: you can change! It is hard to admit that maybe your problems with friendships are your own fault. But actually taking the blame is a great place to get turned around. Start where you are, and build some deep relationships by focusing on how you give and love, not on how you’re given to and loved.
I’m a little slow getting onboard with laying down my life and becoming the woman you want. Please do the work in my heart to soften me to hear your thoughts.
Although my home is an important responsibility, the mundaneness can be so exhausting. I feel I have a lot of gifts to share with the world! Yet I know that in your time, you will allow me to use those gifts. For now, I am to be a good manager of my home and look well to the ways of my household. I don’t like this assignment, Lord, but I hear you and will obey.
God, you know I want a happy heart. I want a heart that encourages others, just by my presence. Please grow that in me. Right now, I am still a clanging cymbal, as we both know. I want to be that woman who is a delight to others. Teach me how to leave my burdens on the shelf in heaven, knowing that you have plans to prosper me! Teach me to calm my fears about the future, to know that you will show up with grace when I need it. God, I want so much to be this woman in Proverbs 31!
Without you, I judge others harshly. Without you, I am a gossipy, slanderous, lazy woman. Without you, I am dishonest and self-seeking. God, I need you so desperately! Somehow, someway, make me an excellent wife, a woman of noble character. I know this is equal to walking on water, but you can do it.
I pray as a child who greatly needs much help, in the name of Jesus,
- Spend time thinking about if you look well to the ways of your household (Proverbs 31) and if you are a good manager of your household (Titus 2). What are the major things you could you do to improve? (Even tiny things, such as packing lunches or getting clothes out the night before, make a difference in how smoothly your home management runs.) Are your children well cared for? Is your home clean and organized? Are you having wonderful healthy meals? What is important to your husband in this area? What is God saying to you through these verses in Proverbs 31 and Titus 2?
- How do you score with the verse “She can laugh at the days to come”? Which of the seven applications spoke to you? Are you a woman who can laugh at the days to come? Why or why not? Did you have another reason why the Proverbs 31 woman could laugh at the future? What was it?
- How are you doing with leaving your burdens on the shelf in heaven and going about your business with a happy heart, because “he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Ps. 121:4)? Explain.
- Are you still struggling with fixing your husband? Are you still wanting to confront him and demand that he change now? Explain.
- You just put your big toe into the pool of asking your husband for what you want. Do you see the likelihood that you have the tendency to manipulate your husband? Are you willing to be a woman of prayer and ask God to give you pure motives? Discuss.