I never feel like I am good enough. I don't feel beautiful; I always feel overwhelmed; and I struggle to see myself as God sees me. How do I combat the lies of the enemy?
By Layna Stafford
Battling our own voice of criticism as a woman can be incredibly challenging. No one can judge us like WE can. We find areas of external and internal weaknesses, and we can destroy ourselves by focusing on them.
I often think, if only my nose were smaller, I would be so much happier...confident...content! If only this nose weren't so big, think of the things I could do for Jesus!
But that's a lie.
"The only sure rendering of how we ought to be is the Bible. Therefore do not be undone by criticisms not rooted there." - John Piper
Jesus doesn't say I must be 120 pounds to be good enough to be used by Him. If Jesus doesn't say, in order to be used for his kingdom, I have to be type A, or have a big personality, or be able to make people laugh, or have a small nose...then I should NOT let myself be undone by that criticism (even if it's in my own mind).
Instead, I can fight these thoughts with Scripture. I can flip it with an amazing verse that is found in 2 Corinthians 12:9: "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."
If I will boast in my weaknesses, really boast in them...I will be fighting Satan who lies to me. I will be fighting my own mind and flesh that war against Jesus. I will be fighting the lie that these weaknesses make me not good enough!
So I will boast in my big nose. I will shout "Yes, my nose is huge and I will use it to lead someone to Christ!" It was put on my face for a reason--He gave me this "weakness" and God will make His power more evident through this and every weakness I have.
Sound crazy? Well, I dare you to try it! In your car today...shout out your weakness! Shout it out loud and boast in how God can use any weakness. And your "nose" may just be how God shows His power!
By Katherine Deal
1. Start spending time with godly married women and watch how they love their husbands. Before I joined the ranks of married women, I was extremely lucky to have some married role models to watch and listen to. They taught me so much about how a married woman should love her husband. I learned things like never talk bad about or down to your husband in public; always lift him up. I learned how friendships with members of the opposite sex should and need to change when you are in a relationship. I learned how to love my husband like Christ even when it’s hard, and how submission really is a beautiful thing when done in a godly relationship. There are women that I can still go to when I need some coaching and encouragement. I would urge you to choose wisely but make this a huge priority.
2. Set your standards of purity high and find someone to keep you accountable to that. Once you are in a dating relationship, temptation seems to come at you from every corner. The closer you get to marriage, the harder those temptations are to resist. You need someone who is going to hold you accountable to the standards you set, and even better if it’s one of those awesome married women from point #1 you are now hanging out with. They will have walked in your shoes and can give you appropriate encouragement and advice. While my husband and I were dating and then engaged, I met with an amazing lady once a week for prayer and accountability. She asked me hard questions during that time and never let me off the hook. While I might not have been at the time, I now am incredibly grateful for her during that time. Not only did she help me keep those purity standards high, she was a voice of reason at a time where my head was in the “in love clouds," but I was making a ton of important decisions, like saying yes to my future husband and father of my children. Find someone to be your voice of reason, one day you will be thankful!
3. If you are part of an engaged couple (and if you are not yet, remember this for later!), value your time in pre-marital counseling. Do not skip over this crucial step or think it’s not important. It might seem like everything is perfect in the dating and engagement stage. You might think you and your bae will always be on the same page and will be able to get through tough times seamlessly. It seems this way because dating/engagement is like the fairy tale period of life. Once you get married, real life starts, and real life is hard. My husband and I received some really amazing, top-notch pre-marital counseling. It was a time we took very seriously because we had been encouraged too by people much smarter than we were. But we had friends who did not receive enough or any pre-marital counseling, and some who just didn’t take it seriously. I can without a doubt say that their first few years and our first few years of marriage looked totally different. We still had the same trials, but my husband and I were prepared for how to handle them and our friends just were not. My husband and I often look back on those first few years and think, “That was easier than everyone said it would be.” We credit that to our preparation in pre-marital counseling.
4. Do not expect your significant other to fulfill you once you get married. I see a lot of girls fall into this trap (myself included!). We think once we get married __________. We can fill in that blank with so many things; once we get married I won't be lonely anymore, I will finally feel good about myself, my spouse will complete me, and a plethora of other things. The truth is the only person who can do any of those things for us is Christ. Putting this impossible expectation of fulfillment on your future spouse is like kryptonite to your relationship. Trust me, all of the things we can put in that blank will happen in marriage. Our spouse is not perfect and you are not perfect; the relationship will not be perfect. But Christ is. If we look to Christ to fill in those blanks for us, when they do happen in marriage, when the hard times come, we can handle them with grace and love because we will be so full of Christ it will overflow out of us. Fill yourself will Christ, not your significant other.
5. When you are in a dating relationship and even once you get engaged EVERYTHING is fun. REMEMBER that fun. (Again, if you aren’t in one of these relationships yet, this will be good to hold on to for later!) Hold tight to those moments; file those details away. At some point in marriage, something hard is going to happen because, again, life is hard. Sometimes it’s hard to see out of that hard thing. When these moments hit, having those fun and special times to look back on could be what brings you out of the hard. Those moments could be the reason you are able to look at your spouse again in love. They won't fix the hard, but they can ease the heart. Remember the fun!
By Erin Jernigan
Most of us would admit that we like to be in control. As wives, we are either led by pride, feeling that we know the best way of doing something/have the best idea. Or we don't want to feel vulnerable and actually need the help or input of our husbands. This can lead us down a destructive path in marriage when we as wives try to take the reigns of leadership in our home that God ordained to be our husband's.
"Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body of which he is savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." Ephesians 5:22-24
Our husbands are called to be the leaders in our home, to provide for and protect our family. When we try to control them or take the lead, we are not allowing them to be the men God desires them to be. Our husbands will have to stand before God one day and give an account for their leadership in the home. Wives, we will not.
So what does that look like? Practically, wives, we need to show a lot of respect for our husbands. They need to know and hear from us that we have their back and we trust them. Our husbands need to hear and see our respect for them in our words and actions. We need to allow them to make decisions and take the lead. This may mean moving forward with a decision that we don't agree with 100%. I am not suggesting for you to stand by and watch your husband make a catastrophic move for your family. Voice your opinion and then allow him to take the lead. A husband who has the respect of his wife is going to listen carefully to the words of his wife.
For the wives whose husbands may be hesitant to take the lead out of fear of failing his family, I would suggest asking your husband to take the lead in one area of your home life. Don't overwhelm him, but give him an opportunity to lead and feel your unconditional support. Talk with him about your desire to see him lead and ask him. Allow him to ease into the leadership role that God has called him to with the respect and trust of his wife.
For me, personally, in the moments when I need to show respect for my husband and allow him to take the lead, I have to do a lot more of James 1:19: "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak..."
I have failed my spouse in and before marriage. After nearly a decade, my spouse still hasn't forgiven me. What can I do to regain trust and heal our marriage?
By Justin and Megan Dungan
We both understand from personal experience that there are two hurting individuals in a scenario like this: the offender and the offended. We have a heart for both sides. However, since this question is written from the perspective of the offender, we will focus on that for our response.
Shame and guilt likely has found its way into your head from time to time, if not consistently, over the last decade. First, we feel that it’s important to try to understand and appreciate the weight of your offense on your spouse. This doesn’t mean walking around with your head low in constant shame, but rather understanding that decisions we make have consequences. No matter how big or small the offense, there is always a consequence. To accept that consequence is important, and it likely means that you have walked/will walk through very challenging times as a couple. This period of dryness may be brief, or it may be extended, and accepting that unknown variable is very hard to swallow.
Part of appreciating the offense from the perspective of your spouse includes understanding their ‘triggers’ for the event. Your spouse likely has developed insecurities around this event, some of which may not even be known to them, and these insecurities can come to the surface when a trigger hits them. Triggers for your spouse may include your staying at work late, going out of town for work, going out with certain friends, a random line in a movie or TV show, among many others. Can you begin looking ahead and minimizing these triggers so they are not as hurtful for your spouse? Can you begin putting some distance between you and the group of friends that act as a trigger for your spouse? Can you begin going to work-related conferences with an accountable friend? Should you stop exposing yourself to movies that include adultery? Should you stop using certain social media channels? Should you install filtering software on your computer? Try to appreciate the triggers that your spouse has and treat them the way you would like to be treated.
Put up some boundaries. These boundaries may be needed for the rest of your marriage, the rest of the year, or just a few months. And again you have to be okay with that. Even if you don’t fully understand or agree with your spouse's triggers, showing them grace and understanding in this area and loving them through the pain goes a long way in their healing process. Let us say, however, that in no way should you accept abuse, verbal or physical, from your spouse. You should never feel that you ‘deserve’ this type of behavior. If you find yourself in that situation, it is imperative that you separate yourself (and children) from that environment now. This doesn’t mean you are giving up, you are simply protecting yourself and your children and you can continue to work on your marriage from that environment, with the assistance of professional counseling.
More importantly, however, completely embrace the individual you are in Christ. And that starts with knowing and understanding what you have been forgiven from. We have a saying at Journey that we repeat often in our house: “It’s okay to be messed up here, but it’s not okay to stay that way." This reflects the truth that we are all broken and have been forgiven, but also recognizes that we have a decision to make. Are we going to continue behavior that Christ warns is detrimental to us, our family, etc. or are we going to accept forgiveness from our heavenly Father, turn from our behavior, and lead the life we were called to lead?
Assuming you have taken the latter position, we would encourage you to hold fast to Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
We love the words ‘hope’ and ‘future’ in that text. While we are in dry spots in our marriage, we can feel that we are wasting time, almost running in circles. However, this Scripture promises that He has a plan, and He has a future for us. We have also found from personal experience that He can bring us through extensive healing in a very short amount of time, essentially making up any ‘lost’ time that we thought might have been gone forever.
It’s a very hard journey that you have traveled and continue to travel. We commend you for seeking ways to help your spouse heal and grow through this process.
What would your advice be to a woman who desperately desires for her husband to be the spiritual leader of her home when he shows little to no interest in spiritual leadership?
By Hart Deal
I can hear the pain and concern in the desperate words of this question; you have such a strong desire for your husband to fill the role of spiritual leader in your home. The good news is that this is what Christ wants for you as well!
I believe that Psalm 37:4 speaks to you, wife: "Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart."
As you focus on your relationship with Christ, He promises to give you the desires of your heart, which, in this case, is to have your husband function as a spiritual leader. I would challenge you to claim this promise in your life daily and to find someone who could pray with you as you wait expectantly for the Holy Spirit to bring this to pass in the life of your husband.
This Scripture does not give a timeframe for the promise to be fulfilled. Hannah prayed faithfully to God for a child and Samuel was the answer to that prayer. Abraham and Sarah knew that God had promised to make a great nation from them, yet it was many years before Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to Isaac in their old age. You are not in control of your husband's response so, when you cannot change the situation, you must ask for God to continue to give you the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control - Gal. 5:22) as you continue to love him just the way he is, the way Christ loves us.
You cannot control your husband's role, but you can control your focus on Christ and your daily seeking to love and enjoy Him. Realize that it is possible that your husband does not really know Christ...so pray for his salvation. One of our dear friends came to Christ after a life of going to church and even teaching. He is an amazing husband and father--his wife was always praying in the background.
This is not anything that you can force. Psalm 37:5 says "Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him and HE WILL DO IT." (caps are mine) The pressure is off of you. It's up to God.
There was no mention in this question about children in this family. If there are children, talk to your husband and confirm that he is willing for you to minister to them spiritually. Read to them, pray with them and for them. Provide opportunities for them to participate in worship and training. Participate in activities that bring glory to God and always include your husband in these times. If he is not interested, take part without him but always let him know that you would love for him to join you. Speak with your husband about joining an MC group at Journey Church. If he is not interested, ask him if he is ok if you go without him.
I Peter 3:1 says, "In the same way you wives be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives." Be hopeful and love your husband well.
Jeremiah 29:11 gives you some great words of hope. "I know what I'm doing - I have it all planned out, plans to take care of you and not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for." (from The Message)
I don't know your name, but I am praying alongside you even now for your husband. I know in my own life many times, as I have prayed for another person, I realized that it was as much about what God wanted to do in my own heart as it was about he wanted to do in the life of another. I am thanking God in advance for how He is going to work.