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Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Proverbs 31 Woman

A friend of mine has been inviting me to a women's Bible study for a couple of years. I always hesitated in going. The location is 30 minutes away and it starts at 9am on Thursdays. I always found a reason not to go; I was getting great at excuses. But she would occasionally remind me and invite me again.

Valley West Women's Bible Study is unique in that they offer 2 periods of bible study. The first hour is a group session and the second hour is a breakaway session in which you can pick one of a dozen different classes to attend based on your desires and interests. I chose to be a part of the Creative Counterpart class, which is based on a book by Linda Dillow. humzoo

Back story....

Richie and I have been married 9 years. We had some rocky points, as most do, during those first couple years of marriage. He had expectations that I didn't understand, and I had serious medical illnesses that we were having to work through together. Despite our issues our marriage has always been strong and solid. We are great a compromising and have learned how each other communicate. We have worked hard to build a solid marriage that is 50/50.

I was raised to be an independant woman who needed no man to live, survive or take care of me. The word "submissive" was a dirty word that implied I was less than the person I was to submit to. I was taught a very unbiblical view of submission.

This bible study has enlightened and taught me so much in such a short period of time. I found myself resistant, at first, to hearing all this Proverbs 31 women stuff. I was offended and insulted. "My marriage is just fine" turned into "honestly, who can be that woman?" Then as I moved through some of their lessons and the book I began feeling worthless and like a failure. I'm pretty sure bible study isn't suppose to make you feel worse...but I'm also very sure that in order to build you up and grow you, God must first break you down, reveal short comings, and insecurities. Yet He does this in love with mercy and grace. For that I'm grateful!

I've learned that to submit doesn't mean to allow yourself to be a door mat. I'm learning how to encourage, support, serve and love my husband in a way I never knew before. I see changes in him that amaze me...changes that are happening purely because I'm following God's command to submit, to step back and to stop being the way I've been all these years. Our great marriage is getting better every day. I'm not a success, but I'm well on my way to getting it all figured out.

The idea of a Proverbs 31 woman was a much easier pill to swallow when I was taught that it was written by a mother-in-law to her son, a king, about the type of woman she thought he should marry. My first thought, which I believe I actually said out loud was "Well, that explains EVERYTHING!" Then more comfort came when several of the older women expressed their view was that this was the perfect woman, and that though we can't expect to be this woman in her entirety that we should strive for it. That as a woman we have several roles we play and affect many people; that we will have seasons of stregths and some of weakness. But because we are human and fallen, while being compared to a fictional woman, we are still loved and adored by God...we will reap good if we put forth an honest effort to follow God's commands.

I'm learning that in this season of my life the best way for me to serve God is to serve my husband and family. I'm learning that to give my all to Him through doing my very best for my family will bring glory to him. I have an amazing husband who loves and supports me. He cares for me and our children. I owe him my best because God told me so. :) I owe God my best because he was the one who gave Richie to me, then Noah, and now our Bingo Baby. Why wouldn't I want to give very best?

I'm learning. I'm growing. I feel change in my soul and heart. I like it.


Tags:  God, Life, marriage
20 Comments
runt
I too, was raised to be independent and such. I have been a "submissive" wife for our whole marriage. I put submissive in quotes because I have recently been convicted by God and others that I might not truly be acting as a submissive wife. :/ While I have been submissive I haven't been doing it to the degree I should. I find it interesting that we are both on this journey at the same time. I would enjoy to hear how it goes for you. :) I am currently working on, I don't always have to be right. lol
runt   Friday, February 22, 2013
RAGrise
Oh runt, we are in the same boat is sounds like!! I'd love to hear more of your journey as well. If you haven't read this book I HIGHLY recommend it! I will start a chapter, get all mad and defensive, and about half way through it she explains things in a way that it just hits me how wrong my thinking is and has been.

I'm a very controlling person who is always right. I'm the decision maker. That's wrong. My husband has a voice, an opinion, and just because he thinks differently than I do doesn't make it less right than me. Just because he folds clothes clothes, loads the dishwasher, dresses Noah or does things differently than me doesn't make it the "wrong way". I need to back off and let him be the man, the decision maker, the head of our house. He answers to God, and I'm suppose to answer to them both.

I told someone once that our marriage is good cause he does what I say. :( I'm not a mean wife, I don't think I'm a nag (compared to some I know), and I don't put anyone in danger....but that doesn't make my behavior okay either.
Richie & Ashley   Friday, February 22, 2013
girlcarew
Forgive me if this comes off as rude because I don't mean it too. But... Why is he the decision maker and the head of the house? Why can't it be a joint thing? I don't think that the husband should have power like that. You can do things differently and accept that without one being the sole decision maker.
girlcarew   Saturday, February 23, 2013
runt
Girlcarew I am going to try and explain it the best I can. At least as far as our household goes. I am in no way saying someone else's way is wrong.

My husband is the head of our household because we live in a Christian home that holds the Bible to be the true word of God and the guidelines to live our lives. The Bible clearly states that man is the head of the house as Christ is the head of the church. Now this is where a lot of people go awry. While, yes, I am to submit to my husband HE is to love ME as God loves the church. This means he is to not be a dictator or king or whatever but to love me beyond measure. As far as being the decision maker: You are correct it is a joint thing. Here is an example I can give to you about how it works in my house: About 6 years ago K needed to buy a new van for work. He wanted the fully loaded, dvd player, six cd changer, heated leather seats, etc. It costs as much as some people's home!!! I voiced my opinion. I told him that I didn't think it made good fiscal sense, etc. We could not agree on the van. At that point I had to step back and let him make the decision about the van. Furthermore, I had to ACCEPT his decision about the van and not tell him every chance I got how much I disliked the van, etc. Does that make better sense? K doesn't rule the house like a dictator. We do discuss all things, including discipline, money, vacation, etc. But if he decides something and then wants to carry through even if I don't agree then I am to accept that. It isn't up to me to judge/correct him. That is God's job.
runt   Saturday, February 23, 2013
RAGrise
girlcarew, that is a great thought that I'd love to address....but later when i'm not so tired and brain dead. i think runt did a great job. I'd like to quote some things from L. Dillow directly and give my 2 cents on it as well. I'm not ignoring you. :)
Richie & Ashley   Sunday, February 24, 2013
girlcarew
So, can you have the final say on something? Or is it always him? It just sounds like a one-way thing to me, and that doesn't seem right. Sometimes my husband has to accept decisions that *I* make even though he doesn't agree with them.
girlcarew   Monday, February 25, 2013
runt
Well gircarew that depends on what the decision is. Do I have to ask him what to have for supper? No How to cut my hair or the children's hair? No What to wear? No How I spend money? Not always, I don't have to show receipts, etc. However if I go to a pampered chef party or something we talk about how much money we have extra to spend. And my husband has had to deal with decisions I have made even though he hasn't agreed with them. Like I said it isn't a dictatorship. however, if it is something that we can't agree on and is a major thing then he gets to make that decision. If we can't agree on my hair, I win. It is my hair. lol I wear clothes he doesn't like. They aren't inappropriate, just not his style. I still wear them. :)
runt   Monday, February 25, 2013
hawkwolf
After forty-one plus years my wife and I treat each other as equals and helpmates to each other. Since each of us have strengths that the other one doesn't have we depend upon the other partner for the best solution to problematic situations. One of the things that I always looked for when I was looking for a spouse was that the person that I was going to marry wasn't going to be like my mother because Lord knows that was the last thing that I wanted her to do and I knew that the last thing this person wanted to do was be like my mother. Many people raised in strict religious home install the male as the supreme ruler in a family in the modern family and environment this doesn't work much of the time.
BeanCounter37   Tuesday, February 26, 2013
ppike
Wow, Bean, you and I agree on something!

I agree on the equals and helpmates and acknowledging/working to each other's strengths. Most importantly, we need to treat each other with love and respect.

Respect. Not talking down to one another, working on building each other up and letting go of having to be right (which requires faith in something bigger than you/me). I pretty much think that is what we are all called to do, as spiritual beings -- as humans. Even more important in a marriage. However it's worded...
pegi   Tuesday, February 26, 2013
runt
I agree with what you said pegi. My husband and I edify each other, don't talk down to each other and have mutual respect for each other. I think being submissive is something that is hard to explain, it is something you have to experience. It is like labor. You can tell a woman all day long what labor feels like but you can never truly explain it. That woman won't understand until she experiences it for herself. I know on the surface being submissive to my husband makes it sound like a doormat. I also know that none of you have ever met me. However, let me assure you that I am FAR from a doormat. lol
runt   Tuesday, February 26, 2013
ppike
It's the word. I can get really bogged down by language. It's loaded with lifetimes of meanings/interpretations/abuses... especially the Bible. And everybody thinks their interpretations are the right ones.

Not to mention you know damn well it's men in the Bible who decided women should be submissive to their husbands!
Literal interpretations are difficult for me. I don't by them.

But, otherwise, I am not questioning you or your relationship with your husband. Whatever works for each of us, as long as we continue to lift others up rather than pull them down. And I would not say (from reading previous posts, etc.) that you sound like a doormat!
pegi   Tuesday, February 26, 2013
runt
Yeah words can really screw things up! I had to explain to my children that some words started out just fine but then people decided to twist them around to mean other things. Now they are no longer acceptable in "polite" society. It makes me sad.

As far as men saying that women need to be submissive to the husband...you are correct that men translated/transcribed the Bible. Most people don't realize or choose to remember/read the next verse where man is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. So it isn't just on the woman. For a man to truly love his wife as Christ loved the church he needs to be willing to lay his life down for her even when she is rotten and unlovable. lol

And glad I don't come across as a doormat even in text. :D And I agree that what works for us won't work for others. I know before my husband and I got married I told him I would be submissive but I would NOT be one of "those" wives that have no idea how much money we have, where insurance papers and such are. When he passes away I need to be able to step in and take over everything. Oh and just another point of how HE doesn't "rule" everything...I take care of the checkbook. I'm not sure he ever sees it. lol He isn't the best when it comes to finances and I can squeeze blood out of a penny. So I take care of the finances for the most part and he stays out of my way. lol
runt   Wednesday, February 27, 2013
hawkwolf
Three years ago when I was nearly an invalid and very dependent on my wife for making most the key decisions that were made about my well being, I came to be more appreciative of my wife than I ever had until that time. However, as I look back in our marriage there have been times when we shared or assumed responsibilities as needed. When our daughter was young, I did a lot of traveling in connection with my work and it was the responsibility of my wife to look out for our daughter, but she still had time to receive her Masters Degree in Special Ed. while communting 60 miles each way. As Pegi will agree and I am going to say: Marriage is what you make it and you should live far enough from both sets of parents so that neither one can go home without the other one knowing it and stay off of the telephone with each family especially mothers.
BeanCounter37   Wednesday, February 27, 2013
ppike
Well yes, Bean -- marriage is what you make it -- that and grace. But I don't think distance is an issue if parents/children respect each others' boundaries.
I love being a next door neighbor to my son/daughter-in-law/grandchildren. Wish we were in closer proximity to our daughter and her family!

Being a listening ear is a parent's/sibling's job -- to listen without getting embroiled/enmeshed in personal problems.
pegi   Wednesday, February 27, 2013
RAGrise
I'm a little shocked by how some of this conversation has gone, and to be honest without the intention of offending anyone, it's no wonder Girlcarew has so many questions ...

Let me approach this from a different direction, and perhaps that will help elminiate some of the stigma of the word "submissive". The call to a wife to be submissive is not a call to be co-dependant, mousy, or without identity. Quite the opposite is what's required of a wife according to Proverbs 31. Go read it again. "She is submissive, but strives to be capable, intelligent, industrious, organized, effiient, warm, tender, gracious--all the virtues we saw in the beautiful blueprint in Proverbs 31." ~~Linda Dillow THIS is absolutely NOT the description of the "submissive wife" that I was taught in the baptist and non-denominational churches I attended as a child and teenager.

Ephesians is a brilliant text to refer to here.
Husbands are commanded to "submit" to God and God's will. Husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Christ never walked on the church, battered the church, belittled, humiliated, or steamrolled her. Therefore the example we're given is that the husband is to revere, love, guide, protect and die for his wife. "Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage." 5:25-28 Linda Dillow states, "This is always the case in a marriage that is truly Christian, beacuase the word submission is set in the context of the husband loving the wife as Christ loved the church. A woman who is being loved by a man in such a way that he puts her interests, desires and dreams above his own hardly has any trouble being submissive. That is the true biblical picture of marriage."

"Out of respect for Christ be courteous and reverent to one another." 5:21 "Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands." 5:22-24

Linda Dillow writes: "He (her husband) went on to explain that submission also carries wth it the responsibility of a wife to tell her husband exactly how she feels on every issue of their life together, so there will be no misunderstndings. With an attitude of love, she should share her view with her husband." As wives we are supposed to share our feelings, opinions, view points, wants, wishes and all desires. As husbands they are to skillfully, prayerfully and openly take all that we say into consideration before moving forward on any type of decision. But mostly he is to take it to God before moving foward. She also describes "A creative counterpart is a helpmate, a complement to her husband." I think the key word in this is "complement". Just as some of you have said, one is better with finances while the other with discipline.

Personally, I'm finding that the word 'submit' still has a sting to it ONLY becuase of the negative conotation. I perfer the word 'yeild'. I am finding that the more I yeild to Richie and his decisions the easier things are for me. There is less tension, less worry, less on my plate. Being in a 50/50 relationship isn't healthy in that, like in a business relationship, there will come a time when you are both head strong and unyeilding. There will be little or no wiggle room for compromise. In a 51/49 relationship you already know who has "majority rule" or "the final say". I can always rest and find comfort in a few things regarding 51/49: #1 My husband will answer to a much higher power than me for his mistakes or bad choices; #2 I am no longer burdened with needing to prove a point, be right, carry the worry or stress of being what the secular world considers equal to my husband. If my husband treats me as God told him to I will be edified and lifted up and blessed.
Richie & Ashley   Wednesday, February 27, 2013
runt
I hope none of my responses appeared to be double minded or were confusing. I like how it is laid out in the book you quoted and how you have laid out your interpretation. I think I gave the same answers some what but not in such a concise manner. If I did appear double minded or confusing please let me know. My intent is to never be unclear. I just find it hard to describe what being submissive or yielding to my husband means. Part of that is due to what was said about the connotation of the word. It has been twisted to be a bad thing when it is truly a glorious thing.
runt   Wednesday, February 27, 2013
RAGrise
runt i think you did a beautiful job and describing, using your own marriage, how to be submissive without being steamrolled. The reason it's hard to explain or hard to correct preverted images of "submission" is because they are so widely accepted as biblical truth by people who don't really understand teh biblical truth of it. :) Make sense? I had NO IDEA that the Proverbs 31 woman didn't actually exist! I had no idea that it was a made up person...a description of what a mother wanted her son to marry. In that context the whole chapter makes perfect sense, really if you think about it. What mother wouldn't want that type of wife for her son!?!! BUT BUT BUT we can attain those character descriptions and be that type of woman, I just believe it's not all at once. I think that over a lifetime of yeilding to God and being a servent we will hit those points during one time in our life or another.

I'm the pregnant mommy of a toddler. I cannot make garments for other people. I can't bake for others the way I did 2 years ago. I can't volunteer in the church or attend the number of small groups the way I did 2 years ago. That does not make me a bad mom, wife or daughter of God. It means that I'm in a different season in my life than that right now. My time will come to be more involved in ministries outside my home...but for now my family is my ministry, my mission field, the place where I'm called to serve God.
Richie & Ashley   Wednesday, February 27, 2013
runt
Oh girl I can sooo relate to what season you are in!! I spent A LOT of time during that season of my life feeling useless and not doing my "job". I had a 2 yr old a newborn and a 5 yr old. I was way busy doing the job God had called me to at that time. It took me time and counseling from friends that had passed through that season already to realize I was where I was supposed to be. Now that the children are older I am taking a more active role IN the church and not just thanking God I made it TO church with all three kids dressed and clean and myself dressed and clean. lol I'm glad to see you are already realizing the different seasons and that you are right where you are supposed to be.
runt   Wednesday, February 27, 2013
girlcarew
Well, now there are two discussions.

First, on "submissive". Yes, the word itself has strong negative connotations for me. But I realize that is my own thing. However, in one of Ashley's last paragraph really brings out her point, I think. And (no shock) I still disagree.

"Being in a 50/50 relationship isn't healthy in that, like in a business relationship, there will come a time when you are both head strong and unyeilding. There will be little or no wiggle room for compromise."

I respectfully disagree. Being in a 50/50 relationship does not mean that you don't compromise or that you are unyielding. In fact, I think it implies that you *both* compromise and yield at different times in order to make it 50/50. You can't get your way all the time, so you compromise. I would find it a bit offensive if I had to agree that whenever there was a "close" debate that my husband had the final say all the time. And I just because I do feel that I am equal does not mean I "carry the worry or stress of being what the secular world considers equal to my husband."

----------------------------

As for the "seasons" thing, I totally get that. I want so so so much to be able to help other people. I want to go march or make phone calls or volunteer. But the needs of my highly sensitive kids require much of my time at home. My job right now is helping them learn to be productive, compassionate members of society. That's where I"m at in my season. And seasons change.
girlcarew   Wednesday, February 27, 2013
hawkwolf
There is one aspect of this discussion that needs to be clarified on my part and that is based on my experience, I have seen many husbands give up promising career advancement just because the family was in a comfort zone living near family. Since, I was a military brat, it was a known that every two years you were going to be moving, making new friends and going to a new school usually in a different part of the country or overseas.
BeanCounter37   Monday, March 4, 2013
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