Do You Know Me?
This is a long read but well worth it. My friend Kyle Hargrove wrote this and I asked him if I could post this on my blog. He said Go For It!
It’s difficult to even contemplate. Have you ever thought about the hundreds of thousands of ways our lives are impacted every day because of our relationships with other people? Wow! Just sitting here thinking about it has my brow furrowed in wonder. If you do give it some thought, my guess is that you, like I, would determine that it is a rhetorical question – one to which we already know the answer. Truth is, there is no way to answer the question with any degree of accuracy. What we can say, however, is that our lives would indeed be a dry, barren desert – hardly worth living – were it not for the good, and even the bad that our relationships are guaranteed to bring. There is nothing like it. When you and another person find common ground and begin to familiarize yourselves with one another, you can almost hear the pieces of the puzzle clicking together.
Discovering common friends and interests, realizing the similarities between your families, and spending enjoyable time getting to know a new friend is almost like a rebirth of sorts. God sometimes sends us new relationships just when we need them most. Remember getting to know your newborn child? An adventure every moment of every day. I remember making a new friend when in my early 20’s. We began to discover first off that we were comfortable with one another. After we determined that we had numerous common interests and passions, a bond was sealed and we have been friends for life. Though he now lives in another state and our contact is very limited, we can pick up where we left off anytime we make contact. We have seen the best and the worst of times together. We’ve been through births, deaths, marriages and divorces, frozen pipes, hurt feelings, ski trips, survival treks, and even years of no contact. I feel that I know this man inside and out. I know the good in him, and I know his faults. Trouble is, he also knows mine!!
Let me tell you about someone else I know – someone who also knows me inside and out, upside and down, good side, bad side, funny side, sad side, over and out, sometimes better than I even know myself. She is my partner for the rest of my life. She eats, sleeps, plays, works, laughs, cries, worships, sings, worries, mothers, cleans, cooks, vacates, and recreates with me. No doubt that she loves me – or that I love her equally. All the things just listed that she does, I do as well. Our relationship is one of reciprocity. Not perfect, but the best ever. We work hard to maintain the philosophy of give first, take last. When implemented, it never fails. As I have shared with clients for more than a decade, those who focus on giving first, are never disappointed with what they receive in return. Those who are constantly worried about “what’s in it for me,” are never satisfied with what they get.
Truth is, however, this relationship poses a problem for me. Though I crave the intimacy that my wife gives out of an overflow, it sometimes makes for trouble in my walk with God, and consequently, my willingness to take on the leadership role in my house. I sort of feel like Adam in the Garden of Eden. God has commanded that this role be mine – not hers. I can picture myself looking upward, hiding behind a bush, wearing only a fig leaf, in desperation, pleading with God. “But Lord, I am having so much trouble doing what you expect. And while we’re on the subject, it’s not me, it’s this woman you gave me!” Now that you have this image burned into your mind, please withhold any comments about the fig leaf. It’s just part of the story.
Here’s the problem. And research shows that I am among the majority of Christian men when this topic is at hand. Men often struggle when it comes to praying with their wives. Our intentions are good. Our motives are pure. But the end result, far too often for many of us, is that we neglect to spend that precious time talking to the Lord with our best earthly friend. We fail to initiate that time together, and have a dozen excuses at the ready. It’s too late, or we’re too tired, or we’ll do it tomorrow, or we’ve already done it once this week, or we don’t feel good, or we have a headache, or we have to get up early, or blah blah blah blah blah.
Do you notice how those excuses sound like the same ones made to avoid sexual intimacy? That’s no coincidence. Women are not as physically attracted to a man who does not fulfill his obligations as the leader of the house – the husband of the wife – or the father of the children. This includes spiritual leadership. And boys, bedtime can be far more adventurous when we get on our knees with our wives instead of getting on our soapboxes against them. Ask any Christian woman. Experiencing spiritual intimacy with their mate increases their desire for the physical blessing as well. But many of our wives have gotten to the point where they’re surprised if we do stop and take the time to pray with them. And I’m not talking about blessing the food at the dinner table. The harsh truth? They have given up on us.
Why is it that we seem to have little or no problem praying for our wives, but not with them? Why can we pray aloud in Sunday School or at the table, but not in the bedroom? Why is it that we can teach a bible lesson to 75 people, but can’t manage to crack that same bible open at home? I think there are two reasons at least.
First, and most obvious, this requires self-discipline, submission and vulnerability – all traits with which men are not often comfortable. Being the spiritual leader in the household means getting on our faces before God, and submitting to Him – DAILY. It means turning over the reins and following His leadership. It means not being in total control. These expectations are unnatural! But so is God. He is supernatural. And so are the blessings we receive from Him when we submit to His will. Numerous times scripture reminds us that He is at his best and strongest, when we are at our weakest. And that’s not a weakened state brought on by hunger or sickness. It’s a “willing weakness” that He’s asking for. Very, very unnatural for a man.
The second reason, however, is the one that seems to be harder for us to get. Why is it that we have such a difficult time with spiritual intimacy when it comes to our wives? I think it’s because they know us. And we know that they know us. They know us better than anyone else. They know our gifts, and abilities, and the best in us, and that’s good. But it’s what else they know that causes the problem.
They know our faults. They know our weaknesses. They know our sins. They know everything about us that we would not want them or anyone else to know. I’ve only recently discovered that the unwillingness to make prayer and bible study a priority with my wife, is because I fear she sees me as a hypocrite. It’s not a “front of the brain” conscious fear, but one that permeates my soul very subtly. It’s hard to recognize. It’s difficult to diagnose. And it’s still a challenge to overcome even after I’ve figured it out.
Know what else it is?
It’s Satan’s best and most utilized tool in the home. God would never put in our minds thoughts that convince us that we are inadequate. But Satan would. God acknowledges our weakness and fallibility. But He forgives those shortcomings and still expects us to do great things. For in Him we are more than conquerors. In Him we are perfect and faultless and blameless. He wants us to go against the flow – break the chain, if you will – and stick out our collective tongues at Satan by breaking out God’s Word and praying it into and for our spouses and children. Sort of a justifiable “nanny-nanny-boo-boo.”
So often the devil’s preferred methods utilize subtlety and a slow erosion of standards and character. Remember that when you see that you are leaving your intentions behind and following through with behavior which is inconsistent, even with your own best intentions.
So, do you know me? If so, it’s a good thing.