Sunday, May 21, 2006

Reading / Respect

Been reading a ton lately.... and have wanted to blog about it - so I'll commit myself publicly and come back as I can... but one of my new favorite books is "The Cross Examination of Christ", by Randy Singer.
It's worth it's own post so I will come back to it.

Also, Jason and I got to go to a Family Life Marriage Seminar a couple of weeks ago - and while there we picked up two books by Shaunti Feldhahn - "For Women Only' is the one I am reading, and Jason is reading the one for guys. ("For Men Only." Of course Jason, being the overachieving reader - is reading both.
I have to admit, I'm always embarrassed to read things that sound so simple but they are for me a 'lightbulb' or 'aha' moment - but I embrace them the same, and for me, today, I read a little part in this book that turned the light on.

In the book, Shaunti sets forth the results of a survey asking men whether they would rather feel unloved and unwanted, or inadequate and disrespected. Results overwhelmingly showed that while the majority of women would rather feel disrespected, most men would rather feel unloved. And there is a difference. That alone made me think twice.

Which would you rather feel?

When it comes to respecting my husband, I think much of the difficulty with this for me personally is defining respect. Most often we start and work from the definitions in our own head - which is great if your definition matches up with the one who's expectations you are trying to meet. But it's takes a while in life to discover you might need to check in and make sure your definintion is the same in the first place before you start trying to plan all the ways to live up to it!

She mentions that if we want to be clued in, a 'disrespect barometer' in men is anger.

Very simple.
Very a-ha for me.

I know we do it to men .... a simple comment and all the sudden they find themselves in a muck with us they didn't see coming and want desperately to get out of, and they can't even figure out how they got there in the first place. It's so clear to us, and to every woman we might later share it with. :-)
But as intuitive as we think we are, we just don't get that we do the very same things just as cluelessly.

'I'm just trying to help'.
'It's so obvious what needs to be done...'
'If you would just...'

And if you are like me, (and female), you may read those phrases, think of the last time you thought or said them, and can justify exactly why you were right.
Umm Hmm.

That's what I didn't get. I'm a help meet... a ' helper' - thats what I DO... I'm supposed to help! Right? How in the world can I offer help and not come across critical?!? Doesn't the very nature of a correction or help suggest some level of inadequacy? Hmmm.. I wonder... does it have to ? Or do we just carelessly let it?

"The funny thing is- most of us do respect the man in our lives and often don't realize when our words or actions convey exactly the opposite. We may be totally perplexed when our man responds negatively in a conversation, helplessly wondering, What did I say? Combine this with the difficulty many men have articulating their feelings (i.e., why they are upset), and you've got a combustible - and frustrating situation." ( p.24)

I recognize the anger when it happens.... but am just now learning to backtrack to the last few things I said and recheck them for something that could be understood as disrespect or condescension. Sometimes it's obvious... I know what I meant and I know how it sounded. And he's got a reason to be angry and I've got a responsibility to repent. But sometimes it is a genuine mistake - and checking in with him on how he understood what I just said helps - offering different words as well as encouragement helps lessen the tension and keeps us on track of what we really want to talk about rather than tripping us off into an emotional 'discussion' neither of us really enjoys of the past and present mistakes we make with each other.

Most of all, from the seminar and these few pages - I loved learning about the source of respect, again. It's counter-cultural, and so I needed to be reminded of it. The world doesn't often set out to reinforce God's truths... so if we just 'go with the flow' of what's around us, we will find ourselves quickly as unhappy as the rest of the married couples we are called to be a light to.

"Just as you want the man in your life to love you unconditionally, even when you're not particularly lovable, your man needs you to demonstrate your respect for him regardless of whether he's meeting your expectations at the moment. ( A-HA!)(Duh - I know... but still A- ha!)
'We've become such a love- dominated culture,' Dr. Eggerichs says. (Of Love and Respect.) 'Like the Beatles said,'All you need is love.' So we've come to think that love should be unconditional, but respect must be earned. Instead, what men need is unconditional respect - to be respected for who they are {i.e. our husbands}, apart from how they do."
"... Just as our men can choose to demonstrate love towards us even if they don't feel it at the moment, we can and should choose to demonstrate respect toward them. In fact, the Greek word translated as 'respect' in Ephesians (5) , phobeo, means to be in awe of , to revere. It's not just a matter of bland regard. We are supposed to be highly valuing our men! " ( pgs. 26, 27, For Women Only)

God gives us the ability to do that - to offer respect unconditionally and to highly value - based on worth much more than just in the moment. We might not be practiced at it, and it may seem foreign, especially in those moments of conflict or disagreement, but that is when it is all the more applicable. After all, we are thankful when they choose to love us in our unloveable moments.... and we have a lot of them. We might find a lot more of our unloveable moments covered by unconditional love as we offer the same kind of respect.

God's wisdom is amazing. When we give up on the game of 'who goes first'.... and just obey God in relating to our mate for the sake of HIS worthiness.... we find alot more of the peace, hope and genuine contentment His truth promises.

When I sit down and think about it... I have no problem with respect. I think my husband is wonderful, and I can think of non-stop reasons why. Now, however, to let that be the mindset of every moment, not just the ones with an absence of conflict.
To let God's wisdom be the guide of my role in marriage... so that He can be more fully glorified. ( And Jason and I both would reap the fringe benefits of that...:-)

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