This past weekend, Frank and I had the opportunity to get away together. Our friends treated us to FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember getaway. They even watched our daughters for three days. Needless to say, it was a gracious gift. We are forever thankful for our community. Our friends cared enough about our marriage to invest in it. We can’t express our gratitude enough.
Frank and I learned valuable tools in conflict resolution and intimacy. These tools were not only spiritually pointing to Christ, they were practical. It is rare that you will encounter advice that is tangible (biological/scientific) and spiritual in Christian circles, at least the ones I’ve encountered. This, however, was exactly that. There was much breakthrough in our marriage. Frank and I have always had a good marriage, but it could be better. It has been hard and not without lots of work, of course. Thankfully, we learned valuable tools that we just need to remember to implement in reality.
Yes, there were instances that I disagreed with some of the points. It was stated that the most important relationship is the marriage relationship. I understood the intent of this, but I think Christ has to be pursued in spite of family. This means that I will seek God and try to teach Christian living to my family even when my husband isn’t (i.e. I won’t sit around and expect him to take responsibility for our family’s spiritual health). I pray for Frank and for him to take initiative, but I won’t sit idly by and make my spirituality or my children’s be dependent on him or his leadership. Also, I will put God ahead of my husband. I know this is the organization’s desire, and probably assumed, but when attendees might not know Christ, it is important to emphasize this lest we make family an idol itself.
Part of the retreat involved standing in front of your spouse and renewing your vows (not legally, but in front of others and the speakers). One of the lines had women say “I will submit to you.” During that section I said, “I will partner with you.” I understand biblical submission. I probably get caught up in current cultural notions of submission and the semantics of language. However, I don’t always think the man has to have the last say. If I get the final decision and it turns out poor, it isn’t his fault, it’s mine. In the same regard, when he is weak spiritually, I can be the strong one. This holds true in reverse. I believe much more in partnership rather than hierarchy.
Thinking on this though, sometimes I do need to exercise silence. Every thought I have doesn’t need to be expressed. Sometimes my husband might receive the same advice from a man better than he does me. It is in those moments that I need to hold my tongue and not exert the pride of “I told you so”.
If we extrapolate submission, let us use Abraham and Sarah as our example. She called him “Lord” and “master”. When Abraham instructed Sarah to be the pharaoh’s concubine for their safety by pretending to be Abraham’s sister, she “obeyed”. God did intervene and protected her. However, how comfortable are we with that in our American sensitivities? Would we say that isn’t biblical so she could refuse? How would the story have turned out if she did? Scripture doesn’t permit an obstinate nature does it? If it did, would God have said it? I don’t know, but if we are going to demand adherence, then let us be consistent in what we are preaching. This does not mean we have license to sin. Instead, it is a call to truly assess our interpretations and worldview. It is putting Christ at the forefront and bending our wills to him, even if it makes us uncomfortable; be it in liberalism or conservative observation.
Overall though, it was an amazing weekend. Frank and I divulged information we’d bottled for quite some time (with each other of course). We also had hours of uninterrupted study of Scripture, prayer, and conversation. We did minimal screen time, perhaps 30 min-1 hour of TV from Friday night-Sunday afternoon. We invested. Christ redeemed and continues to do so. It is our prayer to see marriages flourish, not for the sake of marriage or family itself, but because marriage is a covenant reflective of Christ’s relationship with the church. We need to do better as Christians and as a church. It is time we started to fight for Christ to shine in us as individuals and as a family (however that looks in your circumstance; couples, kids, empty-nesters, etc.). I have failed more than I care to admit. I know salvation isn’t works based. However, my ministry and shining a light for him will be evident through my love through service.
FamilyLife has many marriage resources. We are implementing the prayer challenge which I know will transform us in supernatural ways for God’s glory.
The organization has parenting advice, which is valuable when culture (like Cosmo magazine) teaches girls as young as 8 that they can be “sexy” and how to do it. *My skin crawled.*
I do recommend these resources.
I also recommend perusing and internalizing Scripture. We will be transformed as a result.
May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven God, please use our marriage as one of the many avenues to complete this divine will.