I have to be honest. I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of weeks. Well, more like a few weeks. Ok, I’ve been sitting on this post for 8 weeks, a little more than two months. Sorry. But here goes…
I had a big aha moment during community group 8 weeks ago when the ladies discussed the week’s sermon on ‘The Respectful Wife’. Our church was leading a campaign among other churches based on the book Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together and I, as a single girl, was timidly leading the discussion among several godly and married women.
Truth be told, I had loved the sermon. Everything that I had heard coupled with the corresponding book chapter that I had read moved me. Yes, I wanted to be a godly wife. Yes, I wanted to help my husband in a sweet, strong, and biblical way. Yes, I wanted to serve him and my family with Jesus’ love (just as I would hope that he would seek to serve me). There was just one thing, or rather person, in the way and that person was me.
You see, I have nagging tendencies. Remarkably, I can nag both verbally and non-verbally. I know this about myself. Despite my best intentions, my approach to talking to people about hard things either comes across as preachy, close-minded, or, and this is the worst, accusatory. Have you ever heard about how, when giving constructive criticism, you should give a compliment sandwich starting with something nice, then introducing something critical, and then end with something nice? Well, it seems that I can never find the nice bread. Instead, I have historically let observations, thoughts, or determinations slowly build inside until they come out in an abrupt and flustered accusation. Gross, right?
The Holy Spirit has been working on this with me but I’m nowhere near to where I’d like to be. As such, as we approached the sermon and then the community group discussion, I was nervous. I had gone over all of the recommended questions but was not looking forward to answering any of them. In theory, I knew that one of the most important duties a woman is charged with in marriage in the role of wife will be to learn how to disagree with and counsel her husband. How could I, the percolating accuser, ever learn to do this? I was especially concerned about how this would play out in a relationship if the dating season was really sweet and easy but marriage was a rough adjustment. If it so happens that we are all on our best behavior while we date, I felt terrible about the potentiality of me morphing into a monster who now had the freedom to show her true colors as a married woman. In no way would I want my husband to think to himself, “Who did I marry?” as I tried to be honest and open with him.
In terms of Christian metaphors, I was struggling with how to carry salt into a dating-then-marriage relationship. According to Dr. Henry Morris,
[Christians] are therefore expected to bring the salt of preservation and joy to a bland, tasteless, and otherwise decaying world, and the light of salvation to a dark, sinful world.
I thought my delivery would be rough (rock salt in the eye!) rather than tender, helpful, or constructive.This nearly led me to resolving to just not carry any salt by deciding to never criticize my husband or just not get married. The salt was simply too tough to carry.
Thankfully, there was a pointed question in the Real Marriage curriculum which spoke to me. As I read it out loud to our group, I got a sense of urgency in my chest as my brain and heart worked together to form conclusions. The question was this:
How does the cross provide freedom for you to disagree with, counsel, encourage and submit to your husband respectfully?
As the question sunk in, a common mental picture that I have of Jesus suffering on the cross gained an additional dimension. You see, I have always believed that Jesus, as part of the Trinity, has the attributes of God: omnipotence (He reigns over all), omnipresence (He is everywhere), and omniscient (He knows everything). As such, I have always assumed that when Christ suffered on the cross He knew every person He would save in that moment. To think that my face and name were included in Jesus’ thoughts as He paid for the penalty of the sins of the world has always been astounding. Now, as I was asked to refer back to the cross to find the freedom to answer Jesus’ calling to serve my husband was, well, indescribable. In that moment, the following truths combined to make perfect sense:
- God cares about my well-being in a personal way.
- God cares about my well-being in such a personal way that he has chosen a man who loves Him for me to marry.
- God cares about my well-being in such a personal way that he has chosen a man who loves Him for me to marry so that we can serve His kingdom together.
- God cares about my well-being in such a personal way that he has chosen a man who loves Him for me to marry so that we can serve His kingdom together. This kingdom is the kingdom that was made possible by Jesus’ death and resurrection.
In light of this, I came to understand that carrying salt is not a burden to be neglected or feared but a mandate that is to fully embraced and executed lovingly. Better yet, by confessing my proclivity to stumble, the Holy Spirit has promised to help me.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:26-28 ESV)
As the truth settled in that my future husband’s and my lives were made by God and valued enough by Jesus to die for, I could only come to one conclusion:
I will carry salt.