Since last Tuesday, I have finished the book; but even before I finished it, I began putting into practice the Biblical principles--acting on the Biblical commands--that Debi discusses in CTBHHM. As I neared the end of the book, I thought, "My life will never be the same." On almost the last page, Debi exhorts us,
"Where you were once ignorant of God's plan, now you have the truth concerning your role as a help meet. Nothing will ever be the same. Fear God."
Yep. She's not kidding.
Chapter Three: A Thankful Spirit
All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.
I have been convicted lately that my attitude, as we say in the South, needs some adjustment. Increasingly I allowed myself to become angry easily, to walk around with an irritable spirit, to be annoyed at any little thing. I missed our house, friends and family back home (we moved from South Carolina to California last year), and I allowed myself to become discontent with my current circumstances. Even though we have all we need. Even though we have a wonderful church family. Even though I have a loving husband. When I look at it that way, I am so ashamed at my selfish disregard for all God has done in my life!
GOD placed me here. GOD knows what He is doing...and I can either get on board with what He's doing and enjoy the ride, or I can huddle in misery at the station and miss the train. The train's destination is peace, joy, contentment and all the fruit of the Spirit.
Debi warns me that a
"downcast, unthankful attitude is a dishonor to God and an attack upon your husband's ego....Quite often our attitudes hang in the balance; by making a conscious choice, we can tip our souls into dark moods of complaining, or into thankfulness and praise. It is amazing how much your mouth controls your soul. You can smile with your mouth and say, 'Thank you, God; thank you, husband; thank you, children,' and your spirit is directed into gratitude with joy following." (emphasis mine)
I've been practicing smiling and being thankful this week. I've laughed at things that normally would have drawn my ire, praying the whole way, whole-heartedly, consciously reacting differently. And the fruit is already there.
Chapter Four: Thanksgiving Produces Joy
What do you think is more pleasing to God and to your husband: a mopey, angry, annoyed martyr, or a smiling, laughing, playful, vivacious woman? Debi encourages wives to be the latter for their husbands.
"He [her husband] thinks I am perfectly wonderful, not because I am a beautiful woman....It happened and continues to happen because of the choices I make every day. I never have a chip on my shoulder, no matter how offended I have a right to be--and I do have reasons to be offended regularly. Every day, I remember to view myself as the woman God gave this man."
How many times have I acted like Ryan's mother instead of his HELPER and his friend? Debi points out throughout the book that we are not meant to be our husband's conscience, Holy Spirit, or Mommy. Trust me, he doesn't need that, and our nagging only makes things worse, for ourselves and for him.
I am practicing shutting my big yap when I normally would think it an opportune time to voice my opinion or tell him "how it is." (Yes, this is an embarrassing post...but you guys already know how deeply flawed I am! And I can guarantee you that Ryan knows!)
And in the midst of all this smiling gratitude I've been cultivating this week, an amazing thing has happened. As I mentioned above, the fruit has already started to bud on the tree. I am dumbfounded at God's mercy and grace. I told Ryan this weekend that the Lord has used this book to dramatically change my life, and he kindly said, "I've noticed the change, and I want to do whatever I need to do to help things stay this way." :) This week has been one of the best of our marriage...and I say that with due shame. It's so, so easy, and I've made it so hard with my own selfishness, stubbornness and pride.
But the tide is turning. I will never be the same.