A few months ago I started watching the show Scandal. The show has so many twists and turns that it’s almost impossible to not want to know what happens the next week. Olivia Pope, the main character, is intelligent, makes quick decisions, and saves people’s lives. Her team is devoted to her completely. They do whatever she says, however she says, whenever she says it. She is likable in the midst of all the political madness, cover-ups, and illegal behavior.
Olivia. Fitz. Mellie.
And tied into all the scandal and madness, Olivia Pope is having an affair with the president of the United States. The show is set up in a way that makes the viewer love their relationship and hate the First Lady. It’s a trap that is easy to fall into. Mellie, the first lady, is fierce. She is selfish and only supports her husband because she wants to be on top too. They’ve had a political marriage and she’s good at smiling and saying the right thing at the right time. The public loves her. But behind the scenes, she’s all about power and helping her husband claw his way to the top.
If you follow on twitter, people love Olivia and Fitz (the president). People love their relationship and cheer for them to work out! But what are they really cheering for? They are cheering for adultery. They are cheering against marriage. They are saying, in essence, that there is a time when it’s okay for someone to cheat on his wife. They are saying that if people are really in “love,” then the “rules” don’t matter.
It’s just a show, but it reveals our hearts. Our reaction to this is only a reflection of real life. Then I have to ask, do we praise adultery? Do we cheer for it when we feel there is a good reason? If the answer is yes, which as a society it very well may be, I think that it’s time to examine our hearts. Turn back to God. And see where He stands on it.
It’s a regular Sunday morning. I’m wearing a cute Sunday morning dress with my favorite black heels. My husband and I are chatting it up as we walk toward the church building. Then I see them (not too far ahead of us) walking in the same direction. They are holding hands.
My mind begins to fill in all the blanks of their relationship from that moment. They are holding hands, so they must be in love. Not only in love, but they like each other. A lot. Enough to interlock their fingers in the mid-morning mist and humidity. They’ve probably been married for about five years and have two adorable and well-behaved children. I couldn’t see the children, but that’s probably because they were walking so nicely and quietly ahead of their parents. He probably has a perfect job that allows mama to stay home. He never gets angry or hot-headed and even when he does, she is full of grace and gentleness. I imagine that their house is clean – Martha Stewart clean – and they have all their original teeth.
Then I think, why aren’t we holding hands? That perfect, beautiful couple holds hands. They have it so much more together than we do. Maybe we don’t love each other well enough. Maybe I’m too messed up for my husband to want to hold my hand. Maybe he needs to step it up and love me better (you know, like Christ loves the church! Always holding her hand!). I will spare you the other places my mind goes in that moment.
All of a sudden – it may have taken you two minutes to read that, but it took less time for me to get there – I’ve worked myself into a quick funk. It didn’t last long. I realized what was happening. However, it still happened. It’s like I want to kill my joy. It’s like I don’t know that comparison (even the kind that I make up in my head) kills joy. It’s as if I don’t believe all the goodness that He has for me.
I’m thankful that I caught it quickly. I’m thankful that I didn’t allow those thoughts to fester and cause conflict in my marriage in this moment. Learning, remember, every day, to keep my eyes steadily on my Lord. And to not get caught up in those wayward moments of being sidetracked and allowing my mind to wander in the worst ways.
Sometimes, I fancy myself brilliant. I had a thought, an insight, and someone was helped, nay, blessed by it. My shared thought made her think in a way that she hadn’t before of the situation. It gave her a little something to do with her thoughts and feelings to get them sorted out.
Do you think me arrogant yet? Prideful? I hope so, because that is precisely the point.
We (I say we but I mean I and I don’t want to be alone on this one) have a tendency to do just that. Great advice was handed to us through another medium and we passed it on to a friend. Of course we can’t remember where that wisdom came from, so it must be our own. Or we share a bit of our personal story so that they know that we’ve been there then give insight into the situation because of our experience. That’s not bad – in and of itself. The problem comes in who gets the glory. Is it you? Is it me? If it’s either of us, then we’re wrong. Completely wrong. Dead wrong.
He gives us wisdom. He gives us insight. When knowledge or understanding come from us, it’s because He allows us and gives to us. The wisdom is to lead her to Christ, not to myself. It’s not about me. I don’t think that I can say that enough. It’s not about me. Thank you, Lord, for giving me wisdom today.
If the year was 1925 and I were a white woman, I would probably be a feminist. I would be marching in the streets trying to get my right to vote. I would probably stand up for women to be treated equally to men and my husband would probably be standing right by me. In total agreement.
The year is 2013. Feminism is no longer about being treated well and seen as an equal in the eyes of the government or society. It isn’t about getting the right to vote or not being beaten by our husbands or allowed to work outside of the home. Now it’s in the name of “women’s rights” that we allow millions of babies to be aborted. It’s in the name of “women’s rights” that we counsel women to leave their husbands when they can’t agree on whether or not she should stay home when they have kids.
I can’t say that represents where I stand at all. My Lord tells me that I am to submit to my husband. That command is to me, not to him. It is for me to choose to put myself under him so that I can encourage, lift, and help him. Jesus spoke to women. He valued them highly enough that it made many men uncomfortable. The Word tells men to love their wives like Christ loves the church and to lay down his life for her. Why would God tell men to love their wives like that if women were inconsequential? We have purpose. We have overlapping and individual purposes.
God created us on purpose and with purpose. That purpose is not to beat down men or raise ourselves above them. It’s not to pretend that men and women are exactly the same. Our differences are good and should be celebrated. It’s not to do what he has called men to do or not to do what he has called us to do. This isn’t about personality or preference. I’ve decided – as much as my opinion on the issue matters – that what the Bible says about it is what I will thrive for. It’s okay if it makes people uncomfortable or angry. It’s okay if someone tells me that I’m setting women back. I love my Lord and my husband too much to ignore this command.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:22
I had the honor of going with my friend, Lara, and one of her friends to hear her speak on Saturday morning. Mugs and muffins. Everyone brought a mug for coffee. They had regular, decaf, and more sugars, creamers and coffee flavors than I’ve ever seen at a self-serve event. I helped myself to regular coffee in a hello mornings mug with a little pumpkin flavored syrup. Behind the coffee was an array of muffins. I had one baked with oreos (of course). They had blueberry, cranberry, meat and nuts, and many many others.
Lara got up front and lead us all to the Word. She spoke about her life. It wasn’t just a feel good message. She reminded us that wilderness moments would come. And that those moments could be lonely, desolate, and full of solitude. However, they are not purposeless. God gives life, strength, and hope regardless of circumstance. She shared a quote from John Piper, “God does not play catch up with His enemies.” It was great! I got to sit at the table to sell her books, To Walk or Stay. While sitting, I got to talk with one of her other friends who I met last year at the women’s retreat.
I left that little morning getaway full of hope and joy. The Lord is on my side! He will meet me where I am. He will gives me the desires of my heart when I am aligned with Him. I spent time gleaning from women who have been married longer than me and soaking up their wisdom.
Then I got home. One sideways glance and unpleasant moment with my husband and it all went away. I failed. Immediately.
I spent the whole morning being filled. Reminded. Taught. Then I spent the whole night playing my hurt feelings over and over and over.
Ugh. Of course. I’m so glad that His mercies are new every morning and that His grace is sufficient. I’m thankful that His thoughts of me are not based on who I am, but on who He is and His Son’s sacrifice for me. Today I’m remembering. Remembering and meditating on Truth. Today, this moment, I am not being ruled by my circumstances or emotions. Today I am looking at my life through the lenses of my Savior, not the other way around.