2016 did not afford me the creative energy I needed to write much. But, it did leave me with many new messages to share in the days ahead. For my first 2017 blog post, I intended to write about "the hardest prayer I've ever prayed" or "my goal to write my first book." However, this is the one I must write, the place I am currently living.
Disclaimer: this post is about marriage. However, I pray it will speak to any reader. For as with most messages, I believe it can apply to other relationships, especially our relationship with God! Also, this is NOT a post about domestic violence. That's a whole deeper issue, and I ask anyone caught in it's snare to seek help, please!
During my daily devotions, the first of the year, I felt led to read the book of Malachi, specifically chapter 2. When I did, one passage stood out to me, and has stayed with me ever since.
“The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one HE SHOULD PROTECT,” says the Lord Almighty. Malachi 2:16 NIV (Emphasis added, mine)
After reading the passage, I could not shake the word PROTECT! Wow, God was telling husbands to PROTECT their wives! Then, it dawned on me, thirty-four years ago, this message was often taught and modeled to my new husband and me. Sadly, it's a message I rarely hear taught or see modeled today.
When I told my husband, he asked, "Do I protect you?"
I answered honestly, "When you think about it. And, ... when I let you."
1) Intentional Protection
You see, the type of protection I believe God intends for a husband and wife, (and, truly, for His relationship with each one of us), is where a husband (wives, this applies to us too, Proverbs 31:10-12), can see or sense what we cannot or will not see or sense ourselves. Then, he can offer loving guidance when we may be too tired, too busy, too stubborn, or too caught up in our own stuff to perceive that we might be headed for trouble, which potentially could lead to disaster, which, in turn, could possibly harm ourselves and/or others.
This protection, however, must be intentional! A husband (or wife) must be aware of and alert to his role to care for the one he loves, to pray for her, and when necessary, in love, to say something that, quite honestly, may not be well-received, at first.
2) Received Protection
I mentor many women, beautiful, savvy, intelligent, strong and independent women who tell me, "I want my husband to lead. I want him to protect me. I just don't want him to tell me what to do or how or when to do it!"
Therein lies the rub. I have witnessed husbands, who sincerely want to protect their wife, become frustrated when she is obviously unwilling to receive it. Then, if he continues in his attempt to protect it can come across as combative or controlling. On the flip side, I've seen husbands who finally become discouraged and give up all together. Neither are God's best plan for protection in a marriage.
3) God's Protection
My husband and I have been there ourselves. Thankfully, I have a good man who has always believed in and supported my dreams and desires. However, he has also been the voice of protection. Although, I didn't always hear his words that way, like when he would gently tell me, "it may not quite be time yet." Or, his loving reminder, "Don't forget about us! Remember, you are a wife and a mom too." Often, my initial response was anger and frustration, because I felt like he was trying to squelch my plans.
I remember when I talked to my husband about signing up for a writers workshop. My protector, for no logical reason to me, lovingly told me, "I don't think it's a good idea."
He didn't say no! But, he didn't say yes, either. It had seemed like a perfect plan to me. Oh, I was furious. I chased away more than a few mean thoughts, as I prayed about what to do. Hadn't I waited long enough, Lord? And, that's when I heard His still small voice, "Cathy, do you trust ME to lead you through your husband?"
Humbled, convicted, squirming in my soul, I had only one answer, "Yes, Lord, I trust you! But, I don't like him very much right now." (By the way, I didn't sign up for the workshop. And, indeed, it turned out to be a very timely decision, as unforeseen "storm clouds" were soon on our horizon).
Ironically, OR NOT, I know it was God who led me to this particular passage about the word PROTECT, because my husband and I have forgotten to be intentional about protecting our marriage. And, honestly, I have not been allowing my husband to protect me.
This new year, as I have pondered God's plan for protection, I realized that in all the fullness and busyness and sweetness that is our lives, we often find ourselves spread thin. And this is all because we have neglected to simply check-in with each other. To call or text and ask, "Does this invitation, activity, event, or ... work with your schedule? Are you up to this? Am I up to this?" And, most important, "Is this what God would have us to do?"
And so, as I write this post, I am reminded and refocused on being more intentional about protecting our marriage. As well as me willingly receiving protection for my guy. All while, trusting God to protect us both.
How about you? Married or not, God longs to protect us all! Who does God use in your life to voice words of protection, words you may not even really want to hear, at the time. I would love to hear from you!