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The RESPECT DARE40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband
By NINA ROESNER
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2012 Nina Roesner
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDARE 1
You've noted that you want to improve the state of your marriage and bring it to a place where it honors and glorifies God. Even if your marriage is good, you can take it to a new level of greatness. There is always room for improvement.
What small, tangible things would you expect to see changed in your marriage that would indicate progress was being made?
An expectation that you might write for yourself is, "Refrain from telling my husband what to do or how to do things." We have expectations of ourselves, but we want to stop clinging to expectations of our husbands, so we are also going to write expectations we've carried from the past and give them to God. For example, "My husband rubs my back or gives me a hug nearly every day."
Now, in your journal, under the heading "Expectations for My Progress," write out three tangible, measurable statements that would indicate progress is being made for you.
On a separate piece of paper, under the heading "Expectations of My Husband That I Release," write three tangible, measurable statements that are expectations you have held for your husband.
Do not share these expectations with your spouse, but instead, take the paper with your expectations for your husband written on it, and place it in a sealed envelope. Put a date exactly six months from now on the envelope. Clip the envelope in the correct month on your calendar, and resist the temptation to think about it. Just continue moving forward in your learning about and application of respect for the next six months. At the end of the six months, open your envelope, go to our website, and receive further instructions on what to do with the list.
Pray the following now:
Heavenly Father, I know that I can "lay my requests before you" and then "wait in expectation" of your provision (Psalm 5:3). My soul finds rest in you alone, and all my hope comes from you. Proverbs 16:3 tells me that if I "commit" whatever I do to you, then my "plans will succeed." I claim that promise now, Lord, and ask you for this success in my marriage.
Make me like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream and does not fear when heat comes. Its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.
Father, I want to bear much fruit for your glory through the context of my marriage. Please help me do so, as I cannot do it on my own! No one is like you, O Lord, majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders!
Father, I know that you have ordained me to stay in my marriage. My heart aches to feel loved by the man you have given me—and sometimes (or often) I do not. Please help me release these expectations to you, Lord. I eagerly await what you will teach me in the next six months—I look forward to growing and reflecting on that growth in the future.
I humbly dedicate my efforts to you, my Lord, and pray that they are pleasing to you. Amen.
Chapter TwoDARE 2
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. —Proverbs 9:10 NIV
All of us are affected by our childhoods and the examples of marriage and family that our parents set for us. Much wisdom ensues from sifting through it, finding and implementing the "good stuff" and tossing out the " junk." We can choose whether to repeat the past or learn from it.
Joyce recalled a time when she was eight years old, upstairs in her bedroom playing with Barbie dolls. She was wondering why it was so quiet in the house. Her dad was home from work and they had finished dinner not too long ago, but the familiar sounds—conversations, the TV, her parents' movements on the wood floor—weren't there. She left her room, checking her parents' empty bedroom on the way, headed downstairs, and realized they weren't there either. She opened the back door, heading out to their detached garage. She froze in the doorway as she heard angry voices in the garage. She couldn't make out all that was being said, but she finally heard her mom say in a raised voice, "If you cared, you'd show it—if I leave you, I'll take everything, including your daughter!"
Joyce remembered being really scared and worrying that something bad was going to happen to her dad. The screen door to the house, which she had been holding open, slipped and slammed behind her. The voices quieted, the garage door opened, and out peered her mom. Her face was red, and she looked really upset.
"What do you need?" her mom asked her.
"I was wondering where you were," Joyce said.
"Go back in the house. Your dad and I are having a discussion," she replied.
"Are you mad?" Joyce asked her.
"Go back in the house!" her mom yelled. Joyce turned and ran inside and then spent the next several months wondering if her parents were planning to get a divorce, worrying that she might come home from school and her mom would be stealing her away from her father.
As Joyce grew up, this pattern repeated itself. Rarely did she see her parents have a disagreement, despite the frequent tension in the air—it was not to be discussed in front of her. But when conflict did come out in the open, it was an emotional affair, full of threats and shouting. As she got older, Joyce learned what it was like to be on the receiving end of this, particularly in her teenage years. Today, Joyce is thirty-eight, but the impact this situation has had on her marriage is simple—she never saw conflict resolved in a healthy way and for years struggled with how to discuss difficult things with her own husband.
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What about you? Be aware that your experience with your parents' marriage as a child has impacted the experiences, beliefs, and unconscious behaviors in your own marriage. Some of these beliefs are healthy; some are not. Sometimes our beliefs are not grounded in the Truth, but these beliefs still become the filter through which we see our own circumstances. For example, a child may think she is the cause of her mom and dad's marital conflicts.
Today, pray and ask for wisdom in understanding a key experience that has impacted the way you currently walk through marriage. After praying, wait for an incident to come to mind and work with it to answer the questions.
Say this prayer:
Lord God, it is my desire to make sense of my childhood experiences in a way that releases me from any inaccurate perceptions that color my current experience of marriage. Father, I ask that you bring to mind a specific incident from my childhood that taught me something about marriage—reveal to me your perfect Truth and show me any lies that I have chosen to believe as a result of that incident. Show me how this one event impacts how I currently interact with my husband. Release me from the falsehoods, and reveal to me the Truth. I pray for your divine revelation and wisdom, my Lord. Amen.
So What About You?
1. In one sentence, respond to the following questions about the incident that came to mind: Who was there? When was this incident? Where were you?
2. What happened? If this is something that happened many times, pick one of those times and describe it as best as you can, as if you were reliving that moment in time.
3. What was revealed to you about how you interact in marriage as a result of this incident?
4. What possible interpretations exist of that one event? For example, in Joyce's story, one possible interpretation of the event could be, "My negative feelings are to be hidden and denied to others." List as many as you can in seven minutes.
5. Write out a prayer of release from any unhealthy habits of thinking you've developed as a result of that incident.
Chapter ThreeDARE 3
Introspection: Biblical Wife
I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve. —Jeremiah 17:10 NIV
For this dare, you will assess your current state using a tool that addresses various aspects of being a biblical wife. We want to clearly communicate that not all marriages are created to be the same. What works in one woman's marriage may not work in another. Whether or not we are working moms may affect how our roles play out in our homes too. Thankfully, nowhere in the Bible does it say that women are the only ones capable of doing laundry! Some godly women manage their homes by encouraging everyone to pitch in on the work, others hire services to take care of housekeeping, and still others do all the work themselves. We do not pretend to know what works best in your marriage, nor do we prescribe a "one-size-fits-all" approach.
One woman may have a husband who really enjoys cooking dinner and, after a hard day at work, chooses to unwind by preparing a meal for his family. Another may be married to a husband who wants no part of that particular task. Do you see how taking that away from the first husband would be a negative, but a positive for the second? One woman may be driving her child to private school, another putting hers on the bus for public school, and still another spending the day homeschooling. Some do not even have children. You will see as you go through the assessment that there are generalized terms used, rather than specific ones, in an effort to deal with the different experiences that people have.
One thing you will learn from this book and from the many stories from Daughters of Sarah is that what works in one woman's marriage may not work in yours. Remember that the stories told in these chapters are merely examples of how one or two women chose to apply the concept of respect and, oftentimes, that day's scripture.
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The following assessment addresses aspects of what the Bible encourages for us as wives. As God searches our hearts and examines our minds, may we, with hearts desiring to please him, search too.
Prayerfully, but quickly, consider each assessment question and check those that are opportunities for your own development. Then respond to the "So what about you?" questions that follow.
Do I spend consistent time in prayer?
Do I read the Bible frequently?
Do I daily make decisions based on what I think would please God?
Is my heart filled with gratitude for all God has done for me?
Do I live my life for God, or am I more concerned about what other people think?
Am I more concerned with being holy or being happy?
Are things "under control" at home (laundry, dishes, cleaning, etc.)?
Is our home a relaxing and comfortable place for my family?
Am I able to do what God calls me to do in my home without excessive stress related to its appearance?
Am I comfortable when people come by unannounced?
Am I well organized in my time management, and do I comfortably and effectively handle multiple responsibilities?
Am I concise in my communication, or do I ramble and go off on tangents?
Am I considered a good listener?
Do I speak the "language of respect" to my husband unconditionally?
Does my husband confide in me?
Do I handle disagreements well and yet get my point across without upsetting others?
Am I critical or sarcastic when speaking to my husband?
Do I ever criticize my husband in public?
Do I often get emotional or judgmental when my husband opens up to me?
Do I regularly point out things others do well?
Do others perceive me as a positive person or a complainer?
Confident and Assured Woman
Am I considered a confident person?
Do people perceive me as arrogant or aggressive, timid or fearful?
Do I feel courageous enough to do what God wants me to do?
Do I have a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline, or do I have a spirit of fear and timidity?
Do I worry about what the future will bring?
Do I know God's purposes for my life and trust that he will help me succeed?
Am I confident in initiating intimacy?
Do I feel a need to manipulate others, or am I confident?
Do I handle life's challenges and problems gracefully?
Does my husband have confidence in me?
So What About You?
1. How did you feel doing the evaluation?
2. Where do you think those feelings came from?
3. Can those feelings be trusted? Why or why not?
4. What are the two aspects from above that you feel most led to improve upon at this time? Why?
5. What would happen if you were able to grow significantly in those two aspects during the next forty days?
6. What would that mean for your relationships with God and your husband?
Pray that God helps you see your way through to the growth he desires. Ask his help in making changes in your life. Ask God to equip you and grow you in the area of respectful communication with your husband.
Chapter FourDARE 4
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." —Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. —Isaiah 55:11–12 NIV
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! —Psalm 139:15–17 NLT
Did you know that God has a vision for your life? He has specific purposes in mind that you were specially created to breathe life into for his people and his glory. If you are married, one of the purposes for your life is to become holy within the context of marriage, shining his light to the world.
Using the assessment you did for Dare 3, write a positive purpose statement in the present tense, describing how and who you intend to be in your marriage in four months. Use "I am" language, as opposed to "I want to be" or "I will." Note that the tense is current, as if it were already a reality.
Keep your statements as positive as possible, avoiding "I'm no longer," "I'm not," or "I don't" statements. Write about two hundred words, being as descriptive as possible. Here's an example:
I am a woman of strength and dignity who holds her head up in challenging circumstances. I smile at the days to come and am confident, looking forward to what is coming my way. I am my husband's confidante; he entrusts his deepest cares and concerns to me. When I ask him if he feels respected by me, his answer is an enthusiastic "Yes!" I am organized in my home, and my children are able to find whatever they need because everything has a place and is in its place. I have peace in my home and am reliant upon the Lord alone for my happiness. I find my strength and my encouragement in God and spend intentional time with him nearly every day.
It doesn't matter if what you write is currently very far from the truth. What matters most is that you write a positive, present-tensed purpose statement of who you think God has planned for you to be and how you are to interact primarily in your marriage and family. Certainly one could spend time doing this in other areas of life, but for now, you will focus only on your marriage.
When you have finished writing your purpose statement, rewrite it as a prayer and tape it somewhere you will see it a minimum of once a day. Begin the discipline of praying this statement as a daily prayer, from the heart, as you go through the remaining days of The Respect Dare.
Chapter FiveDARE 5
Me and My Big Mouth
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. —James 1:19 NIV
Do you ever feel like God's timing for our husbands is a little different than ours? Moms seem to instinctively know things before anyone else. Even if we aren't mothers, there are still those times it takes our husbands a little longer to come to the same conclusion we have.
Wise women know that even if they might already have the right answer, they just need to be patient while they wait for God to teach their spouse. Whether you have children or not, in this next Daughter of Sarah story, you'll be able to identify with what Jan is going through in knowing the truth before her husband does.
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Jan sat across the table from her husband, finding her mind wandering while listening to Tim talk about his big project at work and worrying about her two girls, ages two and five. They had dropped them at Tim's mom's house an hour before, and her mother-in-law seemed a little confused when they arrived. Having seen her several other times during the prior weeks, Jan noticed her confusion seemed to be worsening. She had concerns about leaving them there and had asked Tim about it before they left home. He insisted, however, that the girls would be fine. So far nothing had happened, and she thought she was probably being overly cautious.
As they sat in the restaurant, enjoying a quiet dinner to themselves, Tim's cellphone rang just as they were finishing dessert, and Jan could tell he was talking to their five-year-old.
"What happened? Calm down and speak slower.... Let me talk to Grandma. Mom, what's happened? What do you mean? I don't understand, can you just tell me what happened? start at the beginning."
Excerpted from The RESPECT DARE by NINA ROESNER Copyright © 2012 by Nina Roesner. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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