I was talking today with a sweet young lady who is to become a wife in 28 ½ days – yes, of course she knows the exact number of hours til she becomes a Mrs. but I’ll just leave it at a vague 28 1/2 days.. I was thinking back to my early years of marriage and pondering the things I would do differently in the early years of my marriage to Phil. Here are a few of the musings I came away with:
1. I would have defined my identity in Christ. Becoming Mrs. Philip Smidt threw me into a bigger identity crisis than I ever imagined it would. I had lived in the life and body of Jennifer Munson for 23 years – for better or worse, I knew what to expect of her. Jennifer Smidt, wife of Phil, caused me to rethink my whole purpose and very existence on this planet. Except, it didn’t need to. I needed to look to my Creator and know Him. Then, I needed to understand what He called me in His Word as His chosen daughter. Then, and only then, would being uniquely called to be Phil’s wife make any sense or have any grounding.
2. I would have prepared myself for some serious exposure – and I’m not just talking in the bedroom… Marriage brings together 2 sinners under a covenant for life where each person’s sin is exposed and revealed in the interactions with their spouse.
3. I would have sought to understand that submitting to my husband ONLY flowed out of a heart submitted to Christ. I was trying to put the cart before the horse (or in this case, the actions before the heart) I kept trying to muster up enough submission to let Phil lead me when what I really needed to do was repent of my independence from God, let Him change me at the heart level and beautifully, submission to Phil would overflow from that new heart.
4. I would have taken full responsibility for my personal relationship with Jesus. As a young bride, I really clung to the whole “spiritual leader” thing and over time, realized that I believed Phil being the spiritual leader meant I was off the hook. He was responsible for the spiritual health of our marriage after all. I didn’t truly experience my wrong thinking until our relationship started fraying at the seams and I blamed Phil entirely.
5. I would have prayed more. About the seemingly little things (Lord, please help me learn how to iron a shirt properly) the medium sized things (Lord, please show me how to prepare a balanced meal for my family) and the huge things (Lord, are you sure you want me to quit my job and stay home??)
6. I would have been asking God for a mother’s heart long before I had children. Next to being a wife, being a mother is the most self-revealing role you will encounter. I would have prayed for more selfless love and patience as a new wife because Lord knows, I need unceasing amounts of both and I would have had a jumpstart on aligning my selfish heart to Jesus’ selfless love that mothering requires.
7. I would have found an older godly woman and stalked her. I would have begged her to let me sit at her feet and show me the ways of godly wifing and mothering.
8. I would have owned an ESV journaling Bible. Yes, I realize they did not exist in the early 1990’s but they do today so for the purpose of this writing – you aren’t off the hook. Study bibles are wonderful tools for digging deeper but each of us as wives must simply sit with the words of God before us and see what it is the Holy Spirit that dwells inside you wants you to know and hear. Removes the temptation to distrust the HS in you and always see what the experts have to say. The HS indwells you – let Him speak to you personally.
9. I would have surrendered to the fact that biblical femininity is radically different than what the academic, supposedly “evolved and advanced” world tells me it is. It is not oppressive, boring and second rate – it is freeing, life-giving and the greatest joy and challenge I have ever grabbed hold of.
10. I would have rested more. I’m not talking about “I’m resting with Oprah and bon-bons chilling in the freezer because I don’t deserve this mundane housewife gig” – I am talking about the true rest that only comes from a quiet heart. Elisabeth Elliot wrote a book entitled Keep a Quiet Heart and the title alone convicts and intrgues me. Rest is found in Christ alone – the noise in our hearts and heads comes from listening to too many voices
After 16 years, I can gratefully look back and see what God has taught me about Himself, myself and marriage. I can RECOGNIZE His fingerprints all over my marriage to Phil. My prayer is - no matter where you are in your journey towards becoming a wife or living as a wife for years and years – that you can recount the growth God has shown you and grasp the redemptive thread of His work in your life.