When Stacie first mentioned that she was doing the 30 Day Challenge, I really thought to myself, "Well good for her. Good luck with that, Stace!". I even tried to ignore the bottom of her email where she challenged us to do the same. I knew as soon as I was avoiding it, that it meant I better do it. Funny how the Spirit works!
I thought, well this shouldn't be too bad since Michael is working out of town 4 days a week. We started the challenge, just after he came back from Annual Training. I found out later that when he went to Annual Training he was feeling really distant from me. When he came home, I know I stunned him by my changed attitude and the peace that was between us. What a difference one mouth can make! I've literally changed the whole atmosphere of our home. It brought home to me once again that we, as wives and mothers, wield so much power in this area. We can use that power for good or evil. It is up to us. We have to make the decision to want to be Christ-like. The only way we can do this is supernaturally, through His Spirit! I discovered the hardest part for me was making the initial decision to speak kindly (or keep my mouth shut). Once I made that decision, putting the decision into action wasn't so hard. Thinking before I speak has never been one of my strenghts.
The best result of this challenge has been in the area of intimacy. Because I was being so kind to Michael, we were able to communicate some things in our love life that have been perpetual potholes in the entire 13 years of our marriage. We really heard each other, because we weren't on the defense when we talked about it this time. For the first time we both felt "safe" as we discussed these issues. I've never felt so close to Michael as I do right now.
I also learned that I really needed to work on the way I "launch" him out into the work world, and how he "lands" when he gets home. I really struggle with wanting to do something else while my husband wants to just "be still" together. It is unbelievable difficult for me. One particular challenge for me happened one night when I had just gotten the kidlets to bed. I'd been looking forward to watching a movie I just got in the mail from Netflix (hadn't had time to watch a movie for a week), just got make up off, feet up, and my dear husband surprises me by coming home a day early. I have to tell you I had mixed emotions because of what at first I perceived as his intrusion into my quite evening. I instantly recognized my selfishness and decided to give him a great "landing". I stopped the movie, not to be turned on again until 4 days later, and gave him all my attention that evening. It ended up being a very memorable evening as we talked until 11pm that night. It turns out that he had a meeting in Baker and decided to come home for the night. This was amazing because there was a car show up in Joseph that he'd been talking about going to for weeks. It turns out, he wanted to be with me more than the car show. We had this wonderful discussion where he opened up to me emotionally and thanked me for my willingness to give myself to him completely without holding back. We talked of spiritual matters, too. He is so much more "advanced" spiritually than I had given him credit for. It makes me that much more willing to surrender the leadership of our home to him. It was an amazing night, well worth staying up for. If it hadn't been for the 30 Day Challenge, I probably would have given him a little peck when he came in and went back to watching my movie. Instead God showed me the greater blessing that I would have missed out on had I pursued my own selfish desires. Michael and I have had many "honeymoons" because of his frequent absences. They are such a blessing.
I also had a victory as I put together my daughter's one year birthday party. Usually, I'm such a witch while I'm getting ready for a party. I admit I tend to get very bossy and very short with my loved ones. I made a conscious effort to let things go, sweetly ask, not demand and not try to achieve perfection. Guess what? All my family told me later that it was the best party we've ever thrown! God showed me that it didn't matter that the yard wasn't mowed, house wasn't cleaned or that I didn't have a ton of food. I was able to be a Mary that day instead of a Martha as I sat with my friends and chatted after the party instead of going right to clean up. It was wonderful! All because of MY attitude! I'm amazed at the power of just one positive attitude, how it can make or deflate an event let alone a person. My husband didn't know what to do with his sweet, calm wife. I could tell he was waiting for the other shoe to drop.
30 days is enough time to form a habit. While I certainly haven't achieved perfection in this area of my life (I fail quite often), this challenge has made me so much more aware when I start speaking negatively to or about my husband to others. I'm one of those people who finds sarcastic humor extremely funny. The problem with sarcasm is that it's purpose is to make the other person feel stupid, while making us look "brilliant". Obviously this form of humor has no place in the 30 Day Challenge. When I start going down that old, familiar road, I know it instantly and most of the time I can correct myself before it gets bad. I'm really having to continually humble myself before God and my husband because I mess up often. I know if I stay true to this challenge (even though it is officially over), God will continue to bless me beyond measure. It has really helped me be aware of my tone of voice towards my children as well. I pray that they will also benefit from this 30 Day Challenge.
So, Stacie, thank you again for being the brave soul who decided to take the plunge and do something that took a huge amount of courage and determination. Thank you for always pointing me back to the big picture during times of failure and for continually directing me to the Spirit as the source of our strength. You are truly an inspiration to us all. To all the rest of you ladies who prayed for me and I for you, I can't thank you enough. Those prayers truly sustained me during tough times of submission and making positive verbal decisions. I thank God for each of you and I pray God's blessings on your lives and marriages as each of you face your own daily challenges. I hope none of us will ever be the same!
Love and Blessings,
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