Yesterday I was in Michigan speaking to 500 women at the Michigan Missionary Church Family Camp, which is an amazing place. After I spoke, I became engaged in a conversation with a lovely woman who was widowed a few years ago after 46 years of marriage. She told me that she had once been very convicted by God about how she was treating her husband. She heard Him say to her:
“My son is not getting the love that I had planned for him, because you are not giving it to him.”
Wow. Think about that for a moment: God is our Father, but that means that God is also your husband’s Father. And God wants your husband to receive love. He planned for your husband to receive love. And he gave you to your husband to give him love. If you don’t, then your husband may miss out on what God intended for him.
Now I don’t want to get into predestination here, because that’s not really the point. Instead of getting caught up in theological arguments, do something simple for me: those of you who are parents, imagine what it will be like when your child/children marry. How much will you want that child to receive love? Love in the way that they need?
My youngest daughter, for instance, is going to need someone who is very physically affectionate. She loves hugs, sitting on laps, kisses, and all of that sort of thing. My older daughter is going to need a man who will stand up to her, who will engage her in real conversation, who will respect her opinion and challenge her to think more deeply. She will also need someone who will recognize that she is verging on perfectionism, and will learn how to show her that he loves her even when she isn’t perfect.
I know these things because they are my children. I love them very much, and I can see what their emotions and personalities will need. And that is what I pray for.
Well, God knows each of His children even better than we know our own. And I’m sure that He wants us to know true love: a love that speaks to our souls in the way that our souls need to hear. He wants your husband to feel love. He created all of us for love, and He created marriage as a way to mirror what He feels for us. So naturally He wants your husband to experience that kind of love.
I know He wants you to experience it, too, but so often when we talk about what our husbands need, or what God wants for our husbands, we throw a “but” in there: “But I need it, too! But he doesn’t show me love that way! But I already do a better job than he does!” We seem to be unable to concentrate on what we need to do without bringing up our husband’s shortfalls.
What if you could have a talk with your future son-in-law, and you could outline everything your daughter needed, and he responded with:
“That’s all fine and good, but I have some pretty big needs of my own, and I don’t think I can be expected to love her like that unless she also loves me.”
Wouldn’t you be ready to dump him overboard? You don’t want your child to marry someone who won’t love your child 100% unconditionally, because you love your child 100% unconditionally, and you want your child to experience real love and real joy.
I know the analogy isn’t perfect, because God is simultaneously our Father and our Father-in-law, but just think about that in-law relationship for a minute. God isn’t just your Father; He’s also your husband’s Father. And He cares deeply about your husband, and He wants your husband to understand and feel real love. And you’re the vehicle that God has appointed for that. Does that change the way you think about your role?
I know it changed mine. I’ve been thinking back over this summer, and I’ve realized how absolutely wonderful Keith has been to me. I’ve been stressed over the last few months with writing a book proposal, and part of a book, and I’ve had speaking engagements, and a huge quizzing meet and quiz practice, and in general I’ve been harried. And he has taken so much of the burden. I feel so loved. I know that I’m blessed, and not all of you are in that kind of relationship. But I found myself asking yesterday on my long drive home from Michigan, “Does Keith feel that kind of love from me?”
I know many of you have deep, unmet needs in your marriage, and I do not mean to diminish that. Read other posts where I talk about how to communicate those needs, or what to do when he’s taking you for granted. I certainly do not think that you should be a doormat. Nevertheless, there is a time to say, “no matter how I am being treated, no matter how lonely I am, that does not excuse me from loving my husband.”
God is your Father-in-law. He is your husband’s protector. He created your husband and He loves your husband, and He wants your husband to live life fully. Do you want to be part of that? I hope so!
Now, will you join the conversation? Leave a comment about what being God’s daughter-in-law means to you!