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TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

1,000 Rejections, But, Still In the Game!


The primary school-aged boy, barely 12 years old, suffers from bullying. He’s not kicked or beaten, but ignored and isolated. Still, he keeps coming back to school. Day in, day out, there he is; reporting for another dozen rejections at the hand of his peers.


Yet, he has one person in his life, perhaps two, who may be reliably trusted. He has some sense of love within the bounds of tyranny that enfold his life. They show him hope.


For this reason, despite his want to give up when things are especially tough, he finds reason to go on.


The Gospel’s Power Made Relevant


You have to admire any person, who through their instinct for resilience, will continue on despite many harsh, little and large, rejections. For, in this is the gospel’s power.


Salvation’s day is power in the hour of need.


Out the jaws of humiliation is reprieve unto exultation, for the Lord takes great issue with the scouring aggression of those moral weaklings whom abuse an easy target in the presence of palpable encouragement.


Sympathy of the Spirit may be known. Anyone who bears under the strain of the domination of evil—with some invisible knowledge of hope, one that expresses itself in faith for actually no reason but the resolve to hold on—may feel the rising tide of peace within. God will never leave him nor forsake him.


The gospel is built as a buckle for the belt of persecution. No wonder the kindly, docile world—asleep to any sense of suffering—needs, and identifies with, little of it.


Our Vision Beyond the Rejections


Hope is such an essential ingredient within the overall scope of the circumstance of the bullied. If they have even one reason to hope, just one person to instil love and a sense of confidence, they can endure almost anything. Indeed, the very trials they endure will convert within them an inimitable power for good that will serve them all the days of their ever-blossoming lives.


As we count up the several rejections as they occur minute by minute, accumulating in countless proportion day by day, even these are not enough to crush the spirit of the person with vision beyond those rejections.


The power of God is a miracle for the socially destitute; for, the person isolated and ridiculed by their peers has hope in proportion to even a moment’s vision of the love that supports them. A pinch of love sustains hope in a world of pain.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.



Saturday, October 29, 2011

What Are We Learning From Others?



THE GOAL OF LIFE for the saved person is learning for the next life—a state of perfection we will achieve, and now is the time to trial for such a milieu.


One of the best ways of learning is via observation, because it’s not our mistakes we are learning from, but from others’ successes and mistakes and everything else.


Indeed, everything is free for us as we open our eyes.


We get a fuller view of life as we stand at a slight distance, taking in all we can possibly discern. It’s both a vital learning vehicle and an interest—because our focus takes us in millions of stimulating directions; all without leaving our minds.


Turning From Boredom to the Stimulation of Insight


One of the commonest problems we all face is situations where life is neither difficult nor fascinating. The common experience is ho-hum.


But if we switch our focus from our wanton desire to be stimulated over to the practice of stimulating ourselves, through what we see, we experience the enlightenment of the Lord, for all this is revealed for us, simply, uniquely, for our sight alone. For, we’re the only ones that see the way we do. And the Lord has destined these insights for our learning.


We may typically find other people strange, warm, onerous, irritating, peaceable, attractive, chatty, stubborn, pleasant, in-our-face, withdrawn etc—a thousand different facets of perception abound.


The Lord has placed each one in our midst to be learned from.


Becoming a Discoverer of Life


Boredom and complaint are common temptations of the distractive variety—they take us, and our mental and emotional resources, away from God’s abiding Presence.


They make us fixate on those things that we were always destined to pass over.


At all stimuli of boredom and complaint there is present a godlier stimulus. But we can only see it as we approach even the most banal situations in life with renewed interest—that of the early discoverer.


Discoverers are curious. Their curiosity takes them into the relatively unknown vestiges of the mind, and from there the heart is activated whenever plenteous new things are found. Wonder flourishes.


The great thing about other people is, because they are so different to us, they will shed the discoverer’s light on life—not by what they do or say, but by what we see in what they do and say.


There is a mix here in our pure observation and our perception of the observation.


***


There is a discoverer in each of us and the world stands for us as our profiteer. This is the real-life, not the one of acquisition, petty complaint, or boredom. As we commit to being a discoverer, wonder is ours for the taking.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Best Possible Death




A very inconvenient truth we cannot escape, if we choose to live in the company of loved ones: “Grief is the price we pay for love.” ~Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.


If you could choose your death you would probably elect a quiet, peaceful trip to the light fantastic—a last-breath slip-away at 95 or 100. It’s a death with the blessing of concerned, grief-laden onlooking family.


Fundamentally, the best possible death assumes saving faith in Jesus Christ.


Death Has Two Forms


There are many forms of death, even to the living sacrifice of those most living!


Such a spiritual death continually manifests life for others and life ultimately for the person executing themselves for others’ benefit (2 Corinthians 4:10-12).


The event of a living sacrifice—in the kin of Romans 12:1—is a death to self, and this can be termed a preferable state of living for the godly.


The death expected of the common Christian—to die to themselves—is, however, not really the focus here.


Death of a Final Kind


The abovementioned death, that comes at the end of a long life, and one not without its own adjustments for sacrifice, is the best possible variety. This is given the fact that no death glorifies us in our mortal flesh, but it does glorify us if we are saved and we go to meet God, and, of course, it glorifies God also.


Everything there glorifies God.


***


For the family, such a death carries with it the unfolding experience of grief for loss; the unrequited situation regaling the need for inevitable adjustment. Their only consolation: this loved one is with the Lord. But such a state of being, to be without them, cannot really be reconciled.


***


Imagine the deceased person entering Glory, having hoped for years that each day might be ‘the day’. Suddenly—awash of life; the spirit flown—the faithful servant enters the presence of the King of kings. And there are no queues, no brief glimpses; no disappointments.


And what is heaven like? Two words: Eternal bliss.


But words cannot hope to capture what is beyond reality, or at least surpassing a sense of reality that we’re used to.


All this for death! And to think we avoid it and do anything to postpone the inevitable. That, of course, is totally understandable. We do not want to leave our loved ones, and we do not want to hurt them by our loss.


It’s the ultimate Catch-22—to stay or go to be with the Lord (Philippians 1:23-24).


***


The best kind of death is one late of years, slipping away peacefully as possible, to be with the Lord. This is the best possible death because life there starts—a life that will never end.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.





Cultivating Relationship Skills



Knowing where it went wrong in our families-of-origin as a way of developing new attitudes toward new approaches, such that those problems don’t repeat themselves through us—that is our goal in cultivating relationship skills.


From this premise, alone, we might understand the difficulties many have in deploying relationship skills. Their families were no learning ground at all, until now.


Yet, with no exception, every family-of-origin is despoiled in some way. And this manifests as relational problems.


Only with the purging light of God’s truth can we identify, repent, and rectify.


But the Lord requires invitation. Love cannot force itself, until love no longer has a choice.


Facilitating Life’s Chief Task


Cultivating our relationship skills is the foundation of our purpose. We need to relate well with God, with others, and even with ourselves to enjoy the fruitful, abundant life.


Our pasts, though, will present the main barriers, and therefore the foremost opportunities to develop. Even if we got on well with our parents and siblings growing up there were qualities of rapport and circumstances that perplexed us.


As humans, we are magnets for rejection; our conscious radar piqued to sense when threats convey themselves viscerally. That, there, is honed in upon, because we yearn for acceptance.


But if we understand our propensities around acceptance, and our avoidance and denial of rejection, including responses of aggression at the injustice, we can facilitate life’s chief task: to cultivate our relationship skills.


Digging Deeper – Finding Reason for Awkwardness


Awkward people, and none of us are estranged to this concept, are anchored to their barriers-of-intimacy. So much is going on upstairs, in the rooms of consciousness, that the present moment escapes, and any number of fears manipulate situations unfairly. Everyone involved loses.


Relationship skills depend on tackling the past—any rhyme or reason for the mind’s disparity with the unconnected present. This is about understanding, and even sympathising with the child within, regarding the past.


It’s also about understanding how our past has connected us with our present, and the general inappropriateness of that. Those in our midst have no knowledge of our past—how it impacted on us personally—and they take us at face value.


We are the ones, perhaps, allowing our past to navigate our future.


Accepting our past as just that—a series of events that occurred in the formation of us—and that’s all, disregarding the fondness for our memories—facilitates a free mind that takes the present moment as a simple opportunity; nothing more.


***


Honour the past, in spite of its starkness and the goblins that present, because the past holds the key to a fearless future and, in this regard, confidence and capacity in our relationships. There is a link between the two: our pasts and our present relationships.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Glorying In Our Differences and Diversity



The more we appreciate and respect our unique differences, in love, the more freedom we issue to others and ourselves. We are shackled to nothing. A multiplicity of freedom reigns.


Indeed, the freedom extant in such appreciation is the purpose of fellowship, enshrined in the majesty of love. Even more we enjoy the differences in our ethnicity, racial disparity, and gender gaps.


We seek to outdo the other, in honour, because of these differences. This is God’s will. It is to be our passion.


Differences Heighten Our Love


Where love exists—and because love never fails—it overflows over those with most inherent difference compared with us.


For me, a Caucasian, to love an indigenous Australian is a challenge because of our potential racial differences, including the perceived prejudices we must compensate for. I sincerely want to love them all the more, because they may feel, before our encounter, this prejudice. I want them to be pleasantly surprised, and comfortable, with me. If we extend the discussion, me a Christian toward another, perhaps a Muslim, I want to love them all the more because I see they may sense prejudice within me; something I would want to shun because I don’t feel that way. Further, a person of Indian upbringing has vastly different cultural experience to an Australian; yet, I want to embrace their cooking, art, and taste for colour (and lots of other things) as proof that I’m no better than they are (and no worse, either).


We are to hope that all differences meld into unity. This is how we ‘fight’ for equality. We attentively fight for their rights, not ours.


One-on-one rapport with those who are uniquely different has to be closer as the goal becomes one of developed accord.


The only exception, for either side, should be gaps in truth. And either side should feel their love will carry them over the line as they redress situations in care and concern for the other.


The Wonder in Difference


This is why the above works. There is a basic wonder that occurs within an open heart upon the consideration of someone vastly different.


Wonder flourishes more and more when we recognise the truth: they will always be so inimitably different, yet we share more in common than we have in difference when we share the impassioned burden of love for each other.


Love is the common denominator that shatters all boundaries of prejudicial fabrication.


It creates a seminary of wonder because of the hope we have that people with such differences could become our best of friends.


Differences that are successfully melded show us both to be people of God—unconditional acceptance because of, above all, the motive of love.


There is another reason why Jesus wanted us to love our enemies (not that those different to us are ‘enemies’—far from it).


We see the majesty of God at work when we shelve our biases and throw open the gates of our hearts to welcome all the diversity under God’s heavens. We begin to become truly ourselves under such conditions.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

T.I.M.E. for Love



THE PURPOSE OF LIFE is to learn how to love, and life is the learning ground toward that end. Time is the biggest barrier to love. Somehow we must reinvent our perception of time in order that we would endear ourselves to love.


We need T.I.M.E. for love.


Tenderness is the ideal input to love, whether it’s romantic, companionate, friendly, or passionate love. It melts empty love, breaking the ice, enabling the early vestiges of intimacy. Another name for tenderness is gentleness or meekness, and certainly patience—these all abide blissfully in time.


People who pose no threat to the other person find there is no barrier to trust.


Intimacy is a transaction between two, and trust is the product. Little do we realise, tenderness finds us there. The wonderful thing about intimacy is the comfort we enjoy as we share time with another person, in mateship. There are no truly awkward silences, no fear of eye contact; no secrets.


God made us for these experiences. In all our relationships we should aim for intimacy, which is a bilateral honest transparency without the semblance of fear for being ourselves.


Momentum is created and forward the journey continues toward varieties of consummate love, which can be enjoyed in any relationship.


If the goal of our lives is to learn how to love, surely we want to take our intimacy with the other person onto the track of momentum where rapport will become a sustaining event. (Because life is ever-changing, we are advantaged in viewing life as an elongated series of events.)


Maintaining momentum is not always an easy thing to do. Circumstances and a lack of reciprocation have a lot to say. But as we invest time, strangely the circumstances move more in our favour.


Time is the currency of relational commitment sustaining our momentum.


Eternity is where love is destined. The Bible tells us that faith, hope, and love will endure forever, and that the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).


The raw truth is, as we stroke the momentum in our relationships we’re creating a raft of blessing that we’ll later redeem in eternity. God loves a lover and their practice of love will continue on and on.


***


Time is the secret. Many wives and children may complain, within themselves and possibly with each other, that their husbands and fathers don’t spend enough time with them. Relationships cannot be nurtured on the T.I.M.E. process unless the motive is right, and when the motive is right, time is no longer the issue.


***


With tenderness we love, and intimacy is therefore nurtured. This creates momentum, and that forward motion, whilst love is present, is taking our love all the way to eternity.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Jesus’ Lasting Desire – “That They Be One”



“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one.” ~John 17:20-21a (NRSV).


The power of Jesus’ prayer in John 17 resounds through the ages—the church unified in the Father and in the Son, as they are unified in each other, through the power of the Holy Spirit.


Think for a moment, now.


Jesus is praying for you and me in this specific locale, in a passage chronicled adjacent his imminent death. Even with humiliation and death bearing down, our Lord was captivated by the love he envisioned the church—each member, which is us alone, abiding—would exemplify in a unification not possibly known without the gospel.


God’s vision for the church: that they may all be one.


And as God makes the church one, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we each are also made one, completed within by the Spirit from above.


One is God’s number. And only God can make us one.


We can only be one when we, like Jesus, sacrifice what we want for the better good of another—it’s really that simple. And as more and more people do that, more and more unity compounds, to the glory of God.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Test of Separation and Silence


Even Isaiah felt it—the absence of God’s presence: “Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.” ~Isaiah 45:15 (NRSV).


Many friendships suffer from a lack of nurture.


No matter the seasons of closeness, maintenance is always a clever byword for friendship, because of conflict, or the mind’s propensity to invent problems, or just because we lose touch and, therefore, apparent interest.


Good friendships last because we were prepared to mow down the barriers to separation and silence; that one or the other said, ‘enough is enough’, and re-railed what was destined for the abyss.


The exact same thing happens for our relationship with God.


Maintaining the Bond of Friendship Even in Distance


The test of separation and silence is one for each party, except when it is our relationship with God when we, alone, our tested. Faithfulness is that test.


We are not tested just for the sake of it, but to prove, even to ourselves, the bond strength of the relationship—how much it means to us. It communicates just as much to the other party, whether they are a friend or God.


Maintaining intimacy at distance may seem impossible, but the need for the right feelings robs us the opportunity to still feel intimate—by thought and prayer at least.


Intimacy is the key. At distance it needs to occur in the mind; but we must nurture the mind in order for it to happen. And as we nurture good thoughts, and kindly prayers, God instils a fresh confidence, along with thoughts prompting action, despite the distance.


The Purpose in Friendship


Friends aren’t there to make us feel good—though that is often the blessing of friendship. They are there as God’s provision for someone to love. As we need to be loved, so do others.


We ought to treat our friendship with God the same way.


We are worthy of friendship—whether with a human friend or God—when we scale the mountain of desire for the need to be placated. There is profound truth to the old saying, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”


Friendship is other-focused. The moment we do it, blessing is ours.


This is when we become the best of ourselves; when humility springs forth at the requirements of others and not of ourselves.


God uses the model of friendship in our human relationships to show us what it means to love. Love may be feeling, but that is not the nourishing part of life. Real spiritual nourishment comes when we may love—as an action in response to a distant situation or a defined need of another.


***


Periods of separation and silence are a test of our commitment. Can we endure them? Will intimacy falter as a result? Or, will we use that distance to yearn and long for reconnection. Whether it’s a friend or God, the question remains: Are we making the next move?


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.



Saturday, October 22, 2011

Calming the Soul’s Agitation



Anger boils within for no apparent reason. And it’s not as if anyone else knows about it. Something’s not quite right and our soul is aflutter trying to make sense of it all. Such emotion causes fear when fear is the last thing we need. Even for an hour or a day; sound familiar?


With some disparate feelings there’s no telling the source, which only contributes to our confusion and anger.


But we can know something deep within us is going unheard.


Patience in the moment of agitation is enough to know we can’t know everything—not even about ourselves (especially that—our person!).


Some moments, be they a minute, an hour, or a day, just won’t be reconciled. Where we want to be seen as logical and credible, we are instead, inappropriate and embarrassing. When we want to think straight, the mind is all at sea.


Times like these we feel like crawling into a closet. We need to be left alone. They remind us of how fragile our emotional and spiritual world is.


But times like these pass. As quickly as they came they are gone.


***


Calming the spirit’s disquiet is seeking solace in Help. Draw near to God and God will draw near to you (James 4:8). A moment’s patience when the world is bending.


Good sense is never too far away, even during these stark times. Surrender to the faint sound of good sense and just enough space for the moment is ours.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.


Graphic Credit: Tree With Agitated Sky by John Terwilliger.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Struggling To Let Go?



Before God can take us onto the next revelation—toward the precise purposes of this season—there is always the condition: let go of something dear.


And it will cost!


It will live to sting badly if we attempt to hang on to it as it’s ripped from our clutching breast. This is a test of the strength of our obedience; to let go of our gods of convenience, self-condolence and comfort that run in competition with God.


These sorts of gods are cavernous—we don’t realise how difficult to let go these will be until God, by our changing circumstance, calls “TIME!”


When the death knell is sounded that part of life will be required of us. We’ll have to let go, or we may find ourselves estranged and spat out (Revelation 3:16) of that life.


The reality will be the same despite us. The only logical way is to let go, in the right way—which is to be discerned—and at the right time.


Wisdom is letting go, with as little fuss and perceived loss as possible (because there is loss and, therefore, grief.)


What about the Good News?


Saving the best until last is preferred.


An encouraging truth is this: Room must be made to accommodate new things, which may be intermediate in nature, and the old thing we cling to may cramp the style of the new thing, spoiling or delaying it.


The boldest confidence of life is letting go with a sort of truth-reconciled-abandon. In other words, a pleasant mix of honest bravery is needed in understanding, logically, that letting certain things go is necessary.


The struggle is around identity—a big part of our person has gone into this thing we now have to let go of. We hardly think about identity until we are required to change and then it bedraggles the very tassels of our inner fabric.


Fashioning a new identity—or part thereof—is in some ways frightening, but it’s also renewing and revitalising. As we bust past the old exterior, rubbing away as sandpaper the layers deeper down, we endure a foreign set of emotions. But, take heart; we will look back over these times as if they are a privileged memoir that proved the making of us—because they are.


Looking back at the old life from a sufficient distance we see the meaning in change; the significance comes from within us, and it can only be defined or described by us, personally. We have come to know ourselves. Intimacy is uncommonly ours.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Love on a One-Way Street



“We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours.” ~2 Corinthians 6:11-12 (NRSV).


I had an interaction with a fellow worker once. As it came about, I was in a position to help him. But either I failed to communicate properly, or he was proudly staunch—probably both. In the end, the more willing I was to help, the more he dug in against me. It didn’t upset me as much as it confused me; why would he not want this assistance?


The truth may very well be, sometimes, for reasons beyond us, people will not be helped—they will not be loved.


Perhaps this is because they are beyond their own self-love, as they fail for humble logic. Maybe they detect something incongruent in us.


If we’re committed to love, we’ll often find ourselves hamstrung by those who refuse to surrender to good sense for their own benefit. But, if we are to have any chance of making love work in such difficult circumstances we need to realise the importance of trust. Such people find surrender particularly difficult; better is the chance if there is a recent history of trust between them and us.


The Apostle Paul’s Context


Because we have quoted from Second Corinthians it’s necessary to explain the sort of situation that was dogging Paul. He had carried the gospel to the Corinthians and he had served them. He was undoubtedly faithful, loving them as a father would his children.


Paul’s problem, however, was their ambivalence to the gospel way and toward him, personally. They clearly weren’t living the life of ‘saved’ people. Morally, their love was too inconsistent. Paul found himself on love’s one-way street. He was extending all the effort; they were giving little back.


Accepting ‘Traffic’ Doesn’t Always Return


We spend our time trying to understand why our offers of kindness are rejected, but it’s better first to accept it will happen.


Only when we accept that, from a logical standpoint, will we then enquire from an appreciative motivation.


Understanding has been granted us because the hurt-barrier is removed, or at least acknowledged.


Gaining God’s Blessing


God wants us to love the unlovable soul who wantonly rejects the help we might genuinely wish to offer. And God knows how hard it is to do this, and how tempting it is to give back what we’ve got—rejection.


For these reasons, because we mimic our Lord in our responses to unreturned kindnesses, God blesses us.


He does this, here, by helping us mature in acceptance; he will do it in eternity, also, where we’ll receive our crowns (James 1:12).


***


The gentleman in question was only getting exasperated by my efforts. The best way to love him was to desist my overtures at kindness.


Love has a moment’s signature. It is to be discerned. Love is what the other person considers it to be, not us. This is why love never fails. It always has the right answer; for every single person and situation.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Draw Me Close to You



“So, then, submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you; draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” ~James 4:7-8a (NRSV).


There are certain times when I just feel a depth of loneliness that’s hard to describe; I know we all feel this way sometimes. When I miss family members, for instance, or I get some bad news or some indifferent feedback; the world is awfully estranging at these times. Yet, that’s the world!


James is very pragmatic in his wisdom gospel. He contends it is simple cause and effect, this faith-deal. Resist the evil one and firmly cling to God—that’s his advice.


When I have those horribly lonely times of heart, I do quickly run to God in my spirit. And he is so refreshing. Cleansing tears envelope my being as I pour my heart out to him who knows me so well.


One Way or The Other


In life there’s always choice—we cannot get away with choosing the middle ground. A choice not for God is a choice for the world and enmity with God; however, a choice for God is enmity (when it counts) with the world, and the prince of this world.


When we’re lonely, sad or depressed, we have the above choice. Take the lukewarm approach with God—the world’s way (and that of the enemy’s)—and we stand to get little or no spiritual or emotional relief. On the other hand, where we draw close to God he is sure to draw close to us.


Peace is available as a result.


Closer, Still


I have found this is not only a habit we get into—the choice, I mean—but it also necessarily springs from desire. We must cultivate that inner desire to want him. This desire is to be second to none. Do this and you’ll soon see why. God is amazingly faithful. He gently but most assuredly affirms us, very personally.


When I’m feeling low, and as I write I do feel that way, I’m comforted in my knowledge that God is with me and if I wanted to cry out to him, he’s there. Indeed, I feel his loving reassurance now. It’s like nothing else. It can be better, strangely enough, than feeling happy.


We can’t help feel lonely and helpless sometimes. That is a great reason to draw close to God; only the Saviour can truly help us with our spiritual ills—the soul-sickness everyone gets.


This Jesus-balm is ever-healing and ever-renewing.


© 2010, 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

5 Reasons Wives Feel Vulnerable in Marriage


“Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.” ~Ephesians 5:22-24 (NRSV).


The word “submission” is a trigger word in many Christian households. It is likely that some wives will loath the concept because of what their husbands or their churches have made it. “Submission” was never meant by Paul to be used as a club for a husband or the church to wield against wives.


Being “subject to” their husbands—the NRSV equivalent of “submit to” in other versions—is not at all about male domination or the husband’s superiority. The metaphor Paul is using—Christ the husband, the wife as the church—would be farthest from this crude over-weighted and imbalanced image. Such an image as Paul’s is not rooted in unfairness, but love!


Unfortunately, what the Apostle Paul intended as a unifying concept has become a polarising one—sides are taken, and as such men and women, equally, have grown to detest humanity’s warping of the meaning implicit in such a beautiful metaphor for marriage.


With “submission” introduced, let’s move into the discussion regarding its practicalities: Five reasons wives feel vulnerable in marriage are:


1. Wives Do Not Appreciate Domineering Overtures of Husbands


Who, really, would want to be married to a dictator? Yet, while many wives may at times find this an attribute in their husbands, their husbands may not see it.


When we consider a notional wife who must deal with the domineering husband we can expect one of two common responses. Either she will submit to such marital aggression or she will resist. The latter creates conflict.


Going back to the original metaphor—Christ and the church—we could never picture our Lord lording it over us. His Lordship is consummate of love and of serving the church, as the husband is to love and serve the wife.


The Bible never suggests women submit to aggressive, domineering, loveless husbands. And when the domination moves into the realm of abuse, not disregarding many perceptions that “God hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16), there is ample biblical reason for wives to leave their husbands, if there’s no recourse to change.


2. Some Wives Feel Neglected In Their Marriages


The difference between abuse and neglect is subtle; neither affords love. Where abuse is tangible and problematic in the short term—a bullet through the heart—neglect is like cancer. It tears away gradually and neglected partners are stripped of love in less obvious ways.


It is true that wives have need for affection, conversation, caring, and the nurture of their families. If these vital needs go begging—and there is little care for them in the husband’s viewpoint—the wife’s marital identity will suffer as a result.


One further area where neglect might be noticeable is in the area of finances. The husband is financially responsible for his family. Given that responsibility—to ensure the financial security of his family, as far as it depends on him—the husband needs to be a diligent steward.


3. Some Wives Struggle To Trust Their Husbands


It may not only be an untrustworthy husband attributable, here. Many women, and also men, find it difficult to trust a marriage partner or other important family because of unhealed hurts—the results of familial betrayal, for instance.


But, discounting the above situation there are some husbands who have found themselves untrustworthy—they have not been respectable in their duty as marriage partners. Whilst it’s incredibly important men feel respected in marriage, it’s equally important that women find their husbands respectable.


If trust has been broken, and little is done to restore the emotional and moral imbalance, wives may feel backed up against the wall.


If, however, one marriage partner’s mistrust of the other partner is more to do with their own insecurities, these issues need to be dealt with head on. Trust is the most important issue in marriage. If a partner deserves to be trusted they should be trusted.


Honesty and openness, finally, are key qualities wives need in their husbands and, though these revolve back to trust, there is a deeper need that may go unsatisfied...


4. Many Women Struggle with a Lack of Intimacy In Their Marriages


Men are stereotypically manly and at times emotionally disengaged. This can be disconcerting for women, who are naturally more adept at opening up.


But it’s probably not the macho default that proves the biggest barrier. It’s more likely to be the husband who is proudly or stubbornly distant—one who doesn’t want to see the importance of such intimacy. Again, this could be the many reasons; his family of origin was possibly disjointed or broken or distant in itself.


Notwithstanding how it occurs, a lack of intimacy provides wives marital loneliness.


It’s not that a husband has to fulfil all his wife’s companionship needs, but if there’s a lack of intimacy he fails to connect with her heart.


5. Wives Struggle with Their Husband’s Lack of Vision for the Family


As I mentioned in the earlier article, one important way wives feel loved is through the devotion of a husband and father to his family.


Furthermore, the husband’s identity as a family man can either actualise or limit the family structure. His vision for the family needs to be grounded in the day as well as focused on the near and distant future.


The trouble is, today, many men are necessarily consumed by their careers, their other interests (for instance, sports), or by a myriad form of escapism. Everyone needs time to chase their dreams, but a family man needs to be devoted to the home. This is a balance that can only be struck by individual husbands and wives through negotiation. Who can define family vision satisfactorily but the couple in question?


Still, some wives will find their husband’s lack of vision (and interest) for the family frustrating, and potentially alienating.


***


This article has been necessarily negative for the most part. It seeks to highlight where problems might exist as a platform for mature discussion.


We started with the premise: “submission”.


We can end this discussion by understanding some of the biggest barriers to wives’ marital submission in love, recalling that a mutual submission (Ephesians 5:21) is also what Paul implores.


Wives will understandably find it impossible to “submit” to a husband who is characterised by these types of issues above. Conversely, if we imagine a husband as Paul had pictured him for us (Ephesians 5:25-28) we can foresee his wife willingly submitting where an undercurrent of love, and husbandly sacrifice, pervades through the relationship.


Finally, and very importantly, none of the foregoing suggests women should submit to men more than they would do other women. “Submission,” here, is contextual to marriage only.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

This article is a follow-up to the article, 5 Reasons Husbands Feel Vulnerable in Marriage