August 7, 2010

'Of Apple Pie and Doing Good'...Complementarity and My Family

In my many trips to South Africa I have had the inexpressible joy of being embraced and enfolded into the Retief family. One of the family, Debbie Retief Garratt, together with her husband Daniel and their 2 children, has since moved from their home in beautiful bustling Cape Town to a small village in Norway in the far north. Their vision is to begin an Evangelical Bible Ministry there.

In Deb's blog she writes of her experience of life, love and ministry. 
I particularly love her blog because she writes with such insight and authentic christian self exposure, a quality of honesty that is at times wanting in christian circles, yet so very very helpful and so very very necessary. 

I asked permission to reproduce her latest piece on my blog, not only because it expresses something of complementarity in relationships, but also because it attempts to explore one wife's endeavor to unpack what it might mean for her to 'do good (to her husband) all the days of her life'...

Thank you my Debs!

"The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life."

I have been so challenged this year, in the way I am a wife.
I have, at many times and in many ways been a selfish wife.
Especially during the years I was having my babies. It is a natural tendency in us all, to work life so that we benefit the maximum out of it, especially when we are needy - like through pregnancy and new born madness. My needs have often been first in my mind. My need for sleep. My need for security. My need for affirmation and love and all good things….

And then there are the 'sin needs' as I call them, the need to be worshipped and to appease anxiety.

-with her son Kaleb-
But through God's grace and Daniel's leadership (which is also a part of God's grace) I have seen more and more that I did not get married to be served. I got married to serve. In fact, I live to serve, as Jesus has commanded. And of course, Daniel does as well, so if both of us are obedient we will both be served, as is God's wonderful plan for marriage.

But I do not need to be concerned with how Daniel is serving me, I need to be preoccupied with how I am serving him. We have no rights, our only right is to be obedient to Jesus and to be like Him. I want to throw away my rights just like Jesus did (Phil 2:5-11). I have attempted to do that. And it has been so liberating! (Except for the moments when I pick them up again, but that is the story of the Christian life isn't it, constant repentance.)

I have realised afresh, through many sources (all leading from the bible) and over a few years, that I need to actively 'do good' to my husband, as it is written above. And I have deliberately found out ways to do that. Of course this is broad, and can cover the little things - like making him his favourite meals to big things like supporting him in his ministry. The point is to have a mind set, an attitude which says: how can I do good for my husband today? How can I serve him today
It turns every situation around and makes the whole goal of the day different, not centred around me.

-Debs daughter Kristen-
I have also often fallen into the trap that my self-forgetful service is sufficient when it has stopped with the kids. Yet even if I am being Christ like and other centred with them all day, it does not excuse me from continuing to serve, by serving my husband once the kids are in bed.
-Deb's son Kaleb-

We don't need to have breaks from service. It should be like the air we breath! So I have rethought my evenings - and do much less leisure activities in order to serve my husband, which can mean anything from watching a movie he enjoys to organising food for him for the next day, to giving myself to him sexually.

So I have made some changes this year - very big changes and also lots of little changes, and I will share with you one of the lighter, less serious ones. It is small, but it is good for my husband none the less. 

Daniel loves his food. He is one of those men whose whole mood can be changed by food. (Actually I am like that too.) Anyway, his absolute favourite thing ever to eat is apple pie. The traditional apple pie, not too sweet, quite plain actually - just apples and unsweetened shortcrust pastry. Pastry always seemed too hard to make, so I just wrote it off as impossible. But this year I decided to learn it because Daniel loves it and I love Daniel and making things he loves will show him that. And it really has meant so much to him. If you have a husband who loves food, find out what his best food is and learn to make it - and watch him expand (his heart that is, hopefully it won't constrict as well)!!!! 
It speaks to Daniel in a way I never knew it would. 
He said it is like eating love (ok, he really loves his food.)
The budding Prov's 31 girl!

As women it is so easy to fall into the snare of compare - comparing our husbands to others and so being discontented with him and finding fault. Rather we should accept him as the man the Lord has given us to love and serve, and do him good all the days of our lives (not just the days we feel like it because all our needs have been met). The Lord has written into the fabric of creation certain rules - and one rule is that the more we serve a person the more we love them. It is just one of those things.

So ladies, let's use whatever gifts the Lord has given us to serve them! From making apple pie (Prov 31:15) to making love to him passionately (Song of Songs) and regularly (1 Cor7:3-5). From being his biggest fan (Phil 2:3) to tirelessly supporting him in his ministry (Gen2:18), including his ministry through secular work (whether that means weekends alone with the kids or reading long pieces of material with him). Whatever good there is to do, let us do it joyfully - to our husbands, for our Lord. If we live for ourselves instead of for Christ (which is expressed in serving others) we are robbed of the very essence of life (Matt:16:25).

Of course, it has to be said the greatest good we can do our husbands, and anyone for that matter, is to love the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and soul. 
It is from that love that other love flows.

      Consider what the great C.S Lewis said:

"When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest,
I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.
In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God
 and instead of God,
I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. 
When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed
 but increased."
~ C. S. Lewis, Letters of C.S. Lewis-

.....The best good we can do for our husbands is to love the Lord.

-In Norway with Daniel-


Joanna said...

Thanks for sharing such good encouraging words to read and to live out.

Verina said...

I have been learning similar stuff from preparing my womens weekend talks...

kenny said...

okay, I found your blog as I was preparing for a teaching on "being other: healthy heterosexuality" and when I typed in Complimentarity...I chanced on this. I love what you are writing about and speaking! You are a good gift! Thank you for your words.
As a husband and father, I thank God for my wife who loves God first and foremost and out of that, loves me well enough.

Blessings to you!

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