Two Things on Wives and Submission… Because You Asked

It may seem odd that I would venture into a discussion on submission within marriage, being that I am not married. However, I’ve been wrestling with this topic due to the place I’m at in recovery and the counseling degree I’m about to pursue. I’ve seen relationships done poorly… and that’s about it. My frame of reference for a healthy marriage is slim.

In the beginning stages of my codependency recovery, my view of relationships was completely dysfunctional. Instead of looking to God to be my everything, I was searching for that man. Slowly, my eyes have been opened to the value, gifts, and purpose I have in Christ. God has brought me to a place of active engagement in the present and I’ve come to really appreciate and enjoy life as a single woman in my thirties. I now know that a husband cannot fix me and that marriage is not the be-all-end-all of life. My contentment and joy come from Jesus.

However, a trend in recovery is that when you begin to see a flaw or pattern within yourself or when a truth about God is revealed, it’s easy to swing passionately to the other side of the emotional pendulum. Now that I know God is everything and that I don’t need a man to be my god, I find myself reacting in a feisty manner toward any concept that remotely makes women seem “lesser than” men.

Comments about men being the “leaders” of a marriage or “letting” their wives do this or that just makes my blood start to boil. I’m like, Shoooot. A woman can make more logical, intelligent decisions than a man. We women can do anything a man does and we can make improvements on it. Heck, we can even look better doing it. Why on earth would a man get to make the calls just because of his gender? That’s misogynistic. 

Bottom line: If submission is a thing, I don’t find men worthy of this role.

In addition to my place in recovery, I’m also about to enter into the biblical counseling program at Dallas Theological Seminary. It’s occurring to me that a counseling degree probably involves providing families an ideal scenario for a healthy family.  I felt that I needed to figure out what my stance is on a functional family unit. I know that in biblical pursuits, I cannot ignore the glaring scriptures on the topic of submission.

I started my research in Genesis, because that’s where you always start, and the only difference I found in the creation of Adam and Eve (minus their gender) was the order they were created in. Outside of when each of them were created, God did not give them different jobs. They were both to be fruitful and multiply. They were both to subdue the earth and rule over it. (Genesis 1:28)

From what I read, it did not sound like the typical sermons I hear of a marriage relationship, which often boils down to this: Adam had a really big, important job to do and he couldn’t accomplish it without his trusty administrative assistant, Eve. And just like he had a big job to do, men today have big boy jobs that they need help with. So, they let their wives do some stuff around the house and maybe in the workplace to lighten their load.

I looked further in Genesis, but besides that really mysterious verse within the Fall’s curse about Eve desiring Adam, it basically confirmed that after the Fall, people were sufficiently screwed up. So, I went to the New Testament to check out the controversial scriptures on marriage. Let me just say that Paul was right when he said he didn’t have eloquent speech. I think with sensitive topics like submission, verbage is everything, and Paul didn’t soften many blows. Just reading the portions of his letters about wives and their husbands got me feeling very defensive.

I was reading the scriptures “in emotion” and getting really confused, so I stepped back and listened to some sermons on those scriptures for outside insight.

I didn’t like what I heard. Basically, the argument for men being the leaders of the household was that they were created first. In Genesis, I couldn’t find anything written that proved that idea. I wasn’t about to place my beliefs on a symbolic implication.

I looked through scripture to see if the “created first” idea was anywhere else. And lo and behold, it was. Paul states in 1 Timothy 2:13-14, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” Ouch. Now, the context surrounding this scripture had to do with a local church issue, but I believe verses 13-14 were written as a universal truth. Paul brought it into the local church scenario to back up his word of counsel to his readers.

For me, personally, that was the end of the road. Paul was an apostle chosen by God to grow the church and expose the truth of the gospel. He was given special insights by God and has unique authority. I submit myself to the Bible as the inerrant, authoritative word of God. Just because I don’t like it, doesn’t make it false.

There are sacrifices a man makes as he enters a marital relationship, but I want to keep this particular post very basic. My intent for initial research was to see if submission was legitimate and according to my findings, it is. So, on that most elementary of levels, these are the two thoughts I concluded with:

1. Choose wisely

Marriage is not a game and it’s not a place to go looking for all your problems to be fixed. In my past, I have played the dating game and succumbed easily to the emotional pulls of love addiction and love avoidance. That was not fair to myself or the person dating me. And despite the fears of intimacy and abandonment, I continued to pursue romantic relationships because I believed marriage would give me emotional rest. I thought marriage was the epic climax where life really got started. Everything else I participated in (school, work, friends…) were all hobbies God had given me until The One arrived.

This is a horrible mentality because it does not promote the kind of healthy patience and trust that is needed to choose wisely. Scanning the globe for that person who is going to fix you almost guarantees a poor choice in a marriage partner. It’s important to find someone who is satisfied in God. They are submitted to Jesus Christ and have a teachable heart. As a potential husband, this person should be more concerned about their responsibilities to Christ than your submission in marriage. If the person you’re dating is fixated on how you will submit in marriage, you need to pause and evaluate your relationship with that person.

You want a man that understands the weight of his place in a marriage relationship. You want a man that is connected with God and following God’s leadership. A married couple that is equally submitted to Christ and sacrificial to one another is a power house couple. That is a relationship that can have deep impact on their family and their community. It can be a life transforming relationship for both husband and wife.

Be very careful about who you marry. If you are a recovering love addict or love avoidant, make sure you bring the person you are discussing marriage with to see your counselor (If you don’t have a counselor, I highly recommend finding one. They offer valuable insight that is difficult to get anywhere else.). You want wise people to look at your relationship from an outside perspective. It’s easy to get caught up in fantasy and unknowingly step outside of reality.

2. Submit wisely

After you’re married (hopefully to someone who is surrendered to Jesus), there will be times you need to submit to the leadership of your husband. I can’t give you all the details because I don’t know where God will take you. I am also single (never married) so I can’t give you any personal insights on submission within marriage.

What I can tell you is that you can submit wisely. Being a wife who chooses to submit to her husband’s leadership, does not equal a woman without a brain or her own relationship with God. If, as a wife, you feel that your husband is asking you to do something that is against God’s character or will, you can say no. You are first and foremost under the authority of Jesus Christ. God has not called you to become a doormat to a man who thinks he can command you to participate in anything sexually immoral. God has not called you to put up with emotional, physical, spiritual, or mental abuse. These things are always outside of God and His will.

If your husband is asking you to submit to him, it should most often involve something to you and your family’s benefit. Your husband has just as great a sacrifice as your submission because he is to love you as Jesus loved the church. That is huge. Your husband is carrying a serious responsibility. He is not going to be perfect at it but it is his job.

In conclusion, as a single, choosing someone to marry is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. It should not be driven by love addiction or love avoidance. You want to make sure that you are not trying to fulfill a fantasy you have created. The highs from the addiction and the magic of your fantasies will eventually fall apart. Once that happens, you may find yourself in a position you don’t want to be in. Walk with God in your singlehood and trust His timing. Your marriage timeline may be different than God’s, but that’s okay as long as you are willing to surrender it to Him.

There’s more to life than a wedding ring and a relationship with a man. What other wonderful adventures does God want to take you on before you get married? Ask Him and start noticing your surroundings. What people are in your life? What opportunities are presenting themselves? What things of beauty and joy are around you? Life is wonderful as a single and it can be wonderful as a  married person. The key is choosing wisely and prayerfully and with many trustworthy witnesses! And even then… you’re going to have hardship. 🙂 However, both singlehood and marriage are gifts from God to be cherished and enjoyed. Surrender yourself to God and let Him guide you through life. He knows what’s best and He loves you. He will provide you with what you need.

The Trouble with Recovery

The Trouble with Recovery

Can I tell you what codependency recovery feels like for me?

I feel like a recovering alcoholic working with people drinking wine all day. I ABSORB everyone’s codependency and feel like an absolute crazy person.

I have been going to counseling for two years now. I have charted out all the abuse that I can remember happening in my formative years. I have processed how I felt then and how it makes me feel now. I’ve read all of it out loud to my counselor and discussed it. I’ve cried out all the tears I put away for too long. I’ve made the list of my character defects and processed them with God. I’ve made a list of people I have wronged due to my character defects. I’ve asked forgiveness to the ones I’ve hurt along the way. Now, I process how I feel and I raise awareness to others.

Yet, after going through the 12 steps in codependency recovery, I find myself still in the battle. It’s a daily. Battle. Today, I’m tired and I want to run to my car and hide there for a few hours… maybe a few days. You know, grab my dog, gather up my friends, and hit the road. Take a vacation with all the money I don’t have. Somebody drop me a line over here!

The chaos of everyone’s dysfunction is just hanging in the air like an electric field and I’m too tired to pray about it. To do the exercises to get me centered. I want to go the lazy route and just shove all the chaos deep down.

My codependent self wants me to not process today because I’m afraid. I am embarrassed by how I’ve responded to life and I want to be hard on myself. My toxic shame wants to take away the lessons that could be learned from scenarios I reacted to instead of responding in a healthy manner. Basically, I either want to distance myself from life and shove everything down or embrace everything in a self-deprecating manner. Ew.

But here’s the thing… I shouldn’t do that. Why? Because life is too good to live in misery.

Thanks to the work I’ve done, I am only a few steps away from peace. Before, I was carrying years’ worth of unprocessed emotion. Now, I have a much lighter load and I’m learning every day to give it to God.

Recovery is a process. There are times of bliss and times of lesson-learning. Both are valuable endeavors. So, press on in your recovery! I’ll be working today out with God despite my desires to hide in a hole.

Happy processing!

Celebrating the Life of Nabeel Qureshi

Apologist, husband, and father, Nabeel Qureshi, passed away September 16, 2017. It may seem that I am a little late in writing this, but I’ve honestly been having a difficult time processing all the thoughts that came with his life this past year, death, and entrance into a new life.

Nabeel was diagnosed with an aggressive stomach cancer in August 2016. I had read his book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, maybe a year prior to his diagnosis. He was a man of strong conviction, intelligence, passion, and love. He spoke around the world and often in places that were hostile to his message: that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only way to salvation.

He was an attentive husband and deeply cared for his young daughter. He loved his family very much.

When I heard the news that Nabeel had been diagnosed with stomach cancer, my immediate thought was, Why, Lord? Nabeel was having a large impact for the gospel and was only in his mid-30’s. Surely this was just a trust test that God was bringing him through. He’d do some chemo, struggle a little, get better, and continue on with his life.

Well, that was my hope, but that was not reality. Nabeel had his ups and downs during treatment, but ultimately, the cancer took over and he died.

Attending Nabeel’s funeral was not what I expected. I realized, sitting there, that God wasn’t done using Nabeel yet. Nabeel may be gone, but the powerful impact of his life stayed hanging in the air.

I looked around at the people present and saw such a variety of individuals coming to pay their respects to a man that had influenced their faith. Nabeel’s life and testimony had strengthened my faith in the past, but I didn’t know his death would grant me peace and courage for a fear I hold.

In a blog post earlier this year, I wrote about my crippling fear of eternity. God has been gentle in walking through this fear with me and taught me a lesson at Nabeel’s funeral. On the front of the funeral program, it had a picture and the words, “Celebrating the Life of Nabeel Qureshi.”

And that’s what the funeral was: a celebration of the life Nabeel lived here and a celebration of the life he is now living in the presence of God. I’ve never experienced a funeral quite like this one and I believe that contains some reasoning as to why eternity has not been a welcome thought for me. The only reality I had of eternity was that time would essentially be nonexistent. Everything else seemed too abstract to even think about.

But this funeral changed that. The sting of a young man dying, while leaving behind a wife and daughter, was overcome with the certain hope that they will see him again. The songs we sang became songs of joyous triumph because we knew that Nabeel was not dead. The power of Jesus’ resurrection took Nabeel’s soul from here straight to God’s presence. He is now in a reality greater than ours.

When I miss Nabeel, I find myself wondering what he’s doing now. And that’s such an interesting thought… because he is doing stuff. He’s alive and interacting with God on a level I can’t really imagine at this point, but the reality that Nabeel is in that realm makes it more real for me. Heaven has grown in familiarity because he is there. I look forward to seeing him again and hearing about what he’s got going on up there.

I wouldn’t say Nabeel’s funeral “cured” me of my fear of eternity, but it gave me more perspective. I hope that my funeral is like his. I hope it’s a celebration of life and that it puts joy in the hearts of all who attend. I know there will be sadness because I’m not around, but there should also be a miraculous elation in the power of God and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

What’s Your Interest?

What’s Your Interest?

Hello everyone!

I wanted to thank those who have decided to follow my blog. It’s encouraging to see others interested in codependency and my take on it. We’ve got a small band of followers on here, which is great, because we can interact easily together.

I’m curious to hear from y’all. Is there any part of codependency that you’re interested in? Is there a topic I haven’t covered that you’re wondering about? What is your struggle that you’d like to get more of a handle on?

Let me know and I’ll get to researching and writing! Those are my favorite things. 😀

You can comment below or e-mail me at writemegbutler@gmail.com.

I look forward to hearing from y’all and am so glad we get to work through this codependency together.

Also, what do y’all think about the picture of a wadded up blanket I took? So random, but I thought it was beautiful for some reason.

-Meg

I Was Scathed By Harvey

I Was Scathed By Harvey

Correction from my last post, I was indeed scathed by Harvey… but not in the way I was expecting. It goes like this:

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Bumper to bumper, compiled madness of every working man and woman in Houston trying to get to work and home on the same freeway and spare back roads. Lord, help us. If you’ve read my posts about working in corporate, you already know it’s a struggle for me… but now with a commute that has been doubled and, may I say it, tripled since Harvey… I’m scathed. I’m so scathed.

Yesterday, after two hours of braking and nowhere near my home, I broke down. It was tragic. And I had plenty of witnesses since all of us are so packed in and driving transparent fish bowls. People could see the tears in high def… and it wasn’t a pretty sight. I lost it.

Why? Because of everything I was losing.

I had already spent an hour driving to work, nine hours working, and now two hours driving… and getting nowhere. That’s TWELVE HOURS. I ain’t a nurse! I don’t do 12 hours shifts away from home if I can help it. It’s already difficult being away from home the regular 55 hours of a work week (yes, I include commute and lunch).

Here’s my list of losses:
Time with Tucker
Time with my roommates
Time to make dinner
Time to just relax and think about what I wanted to do with my evening

Bottom line: I lost time.

That does not feel good. Ever. I was out of control of my circumstances and couldn’t get over the injustice of personal loss. Who could I blame? My bosses for not adjusting work hours the next couple of weeks? Other drivers for making poor traffic decisions? Harvey??

Shifting blame around is pointless. It doesn’t help anything. It definitely doesn’t help my traffic situation. There are several things that need to occur for my mulligan trip home this afternoon.

  1. Surrender the moment. When I come into a situation with expectations, I set myself up for inner conflict. God is sovereign and in control. He has different plans than me for my day. He knows exactly how the day is going to go and His will trumps mine – and that’s a good thing! When life goes a direction I don’t expect (good or bad), I need to surrender it to God and see what He has in store for the time. Let. Go.
  2. Trust God. You want to know crazy? Here it is: my mind and heart were desperate to get home so I could see my dog. I am an obsessive parent. It’s true. I have no idea what I will be like as a mother to a child (if I ever experience that). I mean, I’m going to need to continue seeing my counselor and probably more frequently once I have children.Stuck in traffic, I was so sad that my time with Tucker was being taken by such a miserable alternative. Plus, I needed to feed her dinner, take her on a walk, and just play around. However, what have I learned before? She is best in God’s hands. He can do more for her than I can. So, this time around, I must trust God and know that He has everything taken care of.
  3. Redeem the time. I am a strong believer in spiritual warfare and I do not doubt that Satan wants to get the most evil out of Harvey as he can. And, you know what, I think he’s disappointed. The city, state, and nation have come together to help each other out. There is unity and light in the darkness.Now, he’s coming at us via intense traffic and loss. Well, not today, Satan! The time will be redeemed! My friend and I are resolved that we will stand firm against attack. Two and a half hours of traffic hell can turn into a two and a half hour praise session with God. It can be prayer. It can be working through our character defects as they arise. Instead of defeat, we will get stronger in Christ. We will draw near to God. Our mission is not to be “on time”, but to glorify God at all times.
  4. Don’t play the victim. Once I arrive home (whenever that may be), my goal is to enjoy the time I’ve been given. Even though my time at home may be condensed, I can enjoy it to the fullest. I’m only hurting myself if I come home and sulk the rest of the night due to my misfortunes.My plan is to look at the next couple of weeks realistically. Are there extra things I’m doing outside of work that can be postponed for a bit? How am I planning on taking care of myself in the midst of high stress circumstances? Where is God directing me in all of this?

All of the above is what I have learned so far. I plan on stumbling imperfectly into these lessons and seeing what beneficial habits come from this experience.

#HoustonStrong

 

Check In

Check In

As Rachel on the Bachelorette would say, I’m going to “keep it 100” with y’all and let you in on the struggle I’ve had the past couple of months.

An ongoing weakness of mine that runs in my family is depression. I know depression sounds miserable (and it is), but it’s also oddly comforting. I am familiar with curling up on the couch to take a nap and escape the world, driving to work in a numbness of surrender to unhappiness, maintaining a safe fog of distance at work from reality, and shoving down the little thoughts that pop up telling me to process my situation. It feels horribly good to be a victim.

But ultimately, being depressed is mainly just horrible.

I’ve allowed depression to manipulate my life decisions in the past. I’ve quit jobs because I was miserable, ended relationships, and not completed creative projects that could’ve really benefited people. Depression, for me, is basically a long, numb venture of pure laziness. When I’m in the midst, a proverb always enters my mind:

How long, you sluggard, will you lie there?
When will you rise from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to relax,
and your poverty will come like a robber,
and your need like an armed man. (Proverbs 6:9-11)

It’s a cycle I am familiar with, yet, can’t seem to shake when I’m in it. I was in this depression when it came time for a counseling session, and I am so glad I entrusted to my counselor how I was feeling. It can be hard, even with counselors, to be honest with how you’re doing. I’ve been seeing mine for quite some time and I was concerned she’d be disappointed with my seeming regression in recovery.

Of course she wasn’t. She shared with me an exercise to do through the phase and I want to share it with you, because it helped me sooo much.

CHECKING IN:

Set a reminder to check in with God every two hours.

  1. Write down how you’re feeling in that moment
  2. Ask God to show you what He’s teaching you in the process
  3. Ask God to remove any negative feelings
  4. If you have to, go into the bathroom or somewhere else private and literally shake the depression (or other negative feeling) off of you
  5. Thank God for what He’s going to do in your life
  6. If God has placed any phrases in your mind or led you to a specific scripture, place it somewhere you can see throughout the day

Try it out! I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me.

A Mini Break

A Mini Break

Hello, friends!

I’ve been MIA for the past month, but it’s been for a good reason. God blessed me with a contract job to write a 5 week devotional for families traveling together. That, along with work, my book proposal, and another side job have kept me pretty busy. But! I have finished the devotionals and would like to share one of the days with you.

When I write for churches, I don’t use blatant codependency terms. It’s not a popular concept within most church congregations yet. However, I try and describe as best I can what connecting with God through recovery truly feels like. I want people to know that they can live in freedom and joy in Christ.

Below is day three entitled, “Grace Perspective”. Enjoy!

Romans 5:1-11

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Read devotional as a family:

Even though many say they are Christians, it’s hard to come by individuals actually living the Christian lifestyle. When I say “living it out”, I’m not talking about their actions. I’m talking about their perspective. How many Christians do you know that are still living, frankly, a miserable life?

Reading Romans 5:1-11 and seeing the gains from a life under faith in Christ, it’s hard to imagine a Christian emanating darkness instead of light. It happens all too often, however. God opens someone’s blinded eyes to the light, they accept His truth, and revert back to their dark chaos. This is not to say their lives have no transformation and their salvation wasn’t real. It’s to say that the choice is frequently made to live a life of complacent, sepia-toned Christianity and not step into the daily adventure that God has created for those who love Him. It’s a choice to push away that breezy-blue-sky-Saturday-with-people-you-love, hot pizza when you’re starving, packed out dance party, confident like a boss; “so young and in love” type life.

When a Christian attempts to operate out of their human capabilities, obligation creeps in and life is not lived as an overflow of joy and gratitude for the gift of eternal life in Christ.

Before we could see the truth of God we were in darkness. It is when we come to see the truth of our depravity, the salvation Christ offers, and the justification we receive through faith that we can live a life of peace and joy with God. Peace. Isn’t that what everyone is looking for? Peace, contentment, satisfaction… lack of worry. And we have it!

That’s not all we gain from receiving Jesus as our savior. We receive access to the presence of God because of the grace we have been shown. It is this access to God’s presence that allows us to obtain such peace. We also gain hope in the glory of God. The word hope in this context is ἐλπίς in Greek. It means expectation. We are given not only peace in the present, but expectation for things to come. Namely, the glory of God. We are expectant to see the reveal of God on earth.

After being given peace with God, access to His presence, and hope, we get the gift of the ability to rejoice in our sufferings. Why? Because no longer are sufferings pointless inconveniences and disappointments in a one-shot-at-life mentality, but they are a process of sanctification getting us ready for the glorious kingdom ahead. Sufferings lead back to hope because we have been given the Holy Spirit as our guide and counsel through those times of suffering. We overflow with love no matter what circumstance because of the power of the gospel.

God’s peace gives us the freedom to put away obsessive thinking and surrender our anxieties. The hope of the glory of God provides an eternal perspective that fills this appetizer of a life with purpose. The Holy Spirit clears our mind of chaos and replaces it with clarity, confidence, and direction. God guides us every day and provides all our needs in their right time.

We have all of this, not because we deserve it, but because God loved us in the midst of our weakness. He wanted us to be in His presence so He gave the ultimate sacrifice of parting with His Son for a time so that we can all be with Him. Jesus died for us at the time we were the complete package of a depraved Romans 1. And it is His sacrifice that covers our messed up selves in the presence of God.

It is through Jesus’ blood that we are justified to God and saved from His wrath. We died with Christ to now live. The understanding of who we were, where we were headed, who Jesus is and what He did, what we gained from His life, death, and resurrection, and who we are now because of who He is leads us to a life of freedom, gratitude, and joy. What could we possibly need that God hasn’t already provided? If He went to such great lengths so that we could be with Him, why would He not come through in other matters?

Live in the freedom of a life with God through Jesus Christ here and in the eternal future.

Discussion:

  • What are potential consequences of living for ourselves and not for God’s glory?
  • Do you feel that you are living in the peace of God every day? Why or why not?
  • Do you believe that God will come through for you? Why or why not?