My Husband, My IdolBy Trillia Newbell | January 22nd, 2013 | Category: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
by Lindsey Carlson
He is utterly charming, handsomely good-looking, freakishly talented, has a dorkily-complimentary sense of humor, and he loves me well. He’s a rockstar dad. The man plays “Pretty-Pretty Princess” with his daughter and wears all the jewels. He jumps on the trampoline until the sun goes down and then wrestles and kisses our boys into bed. He’s the peanut-butter to my jelly and the chips to my queso. The man is my knight in shining armor.
And in our tenth year of marriage, I’d still call him my best friend, my confidant, and my love. I’m smitten with my husband, my idol.
I’m not being cute. This is not an attempt at some kind of extreme form of wifely submission. I am confessing idolatry; the Biblical kind. Through the years I have elevated my covenant to love, honor, and respect my husband over my covenant to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, and mind.
Idolatry in any form is sinful.
Idolizing my husband came easily. I’d always idolized marriage. It started back when I was in elementary school and doodling my first name next to the last name of the boys I had a crush on. It continued through high school as I longed for a boyfriend to escort me through the halls and take me to prom. In college, surrounded by all the talk of rings and weddings my marriage idol grew bigger still.
And so on our wedding day, I slipped my new husband into the role I’d waited years for him to occupy. He was my everything. The one I’d longed and waited for. The one who would complete me.
I looked to him to define my identity. I felt confident when he was by my side and insecure when he was gone. I needed his constant affirmation to keep me from regularly berating myself over my appearance. In practice, I believed who he said I was, faster than who God said I was.
I found my security in him. For years I had constant fears of my husband cheating on me, leaving me, or dying. I couldn’t fathom living without him. I became obsessive and controlling in an attempt to “protect” him (and myself).
I was shocked when he didn’t live up to my standards. I expected his devotion and love for me to be enough to keep him from sinning against me. When he spoke hurtful words, argued pridefully, or made a poor choice, I felt as though his sin were a personal betrayal. Instead of offering forgiveness and grace, I spewed words of disappointment and frustration.
I blamed him for my spiritual depression. I expected him to always be the strong one in spiritual matters. I needed him to be spiritually on-the-clock all the time. When my affections for God were lacking, I pointed my finger at my husband’s spiritual leadership. I believed “If he’d pray with me more, If we’d read the Bible together, If he’d spend more time in the word,” I would have a better relationship with God.
Tearing down the statue
Poor guy, that was a lot of pressure. As you can imagine, my disordered exaltation of my husband made for some unhealthy relational patterns. There was no possible way the man could fill the role I’d signed him up for. No matter how he tried, he couldn’t read my mind or meet all my expectations. He was never intended to.
By God’s merciful grace, despite my sinful idolatry, my husband and I still have a strong and healthy marriage. For this I am grateful. Through this season, I’ve learned to love and honor my husband by tearing down his golden statue.
I avoid idolizing my husband by:
1. Finding my identity in Christ.
I am no longer the insecure girl I once was. In Christ, I am a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). No longer a stranger, but a member of the household of God (Eph. 2:19). I set my mind not on fitting in, the approval of others, or the praise of man, but on the fact that my life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). When my identity is in Christ, I gain my confidence in his work on the cross and not my husband’s work inflating my ego.
2. Loving God with all my heart, soul, and mind. (Deut. 6:5)
Loving God with all of my being includes loving his plans more than I love my own. I trust his goodness and his provision are enough to satisfy my soul for eternity. Loving God with all my heart, soul, and mind, trusting he will provide for me in all circumstances.
3. Knowing the standards.
God commands wives to submit to their husbands as to the Lord (Eph. 5:22). This command assumes I am first making a regular practice of submitting to God’s authority. Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph. 5:25). To recognize what my husband’s love is and is not, I must be familiar with what Christ’s love for the church looks like.
4. Focusing on my own sin.
Instead of being distracted and devastated by his weaknesses, I grieve over my own. I strive to demonstrate the respectful and pure conduct that 1 Peter 3:2 says will “win without a word.” I pray for my adorning to be the “imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Pet. 3:4).”
Worth the tension
If I live to be one hundred, I’m sure I’ll still struggle against idolizing my husband. He’s just that great. But he’ll never surpass the greatness of God.
Only God’s grace can restrain my heart from worshipping my husband, my idol. Striving to worship God first and foremost and then submitting to my husband “as to” Christ is a challenge. It’s one that keeps me humble and dependent upon the Lord’s grace. It’s one that’s worth the tension.
I rejoice in this challenge that dethrones idols and embraces covenants because God’s sanctifying work through marriage is one of the sweetest blessings I know.
More about Lindsey
Lindsey Carlson lives in Houston, Texas with her college sweetheart Kyle. She is the wife of a worship-pastor and mother to four young children. “Normal” days are filled with homeschool, endless dishes, games, books, mis-matched socks, and writing whenever sleeping children permit. Lindsey writes about living the new song of the gospel at Worship Rejoices.