Home: Where Stories Are Made
The Impact of Love and Respect on Your Story
Day 1: Begin this week by reading through the Next Steps “Take 5” Questions below. Invite the Holy Spirit to speak truth into you as you consider and answer the questions. Write down your thoughts, responses, and what God is showing you. Use the “Take 5” questions this week as a conversation starter with your family or possibly a close friend.
1. Husbands (men), what are some practical ways you can communicate and demonstrate love to your wife (mom, sister) in ways that are meaningful to her? Wives (ladies), what are some practical ways you can communicate and demonstrate respect to your husbands (dad, brother) in ways that are meaningful to him?
2. Husbands: Is your wife coming across as disrespectful because she is feeling unloved? And will what you say or do next come across to her as loving or unloving? Wives: Is your husband coming across as unloving because he is feeling disrespected? And will what you say or do next come across to him as respectful or disrespectful?
3. Take a minute to reflect on your motivation for giving love and / or respect to your spouse. Is it primarily to have a better marriage? Or does if flow from a desire of seeking to become more like Jesus?
Day 2: When Paul gets to the fifth chapter of Ephesians, he has already explained that life in Christ is all about love. But as he prepares to discuss marriage, Paul re-emphasizes that this love must be demonstrated in our lives. Read Ephesians 5:1-2. How are we to be imitators of Christ? He stresses that our love is to be self-giving, wishing only for the well-being of another. The starting point of the Gospel is Christ’s surprising sacrificial love. Paul urges us to imitate Christ by making this love the root of our motivation and focus of our actions. During the weekend message, we were reminded that our motivation for marriage should not be happiness, a better marriage, or to have our needs met by our spouse. If our focus or goal in our marriage is to become more like Jesus, we can accomplish that no matter our spouse’s response. Consider these motivations. Currently, what is your motivation? Write your response in a few sentences or a paragraph in your journal.
Day 3: Male and female, we are created equal. Within marriage we each have a practical role to fulfill as God intended. Read Ephesians 5:25 and 28. What word or phrase strikes you? Christ has shown us what it means to be loved and worth pursuing. Paul begins describing a husband’s greatest role in marriage is to love his wife. Men, how do you currently express love for your wife? Have you asked her lately what communicates love to her? If it has been a while, ask her the question and just listen. Women, how can you share in a way that would inspire hope for your husband and not a reminder of the ways he doesn’t measure up to certain expectations? This charge of intentionality to love others is not just confined to the marriage relationship. Remember this series, Home: Where Stories are Made. Consider other pictures of relationships – mom, daughter, sister, friend, classmate – what words or action can you take that would speak love to one of these women in your life? Pray for God’s insight.
Day 4: Slow down, let yourself relax a bit. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide this devotional time. Recall the learning and reflection from yesterday. Read Ephesians 5:21-24. If a woman’s greatest need is to feel loved, a man’s greatest need is to be respected. In the same way that men must work to understand how to love their wives, wives must work to understand what behaviors men relate to being respected. For many men, wives communicate this by trusting his judgment and his abilities, and building him up in her communication—especially in public. Wives, ask your husbands which of your behaviors show him significant respect and admiration. Men, remember to express love as you share your desire for respect, not your unmet expectations. Again, to broaden the conversation, consider other relationships in your life. How does your dad, son, co-worker, friend, or classmate feel respect? Invite God into these reflective questions.
Day 5: In Day 2 of this week’s devotional, we grappled with a deep question. What is my motivation in my marriage relationship? Am I seeking to have a great marriage or am I seeking to become more like Jesus. It is through our Christ-like thoughts, attitudes and behaviors that can we can begin to experience a beautiful story in our lives and a depth of love for one another. In Chapter 1 of Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ book, Love & Respect, he describes what he calls the “Crazy Cycle”. Remember Cory’s explanation from Sunday? When a woman doesn’t feel love, her natural response is to disrespect. Thus, when a man doesn’t feel respected, his natural response is to not love. Whether in a marriage or not, think of a time in the last week when you didn’t feel loved or respected. How did you want to respond? Think for a few moments about this idea. Is the Crazy Cycle something you’ve experienced? To learn more about the Crazy Cycle, read chapter 1 of the book Love & Respect.
Another possible next step is to attend the short-term small group meeting on Sunday evenings at the church. It started this week, but if you contact Patrick Hukriede at Patrick.firstname.lastname@example.org, you could still join for the remaining five weeks. Or simply jot down Ephesians 5:33 on a notecard and refer to it a 3-4 times this weekend. Become more aware of love and respect in your relationships. In doing so, you will make a new chapter in your story.