“By the end of the hour-long class – and three others that followed with other children – I was profoundly saddened by what I had witnessed. While teenage boys will always be fascinated by, and curious about, sex, what’s now considered ‘normal’ by under-18s is an entirely distorted view of intercourse and the way relationships should be conducted.
It seemed as if the children’s entire expectation of sex had been defined by what they see in online porn. The conversation was horrifying enough, yet there was worse to come.”
A devastating and heart-breaking article on the effects of porn on children. As a father of four I am not scared, but resolved that I will do everything I can to make sure my children develop a healthy and non-pornographic view of sex, sexual relationships, and sexuality. My prayer is the Lord is my help in shepherding and discipling my kids to that end.
Seth McBee has a great article on the Verge Network website on how we can be discipling our kids in the everyday. I constantly need these ideas and reminders on how to be modeling Christ and expounding the gospel to my kids. Cultivate patience and consistency as you seek to bring the gospel of Christ to bear on every facet of your family life and the life of your kids. His first point is a really good idea:
“1. Redeem everyday things
What TV show does your kid love to watch? Watch it with them and tell them that at the end we are going to discuss questions in which we see ways the characters are living out their identity, how are their lives looking like Jesus, how are their lives showing who/what they are trusting, etc. For my kids, it’s Phineas and Ferb. We sit down and watch it, then discuss.
The night before I wrote this article, we spoke about servanthood, identity, idols, fears, anxiety, the Imago Dei, etc. After we discussed, we prayed as a family for very specific things that we discussed. Guess what the kids are always asking to do? “Daddy, can we do Phineas and Ferb and theology?” They desire to learn because it is something they enjoy.”
I seem to be in a responding mood as of late. I was perusing the Gospel Coalition posts when I came across a fantastic article on the Gospel Coalition website entitled, “How to Mourn With the Parents of Stillborn and Miscarried Children.” John Patton gives some great, simple advice on how to come alongside couples that go through the heartache and pain of a stillborn birth or a miscarriage.
His personal story is very similar, emotionally, to what Tina and I went through in 2012 with our son Jonas. Although he was taken from us very early, we still we completely blindsided when his heart failed to grow and he never sustained a consistent heartbeat before dying at 9 weeks. A vacuum had been created in our lives that took months to recover from, and we could tell that no one really knew what to say or what to do when we were around them.
As I processed these emotions, I wrote these 3 Do’s and 3 Don’ts on how to handle a miscarriage as a husband and father. It is often very easy for us husbands to play the tough guy card and we often get overlooked by ourselves and by others as needing to reflect and process the emotions of losing a child. I wrote this a couple months after the miscarriage and thought it would be good to share them here and add to Patton’s discussion.
1 ) DO – Be there
It’s too easy for husbands to be “the tough guy” and not be there. We want to continue working, since we can’t let sadness and pain effect our work and providing for our family. ”Why would I stop playing pickup basketball with my friends, or stop going out to shows or studying late at night,” we say. “Life doesn’t stop just because my baby died.”
This is false, macho masculinity. What we need to come to grips with is that when miscarriage happens, our wives’ needs us. Tina needed me. There were times I tried to justify doing other things so that I didn’t have to be around the sadness and emotions Tina was going through. That was sin, and something I needed to repent of. I needed to be there. I didn’t have to say anything special or have a pithy statement to make it all better (which I didn’t anyway), but she needed me to just be there.
In Job 2, we find Job wallowing in the misery of having his life completely destroyed and he is sitting in dust with sores and trying to soothe the sores with broken shards of pottery (lovely image, no?). His friends come to see him after this calamity as any good friends would do. They see him from afar, tear their robes, and, “sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.” Everything after this was a miserable failure for Job’s friends, but this period of mourning was their shining moment. Sometimes when we are sad and in pain we just need our loved ones and friends to be there. Just be there, not say a word, and be a comfort because our suffering is “very great”.
2) DO – Buy her candy and flowers
I’m not saying these things are exactly what you should buy her, but you can help her through the pain by showing her you are thinking of her and the baby you lost. Get her a special necklace or ring or other memento to remember the baby. Get her flowers on your way home from work. Stop at the grocery store and buy her a mess pile of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups if she likes those. Show her that you care. I remember being so wrapped up in the sadness and my own struggles that Tina remarked a couple weeks afterwards, “You never even got me flowers.” I cried, because I had missed so many opportunities to show her I cared and I was thinking of her well-being. There is only so many times saying, “I’m sorry,” does any good. I needed to show her something tangible that this was affecting me and I wanted her to know I was sad and was sorry we were going through this.
3) DO – Talk to God and your wife
I can say that I at least got half of this right. The pages of the Psalms were my lament and my joy during this time. I cried along with the sons of Korah, “For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol,” (Psalm 88:3), and found hope in the words of Jeremiah, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end,” (Lamentations 3:22). I poured out my soul in frustration, anger, sadness, pain, and heartache to my God, and he was kind and gracious to answer me in my trouble.
What I ignored was the one person who God gave me to talk to who could understand me the most besides the Lord. Not only did I need to be able to talk to Tina, but she needed me. Talking to your wife through a miscarriage is balm for your soul and it’s good for hers, as well. Talking to her will create moments of connection that can knit you together and will allow you to fulfill your God-given role as the shepherd of your wife.
“Few actually take the time to get down in the dirt, ashes, and blood and mourn with those who are suffering and in pain.”
1) DON’T – Distance yourself (physically and emotionally)
As some of the above DOs pointed out, it’s important to engage your wife. I so often missed this and choose to find something else to do than talk about it, and that meant not being near Tina and also not connecting emotionally with her. It’s too easy to check out, but its killer in the long run. As I said previously, be there.
2) DON’T – Say anything stupid (even if it’s true)
Remember Job’s friends? This is where it all fell apart for them. On the surface, some of the advice they give is good. However, they lost sight of Job’s suffering and railed on him. It’s too easy for Christians to lose sight of suffering and cover up their suffering in true statements that hold no value. They almost become throw off statement that release us from some sort of easy responsibility to spout a word of truth and move on. ”God is good,” and, “Everything happens for a reason,” are so often thrown out they seem as casual as a special hello reserved for those going through a difficult time. Few actually take the time to get down in the dirt, ashes, and blood and mourn with those who are suffering and in pain. We ignore Jesus’ words to, “mourn with those who are mourning,” and we bless them and move on without supplying for their need. James, brother of Jesus, would knock your lights out over that. Don’t, I repeat, don’t say a bunch of true things and think that you have done your duty to your wife. Don’t ask her to just have joy and ignore what she is going through. Get down in the nitty-gritty, admit the gravity of the loss, and zip your lip for a bit.
3) DON’T – Put on a happy face
This is just wrong. The last thing your wife needs in a time like this is for you to put on a mask and pretend that everything is “A-OK. Wipe that Osteen-esque smile of your face and face reality. You just lost a child. I’m not saying you have to walk around with a grimace of pain or sour scowl, but don’t let your countenance betray your heart and your soul. It’s insulting to your wife, your kids, your friends, your family, and it spurns the name of your God. Our Father does not wants us to come to him with a bunch of ceramic, glazed over fakery, but He desires us to approach him in humble authenticity, trusting HIS power to overcome our weaknesses and sufferings and to find rest in Him and in His goodness and grace through Jesus Christ.
Even after reading this again and processing the how I was feeling then, I still miss our son and pray I get to meet him some day. I am praying for you if this is something you are going through right now, and would be happy to hear any feedback or comments on this.
Greetings fine readers! It’s time for the weekly theology face-stuffing. My personal recommendation is to start from the bottom and work your way up, but that is just to keep things interesting. Like eating from the bottom of a sumptuous, theological ice-cream cone!
Economic Malady, Church Opportunity – Some startling statistics on Americans and the value of work are shared in this The Gospel Coalition article. Michael Jahr, from the Kern Family Foundation, addresses how pastors and churches can use the current state of work to speak the good news of Christ’s restorative work and hope found in the cross. This is a very helpful and needed article that might even warrant a follow up post sometime soon.
Satanic Attacks and Leadership – Chan Kilgore shares some things he wishes he would have known going into ministry and being a parent. I’ve heard Chan share some of his struggles in his sermons and messages before, and he has some great wisdom here on leading, parenting, and busyness.
Crazy Busy – Speaking of busyness, Joe Thorn has his review and response to another review of Kevin DeYoung’s new book, Crazy Busy!. Check out his review, which I think is helpful in discerning some strengths and weaknesses, and check out DeYoung’s new book.
5 Tips for Finding Your Theological Balance – I love articles at the Gospel Coalition and I love articles at Christ and Pop Culture. So there is always double the fun when Derek Rishmway has an article at the Gospel Coalition. He talks about theological balance and offers some helpful advice on how to avoid losing your balance and having theological hobby horses.
4 Anchors of Repentance – There are few articles that have a well-rounded treatment of repentance, but this is one of the few that give us a great picture of biblical repentance. I need to model a repentance that is much more God-focused and Christ-centered than my typical, “I’m so sorry,” approach. By extension, my kids need to see this in me and live out an example of this kind of repentance. Strong article and a must read.
Accidental Worship Heresy – This is hilarious. As a former worship leader, I can safely say I have never accidentally let any of these things come out of my mouth, but they are still a good laugh for everyone.
Jesus Has Come to Confound You – Scott Stener, pastor at the Vine Church in Madison and Director of Church Multiplication for the Forest Lakes District of the ELCA (how’s that for an intro?), posts an extended quote from Zack Eswine’s new book, Sensing Jesus. As someone on the verge of planting myself, it is nice to hear from an experienced planter that the need for Jesus grows ever stronger as you see how inadequate and in need of Him to bear fruit you actually are. I am praying to remain humble and focused on Christ as this journey gets going.
Hi everyone! Thanks for the insane amount of response to this article so far. I wanted to pass on that the author of the post on the Gospel Coalition’s blog, Eowyn Stoddard, picked up on the article and has posted it in her blog as a response to her post. So cool! And she is residing in Deutschland to boot! Sehr gut! Or something like that…It’s been a long time since German Level 5 and my foreign exchange student days in Soest and Hamburg.
Before you even start with me; yes, husbanding IS a word. Not like it really mattered; it was a cool title before I found out it is a real word.
Lexical issues aside, the word husbanding does have some excellent use for this topic. The word means, in its verb form, “to manage, especially with prudent economy.” Our wives, and by extension any mother, needs to be managed, especially with economy. Now before you get in a huff, I don’t mean in some detached, business-like way that has connotations of an authoritative boss over his assistant. The word husbanding has a more archaic, agrarian sense of tilling or cultivating. That sands any harsh edges off the word. As husbands, we want to love our wives, and we do not do that as a big boss handing down the laws, but we lead through tilling and cultivating and doing the hard work of managing our family in a way that leads to the flourishing of our wives.
My wife, Tina, and I have been through a lot together, and I have been learning the hard way how to be the best husband I can be and seek her full flourishing in life. There have been many things that have been helpful, but none more helpful than just sitting down and talking to her about what she needs. She has never been one to mince words with people, and that is especially true of me. At first this was really hard for me to swallow. I didn’t know how to handle someone being honest with me all the time with her emotions, our relationship, and how we took care of our kids and our family. However, after eight years of marriage, I could not be more happy and satisfied with who my wife is. I still am praying and striving to be more like her in this area. I think many problems and blow-ups in life could be avoided if we just talked to each other and were open and honest. But, more of that in a different post.
Part of my continuing self-discovery of how to lead and care for my wife led me to an article that she said is one of the better articles she has ever read. Eowyn Stoddard wrote an article on the Gospel Coalition titled, The Introverted Mom. She asked me to read it because she felt it accurately described who she was as a mother. She said one of her friends cried after reading it because it lifted a bunch of guilt she had always felt as a mother. That piqued my curiosity, and as I read I observed some similarities between what Stoddard was saying and some things about Tina that I had never really been able to put my finger on before.
I don’t want to re-hash the whole article here (I would suggest you read it), but I was struck by the author’s struggles, her thoughts about parenting, and how Tina had communicated her exhaustion and frustrations with having four kids constantly requiring her attention, permission, help, etc.. I saw three connections between what the author saw and what I see that a husband can do to make sure your introverted wife doesn’t just survive, but flourishes.
Live in an understanding way
It is, and has been, too easy to get caught up in the idyllic picture of a wife and mother. Early on in our marriage, I expected the wrong things of Tina (and so did she) and I talked past her to what I thought she needed, not what she actually needed. When you get married, especially as two young Christians, there is monumental amounts of advice heaped on you from multiple angles. You read books, attend conferences, field advice from friends and family, and soak in our cultural trappings, all of it tugging gently in similar and sometimes competing directions on what a healthy and wonderful marriage looks like. My mistake was trying way too hard to make my marriage look exactly like some famous author or pastor thought a marriage should look like, and not trying hard enough to model healthy marriages on the people around me.
Tina and I learned a lot more learning how to parent from our friends who were in the throes of raising their four young children. We spent tons of time at their house taking care of their kids, watching how they interacted, and learning to raise a young family by being a part of an existing family. Tina and I always reflect fondly as that being some of the best days we had as a couple.
However, modeling was helpful so that we could actually learn how to parent and love each other in the hurricane of children, but it came up short because we were able to leave after a day or two and our friends’ kids weren’t always with us. Also, our friend Lisa was much more extroverted than Tina (we didn’t think along those lines at the time) and she was content to spend all her waking hours with her children and to have them always around her. She ate it up, and we loved that about her!
We discovered after a couple of years that this was not how Tina was. She couldn’t do that. She needed respites in the midst of the craziness and constant demands of being a mother, and for years we did not understand and at times I was harsh with her and only made her feel guilty for how she was. I expected her to be there for me when she got home, when she really needed time to recharge from a full day of mothering. She felt the guilt and also felt the pressure from others to be the kind of mother she was not.
It took her and I sitting down and actually communicating what she needed to have some breakthrough. I wanted to not just see my wife as the one who manages the household and takes care of our children, but I wanted her to understand who she was and to help her not just survive, but flourish. When I understood the Apostle Peter’s advice to live with my wife in an understanding way, instead of a harsh or judgmental way, I was able to start making adjustments in how we spent our time and how I interacted with her in our marriage, as well as our parenting.
I began to understand that Tina needs time to herself or she is unable to recharge. Being around the kids wasn’t always a “blessing” and a “time to cherish”. Sometimes the kids were a total drain on her and it left her empty at the end of the day. It was not understanding of me to expect her to be charged by a day full of our children, and I began to take joy in giving her what she needed in order to not just survive, but flourish and find joy in being a woman of God, a wife, and a mother.
“Stop quoting Proverbs 31 in your mind and transposing those expectations on to your wife. Put down your copy of whatever marriage or parenting book you have, and TALK TO HER! Find out what she needs and communicate with her in a way that listens to her and understands what she is feeling.”
Husbands of introverted wives, I implore you to stop putting false expectations on your wife. Stop quoting Proverbs 31 in our mind and transposing those expectations on to your wife. Put down your copy of whatever marriage or parenting book you have, and TALK TO HER! Find out what she needs and communicate with her in a way that listens to her and understands what she is feeling. She does NOT hate being a mom, even if the words come out of her mouth. Hold back on the Scripture verses you have memorized, hold back the man-made expectations that our Christians sub-culture has put on your wife, and LISTEN to her and find out what she needs. There is one person besides Our Lord who knows your wife better than you do, and that person is your wife. STOP pretending you know what is best for her, and find out from her.
Give her time away
That being said, after I was able to actually find out what Tina needed I found out a huge blessing for her was to schedule and giver her time away from the responsibilities and stresses of being a mom. She would say to me, “I just feel like I have no other identity but ‘Mom’. I just want some time to be Tina.” If you hear that, it should be a clear sign that you have a burnout Momma in need of some time to herself.
What I typically do now is make that a genuine offer to her. I ask her, “Do you need some time away?” Sometimes she will say yes, that she really needs it, and other times you just need to gauge her day and just give it to her. Tell her to go upstairs, unwind, relax, and spend some time to herself. She might go nap, she might read a book, she might watch TV, she might take a bath, she may pray, or she might just go fold and put away laundry. She might also just need to leave. Let her go on a run, get some errands done, shop for the kids/her/friends. The bottom line is let her spend time to herself and let her mind, heart, and body recover from a day of having her energy sapped.
Also, I will schedule that time in to our monthly routines. My hope (it doesn’t always happen, unfortunately) is to schedule in sometime for her to get a mini-vacation from being a mom at least once-a-month. It might be a scrapbooking weekend, a trip to her parent’s house to spend time with her mom, or a trip to visit her best friend who lives three hours away. When I am good at this, I get comments from people like, “Wow, you are alone with the kids a lot,” or, “Where is Tina this weekend?” I proudly respond, “Absolutely, I wanted Tina to get some time away, so I am Mr. Mom this weekend.”
The whole point of getting her time away is for her to be able to rest in God, rest from the work of motherhood, and find time to be someone other than “Mom.”
Schedule time together
But she doesn’t just need time away from the kids; she also needs time with you, her husband. For all the talk of getting her time to herself and making sure she has time to do stuff on her own, your introverted wife also needs to recharge by spending time with her other half and parenting teammate.
Remember, that woman you married because she was fun, smart, attractive, and really good at Scattergories? (all things that are true of Tina) That is the woman who is craving time with the guy she married that is funny, smart, and likes watching Project Runway with her (all things that are apparently true of me). This could be as simple as sitting down and talking about your day and hearing about hers for twenty minutes to a half-hour after the kids go to bed. It could also mean getting a baby-sitter and going out to dinner or seeing a movie. It could mean catching lunch together while the kids are at school. If you are a smart husband, it DEFINITELY means all of those things.
I will admit that this one is really hard for me. I put together these three points, but it is a challenge for me. The brain God has given me is a tad scattered, and I selfishly put other things ahead of making this a priority. But, we (I) need to make this a priority if we really desire our wives’ to thrive and grow as women and as moms. Put time together on the schedule to be able to listen to her wants and needs, but also to enjoy each other and the relationships God has blessed you with. Pray together, eat together, have fun together, and just enjoy being together without children. When you build into your wife and build a life together, it charges her and builds up your family as a result.
Introverted moms are much more common than you think. Your wife is not the outlier, and it is important to strive in prayer and in practice to put these things into motion. Husband, I implore you to commune with the Spirit in prayer and to communicate with your wife in conversation about how you can help her to flourish and help her to mother well. It is your God-given joy and responsibility to do this, and I am praying for you to embrace this as part of your calling as a man of God.
As for those with extroverted wives…I have no idea. *You’re on your own.
Ben Affleck’s Batman Will Be ‘Seasoned’ – Everyone loves a Batman that has a generous pinch of tarragon and saffron. All kidding aside, I like this choice for the next Batman, despite popular outcry from fans and anyone with an opinion on movies. Affleck seems to be a good fit to fill the role of a Batman worn-down by years of crime fighting and a bit more jaded view of his crime fighting.
Star Wars Spinoffs Described as ‘Origin Story’ Films – Um, yes please. If there is a Han Solo and/or Boba Fett origin film, that will make this Star Wars nerd superbly geeked! I’m sure all the canon purists would crap themselves, but we can let them clean up the mess while the rest of us enjoy the films.
9 Things You Should Know About the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing – I love Joe Carter’s ‘9 Things’ feature, and this one is done on the upcoming anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, an event that galvanized the Civil Rights Movement and started to focus a lot of attention on the leaders of the movement. Check it out, remember our past, and strive to continue building bridges between blacks and whites in America.
A Plea for Caution From Russia – Valdimir Putin, the President and leader of Russia (not the guy from Rocky IV), took his case on Syria to the New York Times Op-Ed section. Regardless of where you fall on this issue, his Op-Ed piece was needed. He makes some valid points even if there is another agenda behind this column (he is a politician, after all).