Mothers are many things. We are nurturers, chauffeurs, cooks, short-order cooks and first-aid providers. We are shoulders to cry on, advice-givers, drivers ed teachers, and broken heart menders. But the most important role we play in the lives of our kids is the role of teacher. As a homeschool mom, I learned a lesson very early in my mothering journey. Where students and teachers are concerned, it’s the teacher learns the most. After all, we can’t teach what we don’t understand. David acknowledges His need to be taught by the Lord in Psalm 143:10. That means we need to learn to follow. Are we being led by the Lord? Today’s question is from a wife whose husband is emotionally absent. Your marriage is worth fighting for!
Transcribed version of podcast is below.
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Lamentations 3:21-23
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Hey, you guys. This is Heidi St. John. Welcome to the podcast. I’m so glad you guys have joined me. Today is Wednesday, I can’t even believe it, January 8th, 2020. This is episode number 869. And today I’m going to encourage you in the direction of learning to be led. Stick around. I think you’re going to be encouraged.
So thanks for tuning in today. I’m excited today. I’m four days into my cruise at FPEA. I get to know a bunch of people here on the ship and encouraging people in their marriages. You guys, listen. You don’t have to go on a cruise to nurture your marriage. You don’t have to go. Don’t put your marriage on cruise control, all right? This is something that’s been on my mind lately. Jay and I have been talking a lot about what it takes to build a strong relationship. And the fact of the matter is, is just work. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of commitment. It’s a lot of forgiveness. Todd Wilson’s doing a talk here on the ship that says taking out the garbage and other sexy turn-ons. I was like, “Yeah, you right.” It’s true. The stuff that marriage is made of is not glamorous.
But, I hope you guys are really focusing because it’s January, especially. This is a great time of year for us to sort of really assess where we’re going this year and what’s important to us. And here at the podcast, we’re doing the same thing, really looking ahead to see what we want to do and where we’re going as a ministry. We hope you guys are blessed. We would love to hear from you. Speaking of the podcast, would love to hear from you. You guys can reach out to us at heidistjohn.com/mailboxmonday, and you can leave your comments there and even questions. We would really love to hear from you.
Speaking of hearing from you, I’m going to be in Lakeland, Florida. I’m going to keep saying it, you guys. We’d love to see you register. Grab your women’s ministry team, grab your neighbor, your sister, your mother, and come out February 21st through 22nd to Lakeland, Florida. I will link back to the registration in the show notes today. I will be speaking there, along with my friend Elizabeth Johnston, and we’re going to help you guys get off the bench and onto the battlefield. The Bible teaches us that our faith is not a private faith. Our faith should be a faith that speaks. So, you guys are going to be so encouraged. I’ve already written six sessions for this, and I cannot wait to see what God will do through your faithfulness and just the study of the word with us. So, don’t forget your Bible. I’ll have lots of books and stuff there for you.
Also, we’ve got a brand new off the bench swag in the store. You guys need to check it out. Super awesome stuff coming. We’ve got postcards there. Lots of really cool new things in the store for you to encourage the other mothers around you to get off the bench and onto the battlefield.
All right. Something’s been on my heart lately. And whenever I do the Wednesday podcast, it’s usually just something I’m taking from my devotion, something that God is teaching me. And the other day, I read a psalm that I thought was really good, and I wanted to share it with you. Psalm 143:10, “May your gracious spirit lead me on a firm footing.” And as I was thinking about this, I was thinking about mothers in particular. Mothers are many things, aren’t we? We’re nurturers, and chauffeurs, and cooks, and short order cooks, and first aid providers. We’re shoulders to cry on. We’re advice givers. We’re driver’s ed teachers, which is actually one of my least favorite roles, and we’re broken heart menders, another one of my least favorite roles.
But the most important role that we play in the lives of our children is the role of teacher. And as a homeschool mom, I learned a lesson very early in my mothering journey. Where students and teachers are concerned, it’s the teacher that learns the most, right? Remember, I’m always telling you guys you can’t pass on what you don’t possess. You can’t teach what you don’t understand. And David in Psalm 143 acknowledges his need to be taught by the Lord. And he’s saying, “Teach me to do your will, for your my God. May your gracious spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.” And I love David’s humility. Because I would imagine by this time in his life, David had become keenly aware of his need for guidance from the Lord. And if we’re not aware of our need for guidance, mom and dad, we’re going to struggle.
I can think back on literally thousands of decisions, large and small, that I’ve made over 28 years of mothering, and one thing is for sure: My wisdom, my earthly, my human wisdom is not reliable. God’s wisdom, on the other hand, is reliable. And life is teaching us a lot of things, right? And some of them are hard lessons. Many of us have probably had seasons in our lives we weren’t in God’s word. So our time with God might be sporadic. I came out recently from a time like that, and it’s usually because it’s a busy season of life or there’s a time of change that’s happening, such as we welcome a new child into our family. But one of the harder lessons that I have learned, and I’m continuing to learn, is how important it is for me to seek God’s help every single day.
And by seeking His help, you guys, I’m not, I’m not talking about a legalistic attitude, like I have to be in the Bible or God’s mad at me or I have to have my quiet time or my prayer time because it’s something I do on my list. You guys, the truth is I have discovered that I am utterly lost without the guidance of the Lord, utterly lost. And I can’t give good advice to people who come and ask me, I can’t give good counsel to my children unless I am asking the Holy Spirit to lead me. And I think human as we are, our tendency to rely on ourselves is enormous, especially if we’re not facing a giant.
So when we face a giant … Remember, I said before, I feel like we live in this sort of state of reactive Christianity. And this is true across the board, I think in, in Christendom, in Christianity at large. I think we tend to live in a state of reactive Christianity. So when we’re doing fine, and our bills are paid, and our kids are healthy, and our marriage is good, we don’t rely on the Lord. We tend to let our quiet time slip. Our reliance on the Lord doesn’t seem so important, right? But when we get that phone call, or when we get that text message, or when we get that diagnosis, all of a sudden, our reactive Christianity kicks in and we go, “Oh my goodness. We’re facing a giant. We need the Lord.”
So if you’re not facing a giant right now, I want to encourage you, this is the time to hunker down and prepare for the time when you will be. Because throughout scripture, God encourages us to seek Him for wisdom. So I want to encourage you, no matter what season of life you’re in right now, to seek the Lord today and every day and ask Him to lead you forward, like David did, on firm footing. And as we cry out to the Lord, He assures us that He’s listening. He says He’s longing to teach and guide us along every step of the journey that we’re on. Because the most important role we’re ever going to play in the lives of our children is to teach them what it looks like to be led by the Holy Spirit, to be taught by the Holy Spirit.
I know some of you are listening to this and you want to be led, but you just don’t know how. Maybe you’re out of hope. Maybe you’ve asked the Lord for direction and you feel like you didn’t get it. And hope is the anticipation, isn’t it, that our needs are going to be met. David understood this also. In Psalm 39, he said, “Lord, on who do I wait?” Then he answers his own question. “My hope is in you.” And hope doesn’t come from our human ability or come from our strength. It comes from the Lord. And God is the source of hope. Again, David notes this in Psalm 71, “For you, oh Lord, are my hope and my trust. From my youth, upon you I have leaned from my birth. You are the one who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.”
And you know where else hope comes from? And this is why I’m going to go back to, kind of circle back, I guess, to encouraging you to be led by the Lord. Hope it comes from … It’s a product of walking closely with the Lord. That’s where it comes from.
On Friday, I’m going to have my friend Patrick Schwenk on the podcast with me. Some of you guys will be familiar with his wife, Ruth, who is the founder of The Better Mom. I love Ruth. I love her heart and her passion for the Lord. The Schwenk have been through a lot recently because in 2017 Patrick was diagnosed with a blood cancer. He and I were talking about what that does to your soul. And hope comes out of times like that because we’re walking with the Lord. In John 15 verses four to five, it says, “Abide in me, and I in you.” This is Jesus talking, right? “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine. You are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him bears much fruit. For without me, you can do nothing.”
But then, the apostle Paul in writing to the church in Philippi, of course, in Philippians chapter four says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” And we want to be assured. Our hope is in the Lord. Assured that He’s listening, that He’s longing to guide us, and then learning to let Him actually lead us so that we can teach our children to do the same. This is the most important thing you’ll ever do, men and women, is to learn to be led by God, be led by the Holy Spirit.
I’m going to take a couple of minutes now and answer some questions. You guys have been great sending me questions. Please keep them coming. You can turn them into me and heidistjohn.com/podcasts. The first one comes from a military mama. She says, “Heidi, when times are hard and my husband turns away from our conversations and I have no one to turn to but the Lord, who should I talk to? There were whole years of my life when I lived in deep depression. My husband didn’t want to talk from what seemed like a blatant avoidance of his emotional responsibility, and I became sad, lonely, and bitter.”
This question comes up a lot. There is no such thing, by the way, as a perfect marriage. But, God would have us constantly be going back to Him, letting Him lead us. We want God to lead us in our marriages. We want Him to lead us in our parenting. And I’m going to encourage you today to fight for your marriage. If you’ve got an emotionally distant spouse, usually there’s a reason for that. There’s a great article by Gary Smalley online. I’ll link back to in the show notes today. He says that when we feel threatened, we build emotional walls that don’t allow our spouse into the deepest parts of our hearts and mind. And the emotional distance can cause, and obviously it does cause, marriage problems.
He goes on to give a great example. He says, “The East German government built the Berlin Wall in 1961, telling citizens and the world that its purpose was to protect against the invasion of fascist. Of course, the wall was really intended to stop massive immigration from East Berlin to West Berlin. And 26 years later, in a speech given near the wall, President Ronald Reagan spoke of freedom, reform, and openness, and he also spoke some memorable words, and this is what he said. ‘If you seek peace, if you seek prosperity, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” You guys remember that? I do. President Reagan did not threaten to tear down the wall, but the changes were in the works in Eastern Europe. And in 1989, the wall was open.
And when we feel emotionally threatened in our marriage, what we tend to do is build walls, right? Not physical walls, but emotional walls, relational walls that are expressed in our body language, our words, and our attitudes. And those things are meant to help us feel safe. So the problem is that those walls don’t allow our spouse into the deepest part of our hearts and minds, and then the emotional distance causes problems. So, I’m going to encourage you. I’m going to link back to this in the show notes today. Gary goes into talking about what you might see and what you might feel, and then he’s going to walk you through the process of leaning into the Holy Spirit. He talks about honoring the walls. I mean, keep in mind, he says, “Your spouse has built a wall for a reason.” And particularly I think …
I hear about this a lot from my friends whose husbands have been in the military. I hear a lot about things that have happened to them out on the field or experiences that they’ve had that have caused them to build walls. They feel maybe unsafe or they’re trying to keep their wife safe. So their attempt to do that, obviously not handling it the best way, but to realize that the walls are there for a reason. And we want to care about the feelings of the person behind the wall as well as the feelings, our own feelings, and our own needs. So part of that is just realizing maybe we’ve been unsafe. It’s empathizing. Maybe my husband’s building a wall because I haven’t been available to him.
Sometimes, now, nobody get mad, but sometimes that two-way street, the wife has withheld sexually from her husband because she feels like he is not relating to her. This happens all the time. He doesn’t give me the emotional need that I need to feel safe and close to him. And so because I don’t feel that safeness in that closeness emotionally with him, I can’t give him the sexual release that he’s looking for in the sexual closeness that he desires, and so this … It becomes this back and forth. And instead of focusing on the needs of the other person, we dig our heels and we focus on our own needs.
Satan’s going to attack you guys that God created marriage, right? Marriage has been under attack since it was created. He created it in Genesis chapter two. And in the very next chapter, Genesis three, verse one, Satan attacks it. There isn’t a single verse of separation before Satan goes after what God created. And you got to remember he’s the father of lies. He’s going to try to convince you that your marriage is too much work, that it’s never going to get better, that your life would be easier with somebody else. So I want to remind you of first Peter, five, eight. Peter says, “We are to be sober-minded and watchful because we have an adversary, and his name is Satan, and he’s literally prowling around for someone to devour.” And the very first place you’ll look in the culture right now is your marriage. Absolutely.
So I’m going to encourage you to trust that the Lord can heal your marriage, and that God can use it for your own good, and to get help. And it looks to me like that’s what you’re doing, and I really appreciate that you’re doing that. There are lots of great resources online, and I want to just encourage you. I’ll link back to them in the show notes today. Fight for your marriage, all right? Fight for your marriage.
Last question I’m going to answer today, or at least try to, comes from Angie. She says, “Thank you so much for your podcast. My husband and I had truly been blessed by it.” Thank you, Angie. She said, “I was recently at TTD in Columbus.” So, that’s been almost a year. I’ll be back again, because I love speaking for Teach Them Diligently. She said, “I heard about a comment, a comment about why Christian colleges are preferable. Living in Columbus, we always assumed that we would send our kids to OSU and stay close to home and keep attending the church we’re involved in, which has a very strong student ministry. I want to take more time now to think through the benefits of a Christian college.”
So here’s a couple of things I want to say. I’m going to go back to what I’m always saying, which is I camp out on this verse a lot. Luke 6:40, “When a student is fully trained, he’ll be like his teacher.” Just because a college says it’s a Christian college doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a Christian college. Your kids are going to come into contact with kids whose parents sent them there because they thought it would be safe, but that child is in open rebellion against the Lord. There’s a myriad of things that can go wrong, so I wouldn’t rely on just the fact that a college calls itself a Christian college. I’ve been to Christian colleges, and been to campuses, and talked to professors at universities that claim to be Christian and I left going, “Well, I do not want my kid going there,” and so at least … Part of me thinks at least when you send them to a secular university you know that you’re sending them into a secular environment and you can prepare them for that. I think sometimes we send them into a Christian college and we just think, “Oh, this’ll be fine,” and we don’t prepare them, and then they wind up in this … in secular environment that has sort of been Christianized, if that makes any sense at all.
So that said, I’m a huge fan of Christian universities and a huge fan of Christian education as a general rule. So if I had the opportunity to choose, I would choose a Christian education and a Christian college over a secular one. But I just want to encourage you away from a place of complacency and thinking, “Well, if I just do this, then everything’s going to be fine and that’ll be the end of it.” I think that’s kind of a way for us to get lulled to sleep a little bit and sort of check out emotionally and spiritually. So I would check out your options.
And wherever you send your kids to school, in the years that you have leading up to your kids going to school, oh my goodness, you guys, pray for them. Disciple them. Teach them. Don’t waste the opportunity that God has given you to speak into the lives of your children. Then when they go away to college, stay in contact with them and pray for them.
And one other thing, a caveat here that you didn’t ask, but I’m going to offer this anyway. You’re welcome. I don’t think all kids need to go to college. And in fact, I’m going to take that a step further. I don’t think that most kids need to go to college. If you’re going to become a teacher, a doctor, an ultrasound technician, if you want to become a dentist, obviously there are some … an attorney. There are obviously a lot of jobs that require a four-year university degree or an eight-year. Maybe you need to get your master’s degree. But, I think we need kids in trade schools. We need to be training our kids to be entrepreneurs.
In the ’80s when I went to college, everybody said, “Well, you have to go to college,” and we didn’t even know what we were doing there. We were just going. I want to really steer you away from embracing that mentality and instead say, “Lord, what have you uniquely created my kids to do, and where can they best do that?” Some of your kids are going on to mission field. Some of them are going to ministry. Really be praying for the Lord to show you what He wants your children to do.
Our son Spencer right now is attending Portland Bible College here in Portland, Oregon, and we really love it. He wants to go into ministry, so he’s working part time at Costco and he’s going to school. I have another son who’s training at the Paul Mitchell School of Hair Design in downtown Portland. And oh my goodness, you guys. In all honesty, I would not have picked that for him, but I am watching God do something in his life while he’s there and having the opportunity to minister in the lives of men and women who come down there. So, trust the Lord that he can work in the lives of your kids. Pray for your children, and look at all the different angles of where they’re looking to go to school to further their education and ask God to give you wisdom. The Bible says in James chapter one that if we lack it, God will give us the wisdom that we need to make right decisions.
All right. I hope you guys have been encouraged. Don’t forget to register for Faith that Speaks. I will be all over the country with that conference, and we will be announcing more women who are going to be me out on the road, so check it out. Lakeland, Florida, that’s happening in February the 21st and 22nd. I’m telling you what’s going to be a weekend that will change your life. I can’t wait to come out and see you. Make sure that when you register you choose your t-shirt size and then get ready for a fantastic weekend. We’re going to give you a lunch, and a swag bag, and we’re going to equip you for the battlefield. We sure love you guys. Thanks for your support of the podcast and for leaving reviews for it. We read it every single one of them. Have a great day, and I’ll see you back here with my friend Patrick on Friday.
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Heidi St. John
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