Monday, August 4, 2014

He came to church! Now what?

I don't know how often your husband is willing to join you at church, but aside from Easter and a Christmas service, my husband rarely makes an appearance. So when he does, I want to show him off to everyone and fill his ears with questions like "what did you think? Did you like it? Did you like the songs? Did you enjoy the message? What did you take from it? Are you going to come back?" But, I've learned that the best thing I can say is: nothing.

Yep. Nothing. Don't get me wrong, there's no silence in the car, but I definitely steer clear of questions that put him on the spot.

I learned this the hard way. It was a couple years ago when my husband came to a service and the message was amazing...and the focus of the lesson was based around the fact that the bible says we get one life, one baptism and one faith (Ephesians 4:4-6), so how are we going to choose to respond? I was sitting there taking my notes and thinking to myself, "oh man, this is so good. He'll really be convicted." I was smiling during the entire service imagining the profound conversation we were going to have about the lesson. I was like a kid anticipating a visit to Santa.

"So, honey, what did you think about the lesson?"
"What about it?"
"Well, what did you take from it?"
"We get one chance, so I'm screwed."

Hmm. That wasn't quite the answer I was hoping for. Oh, but I didn't stop there. I kept pushing and prodding for more. I was relentless. He was going to give me the answer I was hoping for, whether he wanted to or not.

But instead, he became angry. He stopped talking altogether. And he had no desire to ever come back.

I was so confused! I had an entirely different scene made up in my head and it certainly did not include anger or silence. I couldn't understand how someone could leave such an inspirational lesson and not feel inclined to at least talk about it.

So what happened?

1. Don't ask him why he's there
He came to church! Yay! Hopefully it wasn't because you grabbed his ear and dragged him to the car, but rather that he wanted to come on his own.  If your husband decided on his own to come to church, there's a reason behind it. Who knows why? Maybe the night before he felt something (hi there, God!) pulling at his heart. Maybe he was just curious and wanted to see what it's all about. Maybe he thought you looked exceptionally beautiful and he wanted to make sure everyone knew you are his wife. Whatever brought him there, it doesn't matter and you don't need to know, for now.

By questioning his motives, he's going to feel on guard about being honest with you.

2. Don't make a big deal about it!
One thing I know I did wrong was make a big deal about his presence at church. I made sure to show him off to everyone I know, even making, what I thought were funny comments like, "see? I do have a husband!" and we'd all have a chuckle. And then we'd leave church and I would overflow my joy that he was there in a condescending tone, "it was sooooo nice that you decided to come to church with me!"

Ew. Talk about turning him away from church...and from me. There is nothing wrong with giving your man some loving encouragement to let him know that you enjoyed having him there.  But make it about him, not about his decision to follow God. Let your husband know how much you enjoyed his company, rather than asking if he was paying attention.  Whenever my husband now comes to church, I want to encourage him with love, so I tell him how much I love his being with me or I tell him how proud I am to be his wife and I love introducing him to my friends. And that's it.  Let your man feel welcomed and loved, not like the "big lowly sinner" he *thinks* he is (we're all big lowly sinners, remember?)

3. Don't ask questions!
This is huge.  Starting back with point number 1 and not asking him about his motives to come to church with you, this suggestion continues into this point with heavy emphasis.

Remember in high school when you were asked to read a book that you particularly didn't enjoy or
understand and then the teacher would call on you, in front of the class, to summarize a particular chapter? And you were at a loss for words, you were frustrated and you felt kinda stupid? Yeah, that's how your husband feels when you question him after church.

"Please share with the class your thoughts on today's lesson."

Here's the thing, whether he will admit it or not, he feels kinda stupid when you ask those questions, "what did you think? What did you take away from it? What did you like?" To him, he doesn't know God like you do and he doesn't know the bible like you do, so he's afraid that anything he says will be wrong.  And men are filled with a manly pride (they won't ask for directions, remember?) and the last thing they want to feel is dumb, especially to their wife. So, they just don't answer. Or they get frustrated with your questioning and that leads to anger, resentment and arguments.  Then the both of you are hurt, you're both angry and neither of you has a clear understanding as to why.

Let your husband become familiar with God, with church and with His word.  When he's ready (translation: when he feels safe), he will be the one to ask YOU questions.

4. Be patient
 Let God work on his heart, you don't need to be the one to sort out what's going on in his heart or mind.  One day, when he comes to God, he'll share with you what moved him or pushed him towards finding out more about God. Be patient, sister.  I know it's hard, but I promise, it'll be worth it.

Hang in there. Encourage him and love him for the man he is. Let him know, by simple touch like holding his hand during service, that you are his Mrs. and you are proud of it. Don't question him. Don't push him. Don't pry for profound answers. Keep in mind that you were once in his position. And if it weren't for God's patience and gentle love with you, you'd still be wandering. Guide your husband respectfully, quietly and Godly...and wait. Let God work on his heart. That's His job, not yours.

And pray. Not just for your husband, but your role as a Godly wife. Let's all pray together! Feel free to email me (email form is on the right side of the blog) or leave a comment below. The more prayers, the better! We're in this together...xoxo

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