A Different Perspective

The other day I watched clips of an interview of Pastor John Gray where he sat down with the women of Sister Circle. He adorned his First lady, in her absence, with beautiful words about how she is the reason he is the man he is today. He referred to his wife as a “coat” because she was his covering during the rough times of their union. He used the metaphor that she is “two sizes bigger than him, and he is still trying to grow into her.”

My wife has endured more pain birthing me than both of our children. She has sacrificed these last eight years uncovering the painful areas of my manhood and covering the areas that could have exposed me. She deserves anything I can give her… I’m going to live the rest of my life to honor her because she gave me what I couldn’t give myself, which was a chance to heal while still seeing the God in me. “

In the comment section, there were many women who received his message with passion and loved the point he made about his wife being a “covering” and not a “lid” where she would “cap” him. Others weren’t so amused and found it offensive. From what I’ve concluded, many of the opposers felt like Pastor Gray’s statements boasted a message of measuring a woman’s worth by the amount of pain she endures. One man’s response questioned how did Pastor Gray’s wife turn out after having to go through those same eight years of struggle? He wondered what affect her sacrifice had on their children. Another woman expressed her feelings of being fed up with women sticking it out with men who expect their wives to do the things their mothers should have done… raise them. 

While I respect the opinions of those commentators, I absolutely disagree. As a wife and Christian, I disagree with those perspectives. I think those points stand strong when a couple isn’t married, but things change once you exchange those vows. You are standing in front of one another in the presence of the Lord vowing to love one another and build one another up during each high moment and every single low moment. With the right person, your commitment is solidified when you get married. A long-term relationship is not the same. 

For most, divorce is not an option and has been taken off the table. So, because one runs into trouble that doesn’t clear up in a few months or even a few years does not determine their need to leave. Now of course, if your life or your children’s lives are in imminent danger, YOU MUST GO. No ifs, ands or buts. 

In my opinion, many people viewed the clips with the expectation that he should have grown up before he decided to marry. Yes; it is clear that one should be mature and ready for marriage, but let’s go a little deeper. As adults, we do our very best to confront any issues or areas of our lives that need healing and growth, but how does one know how to remedy something they never knew they had a problem with? When you’re married, some seasons force you to deal with different aspects of your life (I.e. childhood) that you never knew would cause you trouble later in your life. You can be well put together and then an argument triggers a childhood trauma. It wasn’t an issue in the beginning, but now it is. Do you leave? Do you leave the person that you vowed to love through sickness and health because it took them longer than a year to deal with an underlying issue that took 12 years to create?

In marriage, you are commanded to be your spouse’s strength and helpmate. There are moments when one is up, and the other is down, when both are down and when both are up. If your foundation is sturdy and rooted in the right things, you’ll both be able to cover each other where needed. Those 8 years of sacrifice for Pastor Gray and his wife could have been him choosing to quit his job to pursue being a pastor full-time, leaving the financial burden on his wife. Let’s assume things turned sour in the mist of this because he felt like less of a man because he wasn’t providing for his family. His attitude was poor, and it was a rollercoaster every day for his wife. Life happens. Bad times happen. Look at what position they are in now! They are financially secure, and from the outside looking in, their marriage is stronger than ever. Should she have left? If they weren’t married, sure! 8 years is a long time to figure things out with someone who isn’t your husband or wife.

What I saw in those clips was a man acknowledge that he wasn’t always the man he is today. That he wasn’t always the husband he is today. That it took him longer than he wanted to get it right, but he eventually did, and his wife stayed by his side while he got it together. When he said she endured more pain with him than birthing their children, I imagine it was because the pain it took for her to birth their children was quicker than it took for him to get his life together! If there is no abuse, that’s what a wife AND a husband is supposed to do! You’re supposed to go through rough seasons in order to grow through those seasons. There is no time frame on trials and tribulations. 

Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot. Is it ok for a husband to leave his wife because of the toll her postpartum depression took on their marriage. Let’s say postpartum depression then took a turn and triggered anxiety issues and more within her, so now she’s not the same as she was when he first married her. It takes her more than a year to feel normal again. Should he leave? No? It’s not okay for him to leave her in a vulnerable state and in a rough patch of their marriage, right?

Those opposing individuals are right. As a girlfriend, it’s not necessary to be someone’s “ride or die chick” for eight years. However, as a wife, it is extremely necessary to be your husband’s lifelong partner and confidant. The one who helps build him up during times of weakness. The same goes for husbands. Marriage requires 100% on both ends. You both have to give 100% of your love and effort. Every day, every month, every year, we grow as individuals. That doesn’t stop when you become married. You continue to learn about your spouse every day for the rest of your life. 

Pastor Gray showed people that marriage isn’t a walk in the park. Sometimes you’re on cloud 9, others you’re ready to call it quits. He also showed gratitude. He vowed to make it up to his wife by serving her the best way he could for the rest of their lives. I challenge you to change your perspective when it comes to marriage. Have high standards but try lowering those expectations. We’re all human and need a little grace. 

Watch Your Mouth, But Don’t You Dare Lose Your Voice

When you think of marriage, what are the top five things that pop into mind? Before my husband and I tied the knot, here was my list. Having my family together under God, spending the rest of my life with my best friend, travel, building businesses and brands together, and simply being in love and having fun with the love of my life. Negative thoughts never crossed my mind because I didn’t envision a negative future with James. But one thing he and I both agreed on was doing our best to model our union after what is described in the Bible. So although we were inseparable and confident in our future together, we sought premarital counseling to make sure we were headed in the right direction. During the class we took, one lesson stuck out like a sore thumb… SUBMISSION.

I’d heard about submission times before, especially during church services, but I never received the information in-depth. Before, submission sounded like the wife is supposed to wait on hands and knees for her husband even when he was in the wrong. In my mind, submission meant doing everything your husband asked or told you to do. What added to this notion was the fact I’d heard James and my friends’ boyfriends say this famous line… “You don’t know how to submit!” I would have a healthy savings for how many times I’ve heard that line before. The problem is both men and women don’t know what submission really means.

Here is my take on it in a nutshell. Submitting means yielding. A definition that I saw on Webster’s Dictionary for yield is “to give up and cease resistance or contention.” In a class at church, I was given this example. When you are driving and a lane is merging and/or ending, someone has to yield or there is going to be a big accident. That accident can be fatal. In this case, your inability to yield to your spouse can be fatal to your marriage. Many people hate using biblical guidance toward their marriage, but it has been the foundation of my husband and I’s marriage. It says clearly that wives are to submit to their husbands, and husbands are to love their wives as the Lord loves the church. So at the end of the day, we have to change our perspective and look at submission as ultimately submitting to God. In addition, men can’t look at submission as treating their wives like doormats.

I find looking to the Lord to be easier to be honest. When I know my husband is not making a great choice, I submit to God by closing my mouth and letting him be the leader of our household. Prayer becomes my best friend because I instantly want to yell obscenities at that man. In my mind I say ” Help me Lord because I feel myself losing all sense of control!” You don’t know how many times I’ve used my imagination, froze time and body slammed him like the wrestlers do in WWE. I love my baby though lol.

It’s important to know that if you have married a man of God, you cannot interfere in the plans God has for him. You have to intercede through prayer. I’ve seen this work for me firsthand. It’s when we start going off at the mouth and telling our husbands what to do when he makes decisions out of spite to show and prove that he is a man and knows what he is doing. Ultimately, our husbands are looking for partnership and respect, not for another mother. It’s not our place to nag and yell and tell him what he’s supposed to be doing. How will a man ever be able to lead if we’re always stepping in?

I’m still working on this til this day! My latest struggle has been knowing when to “watch my mouth, but not losing my voice.” I sometimes confuse stepping back with not being able to voice my thoughts all because I over think the process of surrendering to my husband. The fact that I do this on my own, and he looks at me crazy when he notices it means it’s a problem. I have to remind myself, “Tiana, watch your mouth, but don’t you dare lose your voice!” Timing is so important in this case. Sometimes you have to shut up and let God do the work. That takes trusting Him to handle his son. Also, submission doesn’t mean you don’t get to share your thoughts or feelings. It’s a matter of how you express your feelings. If you go into a conversation with negativity, the outcome will be negative.

I’ve noticed that men want women to be submissive BEFORE marriage, and it does NOT work like that. I really think we confuse submission with respect. A woman should not submit to a man she is not married to. There are ways where he can show that he is able to lead, and she can show that she can take direction. Some men think that a woman is supposed to just do what he says, but he shows no promise as a leader. That man needs time to develop. And then there’s the woman who is hyper-independent and doesn’t want a man leading her in any way. That woman needs time to develop.

All in all, submission is something you have to tackle daily. It’s not simple, but it can be pretty easy to yield to a man who has shown the ability to lead you and your family in the right direction. Everyone makes mistakes so you have to loosen up a little in order for him to grow during the times he fails. For my single ladies, when you are looking at a man as your potential husband, ask yourself can you submit to this man for the rest of your life? If he spent all of y’all money and the lights were cut off, could you still make his dinner, light some candles and feed him?