Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rubber Bands and Binoculars

Teachers of Good things is a series of interviews we will be conducting on Tuesdays and Thursdays here at Ruby in the Rough. It is our goal with these interviews to follow the instructions found in Titus 2:3-5 for the "older women" to teach the younger women good things such as: loving their husbands, keeping their home, and conducting themselves with all purity both before and after marriage.

Today we have Linda Townsend joining us for Teachers of Good Things. Linda is the wife of Tim Townsend, and has two children, Mikayla and David. I got to know Linda a couple months before I got married, and she's been a close friend ever since. I know Linda will always tell me what I need to hear (even if it's different than what I want to hear).

As a single woman, before a serious relationship, what were some practical things you did to focus more on the Lord and less on guys and romance?

Before marriage I had walked away from the Lord. Our lives and the events in our lives don’t always make sense and aren’t explainable. At that point there is a crossroad. You are faced with a decision to walk in faith and grow or walk away without hope. I chose to walk away. I attempted to find other ways to meet the needs I had. Instead of turning to the Lord to find my significance and esteem I turned to my boyfriends. This puts an incredible amount of stress on them to literally meet all your needs. This is not the way the Lord intended it to be. We are to look to Him for our completeness. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way. I hurt some other young men along the way by expecting too much of them.

What steps did you take after you met your future spouse (during dating/ courtship/engagement) to keep your focus on the LORD first? 

During courtship, engagement, and/or dating it is difficult to remember your new love should not consume your life. Most of the ladies I know struggle with this area. We become so caught up with someone loving us that we sometimes put off our friends or family and especially our time with the Lord. One of the most important things is continue healthy friendships. They can help keep you grounded and help keep you accountable to your quiet time with the Lord.

How do you think a single woman should pursue/prepare for marriage?

I think one of the most important things a young lady can learn is how to serve her family with a happy spirit. A women’s adult life is spent serving her husband and her family, sometimes without thanks or acknowledgement. You are no longer number one. It is not about me. The ones you serve become more important. I think you could have all the house cleaning skills, cooking skills, craft skills and such but if you are still self centered then it is all for nothing. Begin preparing for marriage by learning to serve others (i.e. your family members, your dad, etc) with out receiving anything in return. Remember as you serve others, that you are serving God. The others you serve will not always be thankful and it is easy to become discouraged. If you serve the Lord then it does not matter if they are thankful or not.

In what area were you the least [and/or most] prepared to be a wife?

I was the least prepared to give in and let go. I was used to fighting for what I wanted and expressing my opinion. In marriage I have learned to pick my battles. There are some things that aren’t worth fighting about. Ask yourself, “will this matter in five years?”. If it will not matter in five years let it go. I have found most of the things I get upset over won’t matter in five years. If it will matter in five years ask yourself, “what price am I willing to pay now?” Will it be worth the hurt feelings, possible fractured fellowship and such? We call this the “Five Year Test”.

I was most prepared to be his best friend and playmate. I learned to listen to hours of my husband talking about his work or computer (tech) stuff. I learned about the things he loved so we could carry on a conversation about the things that mattered to him. I knew what made him laugh and practiced those things regularly. I knew what relieved his stress. All the way around, I became an expert on my husband. We laugh, play, and work well together.

What would you have done differently [and/or what you did] as a single woman to prepare for this?

I wish I would have learned earlier to pick my battles, give in and let it go. I learned that sometimes “getting my way” hurts the ones I love.

I learned to be his best friend because he is my best friend. We can learn from the way already treat our female best friend. Often our girlfriend will want to go somewhere that we may not care about going, but we will go along just so we can hang out. When our friend is down we listen and come along side her. You learn what makes your friend laugh after spending time with them. All of the same principles apply to our spouses.

What does being a helpmate look like in your marriage?

Helpmate in our marriage looks like a puzzle. Where he falls short I rise up. Where I fall short he rises up. I attempt to help him succeed and be successful by doing whatever is necessary. Our marriage does not always fall into the typical male/female roles. If I know he has a busy weekend my son and I will mow the grass and get the yard cleaned up so that will be one less thing he has to do. In our marriage that works.

Helpmeet also looks like a pair of binoculars. I also attempt to look ahead and anticipate his needs. If I know he has a stressful work week ahead I will cook his favorite meal, send him a text telling him I love him, and/or make sure coming home is a pleasurable place to be.

Helpmeet also looks like a rubber band. I try to be flexible. Sometimes “I’ll be home at 6:30” doesn’t actually happen. So I keep dinner warm as long as I can or make sure he has a full plate of warm food when he gets home. Again it is back to learning what to fight about and what to let go.

What was the biggest surprise to you after marriage?

My biggest surprise was how much our childhood families effected how our marriage would look. For example, my husband’s family did not discuss problems or hurt feelings, but pretended everything was fine even if it was not. My family yelled and screamed to discuss problems. When we got together we were both in for a shock. He did not want to discuss it and I was yelling and screaming. We had to learn to come to a middle ground. I had to learn when to back off and let him process. He had to learn to engage and confront me.

What is one thing about men you learned after marriage?

I learned that our guys look tough, strong, and macho but the thing they value the most is the opinion of their woman. If we encourage them they will succeed. If we condemn them they will fail. What we think of them is important to them.

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