- A merry heart...the joy of the Lord is my strength
This chapter was a much-needed reminder to me. There are several good points and ideas to ponder and remember.
- Proverbs 17:22 "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones." Mrs. Pearl states that often long-faced women try to convince her that they have the joy of the Lord when their face and attitude does not reflect that joy. All too often, I forget that God wants me to be joyful. In fact, He says that His joy is my strength. Think about it this way: when I am focused on what is wrong with my life, situation, or whatever, I am not going to have joy. When my heart is filled with fear, doubt, worry, depression, discontent (the list could go on for a good long while), I get overwhelmed with it all and feel hopeless and unable to do what I should/need to do. In contrast, I have found that when I am prayerfully focusing on "the bright side", I am able to bear so much more. My patience is much more enduring, I am more stable emotionally, and I do not tire as quickly physically. I am NOT saying that we need to be an ostrich and stick our heads in the sand whenever there is a problem. Let's be realistic by all means, but let's keep our focus on the Lord and His ability to solve any problem we have. I must PURPOSE to "keep in tune with Jesus" so He can keep me sweet.
- Proverbs 15:13 "A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken." "Who and what you are is reflected in your face. Does your husband see you as a happy, thankful woman? ... Learn to charm him with your...grin" Oh, how true, and how convicting for me! It seems as time goes by, I tend more and more to forget what is attractive to Mr. Incredible, including the fact that he likes to see me smile. I mean, who WANTS to see a long-faced grouch hanging around the house all the time? I need to find things to smile about, and I need to be more conscious of what my face is displaying. Mrs. Pearl points out that men are highly attracted to smiles. I should never take my husband's love and attraction to me for granted. I should do my part to keep him attracted, and that includes something as simple as smiling.
- A spirit of criticism is not the best tool to draw my husband to me. "Honey, you NEVER spend ANY time with us. What is wrong with you? Don't you know you need to be with your family? Honey, you need to...blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." (Note: that is all a fictional scenario pulled out of my hat. Mr. Incredible is a wonderful man, husband, and father, and I do not have to nag him to spend more time with us.) I need to make home attractive by having a merry spirit and making a point to laugh and enjoy my family. As Michael Pearl put it, "No man has ever crawled out from under his wife's criticism to be a better man - no matter how justified her condemnation." PLEASE NOTE: this does not mean that you never address valid concerns, and one might be that your husband does not spend enough time with the family; HOWEVER, you need to learn to make an appeal in the proper spirit, and then leave it alone. Instead of nagging your husband to death, pray for the Lord to work in his heart. "Men do not repent for the sake of an angry, critical wife. ... Your husband is going to love what is lovely to him."
- Sometimes, in order to love my husband, I must forget my "rights". There are times when my rights may be trampled on, but if I respond in outrage and stand on those rights, it will hurt my marriage. For instance, I personally have already determined that if Mr. Incredible ever was unfaithful to me (please God, protect us!) I will not divorce him. If I were to say, "You lousy creep! You betrayed me and our marriage vows! Get out! I never want to see or hear from you again!", I would certainly be within my rights. He would have sinned against God, against me, against himself, and against who knows whom else. BUT I have determined that I will fight for my marriage, fight to LOVE my husband, fight to rebuild our marriage, and PRAY for God's intervention. (This doesn't seem to fit very well with this chapter, but it's in there, and this is what I have what I have reminded of by this section.)
- I think these are good points to remember: "It is a mistake for a wife to take her position for granted, to assume that love and contentment exist because 'we are husband and wife.' In a perfect world, being married to a perfect man, your vows would be sacred. Never demand that a man love you and cherish you because he ought to. Earn every smile and shared moment. Cultivate his love for you." "He needs to hear gladness and appreciation in your voice when you speak to him, even when you are talking of everyday things."
This chapter has reminded and encouraged me to daily turn to the Lord for the strength found in His joy. I have been prodded to examine my heart to see if I am consistently cheerful and lovely or if I am reflecting all the ugliness of discontent, fear, and all their relatives. I am spurred to be more mindful of the expressions on my face. And I have learned that "being right" does not always guarantee that you will win. I hope this has been a blessing to each of you.