A Self-Righteous Wife

I've been married for eleven years. Eleven years for some seems like forever and for others like just a beginning. In our short (or long?) years of married life, I have struggled off and on with a fear of not measuring up to the ideal wife. You know what wife I'm thinking of: the one who is "far more precious than jewels."

Not a Measuring Stick

This woman apparently wakes up super early—it's still dark outside, and she has already taken care of her children. She's business savvy and also sews clothing. Who does both? Well, apparently she does. She is generous to the poor and caring. The woman is careful with her time; she will have nothing to do with idleness. If you haven't already guessed, I'm writing about the Proverbs 31 woman. This beautiful character in Scripture is not intended to be a mandate or to pressure women. But how often have we gone to this list of virtues and despaired or lamented? She does good and not harm to her husband all his life? we think. Well, I've failed. I was sinfully angry just yesterday.

Even when I fell into the temptation to judge my husband and attempted to meet the perceived standards of those around me, God remained unswervingly committed to forgiving me.

My first year of marriage was a mixture of trying to be this perfect wife and trying to change my husband. I struggled greatly with self-righteousness. I wanted us to fit a certain mold. I had a fear of not measuring up to this ideal—you know, the "godly couple." My fear mounted that we wouldn't be good, godly examples, while I was also judging my husband almost relentlessly.

And I know I'm not alone in this temptation.

I've spoken to newly married girlfriends who have told me of their frustrations with their new spouse. There is generally some area in which these women wish their husbands would improve, and they are growing weary waiting. While their husbands may need to grow, it's easy and common for the wives to struggle with being judgmental and self-righteous. We can look at our men, see sin, and be too quick and eager to point it out. Worse, we can look at them and not see the grace so evident in their lives and our own sinfulness.

I relate. That was me.

A Redwood-Sized Plank

I remember my wedding like it was yesterday. It was a cold yet beautiful December day. All of our decorations were red, white, and green to reflect the season. It was exactly what we hoped it would be and more.

After the honeymoon (which was all but magical), we returned to our home eager to start our new lives together as one. But soon the fairy tale ended, and real life began. It didn't look quite like I had imagined. There were no glaring problems. No deep-rooted sin issues. Yet I was extremely aware of my husband's shortcomings, and I wasn't holding back on sharing my thoughts.

I was quick to point out sin and eager to share "observations" about how he could change or grow as a leader, all under the pretense of being his helper. I judged my husband harshly our first year of marriage. I thought I was right, and I played the role of his "holy spirit." Like I said, I masked it as being his helper. Wrong!

But wasn't I helping him by sharing my wisdom and insights into every single part of his life? I mean, surely he needed my help to become a godly man, right? Let's just say that there was a plank in my eye the size of a California redwood, but all I could see was the speck in his (Matt. 7:3).

I was filled with self-righteousness and self-absorption.

Behind all this nagging was a desire to have it all together. Also, so much of my corrections stemmed from a desire to fill some perceived need of mine and had little to do with his sanctification. My desire was that he would change for me, not to please and glorify God. My observations were generally (though not always) selfish.

Learning to Enjoy

I'm so very thankful the Lord has given my husband and me more years to grow. Now, eleven years after our wedding day, I'm still learning how to lovingly help my husband, but even more, I am learning how to enjoy him. I've learned that God has designed us both for a purpose, and we do not need to live up to the standards we set for ourselves or the pressures we think we may experience from outside of us. I have grown in looking for areas of grace and for gifts. God has helped me use my tongue to encourage, build up, and praise my husband for how God has made him rather than to tear him down for how God didn't make him.

And just as I'm not surprised by my sin, I'm equally unsurprised that God would help me grow in this area. God works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). He provides a way of escape for our sinful self-righteousness (1 Cor. 10:13). He promises to finish the good work He began in you and in me (Phil. 1:6). This is good news for us! God is faithful.

Amazingly, even when I fell into the temptation to judge my husband and attempted to meet the perceived standards of those around me, God remained unswervingly committed to forgiving me, because my sin—not in part but the whole—is covered in the blood of Jesus Christ. And, sister, so is yours.

Has fear of not measuring up ever caused you to judge others? How might God want to grow you in this area?

This post was excerpted from Trillia's book Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves.

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About the Author

Trillia Newbell

Trillia Newbell

Trillia Newbell is the author of Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves (2015) and United: Captured by God's Vision for Diversity. She has spoken at numerous churches, seminaries, and conferences, including the True Woman Conference, The Gospel Coalition Women's Conference, and Southeastern Theological Seminary. She is the consultant on Women's Initiatives for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. Trillia is married to her best friend, Thern, and they live with their two children near Nashville, TN.

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