If you haven’t read this series’ previous post, Choosing our Firm Foundation, (https://nicolebyrum.com/2022/02/03/welcome-home-choosing-our-firm-foundation/) I encourage you to pause this reading and click on over there. With Christ and the Gospel as the foundation of our homes, we turn our attention to the next building block placed upon that foundation: marriage. It is the marriage relationship that sets the tone for the entire household and is the key to creating a home culture of emotional safety and joy.
But before we dive into marriage, let’s take a minute to define “emotional safety” and why it matters. Think of emotional safety as the comfort and security experienced in a trusted relationship. In this relationship you feel safe from attack and ridicule and free to hold open dialogue where truth is spoken in love. This emotional safety feels like a sigh of relief because hiding yourself is not necessary. Such a dynamic allows for both collaboration and connection within the relationship as well as for personal growth.
These kinds of relationships are what is needed in our homes today and why I named this series, “Welcome Home.” For ourselves, our spouses, and our children, home should be the place where emotional safety abounds. Furthermore, the home should be a safe haven, a place of reprieve from the stress and demands of daily life. Coming home should be the best part of our days. Regarding this idea in marriage Martin Luther once said, “Let the wife make her husband glad to come home and let him make her sorry to see him leave.”
The question then becomes, how does marriage set this tone? Answer: It all begins with attitude- the attitude of Christ. As Philippians 2:5-8 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross!”
Humility and servanthood. These are not exactly popular terms with our fallen nature nor the lens through which we like to view marriage! In a culture dominated by the beliefs that love is a romantic emotion and that relational happiness is based on what someone offers us, we must frequently remind ourselves of the biblical command to love one another through humble self-sacrifice.
If there’s one picture that serves as a convicting reminder of this in my own life, it’s the picture of me washing my husband’s feet during our wedding ceremony. (We chose to include a foot washing as a way to symbolize the mutual servant relationship of marriage.) I’m thankful for that decision and picture because all these years later servanthood has proven to be an area of weakness and constant refinement in my life. I willingly admit that my husband is a far better servant than I am! But there is no escaping it- if Jesus, the King of the universe, humbled himself to death on a cross after washing his disciples’ feet, how much more should we exhibit humble servanthood in marriage?
The idea of loving one another through humble service is again made known in Ephesians 5. Women are called to submit to their husbands and husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church. And how did Christ love the church? He died for her. Husbands therefore are called to love their wives in this same self-sacrificial way. The chapter concludes with these words: Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (v.33). This is to be the attitude of marriage.
How then does a humble, servant-minded attitude foster emotional safety? I think in this way: True humility is non-threatening and by virtue invites security and trust into the relationship; within this trust defenses are lowered and regarded as unnecessary. Such humility gives rise to security and comfort. Finally, self-sacrificing service communicates authentic love and is the ultimate way by which we know someone is “for us.”
As I’m typing these words I am well aware that this servant-love is a tall order. In our own strength such a love is impossible. Yet, through Christ, our firm foundation, it becomes possible to love in this way. As we remain steadfast in the word and prayer, daily preaching the gospel to ourselves, we will be transformed by his grace becoming more like him in our attitude. Once again, it is through the attitude of humble servanthood that our marriages are strengthened and emotional safety is established. With this attitude our homes become safe havens and Martin Luther’s quote becomes a reality.
In closing today’s post, let us consider two practical applications:
- Seek out ways to serve your spouse. I promise, finding opportunities will not be difficult because they are endless! And if you truly are unsure of how you can serve them, ask! Bottom line: be intentional about serving- without concern to your own convenience.
- A humble attitude does not come naturally. Regularly check the thoughts/attitudes of your heart. Repent as necessary from a prideful or haughty attitude and ask God to give you a spirit of humility.