Proverbs 30:21, 23 wisely observes, “Under three things the earth trembles; under four it cannot bear up . . . an unloved woman when she gets a husband.”
In context, the godly sage of humanity is taking notice as the way things normally go, hence, “Proverbs,” not, “Promises,” that a married woman who was unloved in her earlier single life might turn out to be about as soothing as a drip, drip, drip from a crack in the roof as the rain comes down (Prov. 21:19, 25:24, 27:15-16). Proverbs is about wise norms of life. And one normal and predictable outcome is this: if a little girl is not loved by her daddy and/or her mommy, she just might grow up to be an insufferable drip to her husband, no matter how kind and sacrificial he is for her.
I too have seen this observation. And I too wish I could go back and tidy up some serious miss-steps in not loving my own daughters better. But I can’t. I am grateful for the grace to have loved my little girls with what grace God gave me. But those days are now gone and I can’t get them back. So, I want to say something to moms and dads whose daughters are still home, and to all of you present insufferable drips who are married and give all of you some guidance and hope.
To moms and dads:
1. Love your daughters or you might hear your future son-in-laws plead, “Why didn’t you warn me?! She’s impossible to live with – nothing I do ever makes her happy.” You don’t want to hear that.
2. Love your daughters or they might get married, have children, and turn your grandchildren into walking migraines. You don’t want more headaches do you?
3. Love your daughters or they might turn out to be a little more unloving to you as you were to them. Sin always picks up momentum as the years go by – reread Romans chapter one. You don’t want that to happen either.
4. Repent right now of any unkind, divisive, belittling, condescending, name-calling, evil-motive impugning, hair-pulling, face-slapping, foul-mouthed, dismissive, caricature-labeling spirit that you know The Spirit is calling you out on. Then go quickly and ask forgiveness from your daughter and be ready to get in return what you dished out. It will hurt – but you must do this.
5. Believe that Christ can heal what you have broken in your daughters. If you have not loved them with the Love of Christ (which includes steady and faithful biblical discipline to train their minds and hearts) then what you have broken is their natural desire to trust a man to surrender his life for her – this especially, in my understanding of scripture, falls on the dad. An unloved little girl by her daddy grows up with her fists up and understandably so. But she cannot deny the deep hunger to be loved by a man. So when she gets her man, she can’t help but be the kind of person that she’s been trained to be – a leaky roof. So what do you do? Pray that God will break in on her brokenness – he does it all the time. On this point, I defer to a teacher of women who is a hero of the faith for me – Jani Ortlund.
Jani Ortlund, a speaker for True Woman, recently posted these words and comments from women who attended a marriage conference that she and her husband Ray spoke at while in Asia:
“Ray and I recently made a journey to a large country in Asia in which we have served before. We were asked to minister to persecuted pastors and their wives on marriage and family issues. Their invitation said, in part, “We are first generation Christians, and we don’t know what it looks like to build a Christian marriage or raise our children as Christians. Please come help us.”
Jani then posted these comments from married women who attended the conference:
“God has enlightened my eyes that the gospel—not a list of skills—is the only hope for my marriage. This is a totally new knowledge about marriage. I have been delivered from the valley of hopelessness. In the past I have lived in conflict and despair, but now I have hope! I want to give my husband respect as my worship to God.”
“I see now that the gospel is the cure for us. I have been Mrs. Law to my husband and children. God gives life to the dead. Now I feel God’s love abundantly. I repent of my angry words.”
“Sometimes friends would ask me, ‘Are you really born again?’ This week I realized I was living in law and self-centeredness. Many times I used God’s Word to correct my husband. I was so sad when I came. But God has taken my sadness away and given me a happy heart. My husband can even see the difference on my face.”
“I had lost hope. I knew of no good marriages. We almost missed this conference because of hopelessness in our marriage. You gave us the gospel—’How does God treat me?’ That is how we are to treat each other. Now I have hope.”
“For the past ten years I lost my joy and have been walking in darkness. We would have more and more arguments. I was dead; I had no hope. This week the Holy Spirit filled me again. When you taught from Luke 15, I saw that I was the lost sheep, but now the Shepherd has taken me in His arms. Now I am depending on Him.”
“Before I came I was totally closed and cold. I had no feeling, no hope—none. I blamed my husband. Before marriage I had high expectations and then total disappointment. I gave more condemnation than love. But now I realize I had put all my hope in my husband. My love was selfish, not unconditional. This is a new beginning for me. I want to live in the gospel every day.”
“I had never heard that marriage was from the garden of Eden and a platform to show others the gospel. For so many years all people pointed their troubles to us. This week we could share. I was in death’s valley. I even doubted my faith. My spiritual life was dead. God delivered me and now I have hope. These tears are tears of joy, not sorrow.”
Now to hurting insufferable drips, whether single or married:
1. Weep over the fact that your daddy did not love you as he should have. Go ahead – it’s ok. You do not dishonor your father by grieving over his belligerence or indifference toward you.
2. Believe that his inability to love you was probably passed down to him – he couldn’t love you as he ought because he probably was not loved himself. So don’t take it too personal. He would have been just as mean and emotionally distanced to any daughter that he brought into the world. You could not please your daddy because of his emptiness – not your’s.
3. Take a serious and long look at the gospel and know that Christ suffered the consequences of your father’s harsh ways. Which means for you, the suffering ends with the cross. I don’t mean that Christ has forgiven your father if he is still unrepentant, but that Christ’s love for you is more than enough to heal and provide hope for the consequences that you bear in your heart:
Are you Defensive? Christ died to make you feel safe in him. Are you Controlling? Christ died to set you free from fear of oppression. Are you Feisty? Christ died to give you his peace and joy. Are you Loud-Mouthed? Christ died to quiet your lust to be heard – he hears you. Are you Diss-respectful to Men in general and/or to your husband in particular? Christ is a Man and he died, letting you plunge nails into his body so that you can have the grace to respect the man he placed in your life. Come now, show your man a little respect and watch him flourish. If he doesn’t, go get your elders this week and tell on him.
Are you un-appeasable? The reason why you are rarely ever satisfied is because you are an idolator of unrealistic happiness in a sin-cursed world. And you can’t imagine what it would be like to be hurt again and return love. Seems impossible doesn’t it? But this is how Christ loves you every day. Believe and desire that if you could have the love of Christ in your heart, then not only are you satisfied with Christ’s love for you on the cross, but you are also ready to love without certainty of reciprocation. You might love and not get loved back. But that’s why Christ will never leave you. He knows that others will.
4. Surround yourself with godly women who will help you stop the leak in your heart. The reason why the leak is there is because you’re broken too, apart from any unloving mom or dad. Your leak is your’s. And it won’t stop because you keep trying to plug it with something other than Christ. This does not excuse an unloving mom or dad, or even an unloving husband who is no longer your husband; they will have to answer to Christ the Supreme Judge. But for your own welfare, not even the most loving husband or father is enough – you need Jesus. You always needed him. You always wanted him but you didn’t know what you were looking for. Let your hunger and thirst to be loved by a man come to rest in the Risen Christ – who knows all your wild ways, including your annoying drips that are no less a call for, “Please – help me to stop being such a nag to everyone around me, especially my husband.”