Passing On Christian Femininity
About the Guest
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Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
Barbara Rainey encourages young women in their roles as wives and mothers and shares the need for older women to pass down wisdom to the next generation.
Passing On Christian Femininity
Bob: How much of your speech is put through a filter? How much of what you say is governed by the Holy Spirit? Here’s Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: I just can’t get over the fact that Jesus Christ never, never, never said anything on His own initiative. As I look at my marriage, I just think about the impact it would have if I was really focused on listening to the Spirit’s voice and only saying what He wanted me to say.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, August 29th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Barbara Rainey has some thoughts for us today about what it looks like for a wife to be led by the Spirit. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition.
Dennis: [Accelerated speaking] Bob, have we ever had a speed intro into the broadcast because the person we have is so good we have to talk really fast to get into the broadcast to put them on as soon as possible? [Laughter]
Bob: Well, it’s never been quite that quick, but we’ve tried to shorten the front end of this on occasion; yes.
Dennis: [Accelerated speaking] Well, here we are. We’re on the Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise—Barbara Rainey’s speaking. She just introduced her brand-new book, Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife. I tell you—it’s really good—you need to listen to it—and it’s a great message.
Bob: You just want to dive right in; is that it?
Dennis: I do.
Dennis: Let’s get with it!
Bob: Here’s Barbara!
Dennis: She’s good!
Barbara: I have three lessons that I want to talk about. There are a bunch of lessons in this book, because I have learned a lot in over 40 years of marriage.
I can’t talk about it all; so I’ve picked out three that I feel like—personally for me—were the most important and still are the most important lessons I’ve learned on being a wife.
So first of all, I want to tell you just briefly about why I even wrote this book. In the summer of 2001, both of our sons got married the same summer, within six weeks of each other. At the first wedding, which was Memorial weekend, my [other] son’s fiancée—they got married in July—came up to me and she said, “I would really like it if you would give me some advice on being a wife.” I was amazed, first of all, that she asked; secondly, I felt honored. Then I thought: “Wow. She cracked the door open, and I think I’m going to walk through that door.”
I began to think, through the summer and into the fall: “How would I do this?” She lived in Colorado—there was no way I could invite her for coffee. So I literally had to write down the lessons that I wanted to share with her.
In this day and age, I wasn’t going to write it in the mail and put it in an envelope—do snail mail. I decided I would send some emails. So I began that summer and that fall to write a series of emails to my daughter-in-law Marsha Kay; my other daughter-in-law Stephanie; and to my daughter, Ashley, who, at that time, had been married four years.
I just began to share some of the lessons that I have learned in my years of being married—some of those big, pivotal lessons that were the most important things that I had learned. I wrote those down over that next year or so, never intending for it to become a book. In the years since, in many, many conversations with many other women—at conferences and different places—I heard lots of other questions from other women. So those initial letters, combined with questions that other women have asked me through the years, have all kind of combined together in this new book that I’ve just created.
I want to read to you, as we start, the way that I introduce this book. I’m going to read this to you as if you are my daughters because we are all daughters; aren’t we?—you’re not my daughters, but we’re all God’s daughters. So, to you, I want to say:
Across the landscape of time, women have always depended on other women for answers to the questions that we face. We bravely asked one another about our husbands and children, about work and worth, about cooking and cleaning, about friendships, and finances, and fears, and our failures. And if we found ourselves in a time and place when we didn’t have anyone to ask, we felt a bit lonely and a bit lost.
Mary, a young teen about to become a very young mother, went to her cousin Elizabeth’s house to seek comfort and wisdom. She stayed for three months.
We can only imagine the questions she asked, the conversations they had. And I wonder, “Why didn’t Mary ask her own mother? Why didn’t she go to her and talk to her? Did Mary run to Elizabeth because her own mother couldn’t get past the out-of-wedlock pregnancy and personal disgrace to be there for her daughter, to listen to her thoughts and fears and questions? Or was it because Mary knew only Elizabeth could relate to her experience of carrying a child anointed by God?
There are some things you just can’t talk to your mother about. So you talk to sisters, or friends, or other women who are older and wiser; someone safer. I will freely admit my girls are cautious with their questions to me, and they should be. Women help each other find the right paths, and I would never want to be their only confidante.
So, the first of the three topics that I want to talk to you about—and this is a heavy-duty one. I admit that I’m starting out with a big one. The first one is the necessity of the Holy Spirit being involved in your life and in your marriage. So number one is: The Necessity of the Holy Spirit.
I want to read you a story—I’m going to read quite a few verses from the book of John. This is a story that has nothing to do with marriage, on the surface; but in it, I find Jesus saying some things that are really interesting and puzzling to me. Here’s the story—in John, Chapter 7, verse 2, it says:
Now the Feast of Booths was at hand. And Jesus’ brothers said to Him, “It is time for You to go. You need to go to the feast. You need to take Your disciples. You need to show all these people what You can do. You need to make Yourself known.”…And Jesus said to him, “You go up to the feast by yourselves; I’m not going to the feast because my time has not yet come.”
And then, in the very next verse, he [John] says:
And having said these things, He stayed in Galilee.
And then verse 10:
But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as it were in secret.
When I first heard that / read that story, I remember thinking: “That is so odd! Why would Jesus tell His brothers He wasn’t going; and then, He turned right around a day later and went by Himself?” It never made sense to me. For years, that puzzled me—as to why Jesus would say, “I’m not going,” and then He turned around and went. It almost sounds like He’s lying to His brothers, but He wasn’t.
Here’s the answer I finally found, a few years later, in John, Chapter 8. In John,
Chapter 8, verses 28 and 29, Jesus said in this verse, “I do nothing on my own initiative.”
And then in verse 29, He said, “I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” He’s talking about His Father. Then again, in verse 49 in Chapter 12, Jesus said, “I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father who sent Me has given Me a commandment and He tells me what to say and what to speak.” And in verse 50, “I speak just as the Father has told Me.”
Now, here’s the application for marriage; and this is why the Holy Spirit is so important. How many times do we, as women, say only what we hear the Lord tell us? I just can’t get over the fact that Jesus Christ never, never, never said anything on His own initiative. I don’t know about you, but that just is absolutely stunning to me—that He said nothing on His own initiative.
I think about my life, and I think about how many times I say things on my own. I don’t think about what I say—I speak impulsively, I say too much, I say it the wrong way. The Bible tells us to speak the truth; it tells us to speak it in love. I can speak it in truth, but I can’t always speak it in love. But Jesus never said anything on His own initiative. To me, as I look at my marriage, I just think about the impact it would have if I was really focused on listening to the Spirit’s voice and only saying what He wanted me to say.
Now, granted—we’re all fallen / we’re all broken—none of us are going to do it perfectly. But that doesn’t mean that listening to the Holy Spirit speak to me and me paying attention to Him should not be my goal.
It has to be my goal—I belong to Jesus Christ. Every woman in here, who belongs to Jesus Christ, has the Holy Spirit of God living within her. That’s why He’s there.
Jesus said, a couple of chapters later, in Chapter 16, verse 7—Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away.” The disciples couldn’t believe Jesus was leaving. He kept telling them He was leaving, and they didn’t believe Him. They didn’t understand / they didn’t want Him to go—it made no sense to them. But Jesus said, “It’s to your advantage that I go away.” Why? Because Jesus was only in one place on the planet—He was in the nation of Israel / He was only in that land. Geographically, He wasn’t everywhere. Jesus knew that, if He left, the Holy Spirit was going to come and the Holy Spirit was going to be everywhere.
The Holy Spirit lives within me; and He lives within every single woman in this room, who has received Christ. Therefore—the application to marriage is—if we know Him and the Holy Spirit lives within us, our job, as wives, is to listen to the Holy Spirit. Listen to what He says in this Book, let Him transform our lives and our hearts, and listen to Him as we live our marriages. We know, in Ephesians 5, how we’re supposed to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives—it says simply, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
I don’t think we talk enough about the Holy Spirit in our churches today. We don’t talk about who He is / we don’t talk about what He does. If you don’t know much about the Holy Spirit—who He is and what He does—I want to encourage you to read these chapters that I’ve been talking about in the book of John, because Jesus tells us who He is—
—He will guide us; He will lead us into truth; He will comfort us; He will give us wisdom; He will help us.
One of His names is Helper. I don’t know about you, but I need help. I need lots and lots of help in being a wife, because I don’t do it well. A lot of the time I don’t do it well, and I need the Holy Spirit to help me be a wife. I need His help to know how to do this thing called marriage the way He intended for me to do it.
I want to read you, really quickly, a short piece that I wrote on this in my book about the Holy Spirit. I have a whole chapter on this:
Now that we’ve traveled forty years of marriage by faith, I have come to realize that the Holy Spirit is my dearest Friend. He is misunderstood, and neglected, and ignored, but this greatest Gift to those of us who believe is the One who has helped me most become who I am today.
He has whispered truth to me, He has guided me to the best paths, He has given me wisdom when I have asked. He has gently nudged me to speak…and at other times He has nudged me to be silent. When I’ve listened to His leading, I’ve never been sorry. When I haven’t listened, I’ve had regrets.
Following Him has been slow and arduous, not because He is not a good leader, but because I am not a good follower. Whispers require attentiveness...
And the Holy Spirit speaks to us in whispers. He doesn’t shout to us, He doesn’t write it in the sky; He whispers. And the Bible tells us that He whispers to us. So we, as women, need to pay attention to His voice and learn to hear His language.
The second thing I want to talk to you about this morning, after the necessity of the Holy Spirit in your life, is the necessity of listening to the music of your individual marriage. I use a number of metaphors in writing these letters to my daughters to help us, as women, understand what marriage is like. The first chapter is called “Marriage Is Like Cooking.” I talk about mixing different ingredients, because we have really different ingredients as men and women.
I have a chapter on that marriage is like dancing, because I talk about the whole movement that dancing follows. If any of you haven’t been to learn ballroom dancing on the ship, it’s a great experience. Dennis and I took ballroom dancing lessons—I don’t know, about seven or eight years ago; and we’ve hardly done it since—but those six lessons were great fun. I was amazed at how much I learned about marriage in those ballroom dancing lessons.
But in this point that I want to talk to you about, I want to talk to you about the fact that your marriage is like music.
God is the composer of the music of your individual marriage. What’s fascinating to me about that is that He has composed billions of marriages through the years, and no marriage is alike. Every single one of our marriages God intends to be unique, because He has unique purposes for each one of us.
I want to give you a little quiz for a minute; okay? First of all, how many basic notes of music are there? Who knows?—Seven—Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti—seven. Now, think a minute: “How many kinds of music have been created over the centuries with seven simple notes?” Your kids learned to play those seven notes on a recorder in elementary school; right? That’s one kind of music. But what has Beethoven done with those seven notes? What did Mozart do with those seven notes?
The breadth, and depth, and width, and height of the music that’s been created with seven notes is just astounding; isn’t it?
How many tastes can we experience in food? Does anybody know that?—Five / only five tastes; right? Now, think about the kinds of foods that we know. I mean, we all have Japanese, and Chinese, and Thai restaurants. We have American food / we have Mexican food. I mean, just think about the variety of food that’s been created, and we only have five senses of taste; right?
How many colors are there in the color wheel? How many primary colors?—Three. So just think about the number of colors that have been created from three primary colors.
Now, last question: “How many people does it take to make a marriage?”—Two.
And yet, God has created, with one man and one woman, an amazing complexity of marriages through the centuries. He has given to us very simple ingredients and a very small list of ingredients for us to use in building our marriages. He hasn’t given us this incredibly complex list; and yet, God wants us to take those basic ingredients of marriage and He wants us to create an amazing wealth of marriages all around the globe; because our marriages are what? We’re representing and we’re reflections of the relationship of Christ and the church. Our marriages are intended to reflect who God is.
So God has, all over the world / all over the planet—He has these little duos in different places. Our marriages are supposed to be the first line of defense against evil. We’re supposed to be the ones who show the world what love looks like. Our marriages are supposed to be the mirror and the picture of who God is and what it means to have a relationship.
God wants them to all be unique, because every marriage in here is different from every other one. We all have different personalities, and different strengths, and different weaknesses, and different gifting sets. He wants us to take that combination of gifts / that combination of ingredients that He has put in our duo / in that union called marriage and He wants us to use it for His purposes and for His glory so that we can represent Him on this planet.
Ephesians 5:32—talks about marriage being a mystery. I don’t know about you—but that’s a great word to describe it for me, because marriage is very mysterious. There are a lot of things about marriage that I simply do not understand, and I don’t think I ever will. But God intends it to be that way so that I have to trust Him, as the Author, and the Artist, and the Composer, and the Choreographer of my marriage so that I will trust Him; because He created it and He designed it.
My point in all of this for you is this—God has intended each unique combination of two people to proclaim a one-of-a-kind story that reflects a different facet of who He is. What He wants you to do is what only you and your husband can do—that Dennis and I can’t do or any other couple on this ship can do. Figure out what that is that God wants you to do that is unique to you, as a couple. He’s planted you on this planet to accomplish something that only you can do.
Bob: Well, of course, we’ve been listening to your wife, Barbara Rainey, talking about God’s design for a wife in marriage. This is a theme that has been on our hearts in a fresh way this year.
Dennis: It has, and it’s been imprinted on my wife’s life—well, coming up on here—September 2nd.
Bob: Later this week?
Dennis: Yes; our 44th anniversary—count them! Forty-four years!
Bob: I’ll tell you what—you know, I’ve been wishing “Happy anniversary!” to folks all year. So—
Dennis: It’s all about other people’s anniversaries.
Bob: Maybe, on September 2nd,I’ll highlight you and Barbara.
Dennis: Why don’t you do that? [Laughter]
But I’d like to say, “Congratulations!” to all you who have completed an anniversary or will complete one this year. Thanks for hanging tough. FamilyLife Today and FamilyLife, as an organization, are really committed to celebrating anniversaries—not our own, although we are celebrating our ministry’s 40th anniversary—we’ve been all about celebrating your anniversary this year. If you have not seen the video we’ve created called “FamilyLife: Proud Sponsor of Anniversaries™,” go online to FamilyLife Today and watch it. It will only take you a couple of minutes, and it’s really fun.
Bob: That’s at FamilyLifeToday.com.
While we’re on the subject of anniversaries—Brandon and Maddy Eckholm from Jesup, Iowa—today’s their second anniversary.
Bob: Two years. They got married back in 2014. We want to wish you “Happy anniversary!”
We believe anniversaries matter.
Dennis: We do.
Bob: We think anniversaries are important. Our goal here is to provide you, every day, with practical biblical help and hope so that your marriage / your family can go the distance.
Dennis: And if you want to invest in your marriage—I want you to listen to me for a second—I mean this with everything within me. You and your spouse need to go to a Weekend to Remember® this fall, or maybe next spring; but I’d encourage you to go this fall—we have some great locations this fall—and invest in your marriage.
Take a Friday, Saturday, and a half-day Sunday in one of our 35 to 40 locations and go to a Weekend to Remember.
Just experience the benefits of a weekend set aside to have somebody teach you, instruct you, equip you, and then help you get into projects that are going to strengthen your marriage. You’re going to have fun / you’re going to have romance—it’s going to be a great weekend. We want you to be there. We want you to be there, not only now, but for future generations.
Bob: Details about the Weekend to Remember can be found online at FamilyLifeToday.com. My question is: “Would you recommend that a wife get Barbara’s book and read it before they go to the Weekend to Remember or save it and read it after she’s been?”
Dennis: That’s a good question.
Bob: Yes. So, which is it?
Dennis: I just say, “Read it!” Figure out what’s best for you. Here’s the thing, Bob—this book has taken off. There are more than 40,000 copies in print. These things sold like hot cakes last year at the Weekend to Remember last spring.
Women are picking it up; and they’re also giving it to their daughters / their friends as wedding gifts, because I just think a lot of women today don’t know how to be a wife / they don’t know how to do marriage. This is the seasoned advice of a woman who has more than four decades invested in her marriage. I can tell you—it was not all easy. In fact, I told her I kind of wished she had painted it a little more—you know, warm-fuzzy.
Bob: A little less honest? [Laughter]
Dennis: Kind of painted a lot of warts in there. It’s a beautiful book, but the warts in there are not pretty—and most of them are mine. That’s why I’m pushing back on that.
Bob: The book is called Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife. Of course, if you don’t have a copy, we’d be happy to provide you with one. You can order online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order over the phone. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for information on Barbara Rainey’s new book, Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife, by Barbara Rainey; or call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY,” to order a copy of the book.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to hear Part Two of Barbara’s message on what it looks like for a wife to be a godly wife: “What are some of those characteristics?” We’ll hear that tomorrow. Hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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