Sofia Tolstoy’s Destruction of Her Marital Happiness (A First Look)

I noticed a few weeks ago I received more interest in a post I did last year, detailing how a wife could possibly ruin her husband’s love for her.  The post mentioned the marriage of Leo Tolstoi and Sofia, and how through decades, her attitude turned him into a man who could not even tolerate her presence when he was old.

I’ve only read accounts based on his own troubles with her – mostly the variety of ways she would seek to control him, berate him, endlessly try to kill herself or threaten suicide.  However, I recently came across her literal thoughts and words in her diaries, and have had some time to get an insight into how this woman thought and dealt with the life God gave her.

I have to say, reading some of her diary entries only confirm what an extremely psychologically messed up woman she was from day one.  I know that sounds so harsh, but it is remarkable how she viewed her life through a lens of martyrdom and suffering.  After reading several pages (and I will read more to be sure) of her personal and constant complaining, I’m amazed Leo Tolstoy was able to create any masterpieces of literature at all with a wife who intellectually numbed and destroyed his senses.  And the temperament of an artist’s wife (especially a writer) is crucial to his ability to work!

To her credit, she was a hard worker and helped him immensely in copying and writing out his vast manuscripts.  She did, very painfully and resentfully, dedicate her entire life to his work.  But it was at such a high cost he had to pay, with even her own son admitting she never was able to just be happy, to endure her constant complaining and resentful attitude.  That her husband didn’t fully appreciate it, even though she did so much for him, was because her attitude and resentfulness cancelled her, “selfless acts,” out.

In other words, what she viewed as, “selfless acts of dedicating her entire life to him,” which she spoke endlessly about in her diary, were in reality, feeding her neurotic sense of self-righteousness and playing the ever-constant victim.

Her husband could do nothing right in her eyes, except write, and every little thing he did by his own accord, she says she, “rebuked,” him for, and made herself sick (literally ill) constantly worrying about him when he’d go out to do even the most normal of male activities such as hunting.

Here are some first thoughts on the few things I’ve read.  I’m sure I’ll have more to work with later on, but her terrible example is something I’ll teach my own daughter what to avoid in becoming.

It could be said that Sofia, for all her self-righteous assuring us she was serving him selflessly, never allowed herself to be happy… because if she allowed herself that joy, she would have failed in being the perpetual victim she wanted to see herself as.

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Some first notes…

  1. She frequently speaks in her diaries in classic, “victim mentality,” reference.  It is always bad things happening to her, and many times Sofia seeking out opportunities to feel wounded and offended by her husband’s normal behavior.
  2. She denies him sex throughout their marriage, only having enough to produce children, but then resents him for not having sex while she was pregnant.  She describes wanting more of a “spiritual marriage,” which in those days, often meant to be abstinent in marriage.  She mentions frequently that he has too much passion for her, but that she only desires a, “pure,” and, “spiritual union.”  As an aside note to historical references, there were often marriages like this where the woman would truly want to remain a virgin, or mostly sexless, to create this spiritual union, leaving the husband to have to find whores to have sex with.  Those marriages were almost always very unhappy marriages, even in those days, men still needed sex from their wives.
  3. She frames everything he does as being done to “hurt,” her… and then she goes on and on, “rebuking,” him for his (in her mind) bad decisions.  This from her diary is a direct example where she wouldn’t even let him decide when to go hunting without her permission… and her attitude when he came back is what destroys a man’s love and affection (the chastising and, “rebuking,” she felt she had a right to do to him).
  4. Before their marriage, Tolstoy had a romantic notion that his new wife should know everything he ever did that was horrible and wrong.  Instead of hiding his sins, he wanted to, “bear all,” to her, confess everything, and know that she would still love him and accept him as he was – faults and past sins in total.  He felt very ashamed of everything he’d done before finding a, “pure,” and proper wife, and her reading this and still accepting him, in a large way, would help him heal from his past promiscuity.  I actually understand this very well, because my own husband did something very similar.  We both told each other everything (his past being much more sordid and sinful than mine sexually), and I understand from my husband’s heart how much he needed to know that I *knew* how bad he had been, and yet would *still* choose to love him and receive him.  Yes, I was sheltered and virginal like Sofia, but it still didn’t harm me to know his past sexual sins.  If anything, it made me even more sympathetic to him because I could feel the shame he felt for having failed in that area.  Men seem to understand that this kind of acceptance in marriage is a kind of redemption God uses to help ease the pain of past sins.  It does for women, too, if they first acknowledge how sinful they were and are humbled enough to know their husband is doing them a great act of love in accepting them even though they come to him soiled and impure.
  5. Unfortunately for Tolstoy, his wife was horrifically repulsed by his past, and used it for the rest of their marriage to throw in his face and punish him for.  She did not, at all, accept him as the man he was, and she ensured her own unhappiness by perpetually reminding herself in her diaries of how horrible his past was… how she could NEVER get over his former relationships.
  6. I do believe that even with this single, but monumental, rejection of him when he was so honest and open with her, that she may have ruined a lot of his love in those first years when she kept throwing it in his face.  I think when he realized she could not, and would not, ever make peace with his past or love him beyond his past (without holding it against him constantly), that he fell into a depressive state that caused him to bristle at even her voice or presence (which is talked about both in his and her diaries).  How different their marriage might have been if Sofia had been wise enough to realize the power she had when he was so romantically open with her about his past, in helping him heal and redeem his value before God and society.
  7. I’ve heard callers complain about things like this to Dr. Laura, where one spouse – it’s almost always the woman – can’t get over a husband’s past or long-gone sexual relationship, and her response is always that they are simply looking for (literally digging around in their spouse’s past) something to beat the other spouse with.  This is a classic way a wife with a real psychological disorder seeks to continually, “punish,” her husband over his past sins.
  8. Continually using his past, especially his past relationship where he fathered a son who still lived on their land, to berate him for, was abusive.  Sofia, again for all her endless self-proclamations of serving him selflessly and lovingly, was an abusive and toxic wife.  Again, I am amazed he was able to create the masterpieces he did with the ever-present berating, punishing and abusive things she’d say to him.  I should say here that I’m aware that our modern society views his treatment of her as, “abusive,” because she had to, in some authors’ words, endure his “slights and insults.”  I wonder if he felt he almost had to be that way, in order to survive the war-like atmosphere she made sure she created at times (it’s notable that not all of their life was lived this way… they had short periods of happiness, again making me wonder from a psychological-standpoint, if she wasn’t bi-polar).
  9. Consider families where the wife really did sleep around for years before a husband married her, even producing offspring with a man she never even married.  What if the husband acts like Sofia decided to do, and holds a huge grudge against his wife for those things done in her past, and never lets himself, “get over,” her past sexual experiences with other men, continually bringing them in to their current arguments and never allowing his wife to fully, “pay,” for the sins she’d committed?  We’d then be able to see it clearly as the husband’s own psychological disturbance, and not attribute any further fault to his wife.  With Leo Tolstoy, many people, including Nobel Laureates, side with Sofia in this being an excusable and logical offense she held against him for the length of their entire marriage, when obviously, it’s anything but excusable and logical.
  10. She, several times in her diary, expresses murderous intent toward his former lovers and the one son he had who still lived on their land!  She obsesses over his sexual past to the extent of wanting to commit murder several times.  Again, as much as I feel sorry for her, I am amazed at the extent of her insanity and what Tolstoy had to put up with for a lifetime of marriage.  A healthy woman would have accepted him as he was, but Sofia still used his son’s mother against him in arguments even into their old age!  I feel so sorry for him, and amazed he was still able to create the works he did.
  11. Side note – the more I read her words and the conclusions she comes to, the more I believe she probably had a severe psychological disorder.  Her family described her as not having an easy time being happy in general… even as a child, it is noted she was never able to really be happy.  I believe people are able to *choose* happiness, and I don’t excuse Sofia for literally ruining her life over the most mundane reasons to be unhappy.  Her entire diary seems to be one of constant finding fault, constant taking offense (oftentimes where it’s unclear if she even understands it was intended!).  She is a very sad and pathetic woman, what an eye-opening experience reading her mind’s workings.
  12. So back to this issue of holding a spouse’s past against them.  My own husband has a past sexual history before he met me, and it’s something I’ve never held against him because when he married me, he committed to me wholly, just like Tolstoy did to Sofia.  It would be incredibly foolish and perverted to continue to, “punish,” him for things he did in his past before he even knew me, or had taken vows to me.  Like Tolstoy, my husband wasn’t even a real Christian back then, so to hold his sins against him would be wrong.  Sofia’s immaturity and psychologically disturbed thinking gives me an even more sympathetic perspective to how Leo managed to live with her successfully all those years at all.  The fact that he was able to produce such magnificent and powerful novels, even while being relentlessly torn down by such a mentally disturbed woman, shows remarkable strength and resilience.  It’s sad that I although I do feel sorry for her, I also feel even more correct in my first assessment that she was one of the women who make sure they are chronically unhappy no matter what the circumstances may be.  She constantly pities herself, and hates her life.  She resents the life she could have had if she were a single woman.
  13. She absolutely hated him spending time with the peasants, teaching them and mentoring them. She hated having them around their house, taking care of them, and despised her husband for loving this service he desired to provide to the poor.  My own great great grandparents also had peasants and homeless people living around on their estate property (which was not large… so they literally had homeless people living in their backyard)!  Their adult children talked about this a lot in the document they left, which is the only reason why we know about it.  My great-great grandfather was a doctor, one of the only ones in that entire area, so it made sense these people would flock to this strong Christian family, who were both husband and wife, very loving and kind people who would physically and spiritually care for them for free.  They were probably like a beacon of hope to destitute people, and this is what Jesus said we should be like.  I know they viewed this service as a beautiful charity, and I’m amazed in contrast, at Sofia’s selfishness and greed and disdain toward the poor.  For all her admonitions and self-proclamations of thinking she was super religious and selfless, we see she was anything but!  But that is how self-righteous people operate.  They see themselves as put-upon, as an ever-perpetual victim, but in reality, their lives are much more complex with their causing their own problems.  She hated the poor, hated serving them, and hated her own husband for loving them and having them on their property.  I am so grateful my great-great grandmother did not feel this way, how awful it would have been for their marriage if she’d behaved like Sofia Tolstoy.
  14. Sofia would frequently use threats or actual attempts of suicide in order to manipulate him further in order to control her husband.  This is classic psychological disorder-type actions.  I believe she was probably bi-polar, or Cluster B-type, but it would take a very skilled psychologist to go through everything she did (and especially the disturbed way she thought) to untangle what she had.  But it’s clear she was not mentally healthy, and probably wasn’t from a young age.
  15. Tolstoy went on to become a fervent and very strange, type of Christian (note that he wasn’t when we was whoring around in his young years).  In his later years, he came to the strong convictions that it was morally wrong and horrible for young men to do what he had done, to sleep around so much before marriage, and praised and promoted abstinence before marriage for both sexes.  I do admit he took his views a little too far in his old age, but after decades of living with a wife who tortured him mentally and emotionally, I think his views that people shouldn’t get married at all (or have sex – he became asexual in ideology) probably are the reason for his extreme views.

I’m sure I’ll write more when I have time.  It’s interesting to read someone else’s diary… very eye-opening to see how someone else’s mind works.

I myself, am an avid diary-writer ever since I was 6 years old.  My husband has read all my diaries LOL, so reading about Sofia and Leo reading each other’s diaries, and such, leads me to compare and contrast the differences between their relationship and ours.  It’s so sad that she chooses to constantly write herself as the victim to her own life’s story… never taking ownership of her glaringly obvious faults, and everything always being other people’s fault… her always the perfect, selfless martyr who resentfully dedicates her life to others in a way that makes them feel they’re taking advantage of her.  It just doesn’t have to be that way.

We’ve been through many trials in our marriage of different kinds, but we’ve remained remarkably happy and are closer together in every way through having gone through those trials.  It’s strange how some of the very same things that caused so much hostility in the Tolstoy marriage, have only caused us to grow closer together and more strongly bonded.  I do believe a lot of that has to do with how I chose to respond to our trials in ways that encouraged my husband, and didn’t tear him down or berate him for, “failing.”

Major outside stresses that could have broken us, didn’t, and when I read the old diaries, they’re filled with this stuff (getting kicked out for wanting to marry him, living in poverty for a few years, having a baby before we were financially ready, doing too much at one time like school, work, and child-rearing, extreme in-law problems, losing jobs early on that made it more financially stressful, miscarriage, parental health decline, caring for dying grand-parents, etc.)… the diaries hit on all those events, but at the same time they’re also filled with so much joy, optimism, and hope and ways/ideas to be better in the future.  They read in stark contrast to the way Sofia wrote and thought about life.  It’s been a very important spiritual lesson to see the way she saw things, how she couldn’t get past them, and then how those, “hang-ups,” caused her to destroy her own happiness or future chance at happiness.

When I went to a counselor a few years ago because my husband wanted me to after my dad had his stroke, he was amazed how good our marriage was even with going through as many difficulties we’d already been through.  He had some kind of checklist for “major,” trials a couple may have experienced in marriage, and our marriage checked almost every one!  By all accounts, we should have been in a horrible marriage where I resented and hated him for, “failing,” me as a husband.  The counselor was very proud of how in love we still were, how strong our marriage was, and how even after everything we’d been through, we still had a joyful and cheerful outlook on life and the future.

It really makes me wonder how different Sofia’s marriage may have been, if she’d just been aware enough to understand how much she contributed to her own unhappiness?  Do people like this ever know how off they are in their reasoning, or are they truly mentally disturbed?

 

 

 

Quick Link reference for those who don’t have a copy of her diary:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/jun/02/sofia-tolstoy-diaries

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: God’s Word Revives Us Daily

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We’ve been in such a busy season recently, that I’ve again come to be so grateful for having an established morning quiet time reading God’s Word and connecting to His grace.  We still have a very packed schedule, even though with homeschooling there is lots of relaxing time and outside, unstructured play… if I had to pinpoint it, the most strenuous part of our day is our workout routine (lol).  Yesterday my husband and I ran 6 miles (!!!), so I’m not kidding when I say it is intense and somewhat brutal.  So I need the peace and replenishment of morning quiet time ❤

There is something so strange and powerful that I feel when I make these morning quiet times a priority in my life.  I was reflecting as I was reading yesterday morning, yet again with our little daughter up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed sitting right next me reading along with her baby Bible book as well, just how wonderful it is to do this practice.

I came across Psalm 19 –

“The instruction from the Lord is perfect,

reviving the soul;

the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy,

making the inexperienced wise.

The precepts of the Lord are right,

making the heart glad;

the commandment of the Lord is radiant,

making the eyes light up.

The fear of the Lord is pure,

enduring forever;

the ordinances of the Lord are reliable and altogether righteous.

They are more desirable than gold;

and sweeter than honey -than honey dripping from the comb.

In addition, Your servant (me) is warned by them;

there is great reward in keeping them.”  Psalm 19:7-11 CSB

No wonder I’m a forever optimist!!! 😀  Look at what happens to a person when they make the time to read God’s Word with an open heart and understanding in the morning!

Let me break down all those words again in a list.  God’s Word is:

  • Perfect
  • Trustworthy
  • Right
  • Radiant
  • Pure
  • Reliable
  • Righteous
  • Rewarding

And here is how we are told it effects us when we read it:

  • Revives our soul
  • Makes us wise
  • Makes the heart glad!
  • Makes the eyes light up!
  • Gives us good warnings
  • Gives us reward in keeping His ways

Wow, right!?!?!  That is what I feel though when I make time in the morning.  I can testify that all these things talked about in Psalm 19 are true; it’s why I’ve tried to always guard this time, even when we have babies still not sleeping through the night.  It’s almost crucial to my mental strength, as you can see, His Word has the power to renew one’s faith and optimism, and it renews daily!

And… can I just say… these are MORNING words in my opinion 🙂 .  “Reviving the soul,” and, “making the heart glad,” and “making the eyes light up,” these really do sound like a daily morning renewal before one tackles their day.

And what better time to get your replenishment and renewal of faith and optimism, “making your heart glad,” and your “eyes light up,” than in the morning? 😀  It’s like your spiritual cup of coffee (jk… but seriously), just like I couldn’t imagine going without that stimulant in my morning routine, I know how I feel when I bypass this practice because I’ve slept in (been lazy) or just too busy to make the time for it (refusing to meet with God even though I could have).

All this is not to say that you can’t also read it at night and feel relief after a terrible day – that is true also – but I’ve found it to be better to do what Jesus did, and get up early in the morning to devote the first fruits of your day to Him.  But God’s Word is powerful and can’t be “boxed,” in, hence why I believe this is also true when one reads it at night.  David has many Psalms where he meditated on God’s Word in the morning AND at night, but here is main morning one that convicts me,

IN THE MORNING, oh Lord,

You hear my voice;

IN THE MORNING,

I lay my requests before You, and wait in expectation.”

Psalm 5:3

Here is what I wrote in an older post on this topic… it’s interesting to look back and see what I was describing to be found so clear in this passage of Psalm 19, again confirming what I was trying to say.  From here

Rising Early … with babies?

Throughout the years of our marriage, even with having multiple children – babies nursing at all times of the night, I still find that waking up early (5am or 5:30am) to spend that quiet time with God is so crucial to my faith longterm – and it impacts my entire day!  I’m just not the same without it.  He literally changes my perspective and helps me deal with the day ahead with a much better attitude.  I’m definitely not perfect or always want to follow through with this goal.  There are some times when I’m not able to get up early, but I do notice a difference in my heart and attitude if I miss a couple of days in a row.  I need God all day, but especially in the early mornings before anyone else has woken up, so that I can spend time alone with Him and reading and studying His Word.

There’s also the principle of giving God your “first fruits.”  For anyone who has ever seriously studied the Bible, it’s apparent that God wants our best – and yes, that usually means we are required to sacrifice in order to give it to Him.  He wants our “first fruits.”

The first 10% of your pay (the normal tithe), the firstborn of your children (an Old Testament Jewish custom), the first day of the week devoted to Him (the Sabbath), even the first of the people’s grain (their food) was to be given to the Lord – before they were allowed to harvest anything for themselves!  It makes total sense that a woman’s early morning time should probably be first devoted to God, no matter when she wakes up. 🙂

In fact, Jesus Himself spent time alone with His Father early in the morning.  There’s something just very mysterious about that early morning time that even I can’t put my finger on.

 “AND IN THE MORNING, rising up a great while before the day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” — MARK 1:35

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: There’s Beauty in The Valley of Humiliation

Image result for beautiful sad picture in rain

To my Sweet One, we’ve talked about many things that are good, bright, and positive, but now it’s time to talk about a more melancholy state, when you will go through dark times.  More specifically, when you’re in a Valley of Humiliation.

Right now, in 2019, we’re going through the book Pilgrim’s Progress with your oldest brother, and this was such a good lesson I couldn’t wait to share it with you in here.  We will also read this book with you, however I still wanted this lesson to be formally preserved in your book.

What is the Valley of Humiliation?

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Christian descending into the Valley of Humiliation

The Valley of Humiliation in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, is an allegory to when we go through extremely difficult seasons of being humbled.  It can be from friends, but most likely the humbling or humiliation comes from people we call enemies.  It might not come from a person themselves at all, however, but simply be a time or season in your life when everything seems to be going terribly wrong, or you have no direction or can’t discern anymore from God which way is right to take.  Often it is a combination of all these things, which is what Pilgrim’s Progress describes, and is a season of affliction coupled with attacks meant to humiliate.  Whatever this Valley may look like at a certain time is not as important compared to the necessity of this being something you need to learn how to handle, and how to handle well.

May you be a lady of wisdom, who when she is rightfully humbled, realizes it and acknowledges it with grace.  And may you have the wisdom to see even the slightest bit of Truth in a severely harsh rebuke or criticism, and choose to treasure it, instead of despising the Truth.  I will strive to give you many examples of my own (mostly failings) experience with this, and what I wish I had done differently.

I can tell you assuredly though, accepting humiliation with a graceful and humble attitude reveals a beauty in a person like nothing one usually sees in this world.  It is very rare, because I believe this is the attitude that most models Christ.  Everything in our world today tells you not to accept going through this Valley.  That you will look foolish.  But the world’s “wisdom,” is not God’s wisdom, and it is foolish to seek to avoid these times of humbling.

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And something you need to understand is that everyone eventually goes through a valley, or several valleys of being humbled or humiliated in all kinds of ways.  No single person is allowed to avoid this pain, and it is something all of us must learn to “deal,” with in wise and graceful ways.

You can’t run away from a season of being humbled or humiliated, that only seals your fate as someone not strong enough to bear the name of Christ  It is designed this way to test your faith, to see if you’re strong enough to hold steadfast to your anchor in the storms of life.

Also, as we discussed in depth with your oldest brother, Pilgrim’s Progress points out that you don’t have armor for your back.  This means that if you flee in terror, or run away not trusting in God’s strength to pull you through (and perfect your character through humiliation), you will be attacked from behind as you are fleeing!

At the Christian school I was in growing up, they always cautioned us that we didn’t have armor for our backs, and that we had to stand firm when facing any kind of spiritual assault or attack.  All our spiritual armor is front-facing, there is no allowance for retreat, even in the fiercest battle.

From Pilgrim’s Progress:

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Why do people usually respond wrong when going through the Valley of Humiliation?

In one word, it is their pride.  Pride and arrogance are what keeps us from seeing our own flaws, or from wanting to acknowledge our own blind spots or mistakes, especially when someone has pointed them out.  Doubly so if it is someone we despise.  And even more so than that if it is done in public meant to humiliate us.  But none of that takes away the true value of humiliation.

For one, it serves to rid us of our pride or pretenses, if we allow it to, by acknowledging that we really aren’t perfect and may even need to go through this valley at this time.  If we repent of our pride, we are given grace to endure the season, and hope for what lies ahead (a better character for one thing).  But when we respond in pride toward our humbling, we don’t glean the benefits or blessings of learning humility, and our character is left with a glaring defect.  Remember: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humbleIt is also foolish to honor an arrogant person, Paul tells us to give honor to those who deserve it because of their service and humility.

So many harmful things come from pride, because it allows us to keep moving in the wrong direction and often toward danger.  Unnecessary hardships, shipwrecking of one’s faith or the faith of others, and even important relationships can be destroyed when someone refuses to be humbled or accept rebuke and correction (be humiliated to a lesser or greater extent).  When we go through this Valley of Humiliation, we have God’s favor on our life if we keep a humble heart.

Although a person’s pride may make them seem strong, their strength is in their folly, which is why the Bible constantly warns against arrogance and pride, boasting of one’s sins they’ve gotten away with, or having a Pharisaical attitude and legalism.  It is a mysterious thing that the last will become first, that the humble will receive honor (and the arrogant, dishonor), but this is the way of our Lord.  It takes Strength and Humility to accept rebuke or harsh criticism, to take it in stride, learning how to correct our character for the better, and not holding on to bitterness or resentment.  Resisting this Valley is only human and natural, but nothing could be further from our benefit.

Often the truly strong are the humbled people, and those who are acutely aware of their own failings and shortcomings in the flesh. 

May you find a man who displays this kind of character, the character of your own father, because a life with him will be easier due to his wisdom and strength, as you’ve seen from witnessing his life and what a great man he is.

 

There is Unexpected Beauty in the Valley of Humiliation

From the second book written by John Bunyan, the one that chronicle’s the Pilgrim’s wife’s journey with their four sons, we will look at how beautiful this Valley can be when you have gotten the proper perspective.

From Christiana’s journey, on the Valley of Humiliation:

“It is the best and most fruitful piece of ground in all those parts. It is fat ground, and as you see, consisteth much in meadows; and if a man was to come here in the summer-time, as we do now, if he knew not any thing before thereof, and if he also delighted himself in the sight of his eyes, he might see that which would be delightful to him.

Behold how green this valley is; also how beautified with lilies. (Song. 2:1). I have known many laboring men that have got good estates in this Valley of Humiliation; for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. (Jas. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5). Indeed it is a very fruitful soil, and doth bring forth by handfuls. Some also have wished that the next way to their Father’s house were here, that they might be troubled no more with either hills or mountains to go over; but the way is the way, and there is an end.

Now, as they were going along, and talking, they espied a boy feeding his father’s sheep. The boy was in very mean clothes, but of a very fresh and well-favoured countenance; and as he sat by himself, he sung. Hark, said Mr. Great-Heart, to what the shepherd’s boy saith. So they hearkened and he said,

“He that is down, needs fear no fall;
He that is low, no pride:
He that is humble, ever shall
Have God to be his guide.
I am content with what I have,
Little be it or much;
And, Lord, contentment still I crave,
Because thou savest such.
Fullness to such, a burden is,
That go on pilgrimage;
Here little, and hereafter bliss,
Is best from Age to Age.”

Then said the guide, Do you hear him? I will dare to say, that this boy lives a merrier life, and wears more of that herb called heart’s-ease in his bosom, than he that is clad in silk and velvet. But we will proceed in our discourse.

In this valley our Lord formerly had his country-house: he loved much to be here. He loved also to walk these meadows, for he found the air was pleasant. Besides, here a man shall be free from the noise, and from the hurryings of this life: all states are full of noise and confusion; only the Valley of Humiliation is that empty and solitary place. Here a man shall not be so let and hindered in his contemplation as in other places he is apt to be.

This is a valley that nobody walks in but those that love a pilgrim’s life. And though Christian had the hard hap to meet here with Apollyon, and to enter with him in a brisk encounter, yet I must tell you, that in former times men have met with angels here, (Hos. 12:4,5), have found pearls here (Matt. 13:46), and have in this place found the words of life. (Prov. 8:36). Did I say our Lord had here in former days his country-house, and that he loved here to walk? I will add-in this place, and to the people that love and trace these grounds, he has left a yearly revenue, to be faithfully paid them at certain seasons, for their maintenance by the way, and for their further encouragement to go on in their pilgrimage.

Samuel: Now, as they went on, Samuel said to Mr. Great-Heart, Sir, I perceive that in this valley my father and Apollyon had their battle; but whereabout was the fight? for I perceive this valley is large.

Great-heart: Your father had the battle with Apollyon at a place yonder before us, in a narrow passage, just beyond Forgetful Green. And indeed that place is the most dangerous place in all these parts. For if at any time pilgrims meet with any brunt, it is when they forget what favours they have received, and how unworthy they are of them. This is the place also where others have been hard put to it. But more of the place when we are come to it; for I persuade myself that to this day there remains either some sign of the battle, or some monument to testify that such a battle there was fought.

Mercy: Then said Mercy, I think I am as well in this valley as I have been anywhere else in all our journey: the place, methinks, suits with my spirit. I love to be in such places, where there is no rattling with coaches, nor rumbling with wheels. Methinks, here one may, without much molestation, be thinking what he is, whence he came, what he has done, and to what the King has called him. Here one may think, and break at heart, and melt in one’s spirit, until one’s eyes become as the fish-pools in Heshbon (Song. 7:4). They that go rightly through this valley of Baca, make it a well; the rain that God sends down from heaven upon them that are here, also filleth the pools. This valley is that from whence also the King will give to his their vineyards; and they that go through it shall sing, as Christian did, for all he met with Apollyon. (Ps. 84:5-7; Hos. 2:15).

Great-heart: ‘Tis true, said their guide; I have gone through this valley many a time, and never was better than when here. I have also been a conduct to several pilgrims, and they have confessed the same. “To this man will I look,” saith the King, “even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” (Isa. 66:2).

***

So… even with all we’ve gone over just now, are you surprised that going through times of extreme hardship or testing may be met with such peace and spiritual renewal?  🙂 Again, I can only explain it as the mysteries of our God, and how wonderful He is to have designed our spiritual journey in this way.

So go through these valleys with confidence and assurance that He is faithful and will provide a path for you.  If you meet with assault or attack, stand firm in your armor, like Christian, and do not flee.  Allow any convictions of your spirit to alter your character to make sure you are right with God.  Never underestimate the foolishness of the heart, and how it can deceive us into believing that we are in the right, if you feel conviction you are in the wrong.  Accept it, reject pride, and allow your character to be refined in this Valley.

And from James:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

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Things I Want My Daughter to Know: Dress Like This – And You’ll Scare the Good Men Away!!!

Lord have mercy!  This is just insane.  I feel sorry for this woman, celebrity Nicky Hilton, but oh. my. gosh.  I don’t care WHAT is in fashion when you are a teen Little One, but you

ARE NOT GOING OUT OF THE HOUSE IN ANYTHING REMOTELY LIKE THIS.

And this was just days before this woman’s wedding day, where she chose a much more flattering dress (thank goodness).

But the damage was already done to her reputation.  It was reported (and maybe caught on camera?) that she accidentally FLASHED people in the first dress… again, just days before her wedding :O 😦 .  You may think that because she found maybe a good man that you can pull this off, too, but no… don’t even try that.  She’s rich, Sweetie, and you’re not a millionaire heiress lol!

No husband wants a woman who was flashing the public due to her stupidity in wearing an immodest dress, so it calls into question the kind of man she’s secured.

Think about it.  Coming from the man’s perspective, he’s marrying a woman who just flashed the public (and possibly the world) days before their wedding.  How would his family react to seeing that published?

“A beautiful woman who lacks discretion,

is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout.”

***

You’re going to have to get used to us saying “No,” when it comes to crazy fashion ideas or teen shenanigans in order to protect you.  A lot of it is going to be protecting you from yourself, in a way, because sometimes women seem to lack any shred of common sense!

Being Christian, this should bother the body of Christ and be something that’s talked about.

Dressing immodest just screams you want sexual attention

Over the years, it really has proven itself over and over again to me, that even the most modest seeming woman (no matter her age I think), seems to desire attention.  This happens even if she’s not aware of it consciously, but probably most are aware of it, and just suppress it or lie to themselves that it’s not that bad.  Even, unfortunately, sexual attention that is truly inappropriate.  This shows itself in different ways depending on the woman, but again, I’ve found this to be true across the board, no matter who you’re dealing with.

Dressing immodestly exacerbates this issue, and takes it to a whole new level of shameless advertising of one’s feminine body.  It really is making it obvious to men (and other women, who will not like it) that you are seeking sexual attention overtly.

You’ll scare the good men away

But perhaps the main reason this topic is so important for you to understand, is because if you do decide to dress like this once you’re grown up, you WILL NOT be attracting the kind of men who are of good character.  The kind of men who will make good, trustworthy husbands who actually have integrity.

To put it plainly, you’ll scare the good men away, and rightfully so, because good Christian men DO NOT want a woman (or wife) who dresses like a prostitute! 

I feel like this should be a given, and I know you’ll grow up hearing this rationally and practically so much that you’ll probably feel like this is a given, too, but apparently in our world, even Christian women like yourself should be allowed to wear skintight apparel, or spaghetti strap tops around men in public, or mini skirts, or a myriad of other immodest selections.  You will see as you grow up, that even in the church it is becoming “taboo” to enforce any kind of dress code, which DOES NOT benefit the fellow Christians (not the young men or older men, and certainly not the women who dress this way at Church).

So it’s either that you’ll scare the good men away, or they’ll just use you in a weak moment.  One thing for certain is that dressing like this will attract men of bad character.  Or it will encourage men of good character, to view YOU as having bad character.

Whichever way you look at it, it’s just not good for you, Sweet One.

 

Quick Link List

  • Sigma Frame’s Why Are Christian Women Known as Whores?
  • Wintery Knight’s Lori Alexander is Right, Serious Christian Men Debt-Free Virgins w/o Tattoos

 

 

 

 

 

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: Living By Faith Is Probably the Most Important Thing We’ll Ever Show You

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Not that we do it perfectly, but we are striving to set an example of what it looks like to live your life based upon total faith in God so that you and your brothers see our faith lived out as a witness to how great and faithful God, Himself, is.

Ever since the beginning of our marriage, before we even had kids, we knew we wanted to leave a legacy of faith within the hearts of our children – one that would hopefully extend far beyond our reach to the generations to come.  In the Proverbs 31 series, we looked at specific people from history – particularly the mothers since I am a mother – who by living out their faith in front of their children, were able to have faithful descendants that multiplied enormously in just 100 years time.  We looked at how dramatically this affected our nation by producing so many productive, Christian, members of society.  We connected the family that was tracked with the Parable of the Sower:

“Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”  Matthew 13:8

The Goal of a Christian’s Life Should Be to Be Used By God

We also want you to understand that the goal of a Christian’s life, should be to be used by God.  And when one lives by faith, God uses them more than the average Christian.  This is a topic that would seem controversial, because it sounds so unfair.  But like we learned in my book detailing the virtuous wife of Proverbs 31, women respond differently to God depending on the soil of their hearts.  The good thing is that we control the kind of soil we keep, which represents the way we respond to God asking us to obey Him.

The way you’re currently obey God affects your entire outlook on life, but especially your motivation to develop a strong, courageous kind of faith.

Image result for parable of the sower

We also learned that God gives out spiritual gifts and abilities unequally, when we looked at the Parable of the Talents in the Proverbs 31 woman series.  We may be given spiritual gifts unequally, but it is fair in that God doesn’t expect from someone with only the capacity of 1 talent, to give Him a return of 10 when He inspects their efforts.  He expects we do our part with what we are given, but He is not a cruel master or unfair in expecting more from someone who doesn’t have that ability.

That said, there’s something God wishes for all of us to have equally, that will develop a heart of good soil and help us to do incredible things for Him in seen or unseen ways!  It doesn’t take having 10 talents, or even being a Type A Super Go-Getter kind of woman, this is something He desires for all people, and it is the single determining factor that explains how much God will use you in your life to do His work.

I heard a sermon maybe a month ago, which brought all this into a much more concise and understandable reason as to why God does use some people more than others, and how this greatly blesses them, and makes their life far more fulfilling.  This chapter is entirely based upon the thoughts of Chip Ingram, in understanding why God has more favor on, or tends to use some people, more than others.

We want to help you develop into the kind of woman whom God will use much more than just the average woman!  Not only were you prophesied over as an infant, but you come from a long legacy of faith from both your sides of your family.  You’ve come from people who have helped birth Christianity not only in their own families, but even in their communities by becoming Pastors and teachers of God’s Word.

You are related to a man who was even martyred for his faith in God.  Withstanding persecution is in your blood.

And we’re not talking about something grand, although it is possible that God would call you to something like that, it’s much more likely that you will impact His kingdom for good in extremely powerful, but almost unnoticeable ways.

The Most Important Thing to Be Used By God

All it takes to do more than the average Christian, to be used by God, and have more favor and blessings on your life, is faith.

That’s all it is, but it is SO PROFOUND.  This one thing – your faith in God – will determine the entire course of your life.  And I’m not talking about “faith” in that you prescribe to a certain religion (faith) and believe it’s the right one like Catholicism or Orthodox Christians.  But actually having a strong relationship with God where you read His Word every morning, spend lots of time praying to Him and knowing Him through His Word.

We want you to have the kind of faith that is real – believing what God said and ACTING on it in your real life.

For we walk by faith, not by sight.”  2 Cor. 5:7

We want you to see us having the kind of faith where we act on it when we feel like it, and we act on it especially when we don’t feel like it.  You will have this kind of faith, as well.

We act on it when it makes sense, and we act on it when it sounds like the dumbest thing in the world.

Faith is believing God – He commends it, He rewards it, He justifies you by faith.  It is probably the most important thing in your life, Little One, learning how to fully have faith in God and allow that to direct all the rest of your life.  It is probably the single determining factor for how well you will do in your Christian life.

For we walk by faith, not by sight!!

 

He uses people who don’t shrink back when facing insult, persecution, etc.

It’s not enough to just be religious and attend church.  You need to stand your ground for the hard stuff, and take whatever Satan brings on.  Christians who are used by God because they live by faith, will often have to face suffering and public exposure to ridicule, slander, criticism and even if it comes to it – confiscation of their property, imprisonment, and death.

Yes, even though this may not be a popular message (although ironically it is so needed at this time), we’re called to have a strong faith to persevere and endure ALL things for His sake.  Many Christians honestly just don’t have that kind of faith to not shrink back when even just the slightest beginnings of persecution start to affect their lives.

More than that though, God actually expresses displeasure when a believer shrinks back from persecution.  It proves they don’t have faith in Him or pure motivations in how they were serving Him.

And not only are we called to stand strong in the face of persecution (and not shrink back), we’re supposed to endure all these things without complaining.  It’s not wholesome for a Christian to be whining and complaining about their perceived persecutions, and no, asking for prayers during a time of persecution is not whining or complaining (typically).

We’re called to endure persecution, slander, judgment, public ridicule, imprisonment, torture or death, joyfully and confidently, so that we come out in victory through God and bring glory to Him for allowing us to stand and not cringe or shrink back from our persecutors.  In other words, yes, it’s better to die for Christ than to shrink back or complain about being persecuted.  From what I’ve seen, it’s sadly normal to find that Christian women shrink back VERY readily and fast – much to their shame and dishonor of their God.

Hebrews 10:32

Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings.

Sometimes you were publicly exposed to taunts and afflictions, and at other times you were companionsof those who were treated that way.  For you sympathized with the prisoners and accepted with joy the confiscation of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves have a better and enduring possession.

So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised.

“For in yet a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.  But My     righteous one will live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” (The author is quoting from Habbakuk)

Did you see that?

“But My righteous one will live by faith;

and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”

He’s quoting from Habakkuk here (it’s always been like this – that the righteous live by faith even during times of light or severe persecution).  This is our history, Christian women, God’s Word (both the Old and the New Testament) is timeless.

So now that you have a fuller understanding of the kind of faith that pleases God, you know it’s not for the faint-hearted.  Its not for people who give up or shrink back to just doing the minimum of Christianity so that they’re not persecuted anymore – that is, and has always been, the temptation.  Shrinking back from persecution, as we saw in Scripture, displeases God and brings shame upon the woman who does it.

 

It’s HARD to live by faith

We are slowly facing increasing opposition and the beginnings of actual persecution that will probably get much worse in our lifetime.  Just recently in California, banners and posters were approved to be hung at a popular mall for a normal, run-of-the-mill Christian speaking event for Pastor Greg Laurie.  Enough people complained, and even made threats because the posters showed a Bible, that the mall went back on it’s initial approval and ordered the Christian ads torn down.  Many Christians in California who were in shock over this decision to not allow normal Christian advertisement (which until now, has been allowed for decades), are now calling themselves the “underground church of California.”  

This is a big deal, sweet girl, and we believe it will slowly start spreading to other states.  Opposition to Christian speaking events, or even to Bible studies in your neighborhood, is going to become the norm, and you have to be strong enough to have faith anyway.  You’ll have the burden of teaching your own children to have strong enough faith in their time.  But it’s not enough to just have faith (or rather to say you have faith but hide it or be silent), like we saw in Hebrews 10, you will need to be bold enough to stand firm for your faith, even in the face of harsh punishments.  The good thing about times like what is coming is that persecution often re-ignites the church’s fire.  Many Christians (who don’t have a strong faith to withstand persecution) will simply fall away or “shrink back,” like Hebrews 10 talks about (displeasing God), and the Christians bold enough to keep standing, will end up shaping the backbone of the re-birthed church.  Throughout many times in the Bible we can see this happen with God’s people.  There is always a Remnant, and we can always depend on God, the One who brought us out of Egypt, to be faithful.

Faith can be developed, but it takes having an attitude of humility

The great thing is that even if one has failed in this area, it’s never too late to turn around and start living your life by faith – but it must be now.  That decision to walk boldly following God, needs to be firmly decided in your heart and mind, and then lived out everyday.

The main way to grow a strong faith like this, is to begin every morning with reading God’s Word – giving Him your first fruits.  There is no other way to live by faith if you’re not spending time knowing Him, understanding His commands, and loving that time with Him.  I know it sounds legalistic, but it’s just a logical thing that one cannot live by faith and not be spending regular time reading God’s Word and talking to Him about their life.  If you want a vibrant faith, if you want more favor on your life, to be used more than just your average Christian who merely attends church, but shrinks back at the slightest signs of persecution, then you need to be in His Word daily in order to strengthen you for what you will face.

Hebrews 10:38

“But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”

But we are not those who shrink back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life.”

So right after we see that shrinking back from persecution makes God Himself have “no pleasure” in us, we also see that the writer of Hebrews is commending them that they are not people who shrink back and are destroyed – but instead are those who have faith (in persecution) and obtain life!

How dramatic that if one “shrinks back” from their persecution, that God says they are “destroyed.”  I don’t think that always has to mean in a physical manner or literal death.  I think being “destroyed” because they’ve shrunk back from persecution is probably a more figurative thing – a total losing of their motivation or purpose in following God (a Christian’s only true purpose).  Shrinking back from persecution and being “destroyed,” could also mean a shipwreck of their faith in a way.  Once they know they’ve utterly failed in pleasing God, what is there to go on for?

Without FAITH it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God

And we must note that these last verses of Hebrews 10, talking about the importance of enduring and not shrinking back, come right before the famous chapter of Hebrews 11, where all the heroes of faith from the Old testament are remembered and honored.  So this was an encouragement leading up to the Hebrews 11 passage, an encouragement to live by faith – because honestly, it is the only thing that will matter in this life.

“But we are NOT those who shrink back and are destroyed, but those who have FAITH and obtain LIFE!”

 

Pricing Mother’s Day

Image result for woman with flowers behind her back

Every year… it never fails 😉 … we on social media are bombarded with new posts or youtube videos, written by mothers (or their strangely apologetic husbands) moaning and groaning about how horrible being a mom is for them and that it “sucks” that they only get ONE day as a “break” and then proceed to complain that even that ONE day isn’t actually a “break.”  They usually use words like “shitty” of course, though, lol.

Apparently, if you’re a Mom/Grandma/Aunt/etc, Mother’s Day has turned into a week-long, self-indulgent, victimhood-mode of “poor me” attitude for you to indulge in without censorship.  In fact, even bringing up the point that all these posts of moms complaining about how much they hate Mother’s Day (and every other day of the year) because they have to spend it with their kids, isn’t good for them or their kids – if you dare bring this up on social media, you’re labeled judgmental and not Christian or loving like Christ did.

Motherhood is hard.

I totally get many of us moms that were raised in this culture, where we grew up given trophies for just being there (and awesome? LOL), that motherhood feels like too much to handle.  There’s no one else there to “save us” from the sick days, or when our husbands are away on business trips, or when they’re deployed, or working late… and my generation (Gen Y) in particular, aren’t very good at showing grit and the desire to push through difficulties like you’re running an excruciating marathon.

Most of us were just never taught how to have grit or persevere through things we’d really rather not be doing.  We live in a fairly easy, maybe too-accessible culture where everything is either fast and quick for us, or already available.  In my opinion, our culture has created a bunch of weak women.  We’re going to be remembered as the women who every year, took to social media to complain and whine about the very blessings (children!) we said we craved.  

It’s incredibly ironic that in this age of feminism where women are supposed to be stronger than ever, they complain and whine (showing extreme weakness) more than I believe they ever did under a patriarchal “oppressive” society.  Is that what it means to be a strong woman now?  Someone who thinks “Mother’s Day” is her enemy?

***

I think I’m lucky that my mother frequently reminded us that most of life was just doing the boring, hard things that needed to be done.  It wasn’t supposed to be easy.  Raising kids isn’t supposed to be easy.  But that’s not really the point.

The point is that even if you think motherhood really really stinks, you should realize that your kids don’t deserve a mom who always feels that way, or allows herself to fall into “victim-mode.” 

Because it’s going to affect them negatively, it just will. 

What are we teaching our kids when we show them that just being their mom really really sucks? 

Are we helping them to become better humans who suck it up and build a beautiful, and very necessarily difficult, but so needed, civilized structure for this country? 

Do we want a massive generation of more people who don’t believe in hard work, who love to complain as loudly as they can, and in any opportunity that they can, to claim their status of victimhood? 

If you’ve felt this way before about Mother’s Day, I do understand that it’s hard.  Dealing with toddlers who scream and throw things at you, hit you and are completely unreasonable… day in and day out… is VERY hard, and yes, sometimes it really really stinks!  But you have to push through those feelings, because they only last a moment when that toddler is being hard. 

And then 3 minutes later, they want a hug and are sweet and adorable again.

You don’t have to “give in” to feeling like the victim to your own life or like your children are “oppressive.”

Anything worthwhile in life is supposed to be difficult.

It’s supposed to be painful.  Because anytime you sacrifice anything in your life, it is going to be a bit painful.  Motherhood is full of those unmeasurable sacrifices – but you have to try to find the beauty in them, and throw off the feelings of resentment or that you’re being “oppressed” by your children.

Compare it to running and getting your body in shape.  If you listened to your feelings, you’d tell yourself constantly that you “hate exercising” and that “it sucks” and then you’d never feel properly motivated to do it.  It’s the same with parenting.  It’s supposed to be hard.  It’s supposed to have moments of painful sacrifice.  And no, you’re not supposed to just whine and complain on social media (to complete strangers) about how much you can’t stand God’s blessings in your life – because it’s not good for you.

Please… try… just one year 😀  TRY to enjoy this mother’s Day without making a whining post or reminding your husband that you “should” get paid $100,000+ for all your “sacrifices.”

Honestly… if you really understood what that word sacrifice means, then you’d understand WHY you don’t get paid money to be a mom.

Stephanie

 

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