Holiness Before Happiness

03062014 respect dare

If you are married, one of the purposes for your life is to become holy within the context of marriage, shining his light to the world.” ~Nina Roesner, The Respect Dare (p. 18)

No book will save your marriage.

Only you and your spouse can do that.  If a book claims to have healing powers over your relationship, be skeptical.  Self help books are only as good as the people who read them.  While I love myself a good self help book, I’m wary of recommending things to people because everyone learns differently.  My husband eats low-carb most of the time because he likes that kind of menu; me, on the other hand would DIE without bread.  I believe the same goes for books.  So take this post with a grain of salt– the book I’m going to tell you about may or may not be one you’ll identify with!

I, however, think the WORLD of this read.  So much so, I had to share it with you.

The Respect Dare is basically a 40 day “dare” type of book.  In all honesty, I thought it was going to be cheeeeeesy.  Those “dare” kind of books like the “Love Dare” from that movie Fireproof are fine, but I’ve never considered myself that kind of reader.  I like stories, I like facts, I like realistic stories.  I want to be able to relate.  Daring myself to do weird stuff isn’t really my thing.  Yet after reading the introduction on Amazon because another friend had recommended it, I was intrigued.  Nina Roesner uses scripture relating to marriage that isn’t usually used when referring to husbands and wives.  I’ve heard the classic verses in Ephesians regarding marital roles multiple times, but this is not her focus.  She speaks to who God is and who we are in Him as it pertains to marriage.

Holiness before happiness.

But wait- before you stop reading- check out Psalm 37:3-6:

Trust in the Lord and do good;

Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Delight yourself in the Lord

And he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;

Trust in him and he will do this:

He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,

the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

It’s basically the same thing: holiness before happiness.  Delight yourself in the Lord and then the desires of your heart follow suit.  Commit your way to him, and then you’ll be shining bright.  Trust first– and then you can dwell in the land and enjoy the pasture.  Get it?  When we strive for holiness before happiness, the joy from obedience follows…  Not the other way around!

In The Respect Dare, author Nina Roesner is bold enough to step out and challenge her reader to do something extremely difficult.  It is somewhat counter cultural, even in our christian circles where we pray for our husbands.  There in lies the challenge: “We cannot change another person; we can only change ourselves– our attitudes, perspectives, actions, and motivations.  We need to stop praying “God change my spouse” and start praying “God change me“”(p.xvii).  Wow.  What a thought!  And yet, it’s the opposite of what we think to do.  We think we should pray for our spouse to become better, for their heart to change, for their actions to demonstrate whatever it is we need.  We are praying, so we feel spiritual.  How humbling it is to pray for me to change, for me to listen, for me to receive God’s direction and/or correction!

The book is titled The Respect Dare for a reason.  Men need respect from their wives, but it’s challenging to fully understand what this means.  She states “Most women have no problem with the idea of unconditional love, and they need and expect it from their husbands.  What so many wives have great difficulty understanding is that their husbands want and need to be respected just as much” (p. xviii).  I have heard this before; it was nothing new to me and I’d heard that wives should give respect regardless of whether or not they feel their husband deserves it.  But Rosner takes it a step further:

Respect is a concept that many if not most women struggle with, but one that God certainly understands.  He afforded men in the bible great respect long before they were worthy of it.” ~p. xix

Think of Moses.  He quivered in his boots at God’s call to rescue the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.  Take Jonah, who literally ran away to the belly of a fish to get away from God’s call on his life.  Gideon!  Peter!  These guys weren’t worthy of respect from the God of all creation– yet he provided it well before they became the men we know in our bibles today.  God gets it, God gives it– and he’s calling us as wives to give it too!

The book is broken down into 40 dares, which are extremely short reads.  At the end of each dare, she challenges you to actually DO something.  This may be writing out a list, asking your husband a question, simply  journaling or reflecting… But there is a tangible thing to actually do each day.  If you are a task oriented person, this will fit nicely for you.  If you’re not, then that’s okay too.  No one says you have to do each dare.  I didn’t.  I did a lot of them, but some of them I just let sit on the page unfinished.  It’s your book, you can do it however you’d like!

I will note that I think this is a great book for wives that have been married for a couple years or longer.  If you are a newlywed, you can still get some valuable gems out of it but I do think it will resonate deeper with those who have been in a marriage covenant for couple years or longer.  You may be able to identify with the examples and stories better as you’ll have had more experience being married during different seasons and transitions in life.  Just the other night I asked David what was important to him.  “Having a hot meal when  you come home from work?  Laundry folded and put away timely?  A clean kitchen?  More sex?  Less reality TV?  What’s important to you right now?”  I thought at least one of my suggestions might get a nod, but interestingly enough, his response was quite the opposite.  At this time in our marriage, it’s important to him to feel disconnected from work when he’s at home and to feel as though I’m his teammate that he can count on.  While I’m sure those things have always been important to him, right now those are the most important things to him.  It was much different then what he would’ve said a few years ago, I’m sure.  It was interesting to go through this book knowing how different our lives are now compared to how they were just a few years ago.

That being said, if you are married at all you still can benefit from this book!

No book will save your marriage.  The Respect Dare certainly won’t.  It may, however, be a tool God uses to open your heart to your marriage in a new way, and for that reason alone, I would recommend it.

***This post is not sponsored or affiliated in any way with The Respect Dare and all opinions are 100% mine.***

This will be my last post for a couple weeks as I’m vacationing with my family in Europe!  Thank you so much for reading!



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2 thoughts on “Holiness Before Happiness

  1. I still have a couple years left before I have to think seriously about marriage, but this post was still what I needed to read right now. I’ve been going through several struggles lately and “holiness before happiness” is exactly what I need to apply to my situation. I’ve sort of known that for a while, but something about how you stated it so clearly made it finally make sense in my brain. Thank you for sharing. (By the way, I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of weeks now, and I greatly appreciate your perspective on life. Both of you are real people who admit to your shortcomings, but you are also so clearly seeking God, and it’s very encouraging to read!)

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