LETTERS TO MY SON: the shamer


Strength and dignityare her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Proverbs 31:25 NASB

Dear son,

Last week I wrote about four common flaws every woman leans towards when she relies on herself rather than on her Father in the realities of relationships.

These are ways of getting our way.

And I know this because I am a woman and I have utilized every one of these methods to try to get what I want. And it’s not pretty, I know. I’d much rather pretend it isn’t so and talk about beauty and helping and all those wonderful things a woman brings into a man’s life.

But I love you too much for that. And I see a certain naiveté that worries me sometimes. And maybe all men are that way, innocent to the way women are and the way women can be. And so today I want to tell you about another kind of woman: The Shamer.

The Shamer:

Women are idealists. Dreamers. Happily-ever-after believers. Inside these active brains of ours, we plan and project and imagine. And in the process of all that story writing, we create a value system that we believe is absolutely right and good. A way things ought to be.

And mostly that’s good.

But sometimes, when a woman marries a man with somewhat different values, instead of accepting or even embracing that different set of values, the woman works to change the man.

She believes that she is right. And he is wrong. Very wrong.

Let me give you an example I watched unfold:

A woman I know held firmly to a strong work ethic. She had goals and ambitions and dreams about a financially secure future and successful kids and a perfectly ordered life. This woman threw herself all-in to this ideal dream, willing to work hard to make it happen. 

But her husband had different values. He had ideas about a bohemian lifestyle, of following Jesus here and there and wherever. Savings and future and success were nowhere on his radar screen. He wanted to see the world and stay in youth hostels and pick up a little work here and there.

Both of these people were right.

Good ideas, admirable values.

Over time a deep animosity developed between these two wonderful people. The women grew bitter about her “lazy husband” with no ambition and few goals. The husband grew resentful of a wife who always seemed to push too much and to want too much and could never just relax and enjoy the moment.

And over time, this woman got tired of pushing her husband where he didn’t want to go.

So she began to subtly shame him.

At the root of her shaming were two things: a lack of respect and a determination to have her way.

Did she love him? Yes.

Did she respect him? No.

And so, my son, I want you to know what this shaming method looks like in a woman.

  1. A shaming woman is always right.
  2. A shaming woman is often deeply spiritual, drawing ideals from teachings she has heard and seminars she has attended and books she has read and people she admires.
  3. A shaming woman lives what she believes and expects her husband to live what she believes as well.
  4. A shaming woman is quick with “ought-to’s”.
  5. A shaming woman starts by prodding a man along.
  6. A shaming woman draws others into her circle of idealists, using words like “everybody” or “most people” to add weight to her arguments.
  7. A shaming woman jabs subtly in public.
  8. A shaming woman sets up a man for failure so she can say, “I told you so.”
  9. A shaming woman withholds praise and admiration.

Just writing these words makes me shudder, Matthew. No mother wants this for her son. And yet here I am, recognizing some of these very ugliness’s in myself.

I want better for my son, I want better for my husband.

There is no perfect woman. But if a woman will be honest enough to allow the Spirit of God to convict her of wrong doing and wrong thinking and wrong speaking, and if she will then be brave enough to confess her wrong, humbly and without excuse— that is a truly godly woman. Not perfect. But a woman after God’s own heart. One worth pursuing and loving, one who is safe to bring close to your heart.

And so Matt, three questions to ask yourself while you are getting to know her:

  1. Does she speak openly and comfortably about her own imperfections?
  2. Do your values match up? I’m not talking just about the really huge things here like integrity and purity. I mean the everyday values we all have... How we wish to live our lives and what we hope to have in our future.
  3. Is she generous with her admiration and words of affirmation to you?

I love you, Matt. I am so proud of the man you are and stand on tippy toes of anticipation to see the man you will be. Hold out for a woman who sees you as you really are and is delighted with the direction you are choosing for your life.

From my heart,