Man Up! (Pt.2)

The Struggle is Real | The Struggle is Worth It

Guest Author: Omar Ruvalcaba 

As I shared in my previous post, I passively lived life and did not think much about my responsibility as a man, husband, and father. I blamed everyone, except myself for problems in my life and my marriage. If you have not read Pt.1 of this post, here it is again.

If I am being totally honest, I thought Saleama was a special case. (I still think she is sometimes, (smile), but years ago I truly resented a lot of her characteristics. I didn’t understand that some of what Saleama goes through as a woman, many women face the same issues.

Because Saleama did not have a stable home life as a child she was not taught basic life skills. She did not know how to cook or clean. My mother taught me how to cook and clean, so I had no patience with Saleama not knowing. As far as I was concerned it was her job to learn. I’ll admit she did try. However, I was convinced the way my mother taught me was the “right” way, so I wanted everything done my way. When Saleama tried, I never gave her credit for trying. I criticized her if it wasn’t up to my standards.

Some other issues we had early on resulted from my insecurities. I was very critical of the way Saleama dressed. She did not dress in any provocative manner, but I was highly critical about everything she wore.

Also, I never considered that I could be the cause to any of our arguments. I would quickly find a way to make Saleama the problem to every issue we had. If she felt I was upset about something I made her think she was overreacting. I honestly believed I was perfect, so any issues we had I took no blame for them.

Needless-to-say we had a lot of tension and friction early on.

Connecting the Dots

How often do we go through life giving no thought to the way we treat others? Especially the people we are supposed to love? Do we ever consider that the words we speak or the way we treat someone can truly have a lasting impact?

Think about it.

Can you remember the way someone significant spoke to you or treated you and you still feel that pain?

It finally hit me one day. Saleama is my wife. This is my marriage. How I treat Saleama has tremendous impact on my spiritual life, my children, my grandchildren, and my future generations.

Same applies to you…

This is your life!

This is your marriage!

How do you want it to look?

1 Corinthians 9:24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

We foolishly think life should turn out the way we want without any effort on our part. A person does not lose weight simply because they want to lose weight. An Olympic gold medalist does not reach that status on thoughts alone. It takes disciple and hard work to accomplish greatness.

It takes discipline and hard work to accomplish a great marriage.

And it starts in me and you – men!

Lead Like God Calls 

Joshua 24:15 “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

This is a great verse in the book of Joshua which is quoted often. The context of this verse is Joshua giving the Israelites an ultimatum. It was time for them to make a choice; choose to serve God who had proven Himself trustworthy, or follow the man-made gods of the day.

Joshua was a valiant leader who succeeded Moses. Joshua’s experience as a leader came from living with Moses and experiencing firsthand what it meant to lead God’s people. When reading Scripture sometimes we don’t fully engulf that these events were real events. The people of that day had a choice to follow God, and so do we. When reading the next book of the Bible, Judges, we see the destruction that took place when the people chose not to follow God.

When you wake up each day, what do you see?

We live in the same set of circumstances today. When we choose not to follow God, we will see destruction. Men, we have a responsibility to lead our homes just as Joshua led his home. When men lead through proper submission to God, His presence is near. There is peace and order.

Men, we need to connect the dots of life. We are not here simply to get a job and make something out of ourselves in terms of a career. You can shake your head at the fallen world, but do you not understand that it starts in you?

Who Me?

Our family was at a restaurant for lunch. A husband embarrassed his wife by yelling at her in front of everyone.

A local high school baseball coach encouraged his players to curse and taunt one of the opposing teams’ best players. This behavior seemed to be okay with the spectators in the stands (parents) as they joined in. Yet, when watching the news, we cannot figure out why the divorce rate is high, or why violence is so bad, or why young people have no respect for authority.

Matthew 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

I was done blaming the world!

It Starts in Me

First; I made a conscious effort to stop blaming my problems on everyone and I started to honor God with my life. I changed my prayer and devotion time with God by watching less and less television and using that time to read my Bible. I also changed the music I was listening to. I started waking up early every day to spend time alone in God’s Word. I started to write down what I felt God was saying to me. I also started memorizing Scripture. When Satan tries to tempt me, I quickly recite God’s Word.

I like to jog. While jogging I started listening to sermons on my headphones. I’d get so excited about what I had learned I would come home and share it with Saleama.

I started reading a lot of books from respected Christian authors. I especially would read books from Christian men who were speaking to men about being godly men.

It Starts in Me

Second; I started to really pray each day for Saleama. How many prayer requests do we receive all week from outside of our home? And how often do we really and sincerely pray for our spouse?

I became sensitive to Saleama’s needs as a woman and especially to her cares and worries in life. I began to pray daily for her. There is something special about praying with your spouse each day. There is also something special when your wife knows you spent time alone praying for her. I saw God answer prayers I specifically prayed. Saleama began to have a tenderness toward me when I started to pray for her daily.

It Starts in Me

Third; the biggest change in our marriage happened when I put Saleama ahead of my family. This was huge for us. My family (or I should say my mother and older brother) have never liked Saleama. To this day, we’ve been married almost seventeen years, and they will not budge on their feelings toward her. Saleama did not feel comfortable around them and I did not take her feelings into consideration. I defended my mother and brother in arguments with her. There is no way to explain how much tension we had in our marriage because of this.

Once a man and woman marry, as hard as it is, our extended family comes second to our immediate family. I love my mother. My mother raised me, took care of me, taught me life skills, and sacrificed her entire life for me and my brothers. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit was I able to put Saleama ahead of her. Saleama knew I truly loved God and her when I finally stopped allowing my extended family to come between our marriage. It’s not to say I dishonored my mother or my brother, but I respectfully made it clear that my wife and children are my priority.

When these three elements changed in me – our marriage changed.

The Center of It All 

When a marriage is centered on God, it makes a difference when life circumstances are heavy. There are so many hard circumstances me and Saleama face – every single day! We have struggles no one knows about, but we truly don’t feel the tremendous pressure we could feel if it were not for the strength in our marriage. Having a strong godly marriage makes a difference when outside circumstances become difficult. Our children are unaware of some of the issues we face. Yes, we have arguments, but our children see us praying and studying our Bible together more than they see us burdened by life problems.

It makes for a peaceful home. Our children are learning how to face problems through prayer and reliance on God. Make no mistake, your children will in fact face many battles too! How are you preparing them to respond, men?

Are you praying for your children every day?

Are you praying that they never get drunk off wine, but be full of the Holy Spirit? (Luke 1:15)

Are you praying for your children to marry godly spouses?

Are you teaching your son what it means to be the spiritual leader?

Are you teaching your daughters about godly men?

Are you teaching your children to serve and impact their community and nation for the Kingdom of God?

Does your wife look at you and see a man of God?

If you want a better marriage, men, it starts in you!

If you want to raise godly children, men – it starts in you!

If you want to wake up and see progress in our community and nation, men – it starts in you!

Like it or not, God calls us to be spiritual leaders. When men are living as disciples of Jesus Christ, it impacts everything.

Your life is not your own. You are called by God.

1 Timothy 4:8 “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

Omar Ruvalacaba