Love and Respect - Life Lessons from When Calls the Heart

As a young starry-eyed bride, and even as a married woman of almost ten years, there is one verse in the Bible that speaks truth to me on a daily basis, but one that is also very easily dismissed and forgotten in the tangle of life’s mess. In Sunday’s episode of When Calls the Heart, this verse reverberated through my spirit once again when Rosemary humbly presents herself to Lee and says, “I don’t always listen. I don’t always give you the respect that I should.” How many times do I address the men in my life with the attitude of the humble Rosemary and how many times do I choose to relate to them in the attitude of the hot-headed, stubborn, and selfish Rosemary? I suppose, if I am honest with myself, this question is really more about my heart’s condition and not my voice.

The Apostle Paul ends the 5th chapter of Ephesians with “...each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” While my husband and I were engaged, we went through multiple Biblical studies on marriage, but the one that has had the most impact, and the one I most often share with any of my friends who are struggling in their own relationships is a study called Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. His argument is quite simple: women need love and men need respect. He does not mean to say that women don’t need respect and that men don’t need love, just that how we understand those attitudes is different.

In Sunday’s episode “Courageous Hearts,” when Lee purchases a brand new car, Rosemary wants him to put her first, encourage her, understand her, and teach her to drive - right now. In so doing, he will demonstrate his love for her. His actions show love, and she feels loved. When he tries to put off her trip to purchase fabric for dressmaking in order to give her more practice driving, she feels unloved because he is not putting her needs first. Because she feels unloved, she reacts disrespectfully, deciding to stay with Elizabeth and ignoring Lee’s desire to ensure her safety. This act of disrespect causes Lee to respond in an unloving manner. And the cycle begins.

I have seen this cycle wash away relationships, dig unfillable holes, and drive wedges between the most loving couples. What begins as an argument, or even just a misunderstanding, escalates into a prideful determination to hurt the other more than we have been hurt. Our tender spirits just can’t take another moment of vulnerability. There’s the crux of the matter, though. Being vulnerable is the only way to get the relationship back.

You see, thanks to the honest and open friendship between Elizabeth and Rosemary, Rosie is able to learn some important truths about herself: Selfishness and stubbornness do not a happy marriage make. Shouldn’t we all have an Elizabeth in our lives? A friend who knows us better than we really want to admit, who speaks the truth in love? The book of Psalms exhorts us over and over again to seek wisdom. Through the wise counsel, of Abigail, Elizabeth learns to give her fears to God. Through the wise counsel of Elizabeth, two hurting and angry boys reconcile with their father and begin to open their hearts again. And through wise counsel, we can identify the unloving or disrespectful attitudes that are splintering our own relationships. We must make ourselves vulnerable within those relationships, so that we can accept the counsel and apply it as it is meant.

Then, just as Rosemary heeds Elizabeth’s words and approaches Lee in humble repentance, we must do the same. Instead of holding fast to her anger, instead of succumbing to stinging pride, Rosemary swallows her hurt and agrees to respect Lee’s decision. She speaks to him in love and humility, acknowledging her failings. Her vulnerability in that moment is the highlight of the episode for me. It is not often that we see restoration, forgiveness, and mutual respect in today’s media. But it is vital to our friendships, family relationships, and marriages.

I believe I will let my new motto be, “I don’t always listen. I don’t always give you the respect that I should.” Imagine a world in which we truly listen to each other, not just the words but the heart behind them. Imagine truly respecting the person across the dinner table from you, not because he has earned it but simply because he is part of God’s creation. While it takes a humble and vulnerable heart to make such an attitude a reality, perhaps a courageous heart is one that does just that.

Waiting with Purpose - Life Lessons from When Calls the Heart

As I drive down the road, testing the speed limit a little, I realize that my life has become a rushed series of events whirling by me in quick succession.  It seems that everything is urgent and must be completed NOW or the world will hurl off its axis. Taking time to wait on anyone, including the whisper of my heavenly Father, is impossible. Yet we are continually called to wait. We wait in the fast-food drive-thru. We wait for our children to get out of school. We wait on hold with the bank or the pharmacy. I am not quite sure that this is how God intends for us to wait, but He does asks it of us, nevertheless.

For many, the most challenging aspect of waiting on God to move is that “God’s timetable is not our own,” as pastor Rick Warren explains in his best-seller The Purpose-Driven Life. God waits in infinite patience for us to come to Him, follow Him, and transform in His image. God has not gifted us with His infinite level of patience, so why does he ask us to wait? What does he really expect from our hurried little minds and hyperventilating spirits?

"...she sank to her knees by the edge of the pond. In the middle of her sadness, she ceased her tears..." Painted in oil by Jordan Blackstone, Original Image from Crown Media

"...she sank to her knees by the edge of the pond. In the middle of her sadness, she ceased her tears..." Painted in oil by Jordan Blackstone, Original Image from Crown Media

In Psalm 46:10, He encourages us to “Be still and know that I am God.” This is the first step in waiting. To wait, we must stop our endless striving, simply let go, and breathe.  In Episode 6 of When Calls the Heart, the audience saw Elizabeth take this much-needed step towards acceptance as she sank to her knees at the edge of the pond. In the middle of her sadness, she ceased her tears and her arguments. She closed her mouth and opened her spirit. She turned her face to the Lord and relinquished her desires into His hands.   She accepted His will and desire for both herself and for Jack.

In much the same way, we must cease our striving for so many things: wealth, perfection, notoriety, peace, joy. In falling to our knees and silencing our human desires, we place it all in the hands of the knowledge that our God is a loving, just, and purposeful God. This calling to “be still” is God’s whisper that He has something more for us. We must “let God take care of the future.”

In the most recent installment of When Calls the Heart, “Healing Hearts,” we learn that God will use the stillness to, in the words of Brian Bird, “open your arms to whatever happens.” In the quiet of Jack’s absence, Elizabeth reestablishes her purpose in the classroom. When distractions could lead her further into mourning, God presents them instead in the form of two little boys who are hurting, too.  Where Elizabeth could have used these two challenging bullies as excuses for more heartache, she instead uses her own understanding of leaving and loss to put the puzzle together.  By listening to God’s whisper, Elizabeth discovers a heartbreak deeper than her own. Her waiting has taught her understanding.

Why is God making her wait? Why is He not rushing Jack back to Hope Valley? This isn’t the annoying wait of a slow drive-thru or the tedious wait accompanied by elevator music and the line “Please continue holding.” This is the anxious, heart-rending, horizonless wait of a bride bereft of her groom. Yet, while she waits, she learns hope. She learns faithfulness. She learns sacrifice. She learns dependence on God. She learns all of those little life-lessons that will make her the perfect bride when the groom reappears.

Elizabeth calls to mind another bride and a far different groom. So many years ago, Christ walked this earth. He loved. He taught. He encouraged. He wept. He left. His bride on earth awaits His return. We ask ourselves “When, Lord? When will we see Your kingdom? When will we see your blessings? When will you answer my prayers?” Remember, He created us. He knows the virtue of patience. In our waiting, we must learn all of those little lessons that make us His perfect bride. As we wait, we slowly transform in Christ.

Elizabeth doesn’t have any letters from Jack to reassure her of his return. She has his promise in the form of a ring. We have letters from our groom. We have the Word promising HIs return, “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 3:20) We serve a God who never breaks promises.

We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Elizabeth will be ready when Jack returns. Will I be ready for my groom? Will you be ready? Maybe, instead of rushing from one place to another at breakneck speeds, we need to stop. We need to breathe. We need to wait with purpose. In those times of waiting, we must remember that it is not about the waiting or the lack of timing. Whatever happens, when we wait on God and let Him take care of the future, He blesses us with a transformed spirit and prepares to be His for all eternity.