When I was a newlywed, I took a 6-week class at our church aimed at helping recently married women figure out their new role. The class, called Apples of Gold, is part cooking class and part Bible study, taught by older, wiser women from our church.
I realize this class may sound old-fashioned and maybe even sexist, but until I took this class, my newlywed menu rotation consisted of turkey sandwiches and cereal. Since I was taking on the role of providing meals for my family, I needed all the encouragement, recipes, and step-by-step instructions I could get.
The wedding may have been catered, but our marriage was not. Le sigh.
The Bible study portion of the class covered subjects such as raising children, hospitality and other marriage-equipping topics. I found the opportunity to receive insights and wisdom from older wives invaluable. I had such a wonderful experience taking the class, that I’ve volunteered with Apples of Gold in various capacities ever since.
Several years ago, my friend, Michelle, who was the director of Apples of Gold for our church, contacted me and asked if I’d actually teach the Bible study portion of one of the classes. I say “actually” because I couldn’t have possibly been old enough or married long enough to teach (yep, and yep).
As for being wise enough, that’s always up for debate. But I told her I would be honored to teach one of the classes.
Michelle was looking for teachers for two topics – Loving Your Children and Loving Your Husband. She said I could choose whichever one I wanted to teach. Michelle didn’t give me give a class description for either lesson because she knew I’d been around Apples of Gold long enough to know the general direction of each option.
She told me I could take some time to think and pray about which class I would like to teach. But, instead of taking time to think or pray about the decision, I gave her my answer right then – I would teach the Loving Your Husband class.
I figured most of the women in the class wouldn’t have children yet, but they all had a husband. I thought it would be more interesting to talk about their current situations rather than hypothetical children. And, I do love my husband, so how hard could it be?
Easy decision – Loving Your Husband it is. No need to think about it or pray about it. Done.
This might be a good time to pause the story and fill you in on a little detail about myself: I don’t always mentally connect the dots, so to speak. Obvious facts or memories don’t always make their way to my cognitive surface as quickly as they should. The funny thing is, I don’t count this as a handicap, because God often uses my mental lapses for His good.
And yes, I did just spiritualize my proclivity to be scatterbrained.
Back to the story.
I had several months to prepare my lesson for Loving Your Husband, so naturally, I burned a few of those months not thinking too much about it. Then, about two months out, I decided to buckle down and start prepping to teach the class.
I started casually thinking about the material I wanted to cover and the sage advice I could give these fresh fillies. Thoughts would come up and I’d shoot them down or tag them as worthy. One night as I lay in bed mentally creating an outline, trying to recall memorable advice from previous Loving Your Husband teachers, it hit me.
I sat straight up in bed and exclaimed, “Oh no! This is the sex talk! I volunteered to give the sex talk!”
No, no and NO. This would not be me.
I was not going to be the sex talk lady that everyone gives a sideways glance at church. What would people think of me? What would be going through their minds? I couldn’t think of anything more embarrassing.
No, no and NO. This would not be me.
There was no way I was going to talk about sex bingo or chocolate sauce in the bedroom. Yes, I’ve heard women at Christian conferences talk about games and props and how to add spice to your sex life. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just saying I ain’t gonna be the one talking about it.
So, the next day, I contacted Michelle, and said something like, “Hi, I know I agreed to teach the Loving Your Husband class, but I just realized that’s the sex talk. And well, there are many ways to love your husband, so I’m just gonna talk about all those other ways – and not sex. Is that okay? I just can’t be the sex talk lady. I’m sorry.”
Michelle graciously responded, “You are free to teach whatever God lays on your heart. I trust you.”
Whew. Crisis averted. That conversation went way better than I expected. Michelle is awesome.
So, in the coming weeks I researched, read books on marriage, made outlines, crumpled up outlines and prayed – a lot. As I began to dive deeper into what it means to have a Biblical marriage and be a loving wife, God so graciously began to change my heart. I became very comfortable with the truth: God created sex.
He created sex for marriage.
He revealed to me that it would be a big miss to talk to newly married women about loving their husbands and avoid the topic of sex. It would be a travesty. I had the unique opportunity – the privilege – of sharing God’s view of sex and hopefully enhancing these young marriages with truth. The whole topic of sex has been hijacked and I had the rare chance to reclaim it for my small audience and their marriages.
As I look back on this story, I laugh at the way I often dumb-stumble into awkward situations. But more than that, I marvel at the graciousness and sovereignty of the Lord who works all things together for good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
I look back in awe at what God did in my heart. He moved me from focusing only on myself and what others would think of me, to being willing and excited about sharing His truth with His people – even if it was on a topic I wouldn’t have chosen (to put it mildly).
And so, for the past several years I’ve spent a lot of time (and perspiration) talking about physical intimacy and the important role it plays – and is meant to play – in marriage.
As for my original fears, none of them have seen the light of day. There have been no sideways glances at church. Instead, I have formed friendships with many of the women who have taken my class. I haven’t transitioned to an all leopard-print wardrobe and no one has suggested business cards that read, Julie Hildebrand, Sexpert.
No, teaching the Loving Your Husband class has been nothing but a blessing to me and hopefully to those sweet newlywed wives — and their husbands. And in case you’re wondering, in all the years of teaching this class, I haven’t mentioned bingo or chocolate sauce once.
Dear Lord, thank you for being exactly who You are. I love when my focus shifts from me to You. You make all things right, true, holy, and sacred. And even funny. I love the way You deal with me, Lord. I absolutely love it. You just keep surprising me with your goodness. And thank you for this lesson for me and the young women You allow me to teach. Lord, please help Your people extol truth, even when it’s a little awkward. Let Your truth be paramount, Lord. We love You. Amen.