This has been on my mind to write for days. But, being snowed in with my husband and five little people has made it a little tough to get my fingers to keys. I still have five little people around me, but thanks to the Olympics I recorded and still being wiped out from the snow yesterday, I think I have a few moments. Maybe…
Oswald Chamber’s devotion could not have been more fitting for what is on my heart. Forgive me, but I must share the whole section from today. It is worth writing.
THE DISCIPLINE OF HEARING
“Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.” (Matthew 10:27)
Sometimes God puts us through the experience and discipline of darkness to teach us to hear and obey Him. Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and God puts us into “the shadow of His hand” until we learn to hear Him (Isaiah 49:2). “Whatever I tell you in the dark…”–pay attention when God puts you into darkness, and keep your mouth closed while you are there. Are you in the dark right now in your circumstances, or in your life with God? If so, then remain quiet. If you open your mouth in the dark, you will speak while in the wrong mood–darkness is the time to listen. Don’t talk to other people about it; don’t read books to find out the reason for the darkness; just listen and obey. If you talk to other people, you cannot hear what God is saying. When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else once you are back in the light.
After every time of darkness, we should experience a mixture of delight and humiliation. If there is only delight, I question whether we have really heard God at all. We should experience delight for having heard God speak, but mostly humiliation for having taken so long to hear Him! Then we will exclaim, “How slow I have been to listen and understand what God has been telling me!” And yet God has been saying it for days and even weeks. But once you hear Him, He gives you the gift of humiliation, which brings a softness of heart–a gift that will always cause you to listen to God now.”
From Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest
There are many relationships in my life that I wish were better. I continue to pray about them, hoping that in time they will become better. But, I cannot afford to dwell on them–it affects me too much. Which, in turn affects how I am around my family. So, I am ok with them not being where I want them to be right now–because I know that I am seeking His guidance and wisdom through it, and when He wants things to change they will–so long as I keep my eyes fixed on Him–not on the other person.
But, there is one relationship that I cannot look past, hope to fix with time, or put on the back burner. And that’s the relationship with my beloved; my husband. If your relationship started like mine, I knew I loved this man fairly quickly after meeting him. I always wanted to be with him, we talked for hours, behaved recklessly at times, were spontaneous and already knew the name of our first son before we were even engaged. We were in love.
I remember hearing older couples telling us how things would change, you will go through tough times, blah, blah, blah. We were two crazy fools, ignoring the warnings of the wise–thinking our relationship was something special–untouchable. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is something magical about newly married couples. They have sparkles in their eyes instead of bloodshot tired eyes. They wake up to a real alarm clock instead of little human ones. They can do WHATEVER they want–ALL the time!! They can spoil each other with their time and money, instead of using every ounce of time, energy and resource on the little people God has blessed them with. Again, as life goes on, these changes happen. They are wonderful changes; changes I wouldn’t trade for any amount of money and time. But, if we aren’t careful, the very person we love more than anything, might just be left…empty.
Pride is a big issue for me. God has dealt me some pretty good blows to reveal that to me. I pray there have been enough that He doesn’t have to teach me anymore about the dangers of pride. I love His refinement of me, but can we be all done with the pride issue? Haven’t we conquered that one? The jury is still deliberating…
When I look at myself as a wife, I can be puffed up. I plan yummy meals, do the cleaning, the laundry, keep five little people fed and alive everyday, organize birthday parties, keep up with their school work/activities, make doctor and dentist appointments, bring five people to said places for cleanings, check-ups, shots, etc. Throw in the occasional ER trip, being either pregnant or with a newborn, work out with my girl Jillian a few times a week AND potty training a strong willed two year old and I feel like a full fledged Olympian! I don’t say this to impress you, because really, I just want to impress my husband, and I know you all do these same things too. Every. Day. And many of you get to add working and going to school to that awesome list. Yet I still want my husband to read my thoughts: “Look at all I am doing around here! Aren’t you so lucky to have a wife like me? You know, not all women can do this Bub.” Excuse me while I go vomit at my own words. Completely embarrassing. But I would be a big fat liar if I said I thought otherwise at times. Don’t judge me too harshly. Haven’t I mentioned that I am still a work in progress?
God has been dealing with this whole pride thing since about year two of our marriage. There was a point when I looked at him and really wondered if we had made a terrible mistake. We got through it of course, and time went on. Children started to enter our life, and things got harder. But, we were still great, so I thought. And, most of the time we were. We kept plowing through the insanity of raising lots of little people. And then it happened. A devastating blow. The darkness. It rocked our marriage to the CORE. I was heart broken, afraid, alone and hopeless. But I knew our marriage was worth fighting for. Or, was it? Yes, it was because I knew God had confirmed this man to be my husband when I was 21 years old–He told me through His word. And, I proclaimed those confirmation verses on our wedding day before God, family and friends. So I clung to those verses and kept reminding myself of this truth : My God cannot lie. It is impossible for Him. So, we picked ourselves up, and started to sort through the rubble. Piece by painful piece. We dealt with it. But as long as we are living for Christ, we have an enemy that is real; he’s a liar, a deceiver, a manipulator and knows our every weakness and he never tires. He is constantly looking for an in…some way to create a wedge between husband and wife.
In our first year of marriage, I remember a specific argument. What it was about? No idea, something dumb, no doubt. But, as I sat in our room, puffed up with pride and he went to the guest bedroom, I thought. “Well, I’ll show him. I will read my Bible, and God will surely reveal something about his behavior and how horribly wrong he is and how holy I am to seek His Word during a fight.” God did speak to me that night–just not as I thought.
I was reading in Matthew when Jesus was in Gethsemane. And, I will never forget the significance of that nights’ reprimand. “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed. ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Matthew 26:36-41 There it is…the driving force behind every apology and admission of pride. Pray. Pray for my husband, my marriage and myself. I refuse to give the enemy a victory. I am a selfish person by nature–as my former Pastor Bob Coy used to say when teaching on selfishness “I am always on my mind;” but Christ in me gives me hope to be as selfless as humanly possible. But, it takes work. A lot. But, I am up for the challenge, I am a competitor at heart. And I know who is at my aide at all times. And though this was YEARS ago, there will always be a new darkness to walk through, a hurt feeling to talk about and a choice to make; either stay puffed up and prideful, or humble myself and be refined.
Just as recently as last week, we had another tough conversation. I’ve been in survival mode these past two months having a newborn and four other children to care for; and with that, totally taking my husband for granted. Appreciate him, you bet! I tell him all the time how much I love him and do things to show him that. BUT, you know what is even better than doing what I think shows him love? Asking him about what I can do that tells him I love him. Because what I thought was showing love, wasn’t. It was maybe a little, but not what he needed. How lucky I am that my husband is not a “needs lots of friends type guy.” Never has been, according to him; totally comfortable in his own skin. He loves, adores and cherishes me. He wants to spend all his time with me and doesn’t want to share me with anyone; except five little people, of course. I am his best friend, period.
We are different a bit in this way. Can anyone else relate? I LOVE my girlfriends. I need their ears to listen, their arms for hugs, their honesty to redirect, and their unconditional love to forgive. And, being a stay-at-home Mommy leaves time (some brief moments between the madness) to chit-chat and meet that need for me. Before moving to Georgia, I was blessed to be a part of a very special group of ladies. It was a Bible study group like none other. We met once a week over coffee and treats, and we listened, learned, cried, sobbed on occasion and prayed together. It was real and it was safe. I’m not sure I’ll experience anything like that again. But I hope so. Those Thursday mornings filled me up. Now, I am pouring myself into His Word, and He’s keeping me filled. But, what am I doing to ensure that my husband is being filled up? Well, nothing.
It took us years to get to the point where we are now; able to speak freely. Like really. Oh it is HARD to get this honest with anyone, but is it ever worth it! But what is even harder is having these conversations with out being defensive. We’ve had hard conversations our whole marriage, but we used to be so prideful that when we shared what was hurting our feelings, we would defend our actions and justify our words. Don’t do that. Learn from us. Remember that the person you are arguing with would die for you. I know that is a bit heavy; but it helps me when pride wants to creep in. I take a long moment, think about who is in front of me; think about what he has done and what he would do for me and remember that the argument — or “heated fellowship” as Pastor Bob would say, is not with him. It is the enemy who is at work; who would love nothing more than to make our marriage another statistic. Don’t let him. It is worth the fight.
So, what can I do, we do, as wives to foster this thing called marriage? Especially when life is pulling us in every direction? I often think about something Priscilla Shirer once said. She reminded us that although there are TONS of good things to do; give here, volunteer there, serve over here, etc. Not all of it is God ordained. Is it good to volunteer at your child’s school? Yes. Is it wonderful to serve at your church? Yes. Is it a blessing to sponsor a Compassion child, visit the elderly, foster children, go on mission trips, lead a Bible study and put on a roof with Habitat for Humanity? Yes, yes and YES! But, be careful! Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, keep your lines of communication open with Him, and let Him lead you to what you should say yes to, and what you should leave for another sister or brother to do. Do not spread yourself too thin. Remember, it is ok to say no, I’m sorry I just can’t.
Here are the top 8 things that can honor your husband right now, today in my humble opinion:
1. Sleep train your child! How in the world can you be intimate with your spouse if you have a little one in bed with you? Now, any husband reading this; don’t think a sleep trained child will guarantee you more action; I’m just suggesting your chances are better. So make a plan together and reclaim your bedroom! I have no problem promoting sex with your husband–just ask Kay Arthur! One of the most beloved and respected Bible teachers of all time will go on and on about this, while we all blush…
2. Make the awful phone calls/tasks that he can’t do at work that he’s asked you to do. Like calling the insurance company about billing questions. I am in the midst of these right now after having Sarah. Don’t wait. Make them a priority. It will mean the world to him. I used to put these off as long as possible…
3. Don’t dump kid drama on him when he walks through the door. Sure, you were pooped on, spit up on twenty times, had to stick your two year old in time-out all day, cleaned up spilled milk, sat with said two year old over and over again while they are trying to go potty, hid in the closet while making those awful phone calls just so you can hear the person speaking broken English about your insurance deductible, and thought about running away too many times to count. But, wait. Please wait until the kids are in bed and you’ve had a chance to breathe. Chances are, by the time they are in bed, the things that made you want to quit being a Mommy will make you both laugh as you’re retelling your adventuresome day. But if you dump it on him as he walks through the door, he might just want to go back to work. There are those days though where it can’t wait, and I just give him the “look” when he walks in; hand him the baby, kiss him and excuse myself to our bedroom for a quick Mommy time-out. He gets it. And after a few days home in a row with everyone, he really gets it. Nothing to put your nerves on edge like a whiney six year old and a two year old that has a voice that we are convinced can shatter glass. Seriously, we are just waiting for it to happen at dinner. “Booooom!” Water and glass flying everywhere as a result of Lucy talking. Not screaming people, talking. My head is twitching just thinking about her voice…oh wait, she’s right there, talking…
4. You plan a date. Sure, having your hubby plan a date is wonderful. But, usually, we women are the planners. Line up a babysitter and plan something you used to do before kids. Or just drive around. In complete silence and relish the awesomeness of it.
5. Set him up for success with the kids. If your husband is like mine, they are awesome. And they want to be everything for their kids. But, they have the weight of the world on their shoulders. Look at your calendar, see when they could take each child on a date. Talk to him about it and make it happen. The more kids you have, the harder this gets, but it can be done.
6. Before you say “yes”, say “Let me talk to my husband about it and I’ll let you know.” I STILL work hard at this; and often fail. I am a yes girl. If something sounds great to me, I am the first to say “sure, yes, we will be there!” But, I’ve learned that often times, the *idea* of something is much better than the actual thing. I’m an idealist, he’s a realist. Once he walks me through exactly what I *think* will be so fun, I quickly rethink it, and usually agree with him. This has been huge for us.
7. Don’t ask for forgiveness, don’t do it! God has recently convicted me of these last two things. If you give me long enough, I am pretty sure I could justify just about anything. And there’s a saying that goes around, “Better to ask for forgiveness than permission.” How do I know when this is bordering manipulation? When I am already thinking about how to justify my purchase before I’ve even bought it! Because nine times out of ten, it is a selfish purchase. I feel I deserve it, whether I should buy it or not doesn’t matter; I think I deserve it. And, my husband, wanting to provide my every need, want and desire doesn’t want to disappoint me–even if we really can’t afford what I just bought. We are a single income family with five children that already eat like teenagers. We are on an extremely tight budget. I know what I should or should not be buying. But, do you know how many times Petersen has made me take back an item because it wasn’t in the budget? Never, not once. He works his financial magic and I get to keep my selfish goodie. Shame on me. I refuse to dishonor him that way again.
8. Don’t casually comment about things you don’t have/wish you had that you know you can’t have right now. We need a new car. And, when I say new, I mean gently used. Our family is bigger; we flat out need more room to fit. I know that, he knows that. But, it is not in the budget right now. And, after I made a remark last week about how frustrating it is fitting in this car, not having room for a stroller in the back, etc. I saw it. He didn’t need to say anything. There was no anger or frustration with me for what I said–it was true, we need a bigger car. But reminding him of that fact was so not necessary. I immediately apologized and raved about how much I love our 2002 Yukon and started reminiscing about how we’ve brought home our babies in that car. How awful of me. What did that do, really? Besides remind him of that need, among many, that he wishes he could meet. Again, shame on me. And, just in case you think I stopped there and learned from that, I didn’t. The words flew out of my mouth faster than I could catch them and I complained about how small our house is. Ahhhhh!!! Shut it Lori! This house is wonderful, we are just a LOT of people! And, I am not sure any house comes ready with a padded room…or at least until we design one ourselves.
Maybe we are the only ones. Maybe I am the only wife who struggles with these things. I hope so! Maybe you have already dealt with them. But, if you haven’t, I pray He leads you to a richer relationship with your best friend, as He’s leading me. I need to let God work on my husband, and allow God to work on me. I am trusting Him to bring me into the darkness of the refinery to come out the other side letting His light shine through me. Though I am not a perfect wife; I am perfect for my husband. Blessings friends.