For as long as I can remember, my dad has flown all over the nation with a very full teaching schedule. He loves public speaking, and thrives on the personal interactions along the way. Nothing makes him as expansive and happy as giving a well-done lecture, and meeting lots of people in the process.
Mom, on the other hand, is a quiet, gentle woman who loves her home. She doesn’t like crowds and busyness. She dreams of a simple, ordered life where she can serve in her sweet, thoughtful way. Mom feels at peace amid her flowers, her strawberry plants, and laundry flapping on her clothesline. She is happy when she has a grandchild on her lap, and a vase of fresh, beautifully arranged flowers on her worn kitchen windowsill.
Being the giving woman she is, Mom goes along with Dad everywhere, but it’s completely exhausting for her. Oh yes, she’s long ago learned to make the best of it and even enjoy it a little, but there’s nothing she wants more than to be able to slow down and stay home and not host so much company. At seventy years old, it still hasn’t happened.
All my life, I’ve noticed the difference in my parents, and wondered. What does God have in mind when He puts two such opposite people together?
I’m certainly not going to criticize my parents for their choices–I believe they did the best they could with what they knew.
I’m not going to lecture the men, either, although I have thoughts about what it means to “love your wife, even as Christ loved the church and gave himself (even his ministry) for it” (Ephesians 5:25).
I’m not even going to give advice to you ladies who are sacrificing so much at the hands of your husband’s success. God knows how tired you are, and the last thing you need is advice. Instead, I want to encourage you with two things.
God notices you. Jesus said the Father sees even a sparrow fall, and you are much more to Him than sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).
That same Father feels sad when He sees you in the strange church nursery soothing a crying baby and feeling inches away from crying yourself.
He doesn’t forget the times when you changed sheets every day for a month because the company wouldn’t stop coming.
The anxiety you feel around crowds, the sinking in your heart when another event is marked on the calendar, the stress of trying to cut things out of the grocery list because these events just don’t pay–He sees.
He sees the solo parenting, the grind of day after day after day being responsible to keep children fed and dressed and disciplined while your husband is busy elsewhere.
God weeps over your loneliness–the times you want to talk and talk when your husband is home, but your husband has expended all his people-energy and just wants to hunker in his cave.
Jesus watches your dreams drop and die a slow, painful death, and it breaks His heart because He gave you those dreams in the first place.
Your gifts are important. You were created with special gifts that Jesus wants you to use and enjoy. Don’t feel guilty for longing to use them.
Maybe your husband is has a very visible public ministry, but you are a homebody who longs to read stories to your children and pray while you weed your lettuce. Don’t think for a minute that your part isn’t equally important.
Or perhaps you are the one who loves to be out and about, and your husband stays firmly ensconced at home. Whatever the case, the world without your gifts, without your presence, without your dreams, is an infinitely worse place.
The world needs you.
As you live with the exhaustion and tension, take heart in the fact that the Holy Spirit is creative, and can work solutions in ways you can’t dream. He can use both you and your husband’s gifts to work toward a breathtaking destiny.
Until that happens, rest in the knowledge that God yearns for you. Be assured that your gifts are an irreplaceable part of His plan for the redemption of our broken world.
You are loved beyond measure, and you matter.
I think I’m finished with the marriage posts for now, unless another idea surprises me! What advice or encouragement would you like to share with others?