Where do I start?
He’s my favorite human being. We’ve been growing and maturing together since we were 17. And we’ve come a long way. That’s not to say I’m not still learning, quite the opposite actually. He’s consistently challenging me and surprising me in ways I hadn’t considered and God daily uses our relationship to sanctify me in His Truth.
My husband served in the United States Marine Corps as a field artillery cannoneer. He didn’t see combat, much to his chagrin, but he did help to train Marines who would. I thank God for sparing him the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical baggage that comes with war. But my husband isn’t that kind of person to dodge responsibility. In fact, he runs headlong into what most people would find to be overwhelming amounts of responsibility.
He recently took up a position as a volunteer fire fighter. It might seem sort of out-of-the-blue for a pastor/chaplain with 4 kids under 6 years old and a homestead to take on that added responsibility. But not if you knew my husband.
I was semi-surprised, but not shocked. In fact, I’ve learned that if my husband off-handedly mentions something like that, he’s already been processing the idea for a while and has decided to move on it and simply wanted to guage my reaction. So when he first mentioned the VFD, I immediately started praying about it; that God would lead him in wisdom, and that I would react graciously to whatever was decided.
Admittedly, I was feeling pretty salty about his additional commitment. He put in over 13 hours his first week. With all the things we need done on the homestead- fencing, repairs, maintenance, flooring,- plus his responsibilities with church and our family, I was feeling like I was getting his scrappy left-overs. And that may have been true, but I’ve learned that I cannot- CANNOT- base my reactions or responses to things in our marriage on my feelings. They’re far too inconsistent.
So here I was, corraling 4 children on a Saturday at a VFD fish fry fundraiser. The kids were restless after a couple hours so I took them home, fed them, put them to nap, and told my husband to let us know when he was finished up and we’d pick him up from the station.
He ended up staying the whole time, 10 hours. He had kitchen duty and served food. After a couple hours of errands, I was ready to pick him up and head home, but he was elected to take leftovers via one of the trucks to a local homeless shelter. I was annoyed. I was dealing with my own emotions and just wanted to be finished in town for the day. So I took the kids to grab some food for dinner, and on our way back to the station, my oldest said, “Hey! I see Dad in Truck 1 beside us!”
I looked over, and sure enough, there was my husband sitting shot-gun in Truck 1, passing us on the way back to the station. I will never forget the look on his face as he rode past. His eyes were lit up and his expression was full of joy and fulfillment. It was like watching my youngest son playing pretend; he had that child-like spark that comes with doing something you love.
My heart melted. I thanked God for keeping my mouth shut and my attitude mostly in check. Because I would rather have 10 seconds with that version of my husband- loving life, feeling fulfilled, making a difference- than 10 hours with the version of him that is weary and restless and dissatisfied. I would make any sacrifice so that he could be the fullest version of himself, living into the personality God gave him, with a passion to serve and a spirit that craves adventure and challenge. That is the man I married! It’s one of the many things I love about him. How foolish I had been to want to stifle that craving for activity, service, and excitement in him; it would have resulted in resentment toward me, and depression in him.
Every wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands.Proverbs 14:1 HCSB
In that moment, when our eyes locked as he rode past us in the truck, I purposed in my heart to never be the reason my husband feels “stuck” or “trapped” in life. I want him to be free to pursue service and adventure in whatever capacity God calls him to.
Does that mean I will likely have a lot of evenings where I’m the only one here to make dinner and put the kids to bed? Probably, yes. Does that mean I may have to pick up a lot of extra responsibility around the home? Yes, and no- it depends on what is meant by extra. I certainly will have to “up my game” in my expectations of myself and bear the primary responsibility of running our home. But that’s my mission field. That’s how and where God has called me to serve. And I have to accept that during the season of littles, it’s going to be a lot of hard work. But it is worthwhile. SO worthwhile.
Loving my husband well means setting aside my feelings and emotions and enabling him to be the man God has purposed him to be. In doing that, I fulfill my purpose and calling as his wife. It is an honor for me to be his wife. And my sometimes superficial and bitter feelings are not the basis for reality. My faith in God and His design for marriage is. I gladly submit my right to be right in favor of being a solid helpmeet, making my husband look good. When he wins, I win. And I don’t want it any other way.