“Honey, I have to stay late today.”
It didn’t seem like a problem, since my newborn was looking up with innocent smiles from her bouncy seat, and my toddler was paging through a book. I stirred the onions and stepped over to unload the dishwasher.
As I stacked the plates, I decided I’d try to have dinner on the table when he got home. All three of us would be waiting at the door, ready to give hugs and kisses. We’d listen to each other’s days as our toddler quietly ate his vegetables, and we’d probably even have time to catch up on our budget after supper.
My dream quickly dissolved as the baby’s moans of frustration soon crescendoed into healthy-lung wails, and my toddler latched onto my leg with demands for shows and chocolate milk.
The burning smell of the onions filled the kitchen, and by the time Daddy came in the door, finishing dinner had been moved to the bottom of the list.
The relief of having another set of capable hands in the house overshadowed my plans for a peaceful welcome, turning into a series of “Honey, could you’s. . . “
It also kept me from noticing his weary face.
Running in the Wrong Direction
When the immediate needs seem to fill each nook and cranny of the day and evening, I get the panicky feeling that nothing is being accomplished, (especially when nothing is crossed off the sticky note).
When our nighttime conversations, normally only punctuated by brushing, flossing, and mouthwash, get taken away by a fussy baby being handed back and forth, it makes me wonder why God would allow so many obstacles to feeling connected in marriage.
Doesn’t God know how much more loving I could be if life was easier? If I didn’t have to always feel so. . . dependent?
My mentor Natalie recently asked me who I run to when things go wrong—Christopher?
Or my Heavenly Father?
Do I trust God to provide, or is it only Christopher’s job?
It’s easy to feel unloved when I expect a person to do what only God can do—to listen perfectly, sympathize with my struggles, and be ready with grace and approval because of Jesus’ redemption no matter how many mistakes I make.
When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked his friends to watch and pray with him. I’m sure they tried, but by the time He got back, they were asleep.
As human beings, we are limited. Jesus understands that, since He became a human and took on the boundaries of flesh while still remaining God. He gets it.
Here are a few ways I’ve been encouraged to run to Jesus when all I feel like doing is complain to my husband and expect him to make everything better.
- Talk to your soul.
A friend recently reminded me that feelings should be acknowledged, but not trusted.
When I feel like I’ve accomplished little more than keeping two kids alive by the end of the day (and not even necessarily in a good mood), it’s natural for me to start judging myself. I think that my value in God’s kingdom is based on my performance or ability to be strong under pressure.
If I jot a list of tasks I want to get done, I expect myself to finish it.
I often let that attitude carry over into how I see my husband, and refuse to extend grace when a detail is forgotten.
The other day, after quite a few hours of unfulfilled goals, I realized how little joy I felt. It seemed the Holy Spirit was saying, “Well, you have five minutes now. Why don’t you use it to talk to your soul?”
And so I began.
The Father loves me.
Jesus paid for everything wrong I’ve ever done or ever will do.
I have been clothed in Christ’s righteousness, which is what the Father sees when He looks at me (instead of what I did or didn’t accomplish).
The two children He’s entrusted me with are part of His good will for my life.
He is using the newborn fussiness and minute-by-minute training of a toddler to sanctify me and show me my need for Him.
The Father is satisfied with me because He is satisfied with Jesus, who lives in me.
I have an inheritance in heaven, which the Spirit is preparing me for—and I’ll get to enjoy perfect fellowship with the Father.
Unexpected messes, tantrums, and car repairs are all part of the life He is allowing and walking with me in.
The lies of comparing myself to others and expecting a certain set of circumstances can only be fought with remembering the truth found in God’s Word.
It’s worth every ounce of mental energy.
- Remember that we’re in this together.
When Christopher and I are both stressed, our capacity to listen can go down. We become focused on ourselves. I’m so thankful for the times Christopher has reminded me that we are going to face the bills, tears, and rice stuck to the carpet together.
- Value what he thinks is important.
I might have household tasks I’d like Christopher to do on a Saturday, but it is prideful to think that he should always place the same level of importance on gutters being cleaned. I’ve had to remind myself that it’s okay if it doesn’t get done today.
And if I really, really have something that needs doing, a calm and kind request makes all the difference.
- Allow him to be who he is and me to be who I am.
I’ve found that the more I try to control my circumstances or the people in my life, the more out of control they become.
Just as my newborn is not a machine that can be conformed to a rigid schedule of sleeping and eating, my husband has a distinct personality causing him to see the world a certain way. He often helps me to step back and see the big picture of our lives, when a broken vacuum cleaner feels like the end of the world.
When I can appreciate his role as husband and allow other friends to be a listening ear once in a while, it can also help me enjoy the times we do share our feelings and connect.
What burden do you need to surrender to the Father today?
What can you thank your husband for?