"You can create a climate for him according to your attitude, and this is part of your job as a wife. The home you make and the atmosphere of that home is the world he comes back to from the world of his work. Let it be a place of beauty and peace." Elisabeth Eliot, Let Me Be a Woman, pg. 101
The kids were on their near weekly Taco Bell run with my mom yesterday, when Steve came home for lunch. He had given a final presentation that morning for one of his classes and his professor wanted him to fix a small part of his project. No biggie...it was just going to take some time. Everything else went off without a hitch.
When he walked through the door and saw my tears, he immediately ordered me to stop cleaning thinking that was the source of my tears-utter exhaustion. "You're tiring yourself out way too much Nikki. Everything looks fine. Stop, now!" But he was wrong. I wasn't crying about being tired. I definitely was tired for I had been cleaning all morning and I still had some things left to accomplish on my list (with my mom's help) that afternoon. But that wasn't it. Although, I'm sure it didn't help. It also wasn't the near 40 week pregnancy hormones hitting me either. Although I'm sure they added to the drama somehow.
It was simply this. I had just realized we were one assignment away from finishing 8 straight months of absolute craziness in grad school and I had no idea how we had made it besides God's utter and complete grace to us. And I couldn't hold back the tears. It was just too huge to me. Once the kids had left for a bit, I felt I could decompress a little without everyone wondering what was wrong. That's when Steve found me.
Ever since we found out about this baby around Christmastime, both Steve and I (with the kids in tow) have been sprinting toward a goal and that sprint has lasted this whole pregnancy. We were going to get through two semesters of full-time graduate work while Steve worked full-time. He'd help me with what was left as best as he could and I was going to carry whatever was left over, along with my pregnant belly. And we were going to do it together. Ready, set, go!
We knew it would be hard. We knew it would be a difficult challenge. But we knew we needed to do it and we walked into the whole thing willingly. Steve needed to get his Masters done and this was the one way to expedite the process. We figured it was better to do it before the baby came rather than after.
So when I thought about the baby arriving next Thursday and Steve finishing up on Monday, I couldn't help it. I just started bawling. I couldn't believe we'd actually made it without any major catastrophes (of course there were definitely hard bumps along the way).
Quickly, my mind went through the many week nights that Steve was holed up at Starbucks while I put the kids to bed by myself. I thought about the nightly phone calls made to check in with him, to connect with him and to update him on the night's proceedings. I thought about all the times he'd come home from wrestling for hours with a problem and I'd have to remind him that he was made to do this, that he'd figure it out, and to not be discouraged. And I thought about how his success and his joy at finally solving a problem became as much my success and my joy, as we celebrated another dragon slain.
And I was reminded again, Steve and I are created equal. But we are so different and our roles in each other's lives are even more diametrically opposed. He is not better than me. I am not better than him. Yet, as his wife, so much of what I do is integral to him succeeding in the work God has called him to. And if I love him, if I truly love him, I will be so caught up in his mission that it will become my own.
All of our husbands are unique and have various talents. And these talents are worthy of our admiration and pride. But they also come with a price. I believe one of the most difficult things to do, as a wife, is to wholeheartedly support these talents and not see them as competition. Women are naturally jealous and it is so easy to be threatened by anything that takes a lot of our husband's time. Now I'm not advocating abuse or anything like that. But there are sometimes when a man needs to put his head down and do something. And he needs his wife there as his loudest fan in order to succeed, and not to be his biggest critic.
This is a lot easier said than done. And I'm no saint either. This can only be done with the right perspective and that takes God's incredible grace.
As I was reflecting on these lessons that have become the foundation of my attitude for the past few years during grad school, I was thankful. It hasn't always been easy. And we're still not done. We have two classes left. And after grad school, who knows what other lessons I will need to learn in this area. It won't end here. But I can say this with confidence, it's much better to be a happy and tired wife who is so proud of her husband and his accomplishments, than it is to be a contentious one who is always fighting for her rights and her way.
One, though tired, will still be joyful because she's sold out for the mission that God has given to her husband and thus to her and their family. The other will be unhappy, alone and without satisfaction. For no one is ever satisfied when they're looking out for number one. It just doesn't work that way.
We need each other. God has designed it that way. And in marriage that often means major sacrifice for one another. That will be different for each wife because every man is different. But the principle is the same.
He's coming home to you. What will it look like? Whose vision, whose mission do you have plastered in the recesses of your mind? Is it yours or his?
As I come down to the final days of this pregnancy and Steve winds down the clock on this blitz of a semester, I've been reflecting a lot on what we've been through. And to put it plainly, it's been gnarly. No buts about it. But even though it's been really, really intense for our family, especially in light of me carrying number 5 while being on super duty with the other four, I'm glad it's been good. Steve and I are still best friends. God has been good to us and we're just a little further down the road on this mission God has us on.
And everyday, Steve comes home to me. I want to be happy. I want to be cheerful. I may not always be dressed perfectly or have the house looking spic and span, but I want to be glad for the life God has given us.
And like it or not, I set that tone.
I create that climate. I'm responsible. I want to be a refuge and a respite. The world is a crazy place out there and my husband carries so much on his shoulders and he works so hard (all husbands do). I can be a light, a rest and a support if I can get over myself and if I can just remember...he's coming home to me.
He's coming home to me.
One of my favorite songs by Patty Griffin and Julie Miller illustrates this point exactly. If you can forget about all of the cheesy pictures of Patty and just listen to the music, you'll be blessed.
Banana bread for breakfast
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