I often fear that I am failing as a wife and I often feel alone in that struggle. I am surrounded by women who seem, at least from appearances, to be amazing, submissive, patient, caring, got-it-all together wives. I am inspired by them. And whether my perceptions are accurate or not I see them and it gives me a picture of the wife I want to be.
When life is quiet, when the girls are sleeping. When the dishes are done, and the toys are put away I see the role that I want to take as Joe’s wife. The constant support and encourager, the servant hearted lover. The tender listener and the voice of truth. In those moments I see him, the amazing man I have married. I see the way he works so hard to provide, the way he leads boldly and bravely. I understand the sacrifices he has made to be a dad and a husband and I remember the dreams he wants to chase. I see the gifts I need to call out in him and remember the call God has put on his life. I see so clearly the role I need to take, the role I WANT to take.
But then I hear a scream coming from the bedroom, “Mommy!! MOMMY!!” Then the other one hears and realizes she is hungry. Before I know it I am elbow deep in mess and distracted by my little people, their needs and the other tasks pulling me in 10 different directions. My little people and my other tasks aren’t keeping me from being the wife I want to be, but I am letting them. I’m letting life’s distractions keep me from the good work. The important work. The work of building my marriage.
Without trying, because I didn’t try, I find my heart is far from him. And I realize those one line cliché’s we were given in pre-marital counseling are only cliché’s because they are oh so true.
“If you aren’t growing together you are growing apart.”
“Your marriage is work and you work on your marriage.”
I see my friends, those wonderful wives, the ones who make it seem effortless. Why is it not natural for me to serve, to be patient, to submit? Why do I need to work so hard? I love him so much, why does my ugly get in the way?
Here is an example of what I am talking about…
“Hey Jess, have you seen the Consumer Reports?” He was looking at the reviews to buy me a car.
“No, but I bet its upstairs in your office.”
“Yea, I looked up there but didn’t see it, would you mind going up there to look again?”
“Really? Do you really need me to?” I was busy doing what I was doing and didn’t want to take the time to help him.
“Alright but if its the first thing I see when I walk in the room you will be hearing from me!”
Walking up the stairs I caught myself, what a nasty response. But I didn’t say anything, I didn’t apologize I just kept walking hoping that I would find the book so I could feel justified in my comment.
I looked in the office and didn’t see it, at least not in the obvious places. It must be somewhere else. Walking out of the room I saw a card with my name on it. My heart sank. I opened the card, grabbed the Starbucks gift card as it fell out and read the most encouraging words. Words in that moment that felt so far from the truth. There was no pause, no moment to let the words sink in just immediate sobbing. I ran back down the stairs and threw myself into Joe’s arms. He couldn’t help but laugh at my dramatic response.
“Now you see where Anniston gets it.” He laughed.
“I’m so sorry. I hate when that ugly comes out of my heart.”
It’s moments like that, when grace is so tangible, when I feel so lost and yet so loved. It’s an uncomfortable and yet comforting place to be. On one hand I realize I am not the wife I envision, the wife I want to be. I have failed. The very thing I feared is true. But that failure doesn’t define me. In fact, that failure is what will enable me. His grace in that moment is both what comforts and compels me.
His kindness leads me to repentance. Grace comes in and melts my self sufficient spirit and forces me to turn and run. Not running out of fear or guilt but running because I have been compelled and called to something greater.
To be the wife I need to be, the wife I WANT to be I need to let the ugly lead me to the uncomfortable and comforting place. The only place grace can change me.