Life is full of hallways - those times between God's closing doors and opening windows. Find Biblical encouragement for your own season of struggle by visiting the blog, stopping by the shop, or subscribing to our members' page. Let's praise Him in the waiting!
"My life wasn't meant to look like this!"
I've thought that to myself many times during the past six years. On a couple of occasions, I even ventured to helpfully inform God about His apparent mistake. (Perhaps He needed some honest feedback in order to give me the enjoyable life I felt I deserved, considering all the hard work I'd done for Him?)
In my enthusiastic planning for motherhood, my thinking had been binary. There were two parenting paths I could take: returning to work part-time or caring for our kids full-time. Chronic illness? It was never part of the equation; it didn't even exist as a category in my thinking!
I love the holidays with all those picture-perfect moments and photo-worthy family gatherings. I love thinking about and planning for the fun activities and festive meals we’ll participate in. Most of all, I love savoring the birth of the Savior - Christmas is such a wonderful time to reflect and think about all that Jesus did on my behalf.
But maybe you’re not eager for the holidays this year because you’re hurting. Maybe a recent loss - or a loss associated with either Thanksgiving or Christmas - has dampened your joy, and you’re not really sure how to feel happy when, inside, you’re still suffering deeply.
Friends, we’ve come a long way in this “wash his feet” challenge! From praying for our husbands to telling them we love them, we’ve covered numerous ways to bless them. Some assignments were easier than others; many will take a lifetime to perfect. But each one had the sole purpose of blessing our husbands in the Lord.
Let’s look back over this challenge. Note what worked and what didn’t. Which things most blessed your husband, and which ones flopped? Which ones made the greatest impact? Observe your relationship with your husband. Where are you strong? Where are your weak points? What can you do to improve?
Today, become a student of your marriage. Take what you’ve learned from this challenge and apply it. Completing these assignments won’t do you much good if you don’t learn from and grow by them!
Some years ago, when Jon was working nights, going to school during the day, and finances were incredibly tight, he grabbed me out of the blue and hugged me.
“Man, I love you so much!” he said as he embraced me.
I hadn’t realized until he said those words just how much I needed to hear them. We’d basically been ships passing in the night, it seemed at the time, and hadn’t been able to see one another for more than just a few minutes here and there. We hadn’t been able to connect as much as I had wanted, but that one phrase was exactly what I had needed at that moment.
Confession: I’m not a touchy-feely sort of person. (I’m sure that’s no surprise since I’ve shared before about how introverted I am and how I really, really need my personal space.) Sure, I give friends and relatives a quick squeeze hello, but that’s about the extent of my tolerance for physical touch.
And I guess it’s a good thing I’m that way, because Jon’s not overly demonstrative, either, especially out in public. Seriously, trying to hold hands with him - which I actually wouldn’t mind on occasion - is a near impossibility. It’s just not his thing!
But when it’s just the two of us, we actually do cuddle on the couch, and we both enjoy it (unless I’m cold and grab my blanket, at which point he sits as far away from me as possible since his CSF leak makes him run hot all the time).
So, even though no one would accuse us of being the overly-romantic, lovey-dovey types, we do both occasionally appreciate the gift of physical touch. And I have a feeling a lot of people are like us, where even if it’s not their greatest enjoyment, they do need it once in a while.
With that in mind, today’s assignment is to embrace your husband.
While gift giving may not be my specialty, writing is one of my favorite activities ever. Whether it’s creating a hand-written note or typing out my thoughts here on the blog, I’m happiest when I’m putting down thoughts on (sometimes digital) paper!
Jon and I used to exchange notes in college all the time. And I kept them all! I have three or four shoe boxes full of them. We loved passing notes to one another between classes or via campus mail. It was a simple and fun activity that we could afford.
Sadly, as the busyness of marriage and parenting has encroached on our time, we’ve almost completely abandoned this once-enjoyed expression of affection.
Today, I want to change that! Our assignment is to write him a love note.
My sister is one of the best gift givers I know. She can pick up on and remember subtle clues people give off about their likes and hobbies and has a knack for turning those interests into a perfect gift at Christmastime.
Me, on the other hand? I’m terrible at giving gifts. I never know what to get for people, and making it even worse is the fact that I really don’t care for shopping. Going into a store to find a gift, especially when I don’t even know what, exactly, I’m after is not my idea of a good time.
Whether you’re an expert gift giver like my sister or your gift-giving skills are more like mine, today, why not give your husband a small gift?
Who do you most love spending time with? What lengths do you go to in order to be able to spend time with that person? Before Jon and I were married, I lived almost 40 minutes north of him, but nearly every day, he’d drive up after work to see me. I don’t want to think about the time he spent driving or the cost in gas that it took to come visit, but I loved that he was willing to put in time, effort, and expense to spend time together!
Once we’re married, it’s all too easy to forget to spend time with our spouses. Caring for the kids, keeping house, jobs, and so many other things often derail us from spending quality time with our husbands. And while each of these can be a good thing, they should never prevent us from spending time with the man we married.
So, today’s assignment is to carve out time to spend with your husband.
Do you enjoy studying other people? I do - not in a creepy way, of course, but in order to learn from them. Most people have something to teach us, either in a positive or negative way.
I especially enjoy seeing how other spouses interact with one another, noting who takes which responsibilities, and watching for things I can learn and incorporate into my own marriage.
In fact, I feel that learning from others is one of the best ways we can improve in our own marriages. Why? Well, when we see someone else doing really well (or really struggling), we can benefit from it without having to test out and learn everything ourselves through trial and error.
“My husband and I just don’t work well together. He does his thing, and I do mine.”
“I could never start a business with my spouse. It just would NOT be good for our relationship!”
Have you ever heard someone say something similar to the above quotes? Have you yourself ever expressed a similar sentiment?
I’ve heard plenty of couples say that they don’t work well together. And honestly, it kind of makes me scratch my head! If they don’t work well together, in what areas are they compatible? While I don’t think that every couple needs to go out and start a business together, I do think we all could improve at working alongside our spouses, whether it be a home project, planning an event at church, or learning a new skill.