Lent, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, combined with normal life this past weekend to teach me an incredible lesson about my marriage.
Lent- What is the sacrifice Christ made for us? What terrible pain did he bear because he loves his children? What sacrifices are we called to make in our lives as we serve as temples of the Holy Spirit? What pains are inherently part of being a Christian?
Maundy Thursday- What does service in love of Christ look like? Kneeling in the dirt? Blood as sweat and tears?
Good Friday – What wondrous love is this, that caused the Lord of bliss, to lay aside his crown for my soul?
Easter Sunday – Alleluia! He is risen, indeed! The pain, the sacrifice, the death, the tomb, are NOT the end of the story! “Love so amazing, so divine!” is the end of the story! The sacrifice was for a purpose: unity and community with Him.
And what does that show about marriage? Christ is the bridegroom, and the church is the bride.
In the past, I have written so much about what fostering requires from mothers. I need the reminders that life is not about me, that I am called to be a small part in something grander, all in the service of my God and my family.
But I’m not the only servant. In fact, sometimes, I am called to be served. Who is called to serve me?
Now, I don’t want to sound greedy, or needy, or demanding. That is not the intent. Sometimes, I feel like Peter, who tried to tell Jesus, “Do not wash my feet!” when I talk to my husband. Jesus corrected Peter, and my husband often has to correct me.
Let’s first allow that those sorts of statements and feelings stem primarily from pride. (If I have to do everything so that it is done correctly, then the emphasis probably does not fall on the task, but on the person doing it.) So, one of the best things I can do to kill my pride is ask my husband for help. When I am worn out, tired, frustrated, and the world is falling apart, then this mindset also puts all the blame on me. Now, this sort of consequence seems to fit the old saying, “Let the punishment fit the crime”. But that is the whole point of Easter: the punishment doesn’t fit the crime! Christ was innocent, but took the punishment. I am guilty, but I pay no punishment! And when the world is looking up, and I have everything together, then this pride is twice as dangerous: I can solve everything, I don’t need anyone, I can give up everything without anyone saving me. How deadly would that statement be if describing our relationship with Christ? It is just as deadly to our relationships with our spouses, our churches, our friends.
What about from my husband’s point of view?
Let me describe a few scenes for you from the past few weeks.
Thomas works all day, Monday-Friday, at school, to come home in the evenings and work on grading, paperwork (yay Taxes!), graduate school homework, or house projects. Saturdays are usually spent trying to check off those large jobs from our project list (finish emptying the garage from the move, get all the books unpacked, update our budget stuff, etc.). I often grew frustrated, because our family was always pulled in different directions: Thomas to his tasks, the boys to their naps, and I to my house-keeping. We bought this house so that we could raise a family in it, but it seems to turn into the eternal project source instead. And these projects have to be completed by deadlines: house inspections, home visits, taxes, grading, papers all have dates that must be followed.
Then, one Saturday, I asked Thomas to stop working for 30-45 minutes and to just play with the boys outside. After a long discussion about priorities, responsibilities, etc., we discovered that Thomas didn’t know how to play with the boys. He did know how to complete projects, so that was his focus. I kicked myself. Thomas didn’t have lots of little siblings or baby cousins like I did. I grew up constantly playing with people smaller than me. So I know how to play. He did not. So, we spent 30 minutes outside, learning how to play with the boys as a family.
We still have to balance responsibilities to our boys and responsibilities as adults, but sitting and playing have also become more common.
And there is nothing that has delighted me more this past Lenten season (besides revisiting what it means to be a Christian) than watching my husband thoroughly enjoy sacrificing himself, laying aside his desire to finish his tasks, to throw stuffed animals around the room, or to read the same board book 30 times, or to chase one child around the house while carrying the other one for 30 minutes or more, just because the babies LOVE it.
That is what it means to allow someone to serve others.
But what about allowing him to serve me?
It means telling him that I need 30 minutes of the boys’ naps to be spent sitting on the couch with me, without screens, to-do lists, or bullet journals. Just the two of us, laughing, talking, and being near each other. It means telling him when I am at my wits’ end, and allowing him to say, “Let’s get something ready-made to eat at the grocery store.” Or when I am over-tired, can’t sleep, and can’t get my mind to settle, allowing him to listen to me as I tell him every single thing on my mind, even though that only keeps him awake even later. Or, allowing him to take our wriggly Baby Bear and walk up and down the stairs 30+ times during Easter Sunrise Service when the nursery wasn’t staffed like we expected. Because he knows I need his love.
There are plenty more thoughts about this sort of thing, and I’d love to hear your comments.