Actually Becoming The Happy Wife of A Human Husband

 

The title of this blog came from an oft-repeated threat to write a book called “How To Be The Happy Wife Of A Human Husband”. I began making that threat after it dawned on me that it’s typical to vent about a husband’s failings while excusing our own weaknesses. This behavior is not limited to the husband/wife sphere, either — we all do it.

I got married later in life, so there were lots of years with human room mates. Being the oldest of 5 meant my family life was pretty full of humans, too. Four human children have become adults who make their own choices — choices I do not control. (In all honesty, I never had the power to control their choices.)

On top of the aggravation of humans in my house, humans share the road with me as I drive and they post irritating stuff on social media. I go to church with humans. Humans all around, and they all act human. How do we stay “happy” when there are all these humans bothering us?

I am human, too. Maybe this blog should be called “Happy Human Among Human Humans” or something similar.

The thing is, we all cut ourselves some slack and think our own aggravating qualities are not so bad. There is deception in our hearts, according to Proverbs 21:2. We all think we are right, or we have good reasons for whatever wrong we do.

I am blind to my own faults — a good example is the piles of “stuff” I plan on sorting someday. I have many piles of stuff. One of Dave’s first gifts to me as a new wife was a blue basket to put my piles of stuff in. One basket, however large, won’t hold all my procrastination piles. Did his helpfulness change my pile habit? A little, but they are still there in the corners of my life because they don’t bother me like they bother him.

Here’s the thing — he gives me grace about my pile habit. Should I give him grace about his irritating habits? Yes, because not only does Dave give me grace, but God forgives me for far more serious sins than procrastination. When I realize all I am forgiven for, the natural response is thankfulness followed by forgiving others. It’s like that parable of the servant in Matthew 18 — we need our eyes opened to how much we have been forgiven.

When I choose to forgive as God has forgiven me, I am free to be happy with imperfect things and people. I can be a happy wife of a human husband, or a happy co-worker who works with humans, or whatever life throws at me.

Our daily lives are where our theology is tested. Truth is always true, but we don’t always believe the truth and it shows. My reactions to the people around me show me what I actually believe. This is humbling because I often have a disconnect between what I “believe” and how I react.

Recognizing my consistent failures helps me see myself accurately — I am human. I fail. Because I am human and I fail, I have to accept others as human failures just like me but our failures cost us more than we like to think about.

Jesus points out in his famous Sermon on the Mount that our natural tendencies have horrible results if we let them grow to fruition. Sibling rivalry, for instance, is the same basic attitude as murder. That’s harsh! But it’s true and we all do it.

We all need forgiveness, we all need grace, we all need the good news that God loves us enough to do something about the condition of our hearts. The cost of my self-centered insistence on my own way was death. Not death as an arbitrary punishment by an egotistical deity but death because it’s the natural consequence of my choices.

Jesus chose to leave his position as God and become human — like us — so that he could be a substitute for us and take that consequence on himself. I don’t understand how that all worked, but this changed everything. Do some research on the historical evidence for Jesus and the resurrection and it’s hard to ignore.

So what do we have? A resurrected Savior who provides forgiveness for me. He gives grace, so I can extend that forgiveness to the human who shares my life. That makes me a happy wife of a human husband.

 

 

 

 

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The Glory of The Mundane

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Most of the spiritual giants in God’s kingdom are anonymous. It’s interesting to see who is named in the great “faith” chapter of Hebrews 11 and look at their stories — stories that are only a few highlights of countless days. What do we know of their daily grind of a life? Not much, but we see the result of their many small choices in the glimpses that Scripture provides.

That chapter ends with mention of a host of those who lived their life in faith, knowing that the end of their story was “not yet”. It reminds me of the brothers and sisters in Christ who are even now experiencing torture and death for the Gospel.

I think that the most amazing example of a life lived primarily in the mundane is Jesus. Christmas is a time of celebration of His birth, but it’s hard to imagine just how mundane that actually was. What do we know about His daily life on earth? Not much, but there would have had to be things like this:

  • Keeping the baby Jesus clean, warm & fed — that’s lots of poopy diapers and baby spitup and the rest of infant care. The God who created the universe needed someone to change His diapers. Think about how far a step downward that is.
  • Childhood — no temper tantrums but still daily meals and the cleanup involved. Preparation of daily meals without electricity, too. Most of the day was likely spent in community, talking and working.
  • Early adulthood — I cannot imagine there were not chores of some sort. Floors need to be swept, the meal thing never goes away, dishes and laundry still happen. There is no mention of servants for this class of Jewish society.
  • Ministry years — His years of ministry, short ones, were spent walking places as far as I can tell. Lots of unexciting stuff mixed in with the teaching, and He often used what was happening around them to illustrate the lessons. God uses stuff we understand to help us understand new concepts.
  • Integrated into the Jewish home & community would be regular religious celebrations, teaching times for the family to focus on God and His Word. All the Feasts, the Sabbath, and more would be part of life’s regularity.

How many of those days do we know about? Not many. All we know is the relatively few times things were recorded. In today’s social media tech world, daily moments are recorded a lot, but in that time, it just happened. We see the fruit of the harvest, but we miss the mundane reality of seeds planted and organic growth that takes time.

At Christmas, I am reminded that God values the mundane and partakes in it through His Incarnation. He takes the ordinary, physical reality of daily life and blesses it with His presence in every aspect. It takes time to see the harvest, but it will come.

I had a blessing today, when my daughter posted about washing the dishes. It was encouraging to see some of the fruit that comes from just doing what comes next by the grace of God. It’s a privilege to have lived long enough to see a small part of what He has been doing all the time.

From Winning the Bread to Baking it

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I came into marriage with a well established job in a cushy office and a decent paycheck.  During the first year Jason’s job fluctuated, but my steady income kept us afloat during the rough patches.  Then, when our daughter was 7 months old, I tried to make a career change and ended up unemployed.

The situation had done a number on my confidence and I felt completely inadequate to jump back into the workplace, but I knew that we couldn’t function on one income.  I finally decided to try starting a home daycare, and have slowly been establishing that.  But it has been crazy, going abruptly from dressing for success and rushing the baby to daycare every morning to wrangling rambunctious children and finding the best recipes for homemade bread.

In one sense, I am happier.  I feel like I actually live in my house, the dishes get washed, I make supper most nights, I actually spend significant time with my daughter that I felt cheated of before.

In another sense, it is really hard to go from consistent paychecks to sporadic families paying for childcare.  It is stressful to know that I’m not yet making enough to fill the gap that my old income left.  I am the type of person who will ruminate and agonize over money until I am wallowing in a miserable pit of despair.

There are days when I snap at the kids because I am so busy wondering how we will pay the next bill, there are days when the parents don’t pay me and won’t answer my calls.  How can I find contentment here?

There are days when I have no idea how to be competent at being a homemaker, when my brain is completely blank and I get nothing productive done all day.  How can I accept the grace of God to be sufficient for my inadequacy?

There are days when I feel that staying home was a selfish decision and I wonder why I ever thought I could make enough money without a traditional job.  How can I recognize that my worth is not in what I can bring to the table?

I stumbled upon Psalm 127 and read this:

“Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

I felt God speaking into my heart and reminding me of who he is.  He is the one who establishes my steps, he is the one who sustains me.  He does not need my anxiety to accomplish his work in my life, he needs my daily discipline, my cheerful obedience.

He promises to give me rest.

And so, when I am living in this day and I feel like I am failing at adulthood, I set aside my anxious toil and I bake bread.  I gather the kids and we make cookies.  I pull out the crayons and the play-doh.  I wash the dishes, do the laundry, clean my house and cook dinner for my husband.  I make sure that my daughter’s life is full of love and laughter.  I sit quietly and read my Bible, turning every aspect that I am not able to control over to the Father.

And in this daily obedience, I find that he gives me the rest and contentment that elude me everywhere else.

My Own Sabbath

I’ve been part of some discussions on the keeping of the Sabbath lately and it has been good to think again about the entire idea.  Sabbath-keeping is NOT just an Old Testament thing, it is mentioned in the New Testament in several places and is a good study subject for individual growth. 

In short form, my own understanding of ‘sabbath’ is kind of interlinked with salvation, not relying on works, trust in God’s provision and care, and connecting to other people without worrying about my image.  I got those thoughts from Romans 8, Isaiah 58, and Hebrews 4 among other passages.  And I think you will get more out of reading those chapters than you will out of reading this……

A Famine for Hearing the Word

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I’ve just spent a good bit of time interacting with children who are not my own.  It is heartbreaking in so many cases; I ask about stories they like and far too often they don’t know any.  Imagine that!  Little boys whose only concept of story is the plot of a video game after they’ve been encouraged to think about what has a beginning, middle, and end.  Little girls who only know the plot of the latest princess movie.  There are many kids who watch movies and television but never read books.  I’ve had to tweak my teaching to include stories in many forms so that they see how ‘a story is a beginning, a middle, and an end’ applies to what God does with us, that incredible plotline of Redemption.

Communication depends upon common ground, being understood and understanding.  The children I’ve been talking to were brought to church, but many don’t have a frame of reference for what church people are talking about because their homes are not places where the Bible is discussed during the day.  Most of them are not asked questions during the week, and have no idea what they think outside of what gets electronically implanted in their mind and heart as a pacifier to keep them occupied

Amos prophesied years ago, “‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord GOD, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD.” (Amos 8:11)

Just like we can become overweight and still undernourished, we can have abundance of things to occupy our mind and heart yet still starve emotionally and spiritually.  This is scary stuff.

BOOM!

 

We just got done with our home-grown version of vacation Bible school, called “Kids Camp” in this church.  It was ambitious: the first time the little church plant did it all by ourselves with our own people, and most of the planning was done by the teens(with a little help when they asked for it).

The theme was the whole story of the Bible…reduced to the beginning (God created & people rebelled)….the middle (how God fixed the problem by becoming human & dying on the cross but not staying dead)….and the end (God wins).  My job was the memory class.

We chose the passage in Philippians 2:5-11 and I’ve been praying about it for several months.  How do you teach a child such deep things?  So we went with motions to remember each part of the passage and the Contemporary English Version to keep the words at kid level.  We are talking three age groups here, 10-11 year olds, 7-9 year olds, and 4-6 year olds.  That means each class was a little bit different in how they think, and the little guys don’t read.

It was completely God doing great things every day.  Here’s an idea of the motions:

Philippians 2:5-11 (write a P, 2, 5, 11 on palm)

Think the same way Christ Jesus thought (touch temples, make Jesus sign by touching each palm with middle finger for the nails, touch temples again)

Christ was truly God (squeeze hands together over head so they feel like one hand)

But he did not try to remain equal with God (let go of hands and open one had up)

instead he gave up everything (bring open hand down)

and became a slave (bring other hand down and grab wrist)

when he became like one of us (rock a baby)

Christ was humble (fold hands in prayer because God is the boss)

He obeyed God (nod head ‘yes’)

and even died on a cross (stretch arms out to make cross)

Then God gave Christ the highest place (reach over and grab wrist and PULL hand up so both hands are overhead because Jesus was dead and God made him alive)

and honored his name above all others (make Jesus sign over head)

So at the name of Jesus everyone will bow down (bow down)

those in heaven (point up with both hands)

on earth (point in front with both hands)

and under the earth (point down with both hands)

and to the glory of God the Father (hold one hand palm up, smack it and wiggle the other hand while raising it up over head)

everyone will openly agree (hold hands out to sides and nod all around)

“Jesus Christ (Jesus sign, touching palms with middle finger to show nail holes)

is Lord” (make an L with hand and move diagonally from shoulder across body to waist)

So…three days to learn it and one day to practice before any kid that wants to gets up on stage to show their parents.  More importantly, four days to try and plant seeds of truth that God will use in their lives as they understand a little bit about who He is and what He has done.  Every day we talked, at their level, about why those motions fit that verse, and about the day’s story.

The reason this post is titled “BOOM!” is because the 4-6 year olds decided that BOOM! has to be said when Jesus let go of being God…a big deal, indeed!  and when God made Jesus come alive again, proving that Jesus is really God.  So when all ages were up on stage going through the passage & motions, at those two points, little voices yelled, “BOOM!”

Kind of cool…and I think it may even be theologically correct…..

Wandering in the wilderness

Dave & I are in the process of finding another church…after raising our kids in one on the other side of the county. It has not been an easy decision for me because it’s more like God is nudging Dave to go a different direction than my habits have formed.

I wonder what Sarai said to Abram when he came home & said,
“Honey, we are moving.”
“Where are we moving to?”
“I don’t know exactly; just come with me…………………..”

And Sarai would be thinking about the details of packing all their worldly possessions and meals for all the servants and what is going to happen next while Abram is thinking about the promised land or something. I have no insight into his mind. I can easily imagine hers, though!

So, in the now, I am trusting God & calling my husband ‘Boss’ and not being frightened by any fear. This is not a politically correct attitude~but it comes right out of the New Testament in a book called 1 Peter in the third chapter. I have been laughed at for respecting my husband’s authority in our marriage but I think I can trust God to be right on this one.

Dave and I have had deeper conversations and an increasing love & respect for each other as we wander around our wilderness following God. I’m excited about the future, and the part of the Body that we will be planted in next.