Training in Righteousness
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Entries in Marriage/Family (42)


Who'd of thunk?

On a day very much like today, twenty-nine years ago, I was a bride. The tulips were in bloom, the sun was warm, and I gave very little thought to the future. It was a day to be a bride.

Many of my friends are watching their children prepare to be married, or are welcoming their first grandchildren. I kind of thought that by this age we'd be getting closer to that stage. Recently, when I heard about one of my son's friends expecting a baby, I grumbled a little to my husband that at this rate, we'll be in our wheelchairs by the time we come grandparents, and we'll have to be careful our oxygen tanks don't get in the way of holding the baby. 

With all serioiusness, however, I'm a little glad there are no babies just yet. The one thing I never anticipated was that on my twenty-ninth anniversary, I would be spending the bulk of the day preparing a seminary assignment (plans for a meal with the kids is later tonight). I was about forty when I began to have inklings that I'd like to do this, but even two years ago, I wouldn't have thought it would be happening now. 

If there were grandbabies, I would be torn between time with them and time with school. And just like I didn't really want a job competing for the attentions to my husband and kids (yes, I'm setting back the progress of women's rights by centuries; sorry), I am glad there is nothing distracting me at the moment. My kids are young, and have time. They are doing things now they wouldn't be able to do if they had spouses. I have no problem with young marriages, but their situations are much different than mine was at their age. Besides, their future plans are not about me.

I could not do all of this without my husband. I am so grateful to God for a husband who supports what I am doing. He is not threatened by a woman who studies. He's not afraid that if I study he will somehow become less in my eyes. He's not afraid that I'll become more loyal to my seminary profs than to him. Last year, when I struggled with anxiety, I saw the depths of my husband's faith and support for me. I know you don't need a seminary education to have that, and having a seminary education doesn't guarantee that.

I'm grateful to be where I am. When we got married there was no promise of this particular outcome. I could have been widowed; he could have been widowed. One, or both of us, could have been ill or disabled. The fact that we are where we are is all of God's grace and goodness. And if instead of celebrating today with my husband I was ill or widowed, God would still be good.

And I don't need seminary to understand that.


An old new marriage

My husband and I are going to a wedding in August. It's yet another former Sunday school student. People we taught as teenagers are marrying and having children left and right.

Of late, I've been spending a little more time with one former student in particular. She has been married less than ten years, and I twenty-eight years. Despite this discrepancy in time, there are things we both understand about married life, and things to which we both nod in understanding. Speaking with her lately has caused me to reflect a lot on my own marriage.

After twenty-eight years, I still continue to learn about my husband, and I expect I will continue to do so. The stuff of married life changes us; suffering and trial change us. The man who courted me, and whom I foolishly thought I knew really well in 1987, continues to reveal new, rich facets of his character to me. How could it be otherwise? 

Many years ago, my husband had a serious bout of cellulitis which began in his knee and was slowly making his way up to his pelvic area. He was in the hospital on intravenous antibiotics for a number of days. I had three small children eight years old and under. I remember driving to the hospital fearing what would happen if this infection did not clear up. Praise God, it did, but the massive amounts of antibiotics he took rendered his immune system rather weak, and over the following winter, he was almost every week. He would come home from a long work week and just crash all weekend, fighting a flu, a cold, or occasionally, a migraine. That exprience taught me a lot about his character in the face of health issues, and those were pretty minor compared to what some people face on a daily basis. Those lessons are not the ones you anticipate as you bask in the glow of being newly married.

I've had some health issues over the past six monhts, and there have been some hard trials along with them. I have long known my husband was a man of godly character, but having him care for me over these past number of months has shown me in even more glowing terms how God has blessed me by giving me this man. I said to him recently, "I never thought this would happen to me." Neither did he, but he did know that there would be trials. At times, I felt discouragement and I felt like a burden, but my husband said often, "In sickness and in health." He didn't know the specifics, but he knew there would be trials. I guess I knew it, too, but it's not something I dwelled on as a young bride.

Being newlyweds was fun. Planning our wedding, setting up housekeeping, and becoming a family were wonderful days, but these recent days, when I have seen the faithfulness of my husband, and seen him live out his commitment to me, have been days when I feel even more blessed than I could imagine. I have truly watched him live out the command to love his wife as he loves himself. And it really is true that when our husbands love us in this way, submission doesn't feel like a burden. I recently asked my husband's opinion about something I wanted to blog about. It was his view that I should think about it more. I didn't even hesitate to agree with him. Where did that come from? That kind of attitude was not so easy to do early in our marriage, but by God's grace, it's not as difficult today.

There are people in my local church who have been married 60+ years. By their standards, we're still young pups. If God blesses us with 28 more years, I look forward to what I'm going to learn. Marriage is still something with newness to it, and that's something I didn't anticipate when I was a bride.


Beards, brains, and flannel

I caught a snippet of conversation among some girls recently in a store. They were discussing the merits of young men of their acquaintance. It made me remember when I was a young girl and pondered such matters. One of our family's friends had a daughter my age, and when we got together, we had similar conversations. Like the girls I heard last week, my friend and I were particular to young men who would perhaps wield a chainsaw, wear flannel, and have facial hair.

When I met my husband, he was wearing a three-piece suit. But I still liked the way he looked. As I got to know him, I would discover that he met some of my other qualifications, such as wear flannel, sport a beard, and have a brain. 

These things about men which attract us as young ladies seem so important at the time, but once we grow up, we know that there are much more crucial things to consider when thinking about a future husband. If I had to advise a young lady about what to look for in a man, I would suggest she look for a man with a servant's heart.

My husband has a servant's heart, and it was one of the first things I saw in him when I really got to know him. He was kind and generous. He would do anything for you, often being inconvenienced in the process. He didn't look for accolades for what he did; in fact, he would take pains to not be noticed for it. He didn't hesitate when you asked him for help.

When we lived in Regina, Saskatchewan, my husband's work took him all over the province. One winter, he had a client in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, which is about two and a half hours away from Regina. He was on site there in February, around the time of my birthday.

He had promised our three year old daughter prior to going that he would be home in time to make breakfast in bed for me on my birthday. At dinner, the night before my birthday, he was not home. He was also not home when she went to bed. He wasn't home when I went to bed, either. They were finishing up the project, and he would be home as soon as he could.  

The stretch on the Trans Canada Highway between Swift Current and Regina is not like driving two and a half hours in southern Ontario. One can get in his car here where I live and drive a lot longer than that before he leaves behind the urban sprawl. Not so on that trip. It was a deserted highway, in the dead of winter, in Saskatchewan, in the middle of the night. And no, there were no cellphones. He told me later that he had kept the windows rolled down and the radio on because he didn't want to fall asleep at the wheel. But he had promised his little girl he would be home for her mommy's birthday breakfast, and so he was. And all was done without complaint and without fanfare.

There are a lot of things that are of little importance when it comes to a good husband. Whether or not he will wear a beard and own flannel shirts are rather inconsequential matters. What isn't inconsequential is whether or not he will be a servant. Will he struggle to put his family first? Will he struggle to keep his commitments? Will he complain when he does keep them? Will he want to do his acts of righteousness for selfish motives? (Matt. 6:1).

When we were little girls (and maybe not so little) we dreamed up ideal men, but we were not always the best judge of what was best for us, and we often worried about the wrong things. The fact that my husband is a flannel-wearing, beard growing man who is really smart is nice, but honestly, what means more to me is his servant's heart. God always gives us what is good according to his plans, even if it isn't what we think is good. I'm grateful that even though "servant's heart" wasn't on my list of the "ideal" man, it is today. And I'm grateful to God for teaching me that lesson.


Wills and life insurance policies, a teachable moment

My husband and I have been in the process of updating our wills and life insurance policies. While we went through this procedure, it of course made me think about what would happen if my husband was to die. None of us is assured tomorrow, and last fall, my husband's best friend from high school and our best man at our wedding died at 53 from a heart attack. His widow didn't expect to be parenting three teenagers on her own. Life insurance gives you financial comfort; the practical, day to day things are probably a lot harder.

I watched my husband recently lean an extension ladder against the house to clean leaves from the eaves troughs (translation for other cultures outside of Canada: gutters). I hate ladders. I'm thankful for his willingness and lack of fear of heights to do such a thing.

The sun roof in my car has been leaking. My son, while borrowing my car for a few weeks, was rained upon in a drive-through because of it. After scouring the internet for help, my husband found some sites with direction on how to remedy this. This entails basically taking apart the ceiling of my car. Did you know that sun roofs are expected to leak? Their success lies in proper drainage. Hence, I will never have a sun roof again.

I'm glad I don't have to do that. I'm thankful for little things like that. In addition to that, my husband is my best friend. He is the one I trust the most. He understands me. He puts up with my frailties in a way that no other friend (other than Christ, of course) can do. Sometimes, our relationship reminds me of this song. I do try to build friendships, but every now and then, I wonder, "What would I do if I didn't have him?"

It's a good question to ask. I can sit here today and proclaim that God is good and has provided for me, but if my husband died this afternoon, how easily would such praise come? In the face of shock and grief, how would I be? Would my emotions control me? It's one thing to say, "Oh, yes, I would be fine. God would be there with me," but we don't know exactly do we? It would be a time of testing.

In the past couple of years, I have learned a lot from women who are single. Whether they're widowed, divorced, or just single, I have seen how they handle such things on their own. It often shames me, because I'm prone to complain. How would I like to handle things alone?

This past summer, when my boys got in a car accident and we found ourselves, at midnight, en route to a hospital, only knowing that one son was out of the car, and the other was trapped inside, with chest pain, was one thing with my husband by my side; but what if I had been like our friend who was widowed last year, facing things alone? Yes, we have friends who would help out, but no one supports me in the way my husband does. It would not be easy. It would be a test of my faith. It's always much easier to rejoice when things are going well.

It has caused me to regularly evaluate my heart. How much is my trust based on my circumstances? How much easier is it to say such things with a living husband? And it has caused me to change how I pray. I'm learning to pray regularly for strength to face trials that haven't even come yet, to pray for God to help my unbelief, my fickle heart, and my self-involvement. We don't always see our own sin, but guaranteed, if we ask God, he will show it to us.

And it will be a kindness to us in the long run.


Marriage Help, Déjà Vu Style

Here is a repeat of something I wrote a couple of years ago (in blog years, that's a lifetime), slightly edited, that is still very true.

My husband is a simple man, but he's not a simpleton. His advice is often very simple, and to an over-analytical woman like me, occasionally has sounds a little too simple. It can't be that easy; we must discuss it more; we must understand it more; we must find other ways to look at it.

I remember an occasion many years ago when we had a conflict about something and I was quite upset over the whole matter, mostly at our inability to find consensus.  Being the over reactor I am, I concluded that we must need professional help.  My husband's answer?  We just need to forgive each other, and treat each other as we would want to be treated, consider the other more esteemed, and obey Christ in our marriage.

Can it be that simple?  Isn't there more?  Don't we need some kind of analysis from an expert to point out every jot and tittle of weakness?  Isn't there a book we need to consult before we can even begin to solve things?

Yes, there is something more: the "something more" needed is to just do it.  To obey.  No, it isn't easy.  It means swallowing my pride.  That's often a big bite to swallow.

When I look back, I think there is been too many times when I expended more energy than was necessary looking for the perfect answer rather than taking the more simple approach.  Maybe he was on to something.   Maybe I should have spent more time reading this:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself bybecoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.(Phil 2:3-9)