The things that we have allowed to tear us down often ring in our ears when brought up again. I’ve always had this fear that I wasn’t a good wife or that I would never measure up to the examples set before me. Over the years, the little comments I’ve heard or the *advice* I’ve been given on how to be a better wife has not always been received so well.
In my fear, I’ve allowed the words of people who don’t know me, don’t care about my marriage, and ultimately don’t have my best interest in mind to affect how I feel about myself, my marriage, and my ability as a wife.
During the last year, my marriage has really faced some growing pains – the same pains that I’m sure most married people experience. Nonetheless, the work that we put into our marriage behind the scenes, on a daily basis, is the work that produces the most fruit in our lives. When I look back and see how far we’ve come, from two youngins’ who got married in their early 20’s and started our life together in a place that was unfamiliar to us both, I don’t just see the struggles it took to get us here, but I see the strength that God has given us to create the life we have.
Very recently, I’m talking within the last 24 hours, my ability to be a good wife was challenged by another woman. At that moment, I didn’t waver or push back, and I definitely didn’t consider for a second that the words I was hearing had any truth to them. They were words from someone who knows very little to nothing about my marriage, how I care for my husband, and how he provides for our family. This woman told me that I needed to take better care of my husband. Mind you, he’s quite pitiful these days with his leg in a cast, riding around on a knee scooter, and she probably noticed that I wasn’t hovering over him or sitting at his feet. But honestly, he doesn’t want that. I did that for the first 2 weeks of his injury, and then he decided he wanted some independence to start healing faster.
So, what she saw was a submissive wife who was meeting his needs by allowing him to do things on his own so that he could feel like a man, not having to ask for things or be fully dependent on me. But what she thought she saw *and what she tried to make me think was true* was a wife that doesn’t care about her husband, someone who doesn’t take care of him at home, who doesn’t “put lotion on his feet” and nurse him back to health.
I sat up in bed thinking about the conversation, and I shared it with Ryan who was almost as shocked as I was that someone would challenge me on that. And like I’ve done every time before, I texted my mom, and she too was very surprised. When I’ve ever been challenged on my worth or value, these are the two people I run to because they always remind of who I *really* am. There is no one else who knows me better than they do, so I go to them for a reset on self-concept and a renewal on my self-worth, and they remind me of who I am, not what I’ve been told that I am.
Last night was weird though.
As I was telling Ryan this story, I also told him that I didn’t believe the woman. That I knew I was a good wife, maybe not the best, but that I knew I tried my best. Her words didn’t knock me down, even though they were far out of left field, wildly inappropriate, and honestly just mean. Instead, I found myself doing a quick inventory of the events from the last 2 months, and I kinda laughed to myself and just thought,
“Nope, not today. I know who I am.”
The same thought struck me when I was faced with yet another rude comment about how I don’t have children yet. These comments over the years have burned more than I can explain. In the last year though, they have burned the most because I am finally at that point where I want children, I’m asking God for them, and I’m just patiently waiting for that chapter of my life to begin.
However, when the questions were asked, “What are you doing?” and “Why don’t you have kids yet?” “What’s wrong with you?” and then the comments “This is the best time to have kids.” and “You’re not getting any younger.” also “You need to go ahead and have them before you can’t.” I still didn’t waver. I didn’t even flinch. All I said was, “That’s what I’ve been told.”
For the first time, these two things, the two things that have caused me the most hurt over the last 4 years, they didn’t affect me at all. Yeah, after talking it through with Ryan, I started to get a little mad that someone would have to nerve to speak to me like that. And after talking to my mom, we decided we should pray for her because there is a deeper reason why someone would try to steal my joy, and it likely had nothing to do with me at all. The bottom line is that they didn’t knock me down like they used to.
I was shocked that someone would say these things to me with such a mean-spirited gesture, but I was more shocked that I barely cared. I was shocked that it didn’t hurt, and then I was thankful because I know who I am, I know Who’s I am, and I know that I don’t have to answer to people. I only answer to God, so when I find myself beaten down and depressed over something someone said to me, I have to answer to him for not believing His truths and not trusting His timing. But, when I am completely unaffected by awful comments and rude statements about my worth, my value as a wife, my lack of children, etc., I honor Him by remembering that I am His and I then I trust Him.
Ya’ll, it was nice to wake up this morning, only remembering what was said, not remember how bad it made me feel. Because it didn’t. Not a minute of my time or an ounce of my energy was spent worrying about how bad someone made me feel.
Our Pastor has this message on offenses and being offended, and he helped us understand that while you can choose to be offended, you can also choose to not be offended. And while everything that woman said to me was offensive, and I believe it was intentionally offensive, I made the choice to not be offended, which means I didn’t have to deal with it.
I’m honestly so grateful for all the strength and all the grit that got me here, the growing pains that showed me our marriage is strong, and the promises that God has for us when His timing is here. Without these, without this last season of tremendous stretching and growing, I probably would have had a much different night and a much different perspective this morning.
Today, I choose grace. Because I can.
– the Wife