My birthday was this past week. Not a milestone year or anything…but I’m used to every birthday being treated as a milestone year! (And if you think about it, since each day is a gift from God, I’d say that’s spot on to treat birthdays as gifts – gifts of life.) As a kid, my mom would make my favorite kind of cake for me. Our family would go out to my favorite restaurant, or for the occasional birthday celebration, I was able to have my friends over for a birthday party. Presents were given, the birthday song sung… So, birthdays have always been special for my family.
Well, this year my birthday was special, but not in the way I’m used to. My husband, Tim, and I were SNOWED IN! A blizzard dumped buckets of snow on our area, and we were not able to go over to my parents’ house to celebrate with dinner and birthday cake. Work was cancelled for both of us that day, and I was excited about the idea of spending my birthday curled up on the couch with my smokin’ hot hubby. Oh, but wait. Tim is in grad school, and not just any grad school. He’s in SEMINARY (i.e. he always, always has some sort of studying to do!). So, like the hard-working, straight-A student that is my husband, he spent the day working on schoolwork. You would think I would be in the background cheering him on, as I adored him for his work ethic. Or that I would happily mind my own business while he slaved away at finishing an assignment he wasn’t too thrilled over doing in the first place. Oh, but no. Not this girl. I was hurt. Besides a few wishes of “Happy birthday, sweetheart”, my husband did not pay attention to me that day. I shoveled the driveway in subzero temperatures, and he didn’t do a happy dance for me (and I hadn’t done a happy dance for him when he shoveled it just the day before! ugh.). Tim kept saying, “Just give me till 6, then I’ll spend the night with you,” so I waited around. Cleaned. Shoveled. And.then.he.got.sick. HUSBAND, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE SICK ON YOUR WIFE’S BIRTHDAY. K? It’s just not cool. So then I was really hurt, because there seemed to be nothing special about my birthday, and the one thing I had looked forward to – time with my husband – did not happen.
But God (ah, hope!). God, in His grace, stepped in and taught me a few things that day, and so, in an attempt to bring encouragement to all wives out there who can maybe just a little bit relate to feelings of “non-specialness” which we perceive to be caused by our husbands, I share with you my lessons learned.
As Tim went to bed early on the night of my birthday because he was not feeling well, I had some time to myself to pause and reflect on why I was so upset. In other words, time to cry and ask God why He allowed us to be snowed in (on my birthday!) and why does seminary have to be so time-consuming…A question popped into my head that I had read from a Bible commentary recently, regarding anger. “Why am I so angry about this situation? What is it that I think I need so badly that I’m so upset about not getting it?” Time to do some soul-searching. I’m so glad God gave me that question, as it helped me to remember the gospel. Because Christ has purchased me with His blood, at infinite cost to Himself; I KNOW that He loves me, I KNOW that I am secure in Him. So even on days when I might THINK my husband is not treasuring me the way he should, I don’t have to be so upset over that, because Christ has set me free. Free from the need to receive anything from my husband, free to simply cheer him on as he dives into his work, free to care for him when he’s not feeling so hot, free to give without receiving anything in return. Answering that question was extemely effective in helping me make sense of the situation and re-order my loves (CHRIST, husband, others, THEN me).
As I was sitting there, reflecting (crying), my sister called me. Just.in.time. She, being the good little sister that she is, asked me how my birthday had gone. Tears. “It wasn’t special,” I said. “Tim worked on school all day, then got sick.” Oh, that you would have someone in your life like my sister who encourages you by speaking truth in love!! She said exactly what I needed to hear, in a loving and gentle way, and it soothed my hurting heart. Do you know what this taught me? There are times when I need to look for comfort/encouragement from people other than just my husband. Being surrounded by godly, supportive girl friends is so important for every woman, and yes, even for married women. My husband is wonderful. He’s greater than I deserve, but he is still just a human, and he cannot meet my every need (I need so many reminders). Sometimes, I just need to phone a friend. 🙂
Well, after all this, you would think I returned to my somewhat normal self. Nope, still upset. So I wrote a letter, because I communicate better in writing and I wasn’t about to let my husband get off the hook (poor husband. and he was sick!) I was mean, and it was not my greatest moment as a wife, or as a respectable human being, really. And as I sat there typing furiously, pointing out all my husband’s perceived faults (aren’t those your favorite kind of letters?), I knew I was not helping the situation. EVEN IF he had deserved to hear what he had done wrong (which, for the record, I know he didn’t deserve this AT ALL), my approach was all wrong. Instead of berating him, should I not lovingly encourage him in his efforts to be a godly husband, reflective of Christ? Just like my sister had lovingly encouraged me? Wives, when we find ourselves in the situation of confronting our husbands, let us go about doing that in love and gentleness and respect. With a touch of compassion, perhaps. Love him the way you want to be loved.
One of the complaints I made to my husband in my dreadful, undeserved letter to him was that he was missing out on time. Isn’t family more important than schoolwork? Sacrifices must be made, but on my birthday?!? 28 doesn’t come around twice, ya know?! (although it’d be nice to have a do-over, for obvious reasons.) And as I was trying with all my might to help my husband SEE that he was losing precious time which won’t come back, I realized…I was the one missing out. My birthday could have been a great day for me, in which I served my husband and enjoyed the day off from work- cooking and cleaning and yes, shoveling, too! But it was not, because I had made the day all about me (tried to, anyway). Friends, let’s not miss out on any more time.
The next day my husband made me a birthday cake. (Smart man.) Oh, sweet husband. Just a day earlier, I was harsh, cruel, hurling insults that were not deserved. And he loved me. He loved me in much the same way that Christ loves me. Tenderly, graciously, patiently. This is the greatest gift you could ever give me, husband. Show.me.Christ.