My, how much I had to learn, when I married, after spending most of my life as a single mother, adopting children with disabilities. I was accustomed to running everything myself, and had learned long years before, to be very good at organizing my beloved family.
I was sorry to discover, that if there was anything I was NOT good at, it was suddenly having a husband who wanted things his way. During those first few years, I spent much too much time feeling sorry for myself, and resentful for having acquired a "boss". Many times, when I woke in the morning, self pity would descend upon me, painting a gloomy day at once. I suppose this is one reason people say that it is difficult to marry in your older years, because you are "set in your own ways". It is true that old habits are comfortable. Independence has its rewards, though it can be very lonely.
I realized this resentful spirit was not pleasing to God, but for those first years, filled with high emotion, it seemed that there was no way to change it.
When my husband moved our hen house from our yard, over to the edge of our ravine, with his tractor, while I was in town, I was very angry. His only comment was that he was tired of looking at it. He located it far from water, and far from sight. My only thought was that it was I who would have to haul water in buckets now, and it was I who could no longer watch and guard our hens with pleasure, from the house. Indeed, that first winter, a bobcat succeeded in getting in, and killed most of our flock. Discovering this massacre brought me more intense resentment. That was, in fact, a bitter day.
Through this experience, I actually discovered that I didn't care much about my husband's wishes! I was appalled to comprehend that it was my own pride that made me so stubborn, and not being willing to put aside my own desires, for my husband. It was unexpectedly difficult to put my own wishes down, and purposely nurture a true care for my husband's. It was disappointing to me, to discover that I did not have the grace to even pray for God to give me a desire for my husband's wishes.
What a humbling position. I guess I needed a lesson in humility, big time. I had been a "good mother" for so long, and now, I no longer felt good. I was a "selfish wife". I knew this, deep inside. It's embarrassing to admit in writing. But I believe my Heavenly Father wants me to share how He caused the development of grace in my spirit. To share my learning to be so happy to see my husband happy, that my own wishes were content on the back burner.
* Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Col 3:18
I had been raised in a Christian family, and I knew it was God's will that I learn to utilize God's amazing grace. To plant it in my own heart, and nurture it, pray for it, encourage it to grow. I knew it would take a humble heart, and much prayer, for this kind of grace to develop where it never had grown before. I prayed much over this.
Little by little, the Holy Spirit moved in my spirit, waking me to my own faults, and introducing me to new concepts. One was this: God had certainly taught me many skills in motherhood. But those skills were not the right ones to use in wifehood. I needed to learn an entire new set. An entire new way of living.
After months of this inner work, my sincerity was tested. My husband got up one day, and rearranged all the cupboards. Suddenly the things I used most often, were in the back of the top shelf, out of my reach. I couldn't find anything. Everything was out of place. But I stopped myself, before I said anything, and considered. How important was this? My husband was cheerful and jolly, thinking that the kitchen was now the way he liked it. Was it important enough for me to steal from his joy? No, I determined, it wasn't. So I asked God to help me, and to give me grace. All I said to my husband was "how shall I reach the things on top?" And his reply was "just call me, and I'll reach them down for you."
That was the full extent of the conversation. That of itself wouldn't have been anything important. The amazing thing was that when I put it in my Father's hands, I let go of my own wishes completely. When that happened, I no longer cared about my way. I became content inside.
That was when I knew for certain, that my little grace plant was putting out new shoots. It was thriving. Oh, praise the Lord! After the eight years my husband and I have shared, blessed fruit is growing!
Today, a neighbor up the mountain offered my husband yet another junk car. My husband said he would have to ask what I thought. I told him I didn't want another one lying around. But, I added, if it was going to make him happy, then I wanted him to do it. He did it. I might have felt smugly proud of myself, in other times, but instead, I simply felt grateful, that God had made it possible for me to surrender. I had been blessed with an opportunity to please my Saviour.
I have searched for holiness, and meditated long, over these words describing in the Bible, how I was supposed to develop "behaviour as becometh holiness". Certainly, this would include the behaviour of wanting to see my husband happy. And the behaviour of putting aside my own wishes with a pure spirit, to achieve this.
I could not do it alone. But I listened to the Holy Spirit, and prayed long for guidance, help, and strength. At last it slowly began to develop
It is so different from what our society teaches! I know it may go against the grain for many women. It even goes against the grain for my mother. But God has taught me what I must do. He has not taught me what others must do. Only myself.
My orders were to change myself.
At last God had given me the desire to pray for grace. I do truly desire for my husband to be happy. I am married, and am linked with my husband in holy union. I do truly desire to develop the grace necessary to wish him happiness in every good and healthy area of life, even if his wishes are different from my own.
So I began to pray for my husband much more than I ever had before. Even before getting up in the morning, I raised my eyes to the sky, and thanked God for this marriage, and prayed for my husband. I ask God to bring him joy, and draw him close to His own heart. I intend to keep this up for the rest of my life, as long as we live.
* The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands. Titus 2:3,4
I have concluded that the most important thing, the most loving thing a Christian wife can do for her husband, is to daily lift him up to Christ, in prayer. The first thing I do in the morning now, instead of feeling sorry for myself, for one thing or another, is to raise my husband to the Lord, and pray that the Lord will give him joy, and continue blessing him, and drawing close to him. I also thank God for the vitally important work He is doing in my own heart.
And a sweet, gentle change is happening. My husband has begun to show an interest in my opinions. He now asks what I would like, before making big changes, or decisions! Of all things, a few days after being given that junk car, he turned around and gave it to a friend down the mountain from us! We are enjoying the development of a better relationship, and a major change in the way we relate to each other! But the best thing of all, is that, with God's grace, I am able to please the Lord in a different way than before. Hallelujah!
2005 Rosemary Gwaltney