Parenting a child with the stomach flu in the middle of the night is not what I had in mind when planning for our Christmas holiday in California last month. When Soren (2 years' old) showed signs of the virus in the middle of the night, Rob was still in Florida, but the grandmas were stellar in helping me the three times he threw up. After Rob arrived in California to a sleep deprived wife and sick kid, we parented together and it took three days for the symptoms to subside.
About 5 days after the first one got it, we were enjoying our annual reading of Dickens' Christmas Carol when the second one, Brennan (4 years' old), spilled his dinner all over the beautifully illustrated book. All in all, this virus took up nine days of our 14 day trip.
At 3 a.m. on one of the nights, perhaps the fifth, I had a great feeling of compassion for my husband--or should I say it started as pity for me, but compassion on some level for my husband's job of husbandry.
The dictionary defines husbandry as the "the cultivation and production of edible crops for food." Ok, lest I digress.....we planted six beautiful tomato plants this fall with our next-door-green-thumb neighbor's help. We watered most everyday, but apparently we didn't sing enough to praises to the plants because by Dec., though there were signs of fruit on the vines, they weren't full of vigor and our neighbor pronounced the plants worthless. (They're still sitting in their pots in the garage, btw...) The neighbor's plants are luscious, twice as big as ours and he's already brought some fruit over to share!
What did we do wrong? We gave the plants what they required to exist, but we didn't nurture them to thrive and produce fruit that would benefit us. My husband lives in same paradigm--not just giving his family what we need to exist, but what we need to thrive. When I was feeling sorry for myself, having a human husband who can't meet all my needs, I began feeling sorry for him having been given an impossible job by God!
I wish I could articulate the impact of this 3 a.m. epiphany, but it led to God reminding me that marriage reflects the community of the Trinity. The Trinity embodies three Beings equal in power and majesty, but with different economic roles. Their interaction is one of complete love and unity and fellowship and purpose. I realized I had totally lost sight of this! I had already forgotten and had become discontent with my husband and our roles in this marriage.
I told Rob what I was thinking and that I was going to commit to pray for him daily in this matter because the health of our family depends on his efforts in cultivating the crop that is our family. I realized that if men really loved (REALLY loved--not just dutifully operated) their wives sacrificially, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, washing her with the water of the Word, wives would be so content, that they wouldn't seek fulfillment elsewhere.
Here is where I get very vexed, because the Bible doesn't give many specifics about what all women are supposed to be "doing." I can't spell that out for anyone but me, but I can say what the Bible says about our roles--that we come alongside our husbands to help in their vocations (Gen. 2:20), that we are busy at home, and are lovers of our husbands and children (Titus 2:4-5), that we submit to them in Christ as unto the Lord (Eph. 5:22), etc., etc...
So, without stating what duties each spouse should be performing at home, I do see that we women seek fulfillment and contentment outside of our homes so frequently, because, frankly, it's harder to focus on a job that has no closure, no immediate rewards, no real kudos, and lots of mundane. Women like checking off our lists.
But this commitment to pray for my husband to excel at loving me, while looking like a selfish desire, I realized was absolutely compassionate--because if he puts loving me as his highest priority, he will be acting like the members of Trinity and will be utterly joy-filled, content, complete, and full of purpose. Just as I will be if I seek to obey God's word and fulfill my part economically in this marriage by submitting, respecting and coming alongside my husband.
And, as it turns out, when I do see my home as my first job--though it is not my only job--I actually find a great amount of contentment and joy in doing the duties I'm called to at home and letting Rob worry about those things that are out of my hands (or should be out of my hands).
I have left much unsaid as to where I'm coming from Biblically or culturally. I'm journaling this so as not to forget that I am happiest and most content when I'm obedient to the scripture and not searching for contentment outside of the community God has given me, not just to survive in, but that into which I to put my greatest energy and passion. If I'm passionate about feeling joy, then I have no other choice than to glorify God and be passionate obeying His word. Soli Deo Gloria.