I saw a post on a friend’s Facebook page today that was asking about the perfect women who have it all together. You know the woman. Her hair always looks good. She’s just been to the gym, but didn’t sweat enough to mess up her make-up, just enough to stay in those size two jeans. She cheerfully totes her kids to every activity: Awanas, Soccer, Music Lessons and has a gourmet, gluten-free meal in the Crock for when they get home to their perfectly clean home. After supper she writes for her fabulous blog and then she spends the rest of the night making her husband happy he married this amazing woman. She doesn’t exist.
We marry real people. We are real people. Ideas like the one above, or the “Christian Version” of her (perfect in ministry, helping the poor on all occasions, never raising her voice at her children, teaching Sunday School, sitting in prayer with friends, her Bible open on her lap every free moment of her life, able to balance her life as a mother, wife, friend and homemaker with her devotional and serving life) just do. not. exist.
We are real. We are sinners. We have limitations. Our spouses are real. They are sinners with limitations as well.
Today, we had a lovely morning at church. My hair was done (okay, I’ll give you that), I did teach Sunday School and my husband served with the youth group selling cinnamon rolls for a fund-raiser. All good. When we got home we had a plan to get to a project we had been putting off – transferring home movies to DVD. It was something we wanted to do together. It was a good Sunday afternoon project — not too demanding, reflective. Our boys were playing with friends in the neighborhood so we had this calm space to get a long awaited project underway.
Now, before I tell you what happened, I have to confess this temptation: It’s about that woman I mentioned in the beginning of this post. She never fights with her husband. She’s this amazing wife who submits on all occasions, oh, and does so cheerfully. She was haunting me as I was thinking through what to post this week about marriage. I pray over what I blog. I ask God to lead me. I know I am going to attempt to post something on marriage every Sunday evening so that people can read “Marriage Matters Monday” posts. I want to have something that will bless other marriages here — and somehow, the temptation comes making me feel as though what I need to offer you is from this perfect place in my marriage. We do have a wonderful marriage. It is one of the blessings I count daily. But, it is far from perfect. We are broken clay pots. We are human. We fail one another. We fight. We get frustrated. We disagree. Some days are amazing and we live out God’s love for one another and other days, not so much. So, I wanted to write to you about what is working in our marriage, but what I have to do more than that is to tell you how God is working in our marriage despite our human failings.
My husband was so excited to finally be getting this project going that he was being (according to me) a bit impatient and pushy. That didn’t fit into my idea of a restful Sunday, so I said so. He took offense to my comment and it went up from there. Really, we both had such full weeks and we were about to go into a new week full of needs and commitments. We needed one another and we needed peace. Sometimes the need for peace will make us fight for peace and then the whole thing just backfires. So we bickered a bit and we were frustrated with one another. I ended up saying I needed some space. We were like the guys trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together. The more we tried, the worse things got.
|Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons|
I went into our bedroom and had a little cry — not just about this, but a good little cry nonetheless. I came out and said I was going to take some time to regroup (out of the home). I took a break and went out for a bit. Space. Sometimes we just need to give something space. I heard the Lord pressing in on my heart the whole time, gentle and firm simultaneously. When I got home I was softened enough to approach my husband with some humility. He was in the same spirit and we were able to apologize. It is as Ruth Bell Graham said, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” Sometimes we can forgive before we escalate. Sometimes we have to make a mess and then go back and clean it up.
The whole picture here is that I am hoping to start a “Link Up” where other bloggers join me every Monday and we offer here at Hearts Homeward a whole bunch of posts on marriage — we want to encourage one another, and you, in our marriages. In order to do that, God had to get me prepared. I have to let go of that idea of the “perfect” wife and learn to be a wife after His own heart — real, transparent and growing in Him. Sometimes I’ll blog and just won’t clean house. Sometimes I’ll go to my Zumba class or take a run, but I’ll look like a sweaty mess afterwards and I don’t think I’ll ever fit in those size two jeans again (and truthfully I don’t really think I want to). I may raise my voice at my boys on occasion. I’d rather not, but it happens. I have to make room to be real here or I won’t do either of us any good: you, my guest here, or me in my real life. I believe we can grow into holiness and there is much we all can become in Christ. This is the way of sanctification – God grows us bit by bit into more and more of His image and more and more of HIM. I just know I have to also live where I am, not where I wish I were, and certainly not live comparing myself to a woman who just can’t possibly exist.
The perfect marriage is made of two imperfect people, loved perfectly by a Perfect God who patiently moves them forward into forgiveness over, and over and over. I’m in. I hope you are too.