I always knew this day would come. In fact, I even prayed for it, but I never thought I would respond to its arrival like this…
It was no secret when Ray and I first got together that I was the one who was holier than thou, them, and their mommas. When I requested that the Lord send me a husband who was even more deeply entrenched in spiritual matters than I was, I knew that it would be a hard task even for Jesus. I’m being a bit facetious here, let the reader understand, but in hindsight I must admit that this was essentially my reality for some time.
Marrying Ray caused a fairly extensive paradigm shift for me. He challenged every notion of what I thought I wanted in a husband. Through my relationship with him and some wise advice from some trusted mentors, I discovered that “marriage material” for a Christian is, in the most basic sense, a man who has a genuine heart for God and is willing to learn and grow even if that means his wife has to become the primary teacher. No matter where a guy falls on the spectrum of expressions of spirituality, those components are necessary. Each of these qualities and more could be found in Ray, so I gave up “the list” and chose to focus on sharpening my husband as he sharpened me.
It’s time to get out the grinding stone
From day one, even though Ray knew I had a deeper understanding of the Bible, he took the spiritual leadership role upon himself by implementing a daily Bible study every weekday. Thankfully he understood that he could still confidently claim that role in our family regardless of who was teaching who. I don’t think he felt daunted or threatened by me as much as he was challenged.
Eight and a half books of the Bible later, I’ve noticed a gradual shift in his excitement and hunger for the Word, as well as the strength of his contributions to discussion. Full disclosure, I used to get upset with him in the beginning because he never had much to contribute and when he did contribute it was what I considered weak sauce. (Put your pitchforks down, people. I’ve changed my ways.) The past couple months he’s actually been challenging my ideas (he’s usually right), digging into cross references and commentary, and demonstrating tremendous growth. At first I was really impressed and pleased by this change.
Then last month our church did a sermon series on prayer and extended a 21 day fast to the congregation. Ray decided to join in and not only fasted, but went to the 5am men’s prayer meeting, spent time every day in the other room doing personal devotions, and even received his prayer language (something he’s been wanting for a while) while he was in Tanzania. This man has really been pressing in and God has really been doing some new things in his heart.
Meanwhile… a storm’s a’brewing over yonder
I used to be an avid faster, but it’s not something I do too much these days because of a combination of migraines and an extended bout of apathy, so I opted out. Meanwhile, my husband was becoming this super Christian, and I found myself entering this dark place. When he said he wanted to spend an hour in devotions, I tried to discourage him from being away so long. We had movies that needed to be watched after all. When he shared some significant insight he’d gotten from his time with God, I either placidly nodded my head and forced a smile or yawned and rolled over.
After having prayed for so long that he would experience such growth, why did I have such a bad attitude when it finally happened?
Mike Bickle said once at a Onething conference, that when people try to discourage you from going hard after God, it’s usually because you remind them of how much they’re not. At the time those words were spoken, I ferociously nodded my head and circled that quote in my journal because I had plenty people in my life telling me that I was doing too much for God or “too heavenly minded”. Today I have to admit that I am on the other end of the spectrum. I’m the one who feels my desire to experience the fullness of God is waning and every inch of progress my husband makes causes me to feel it even more.
Bad girl, bad girl, what you gonna do?
I’ve bemoaned a certain loss of identity numerous times on this blog, so this isn’t a new concept as far as marriage is concerned. It’s just that this time I’m coming face to face with the reality that I’ve been reveling in a presumed identity as “the more spiritual one” in our relationship, so now that I feel like my husband is a challenge to that identity, I find myself clawing at him every time he threatens to take it away.
Enough with the identity changes already!
Of course this is just a perceived threat because he has not even the slightest intention of “de-throning” me or what have you, but it’s my pride that has caused me to put myself on a pedestal in the first place, and naturally it’s my pride that doesn’t want anyone to take me off.
I need Jesus.
Though I didn’t participate in the fast, I feel like that season was a good time for me because I’ve recently taken some time to do some soul searching and to lay my pride and insecurities (technically the same thing) on the altar of God’s mercy. Once you scrape off the layers of pride, self-righteousness, and jealousy, a tender heart that desires intimacy with the Father is revealed.
That’s all I want.
Admittedly, hearing the chorus members of the Lion King sing “they [the Pharisees] live in you” isn’t a pleasant tune to wake up to some days, it’s still quite a shock to realize that I can demonstrate more of their character traits than Christ’s, but then I just plug my ears and loudly sing the song my mom taught me as a kid:
“He’s still working on me
To make me what I ought to be
It took Him just a week to make
The moon and the stars
The sun and the earth
And Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be,
‘Cuz He’s still working on me.”