I used to sit across the room from my husband, picking arguments and begging him to be different. I just want you to lead me, I’d whine from the couch. And he’d smirk to that, following it with this sad smile. Folks who know me in real life can probably understand why I say my husband has a difficult job. Being married to me is not easy. I set the bar too high, for myself and everyone around me. I’m extremely opinionated. I’m critical and driven and those things don’t always mix well. I also happen to be a leader myself. Chris & I have spent a lot of years working through what it looks like for a peacekeeper to lead a leader.
Before we get too far into this, please let me clarify that this post has nothing to do with submission or marriage roles. I saw something in Chris that I wanted brought to the surface. I wanted to hear him cast big vision for our family and our life together. I wanted to see him get excited about something without fear, and I wanted him to talk about it. Let’s do this. Let’s go there. Let’s explore that. I wanted him to lead me into calling and adventure. I wanted to see him healed and restored, so that he could walk out in his gifts and talents to the fullest extent.
When I fell in love with Chris, I began to push. I’m a bit of a bulldog; I can’t help it. He’d been playing in bands for a decade, but I wanted him to lead worship. He’d been managing people in jobs for years, but I wanted to see him pastor his family and then some. I wanted to see the Lord move his powerful gift out of his garage studio and his retail store, and out into the world. I pushed and pushed. And Chris pushed back.
Rach, I’m not sure that the Lord can use me in the ways you’re dreaming. I’m not sure I can be the man you want me to be. I’d sure like to, but I think I’m a bit too damaged. I’m too far gone.
In our early days together, my husband was a different person. He was wounded and alone, unsure of himself and what the Lord could do through him. He had a past and some baggage and two little boys who made up his entire world. He wasn’t looking much farther than beyond the next few days. Meanwhile, I was young and privileged. At that point, my hardest decision in life had been choosing a college without disappointing my parents. I was untouched, unscathed the by the world. I arrived at Chris before I ever had a chance to experience what it felt like to be jaded.
So back to the couch, and his sad smile. I’d sit across from him and ask him questions and hear these words of another language. The song of a broken man, the words of which I did not know. His world and my world collided and crashed and made a mess all over the living room floor, on a weekly basis.
But slowly, over the course of months and years, I got to experience my husband’s healing. We just stopped talking and started living, and I watched him blossom and bloom. He began playing out at churches and worship events, and eventually he joined a church staff. He began speaking up and sharing bits of his story, and eventually he became a small group leader to husbands and dads who have walked the same roads. A few weeks ago, I watched him baptize a man who’s known my husband for a decade, a man who’s followed his journey and experienced his baggage and still seen Jesus through it all.
As I watched Chris lower this guy into the water, down with the old and up with the new, I was reminded of my husband’s own transformation. Although he’s been a follower of Jesus for most of his life, Chris recently got a fresh taste of the gospel. Somewhere along the way, I lost track of that old life, and that old couch, and those old conversations. And now here he is, casting big vision for our family. He’s getting excited about things without fear. He’s pushing me to be bolder, braver. My husband is healed and restored, and he’s using that to turn around and extend the same to others. This is the new him, and it leaves me breathless.