Sunday, November 6, 2011

09.19.11 A Great Mom = An Excellent Wife

The only child-rearing advice that I am absolutely certain applies to all parents at all times in all places is this: love your kid(s), but love your husband more.

In some ways, this seems obvious. But for most of us, it is actually very difficult to live out. I think it's because the love between a mother and child is entirely natural - the moment you lay eyes on this little being, who is wholly dependent on and in love with you, your heart completely belongs to that baby. No matter how much they keep you up at night, how often they disobey, how simultaneously challening and demanding and manipulative they can be - we moms just can't stop loving those kids.

But the love between a man and a woman is completely unnatural. Not at first, of course - we all love the feeling of being in love, having a desirable man pursue us with romantic gestures and thoughtful acts of service. If we're lucky, we enjoy a honeymoon phase in our relationships, where nothing he does really gets us going and we're willing to overlook his tiny faults.

Eventually, though, romantic love fades away and we're left with the hard work of actually loving the man we married. And there is nothing natural about it. Our natural selves expect to be right all of the time; we want him to know what he's done wrong and how to fix it without having to explain it to him; we want him to work a good job, then come home and help with the housework, instead of retreat to the video games, and plan romantic getaways that sweep us off our feet. We don't want him to complain about any of our faults but be completely responsive and immediately change whatever he's doing that we don't like. That is how we naturally want to relate to our spouses.

Instead, if we are the people of God, we are called to treat our husbands with respect. Not because they deserve it, or because they've earned it, but because how we treat our husbands reflects what we believe about God. And that, my friends, is why loving our husbands is infinitely more important than loving our children - because our relationship with our husbands communicates the nature of our relationship with God, a relationship that we hope our children will one day choose for themselves, a relationship that - for both us and for our children - is infinitely more important than any human relationship we will ever enter into, as parents or as spouses.

I am the first to confess that it is way easier to hug my adorable little girl than it is to make sure my husband is greeted each evening with a kiss and a loving hello. It's more fun to read books and snuggle with a 3 year old than it is to communicate about a budget or schedule quality alone time.

I believe that God is in those moments with Maren, that he is honored and delighted when I share my love with her. But I also believe that he is glorified when I serve my husband, and that the way that I move towards Michael, the way that I prioritize him and support what he needs, is an act of worship, one of the most important acts of worship that I get to do while I am on this earth.

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