#8: Wife First
The day E was born, I felt my heart expand. I thought I knew love before that day. I’m married to the love of my life, after all. I do know love.
But I didn’t know UNCONDITIONAL love. The kind of love that is fully giving, yet fully dependent.
It is “giving” in that it is wholly unselfish. “Life is not about me,” this love says. And “dependent” in that it knows its Source must be from a reservoir of love that never fails, because its own tank isn’t big enough. It will run out. It will fail.
Today I’m reminiscing about that day – the day E was born. The day my heart grew. The day I got a promotion and a title change to “Mommy.”
But I must remember my first title: “Wife.”
The unconditional love I felt for E the moment I laid eyes on him is not to be a replacement of the love I hold for my husband, I tell myself. It’s meant to be the MODEL of how I should love my husband.
The love of the son instructs how to love the father.
About 18 months ago I sat in an auditorium with several dozen other wives, all there because our husbands were in the Police Academy. That day was the “Spouse’s Orientation” session. It started off fairly benign. A basic overview of what our husbands were currently enduring in their months-long training.
Then it turned serious. And intense.
The officer leading the training said, “The average divorce rate in America is 50%. Among law enforcement families, it’s higher than that. If you’re having problems in your marriage, get help now. The stress of this job will only make those worse if you don’t deal with them.”
The weight of those words presses on my chest like it did the day I first heard them. Anger rises up in me. Righteous anger. Rising up to buttress the walls of my heart against the pressure threatening to crush it.
The kids are napping. My husband is at work. I am pacing, tears burning my eyes.
Law enforcement family. Parents of a special needs child. The world says the odds are stacked against us.
The anger rises to my lips. Words tumble out of me into the empty living room. “We will NOT be a statistic,” I spit out, poking my finger into the empty air. “How DARE they say we can’t make it. They don’t know us. They don’t know ME.”
I feel hot. My fists are clenched. I want to punch something. Or someone. Anyone who says we will fail.
All of the emotions of the last two weeks are fueling me at this moment.
I will fight. Fight for my son. Fight for my marriage. Fight for our family.
Failure is not an option.
“God, are you listening?” I say, almost angrily. “We need you. I need you. You HAVE to help us.”
He’s listening. I can feel it.
“I know all I’ve been doing is asking for things lately, but please ….” My anger breaks, replaced by the tears of a little girl. A little girl who is scared, and wants her Dad to tell her everything is going to be okay.
“You brought us together. I need him. And he needs me. We can’t fail. Please ….” I’ve sunk to the couch, head in hands. Ashamed to be admitting I’m scared. That the fear has gotten to me.
This isn’t just for E. This is for all of us. My husband, our kids, me.
We all need each other. It’s in our DNA. The need for stability. Consistency. Love.
There it is again, the feeling I had the moment E was born. My heart is expanding. Except this time I’m not looking at my son. My Father is looking at me. Pouring love into me, filling me up. Assuring me everything will be okay.
He’s not using words today. I don’t need them. I just needed Him to show up. To be present. And He is.
That’s what I need to do for my husband. Be there. Be present. Love. Love with my actions. Use words if necessary.
I breathe deeply. There will be more days like this, I’m sure. Days where I will feel like I’m breaking under the pressure. Like it’s too much.
On those days I have to remember to run to this place. This place I will always find at the end of my rope. The place where His strength lives.
I hear little feet upstairs. E is up from his nap. Daddy will be home soon.
Dry those eyes, Momma.
You can do this.