This week was not the best week of the challenge so far. I was extremely sick from Saturday to Monday and it's pretty hard to honor anybody when your insides feel like a hurricane has hit them! Poor Chris had to take on full-time toddler, maid and dinner duties, all while prepping for his sermon on Sunday (which, incidentally, was about wives submitting to their husbands!!) I did try to thank him for all of his extra work, and not notice the things he didn't do like I would have.
I have observed some difficulties that are unique to having a "ministry marriage" during the last two weeks. We had one arise Sunday afternoon. Chris came home very upset from church because a petty dispute had been brought to his attention. He was angry and heartsick over the fact that such a minor issue was distracting us from focusing on reaching people. He was questioning whether he should give in on this minor point, because it really wasn't a big deal and as he said, it just wasn't a hill he was ready to die on. When he told me about all of this, I got mad. The fact that it wasn't a big deal and these few people were still willing to complain and refuse to submit to authority indicated a character issue to me, and I felt that, as such, it should not be catered to or swept under the rug. I was angry at these people and the situation, but not at him; however, the end result of our conversation was that he felt that he hadn't been listened to and that he was unsupported. My reaction brought that church disagreement right over and smack in the middle of our home.
I spent the next few hours, stuck in bed, mulling over the situation and my reaction. One thing God showed me was that, although I was right in defending Chris' pastoral authority, I had not been understanding of his pastoral responsibility. He was looking at the big picture and I was focusing on the little issue. The other thing I was convicted about was that I didn't fulfill my job description. My job as his wife is to provide an emotional outlet for him and try to make our home a haven from all of the difficulties of dealing with people in the church. There might have come a time and place where it would have been appropriate for me to share my opinion with him, but right then he needed a wife, not an opinion. Even while being sick, I could have sought to speak words of encouragement and support instead of arguing my point of view.
I find myself often bringing up situations like this in the church, either cracking jokes about them or spouting off my opinions. I am resolving this week to try and leave this stuff out of our home life. I will try to let my mouth be ruled by Ephesians 4:29 (The Message), "Say only what helps, each word a gift." (Wow, a gift! What if we all imagined each of our words as either a gift wrapped package or a weapon of destruction! That's a powerful word picture!) In fact, in Day Nine of Nancy Leigh DeMoss's 30-Day Encouragement Challenge, she suggests that "if listening is a real problem for you, play a game with yourself. See if you can listen to your husband for one whole day, only speaking when asked a question." Now, I may have to give Chris some advance warning that I'm trying this little experiment, because if this Chatty Cathy gets quiet he may assume I'm giving him the 'silent treatment'!!
So, trying to listen to him more and talk less about church issues are my two goals for the next week. And in making an effort to publicly praise my husband, I am hereby offering him this post as a public, and humble, apology.