Not a Competition

I’m sitting here crying… black rivers running down my blush pink cheeks.

It all started last night when I had a Mary Kay consultant over to showcase her products and give me a makeover. I built it up in my mind, which is something they say never to do.

My pastor-husband, Colby, was leaving just as she was coming and I hugged him close and long, hinting that he should come right home at 9:00, right after youth group was over. It had been a BUSY couple of weeks and the truth was I was hungry for his attention. I thought my hug was rather enticing and I pictured him unable to concentrate during youth group while pictures of me danced in his head. Maybe, just maybe, I chuckled to myself, he will leave a few minutes early to avoid the post-service chitter-chatter.

I rarely wear makeup, so I felt like Cleopatra when she was finished. I can’t wait to see Colby’s reaction, I thought. He’s likely to go nuts. We said goodbye, I tucked in all four kids, and changed into a cute outfit.

9:18 PM
Any minute now….There was an unfamiliar noise and I rushed to the window to see if it was his car pulling in the driveway. No…just the neighbor’s truck pulling out…

9:24 PM
Okay, well I guess he decided to stay after and talk to a few people. That’s understandable. He is a pastor after all. {Insert nervous laughter.}

9:33 PM
I had been checking the time way too closely, and every minute dragged on to an inconceivable proportion.

9:41 PM
I sat on the edge of my bed, my neediness and vulnerability starting to ooze everywhere, starting to make a mess. I felt like a teenage girl whose prom date never showed up.

9:50 PM
Feeling despised and rejected that my husband didn’t show up for a date that really wasn’t on his calendar, I turned on Hulu and started watching The Middle. Bitterness wove through my sinews and veins as I pondered the perceived competition I had clearly lost.

He arrived home at 9:54, but it was too late. Patricia Heaton had already sucked me in, so I gave a half-hearted “How was your night?” and kept watching. During a 90 second commercial break I made sure he saw me change into gray sweatpants three sizes too big and my lint-balled fleece from 1997. My icy responses the rest of the night, I justified, were just reflecting back to him what he had given ME through his neglect.

So here I am, the next morning… last night’s makeup smeared across a weary face as I come to grips with just how selfish I can be. Colby put a pause on his work a few minutes ago to cup my trembling face in his hands, tell me that I’m beautiful, that he loves me, and that I need to look at the big picture. The truth of the matter is, my husband does a lot for me. He watched all four of our little children earlier in the week so I could go skiing with a church member. He helps with the groceries. The diapers. The meals. He serves me recklessly. I need to start believing the best about him, not Satan’s lies that he cherishes his work more than me.

Pretending an ANNIE VS. CHURCH WORK competition exists puts unnecessary pressure on him. Although some women may have a legitimate complaint in that department, many of us make this an unfair conflict. My husband has weighty responsibilities, some responsibilities I can’t even fathom. When I feel my needs aren’t getting met, I tend to lash out at him, but that’s not fair. I need to go to God with my needs, be proactive about getting the help that I need, and….darn it…. get the focus off myself!

Being a pastor’s wife is not for the faint-hearted. We have to share our husband’s attention, energy, and affection. It is so easy to become bitter and that is exactly what the enemy desires… bitter, angry, detached wives that tear their husbands down when what they need is support for their wobbly arms as they hold up so much. Please, my friends. I beg you.

Be gracious to your men as they try to fulfill all their responsibilities well.

And, by all means, don’t let my experience deter you from a good makeover every once and awhile. Just remember to always go waterproof.

Published January 1, 2012