The man behind the woman

IMG_0950He shovels the driveway, cooks amazing meals, makes plans and suggestions for both of us to avoid inconvenience and hassles, and rises while it is still dark to meet with Jesus.

Left brained, he is. Fixated on numbers, strategies, and troubleshooting.

Right brained, I am. And capable of driving the wrong way for 45 minutes while singing along to music. (Don't judge. The Creator made me this way. Yeah, we'll go with that.) 

We've been married for almost six years, and during the last two or so it feels like we've been slogging through mud in our lives, sometimes it feels like we're in a bog that's up to our necks, but we're still holding hands across all that heavy muck, and at least we're still facing forward, still crying out to our heavenly Father, still waiting on his voice to bring clarity to what has felt like a grand mess.

Very little of the struggle has had anything to do with our relationship per se. Getting hit by a truck while crossing a road, feeling God's clear prompt to leave the church my husband had attended for 17 years and missing some dear friends, the loss of two parents, a difficult seminary journey, the absence of a place for me to minister, an infertility struggle that led into adoption loss that led into numbness and now a kind of blank slate, a kind of offering in which we say, Abba, now what?

And those are just the things we can say out loud.

We have fought to stand upright for some time now and we're still in the fight, doggedly committed to one another and to staying in the game, to not giving up on hope.

So when people ask me, as they often do, "What does your husband think of all this?" and they mean what does your husband think of you having served as an interim pastor, or preaching a sermon, or writing a book about women being freed to reach their full potential in God's Kingdom, I just shake my head and sigh.

Because what they don't see or understand is that without my husband I doubt I would have done or be doing any of these things. He has insisted on me stepping into my giftedness; he wanted me to go to seminary with classrooms full of men and to believe I had a place there, too; he hands out CDs of my sermons to the point of almost-embarrassment.

He's my agent in the best possible sense of the word; he wants to see me flourish and thrive. It sometimes feels like he is the voice of my loving heavenly Father in human terms. He gives me wings to soar.

A month or so ago, he turned to me and said something like, "I just want to see this book get out there so people can read it."

So on the way to church today I made the big ask. I asked if, even though its not his favorite thing to pray in public, if he would consider praying at the start of one of my upcoming author events. It was a funny moment, really, because he was conflicted: he really doesn't want to pray in front of people in the middle of a bookstore, but he wants to do everything he can to support the book, its message and me. So he said yes.

And though its been awhile since joyful laughter has filled our home or our car, God delivered this morning while we were still driving. We got behind a truck with a back window sticker that said:

Women are not always passengers.

We laughed because we weren't entirely sure what it meant, except to say that sometimes women drive cars and lead ministries and thrive in their workplaces and homes. Sometimes they drive and sometimes they ride. I happened to be riding at the time which just made it funnier somehow.

Fast forward a few hours later and we are some of the last to leave church, to get into our vehicle. As we're sitting in the church parking lot, we realize that the same truck with the window cling is right in front of us, that it belongs to a great couple in our Sunday School class, the ones who walked in late that morning after trying to help someone's vehicle get unstuck from the snow. And somehow, just knowing them a little bit, and now realizing we know the people with this uber-interesting window cling just made me start laughing with that gut belly laugh that almost makes you snort.

So if I see you out and about (and I hope I do), you won't have to bother asking, What does your husband think of all this? He believes that God raises up men and women to serve as they are gifted, that I am being obedient to the call of Jesus even when it costs me something, and that God's best plan is for men and women to fully partner together to build His Kingdom here on earth.

Women aren't always passengers. And by the way, neither are men. Instead, we are powerful allies. Thanks be to God, our marriage, though imperfect, is living proof of that.

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