Who's Helping Whom?
I wrote this yesterday... I am sitting in the waiting room of an outpatient surgery center. Jason just left donning his gown, robe, slippers, and fancy hat…no, he would not let me post the picture I took with my camera phone. It occurs to me as I type that in the kindness of God, I am going to have opportunity to grow in the very area I experienced conviction over during one part of Girlie Time last week. Let me give a little bit of background first. I attend a church that teaches, encourages, and affirms biblical womanhood. I can articulate our beliefs about this. I am excited about these beliefs. I aspire to conform more and more to what I believe. This is a work of the grace of God. Given my selfish pride, the fact that I find femininity as biblically defined appealing, beautiful, and desirable is absolute proof that miracles do happen. However, I have noticed that there are inconsistencies between my profession of belief, and how it functions in my life. I know that this will be the case for as long as I live here dragging around a body of flesh, but still – in this particular area it seems easy to look at certain externals and think that I am living this whole complementarian thing, when really in the day to day there are ways I operate as an "equal in function" type wife. One inconsistency I am aware of is a recurring pattern that is perhaps the byproduct of distorting Jason’s call to “servant leadership” in the home. You see, Jason excels in serving, and I excel in being served. What’s the problem?! I remember when it first dawned on me that there was a “problem”. I was in the kitchen at that dreaded hour when the children go bonkers, I make dinner, and Jason runs late at the office, and I caught myself thinking (or perhaps the Holy Spirit helped me to hear my own thinking), “I can’t wait until Jason gets home to help me.” Now even more revealing than the fact that I wasn’t just happy to have him home because I am madly in love with him was the fact that I was functionally viewing him as my helper. The follow up thought was, “well, if my kids weren’t so close in age, and I wasn’t tired and pregnant , I wouldn’t be so dependent on his help…” (These thoughts look rather benign typed neatly in black and white, but were the emotions able to be translated in writing, they would be bold face, red, and all caps.) It is fitting and appropriate for Jason to serve when he comes home. The problem was that I was demanding this and taking advantage of his desire to be a servant leader. God in His mercy continued to bring conviction and clarity. At a marriage conference we sat under a teaching that included the phrase “masculine helpmate”. Ouch. This is what was happening. I am ashamed to say that there were many days in the early years of our parenting when I would call my husband, give him an earful about how hard my life was, manipulate a break from my circumstances, and functionally view him as my helper when he was at home. The difference between my fist twinge of conscience, and this revelation during the teaching was that Jason also heard the latter. What he always thought was simply growing in servanthood, was actually not serving me at all. It was, in fact, confirming the lie I was already believing that grace to serve my husband and family turned off at 5:30 pm. Because of Jason’s courageous leadership (and I use the word courageous for a reason), I have seen change taking place. The phenomenon of counting down the minutes before my helper arrives is not as common. Still, Jason and I find ourselves in this cycle from time to time when he seems to be serving me to the point of indulgence, and I am taking advantage of his willingness to serve me. In this season it is manifested in the realm of him taking on domestic responsibility to fill in the gaps where I'm lacking. So here, in the waiting room, I anticipate what is sure to assist my fresh resolve to give Jason my first and best effort. He takes such good care of me, I am happy to be able to serve him rather extensively for a while, and re-align my heart to be his helper, not the other way around.