Dear 19-Year Old Me, Faith Will Come

You haven’t felt God much in your life yet. You’ve heard countless sermons and been to boat-loads of Christian camps. You’ve gone on a couple of mission trips that involved you and your giggling friends passing buckets of mud to boys you had crushes on in the mornings and playing soccer with the locals in the evenings. You’ve even cautiously raised your hands up in the air while worshiping once or twice.

But if I asked you to pinpoint one time in your life in which you genuinely felt God’s presence, a moment that proved his real-ness to you, well, trust me… You’ve got nothin’.

That Time Jesus Got Buried Under Christmas: Just In Case You Need an Excuse Not to Decorate

This year, I pray that I may be content in the stable. That I may find beauty in the meekness of a humble manger and not try to manufacture it everywhere else. Jesus is easily found in spaces untouched by the desire to put our own greatness on display. I have to be careful not to hide him.

toddlers readiness preschool reading literacy early childhood education

Why I’m Not Teaching My Three-Year-Old to Read

But then I think back to my education degree and remind myself that Hattie just turned THREE, and this pressure that has been created to have my kids literate by the age of 4 and performing long-division by 5 and composing symphonies by 6 WAS NOT created by teachers or child development researchers but by the pressures of a flawed system and competitive parents.

The Lie About Spiritual Leadership in Your Marriage

Being raised in the church, I religiously (pun intended) attended Sunday school, Wednesday night huddles, lock-ins, bible studies, mission trips, church camps, and all the “RE” youth events:  “ReIgnite”, “Revive,” Rekindle”, “Recharge” … you get the picture … where people say deep things that include phrases like “this season in your life” and “spiritual high” and “guard your heart.”

Obviously, I attended a lot of those “girls only” talks. You know the ones: loving yourself for you, beauty is on the inside, boys only want one thing, and, of course, what to look for in a Godly husband. These are important conversations that are crucial for the malleable minds and souls of 12-year-old tween girls.  During many of these conversations, a catch phrase is tossed around, one that should top the list of what all good little girls hope for in a husband: Spiritual Leader.

Hear me: I believe in the role of a husband as a spiritual leader. I guess I am old-school in thinking that he is the head of the home, in that men value respect and women value their affection. The two are intertwined, each dependent on the other. However, to think that men should not and will not ever go through valleys or falter in faith, never doubt, never go through ruts or times of complacency is complete (and udder… 😉 ) bull.

Here’s the problem with the heavy emphasis of this phrase. Maybe I just got the message skewed, but somewhere between 10 and 28, I breathed out a heavy sigh of relief and decided that I was off the hook. The spiritual leader is husband-only territory. If he’s not leading, it’s certainly (and thankfully) not my job. I’ll just sit and nurse the baby, unload the dishwasher, fold the laundry, and wait for him to step into his God-given role. I won’t suggest we pray together… that’s his job. I won’t suggest a bible study… not my role. I won’t push him to spend time in solitude … he should do that without my prodding. For he is, in fact, dubbed the spiritual leader. I’m exaggerating a little bit… but sadly, not much.

I do believe in the leadership of a husband, but I shouldn’t expect to never have to lead. The problem with this model is that I use it as an excuse. I use it as an excuse to continue in my own rut, to justify my own distance, to feel comfortable sitting at arm’s length.  Thank goodness he’s not pushing me right now because I really don’t feel like moving. And thank goodness I don’t have to push him because I’m not really in the mood.

Here’s the thing. As in all marital roles, this one is never going to be permanent. There will inevitably be ebbs and flows in each spouse’s desire to grow toward Christ. But one of us had better start flowing. What might seem to be a minor leak in this area will eventually evolve into a drowning marriage because this is the source from which all rivers run. Every part is affected.

My husband’s passion for seeking after his heavenly father is one of the things that hooked me. I am so thankful for his encouragement, his challenging, and his leading by example. So to return the favor every now and then is the ultimate form of serving him. I can joyfully, humbly fill his shoes, showing him grace and encouragement without emasculating or demeaning him. Nobody lives on a mountain top… and those that claim (or, scarier still, actually believe) they do, are a frightening breed.

Most wives probably already knew this or figured it out year one, so I’m feeling a little anxious about admitting to this. I hope you did already know and I hope you haven’t waited around like me, arms crossed in begrudging silence. I hope you already know to thank him when he leads but are also willing to drag him along, help him up, or even carry him when he falters. After all, we would expect him to do the same for us.