"Dude, you had better settle down. I know that you are bored, and tired and that sitting in the van all day is NO fun, but we've gotta find dad a new car or truck. Your dad sacrifices all the time so that we can have everything that we need, and today is our day to sacrifice for him."
It rained cats and dogs on Saturday as we drove from Georgia to South Carolina and back. Raining so much that the kiddos couldn't really get out and look at vehicles and stretch their legs, but our rental car time had already expired, and buying Mike and a new car or truck ASAP was inevitable.
Darn deer! Or was it a blessing?!?!
He (Lukey, our 7 year old) eventually got settled with some books that we'd brought and was delighted with a trip to his favorite restaurant, Cracker Barrel, but he didn't necessarily "enjoy" vehicle shopping that day.
I often need to remind our babies, and myself, that life doesn't need to always center around them, but that they must learn to think of others. What is good for other people? Can we find Joy in their happiness?
The next day I ended up sending Mike out on his own saying, "Buy what you think will serve you and our family best. I trust you. I trust your judgement."
He ended up bringing home something that I personally would not have chosen, but I was THRILLED for him! Truly, I was. It is going to serve us well, and be a zillion times better than what he was driving.
I had already decided that morning, after much prayer for "wisdom" that whatever he chose, I'd be happy with him and for him, and that I wouldn't ruin the experience. I have been known to panic a time or two when these kind of big purchases happen. Always wondering if we made the right decision?!?!? Not exactly trusting either of us or God's plan.
A few months ago we were in a similar situation. It was time to send Ella off to preschool and there was a possibility of winning the Georgia lottery and getting her into preschool at the public school with her siblings, for FREE. In my heart, I didn't think she was ready for all day school, she still naps for at least 2-3 hours in the afternoon, she's got a late birthday, and to be perfectly honest, I was NOT ready to give up my sidekick.
Paying for her to go to a private Christian preschool and making the long (to me!) trek there every morning did NOT make an ounce of sense on paper, but it meant everything to ME. I just knew that she needed more time at home. Mike and I went back and forth, back and forth and then one day he said,
"If it is that important to you, let's do it."
"If it turns out to be a terrible decision on my part, will you be okay with it?" I asked.
"Yep. I'll never say another word."
And, knowing his character, he won't.
We haven't always rolled this way. Well, he mostly has, he's pretty much always been open to my ideas, but if you have been reading for a while, you know I'll tell you that Ive spent a good portion of the beginning of our marriage thinking that he should go along with all of my plans, but that I'd often be kicking and screaming (Kidding!) going along with his.
I recently read Michelle Obama's book Becoming. I love how she said she'd worked and worked and worked to get herself into Princeton to become a lawyer and then decided that being a lawyer wasn't for her. She had a ton of student loan debt to repay, but her husband encouraged her to quit a high paying job that she hated to pursue something that she loved. He even wrote books and took on extra jobs to help her pay back the debt. She makes it very clear that she did not want him to run for president, but that in the end, she knew it was a passion of his so they went for it. While I don't agree with everything they agree with, I am so inspired by the way that they love each other. Not just in words, but in action. They both literally went to work for each other, him taking on extra jobs and her campaigning for him. I love the way they support each other. It didn't mean that life was "easy" for them, but I imagine that kind of love and support was priceless in good times and bad.
I love that they both had the other person's best interest in mind. (At least in these stories that she told.)
Chip and Joanna Gaines. Their book is a similar story. Even when things didn't make an ounce of sense, remember the boat he bought???, they still were willing to make sacrifices and support each other.
Rachel Hollis. Same thing. Her husband left his job to help her pursue a very successful career.
Korie Roberts from Duck Dynasty will say the same, they supported each other's hopes and dreams.
My family often teases me about "interrogating" people, asking a ton of questions, wanting to know every ounce of someone's story. I love reading other peoples' stories, especially ones who's life appear to be so different from mine. Every single time, every book, I always realized Mike and I really aren't that different from most other couples. The only real difference is that I've often let fear of failure stop Mike and me from doing things that we probably should have gone for. I have not always been supportive when I could have been, often more worried about my pride, failing, being uncomfortable, money, and my reputation to name a few.
What a shame it would have been for Mike and I to have gotten to the end of our lives and realize that I never supported his dreams, that he didn't support mine. That we held each other back from God's plans for our lives. What if we grew old and were filled with anger and regret and resentment? For the things we were too scared to do. For things we didn't feel supported in doing.
Philippians 2:3 says, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interest, but each of you to the interest of others.
As with everything in the Bible, it leads us the opposite way of what culture. Culture says, PLEASE YOURSELF. Our very own natural instinct say, Fight for your way! PLEASE YOURSELF!
But where does that land you?
Miserable. That's where.
Always wondering, what if? What if I'd made a different choice. What if I'd have thought of the other person above myself? "WHO" exactly should we be pleasing here???
What if you just did what the bible says and made a commitment to each other? What if you both thought about the other person more than yourself? What if you were continuously surprised by your spouse's love and generosity and kindness? Would that be best? Could that be?
When we talk about love with our kids, I always use the word "sacrifice." God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son to die on the cross for us, so that we could be in Heaven for all of eternity, if we choose. God's love for us meant sacrifice. A brutal death on the cross.
If so much has been sacrificed for me, could I sacrifice for others? Mike? Could I look more to his interest than my own? Could I stop always fighting for "My" way? Could I surrender to the fact that we both have different ideas, (thankfully so!), and consider, even support his? Could I try to step in his shoes? Think from his perspective. Could I just surrender sometimes and say, "If that's what you want to do, I trust you?" And not just in the moment, but long term, agree? Agree without later saying, "I told you so! I knew that would be a TERRIBLE idea!"?
What if the difference between a good marriage and a great marriage came to not just what happened to us or the decisions we made, but how well we supported each other in those decisions? How well we "Value others above ourselves?"
You could start today! Today could be your day to start being a supportive spouse. It's never too late!
Today could be the day you start saying to your babies, "Dude! It's not all about you!" I'd probably try to find a sweeter, more gentle way to say it, but still, the sooner they learn this, the better.
Today could be the day that you start to surrender and your life will change.
Try it. Try thinking more about how you can be supportive and loving and encouraging and less about fear and failure and in my case very often money and see how it turns out.
You'll likely be surprised. God's goodness will overwhelm you.
You may even end up with more JOY in the Chaos of your life.