I can mark a day almost one year ago when I was the worst wife ever. Not that it was the only day but it was a day that marked just how much of a change in my life was necessary. I was a bad wife. I didn’t just put my own needs before his, I completely took his needs out of his heart, looked at it, shrugged my shoulders, made a noise, like, “meh” and went about my merry way. Worst. Wife. Ever.
It started with a TEXT. That elusive text that made my mind go 150 different directions.
Now, let me stress that this is not my husband’s fault. It is not his fault that my mind went straight to “he has a secret gambling problem and needs to tell me he has bankrupted us” or “he has some unpronounceable disease and we need to discuss his treatment” or, or, or...
So, to take my mind off the stories I was creating, I started analyzing each phrase instead:
“Have to take care of something.” What? Like a body? He has been watching that mob series on Netflix recently.
“I know you hate this answer, but let’s please discuss tonight”. Buddy, you have no idea how much I hate this answer. In fact, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were enjoying yourself right now.
“I’m OK.” Wait, he’s OK, but we aren’t? What about the kids? Or our parents? Seriously?!
…and the longer I sat there watching volleys back and forth over the net, and stared at my phone, the bigger the scenarios got. I decided to not stay for the game in the end and left to find out what required my physical presence for discussion.
I was so stressed out and worked myself into such a tither about the devastating news that I actually tried to then convince myself it was great news:
He won the lottery! Not sure we’ve bought a ticket in years, but maybe it some whim of his.
He got a promotion! Not likely in the current climate.
He bought surprise cruise tickets and we are packing our bags and leaving right now! bawhawhawhawhaw
I called him and asked what was going on and he wouldn’t tell me. I begged him to tell me. But, he refused to tell me over the phone which only made matters worse!
So, I said a prayer. “God, I am freaking out. I really need for you to be my mouth because my frame of mind is such that I do not even know what is going to come out. Please, please let me be a good wife because I do not feel like a good wife right now”.
I think God saw into my heart. He knew that despite my prayer, I would go back to worrying. And he was right. I had worked myself up good and did not trust my husband’s judgement or God’s.
Shame. On. Me.
And I was not a good wife. Or Follower of Christ.
So, I walked into the house and just stared at my husband who was waiting in the kitchen for me. I was bracing myself for whatever bad news he was going to give me. I was going to be supportive and non-judgmental. I will visit him in jail. We will work through any bank issues or relationship issues, I will tenderly love him through any illness. Just. Tell. Me. I can handle it.
“The cat died”.
I just stood there. I looked at him waiting for the other important bit of information that justified all this emotion and stress, but I was met with silence. “Iiiiis that all?” I calmly asked him.
He was very quiet but finally said, “It was pretty horrible….”
But as I stood there in the kitchen incredulous, I could only think of myself. We weren’t bankrupt? No one was dying? No one was going to jail? The cat died? I can’t believe he could not tell me this over the phone.
So, I just replied, “OK, Well, I’m sorry to hear that. We’ll tell the kids tonight. I’m going to go back to the game”.
But oh, wow was I mad. I was so mad that his text gave indication to something more serious.
Out of protection for me he withheld information intended for later and instead of trusting him and trusting God, I went beserk.
And it is well known that people will fill in the blanks to unfinished stories. And usually the imagination is mightier than the facts. It happens in business all the time.
And my imagination was so far-fetched compared to the facts he had given me, that I missed the effect on him.
I missed the fact that he came home to a horrible site. You see, the cat had fought with the garage door, and lost.
I missed the fact that he cleaned it up and buried him so that his family did not have to witness the disturbance.
I missed the fact that this was not just a mouser to him – this was a cat that was beginning to act more like a dog and followed him around the yard anytime he was out there and liked to be held like a baby and have his belly scratched.
I was so blinded by my own selfishness, and a story of my own making, and how whatever news he was going to deliver was going to affect me and how I should properly respond that I didn’t pray for how I should be loving and supporting him with whatever news he had.
Let nothing be done out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself.
I should have esteemed my husband and his needs over myself. My husband is not a man of drama. I should have immediately recognized that if he says we need to talk about it tonight, there is a very good reason we are not talking about it immediately.
I selfishly bulldozed my way through this situation.
Please, let me encourage you, that when you feel that hot, boiling lava of anxiety creeping up from your soul, into your brain and threatening to burst out in your actions and words,
Do not react immediately! Listen to James!
This situation taught me some valuable lessons about myself and I committed to making changes that have slowly and prayerfully chipped away at the anxiety flowing through my bloodstream. If this is you – if you still struggle with the fear of the unknown, so much so that you forget the fears of others, say this prayer with me:
Father, you alone know how the pressure our fears place on our actions. You alone, know the strength it takes to live with the guilt of harboring anger knowing it does not glorify you. The love for my family and friends runs so deep yet I let emotion run away from me. Purify my heart, breathe new life into my lungs and teach me to love. I know I cannot make any of these changes without your love and grace and I am so thankful for your mercy each and every day. Amen.