Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Happy Wife, Happy Life?

I'm a wife, and I'm happy - most of the time.

According to the age-old adage, that means my husband should be happy- most of the time. Right?

Maybe.

When I'm happy, I'm easier to be around; and that fact probably makes my husband have an easier time at life, I'll admit.

But as a Christian woman, I don't want my husband to just be a genie catering to my every wish and fancy. I don't need a slave; I need a leader. And if my husband is going to be the spiritual leader of our marriage, as I want him to be (in my grown-up moments), then it's distinctly NOT his job to make me happy.

In fact, I'm thankful that he doesn't.

I'm thankful that when I want something that's bad for me, he advises me against it. I'm thankful that when I have a stupid idea (and that happens more often than I'd like to admit), he's around to be the voice of reason. I'm thankful that he knows me well enough, and is in a relationship permanent enough, to point out my flaws and show me that I'm not always right.

Does that make me upset? Uhm, yes. Does that make me give him a hard time? Hehe, yes.

But that makes him to be exactly the kind of husband God wants him to be - and the kind I need him to be. Despite my negative reactions, he does what his role demands of him; and I love him all the more for that.

Living in the thick of the matriarchal Filipino culture, it's ridiculously easy to think that women rule - that men are better off listening to their wives. It seems easier - right? Wives are happy; husbands are safe.

But that's not what a godly husband should be.

I'll say it frankly. A man who does not lead - a man who listens to his wife in everything, whose goal in life is to please his wife - is not a godly husband. He may look like a good husband to lots of people - obedient, compliant, and softspoken - but he is distinctly NOT the model of a Christian husband.

A good Christian husband exercises servant leadership. He cares and he guides. He provides and he sustains. He encourages, but he also rebukes.

I just happen to be lucky enough to be married to one.

I've heard fathers teach sons, and older men tell younger men, that the key to a happy life is to always take your wife's side and to acknowledge that she's always right.

That's a load of nonsense.

No human being is "always right," and marrying her doesn't qualify her for that label either.

I know some women might be upset at me for writing this, for "taking the man's side," so to speak. I'm sorry if my generic examples inadvertently offend. That's not my intention.

I don't take the man's side. I take God's side. I respect and honor what He designed marriage to be.

It's one man, one woman, one lifetime.

It's a leader, a helpmeet, and a commitment.

I don't always succeed in playing the role of a godly wife. I sometimes (i.e. often) take over things that are not my job. I reject the tasks my husband delegates to me, choosing instead to complain and lament. I know the model of a biblical marriage, but I seldom follow it completely.

I'm not perfect, my husband is not perfect, and our marriage is not perfect. No marriage is.

But that's why we need Him, right?

That's why Tim and I are incredibly blessed to have a biblical model to follow. We are blessed to know that God will look favorably upon a marriage where a man leads and a woman helps. We are happy to know that when the husband faithfully leads and loves, and the wife consistently respects and submits, we would be able to have a God-honoring marriage.

We've seen these principles applied, kept, and rewarded in many marriages around us. It's possible, people.

We've been given the blueprint of a truly happy marriage. Why follow anything else?

Happy God, happy marriage. And everybody wins.

Monday, January 30, 2017

When I Grow Up

"I want to be a mom!"

That was my answer from day one. I was five, having braved half a decade of existence with gusto, when I made that declaration. Over the years, other opinions came and went. I went through the flight attendant stage, the fashion designer stage, the celebrity chef stage, and even the princess stage (Prince William was still single then, okay?).

But the fundamental wish never changed.

I wanted to be a mom. That was my goal in life.

I still do want to be a mom...but that's not my goal in life.

Biology aside, becoming a good mom required being a good wife first. My urgency to get to that stage almost caused multiple stupidities as a single girl. I knew I wanted to be a mom; so I had to find a husband by necessity. At that time, any random one would do.

God, of course, had better plans. It's by His miraculous guidance that I fell in love with my husband and married him as soon as we knew it was His will.

In my mind, step one was done.

Becoming a mom - the ultimate dream - felt only a stone's throw away.

For the first 18 months of marriage, I constantly expected myself to be pregnant. Month after month, I bought pregnancy tests. Month after month, I geared myself up to buy maternity clothes. Week after week, I tracked my body. Week after week, I nodded silently as family members gave me mythic tips on how to get pregnant. Day after day, I sacrificed high heels and caffeine and eating processed food.

Day after day, I cried.

Why wasn't it happening? Upon multiple occasions, I had dear older people in church walking up to me to say, "You should have kids as soon as possible. Don't wait until you're older."

It pained me every single time to say, "I know. I know."

I wasn't waiting. We wanted kids, and we wanted them right away. We even expected to be holding a child (or at least a pregnant belly) by the time our first anniversary rolled along.

God didn't let that happen.

We ran tests. We took medication. We consulted doctors both Western and Oriental in training. We consulted doctors for women, doctors for men. We got masseuses, herbs, vitamins, and a dozen other means of supposedly aiding fertility.

Our bodies aren't perfect. We can have kids, but it's hard to have them.

The thought was sobering.

But God is our sun and shield. No good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

He is the strength of our hearts, and our portion forever.

He sent people to cross our paths. A wonderful church deaconess reminded me that having children or not didn't matter in eternity. A pastor's wife shared with me that God's legacy in us reached beyond that of sons or daughters. A loving husband reminds me repeatedly that he will never love me any less even if I never bear him any children.

Don't get me wrong. We received tons of wrong advice too.

Some people said that it would surely happen someday, though they couldn't guarantee it. Some people told me I just didn't have enough faith. Some others claimed that I just "didn't want it enough."

Friends and family conceive - quickly and repeatedly - and I feel that life is just utterly unfair.

They sound silly in my saner days. But whenever I come home after a family reunion where EVERYONE had a kid, I feel lonely and sad and feeling entirely inadequate. When Mother's Day rolls around and a new mother runs up to me to say, "Look! Look! I have a baby now!"...I still go home and cry out half of my body's water content.

It's in those days that I forget what it truly means to be a Christian, and all the wrong advice sounds almost right.

Being a Christian means that there is nothing on earth I desire besides God. It means that despite what society might tell me, my life is not missing anything.

I am complete.

I am complete in Him.

I am not living an unfinished life. I am not in any way less of a person than the person with half a dozen kids. I am a child of a King. That's all that matters.

Hey, guess I did end up being a princess, after all.

When I grow up, I still want to be a mom; but I don't HAVE to be one.

Not having children allows us to study, to shop, to grow, to travel, and to do so many things we wouldn't be able to if we were tied down with any children. Not having kids lets us have so many more years alone to prune and fine-tune our marriage. Not having kids helps me understand what it means to be complete, complete in my God.

I am the child of a King. Nothing else really matters. And even when I forget that at times, it doesn't make it any less true.