A beautiful guest post by Nichole from “A Readers Rumination“. Nichole is a mom of two, a passionate Jesus lover, friend, and former co host of the She Says Podcasts. Enjoy!
“How are you doing?” my neighbor asked.
I burst into tears.
I had been married for a little over three years, but I was lonelier than I had ever felt in my life. My husband and I married shortly after I graduated from college. We had the textbook “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” courtship (not without it’s bumps and bruises-after all, most of it was a long distance relationship) complete with sharing our first ‘I love you’ and first kiss after he proposed. After we married, we moved a couple hours away from family, both started new jobs and bought a house. Our daughter was born a few weeks before our second wedding anniversary. I quit working shortly before that to stay home and care for her.
A few weeks before my meltdown outside my neighbors’ driveway, my husband had decided to try out for a role in a Christmas musical. He ended up landing quite a few roles and was gone most weeknights for practices. The show also traveled to different venues much of November and December, meaning he was also gone for many weekends. I had the option of traveling with the cast, but I chose to stay home with our daughter.
I felt lonely, isolated from friends and family “back home” that I had know for years, and I was quite a bit resentful that I was “sacrificing” so much for my husband during this busy season in his life. I knew marriage wasn’t supposed to be an endless slumber party, complete with hot chocolate and heart-to-heart talks every night, but my husband was gone pursuing one of his dreams and making new friends in the process. I was a bit envious.
In the midst of my tears, my neighbor hugged me and graciously invited me over for dinner a few times while my husband was away on the show circuit. I’m thankful for that and the many other graces God gave me during that season of our life. Looking back, I can see now how God used the loneliness and bitterness I felt during that season to expose my selfish presupposition that marriage should fulfill all my longings for friendship and relationship without the hard and awkward work of making new friends in a new town.
I still have much to learn now, but more and more God is showing me how my identity is not wholly defined as “wife”. In fact, He often uses this identifier in my life to point out the many ways my heart is selfish and sinful. Being married has not fulfilled me in the many ways I had expected as a young bride. I still feel lonely and misunderstood sometimes, and like any close relationship often it is the people we live with that can hurt us (intentionally or unintentionally) the most. Marriage brings much joy, but also much pain into life as two sinners attempt to live with one another!
In the midst of every happy and sad season, it is imperative to look to Jesus as the one who understands you, completes you and defines you. Doing that puts the pressure off of your husband (or future husband) in the relationship to be everything to you, and you both can ground your identities and activities together in a way that glorifies Christ.
My husband is involved in the Christmas musical again this year. I have a four year old and a two year old to care for now while he is away most weeknights. Even though the cast is not traveling this year I know that this has the potential to be a busy, yet lonely season for me. What’s different now?
1. My perspective has changed. I see my husband’s time away as him using his talents of singing, dancing and acting to advance the kingdom of God and glorify Him. That helps me to have a happier heart while I care for my kids solo, and I find so much joy in my heart when I get to see him on stage and experience the finished production (I mean, hello, my husband is a triple threat. Proud stage wife right here!)
2. I am more intentional in my time spent with Jesus, asking Him to remind me of who I am. Jesus loves to remind us that we are His and that He has a plan for our lives. For some of us, that includes the roles of wife and mother, but do not think of yourself as lesser in God’s kingdom if He does not grant those desires in your life. As hard as that can feel, remind yourself that God can (and will) love you more perfectly than any husband could and that His plans for you will bring Him the most glory.
3. Speaking of a plan, I am also trying to be more obedient to the ways God wants me to advance the kingdom.It’s true that a husband and wife can work together to glorify God, but don’t discount the gifts He’s already given you as an individual. For me, that means writing more, singing more, taking more time in contemplative and intercessory prayer and reading books that spur my heart towards a greater affection for Jesus. I do my best to get together with friends (yes, I have friends now!) that encourage me and refresh my spirit. I am also in the process of starting a master’s certificate program, and I know my husband will be making sacrifices to help me (dishes, anyone?) as I embark on this new venture.
I’d encourage you to take those three steps in your life if you feel marriage is becoming an idol in your heart. Marriage is not your Savior. Honestly, it can be like a crucible at times. God may or may not bring it into your life not to make you ultimately happy, but if you trust Him He will make you holy. If we let Jesus meet us, define us and direct us, whether we are single or married, we can know we are being the best wife, friend, daughter, church member, etc. He has meant us to be.
That, my friends, is eternal.