As much as I hate to admit it, I am not the perfect husband, dad, or leader of my family. I get tired and selfish. I can be grumpy. I get distracted. I can and have failed. The beautiful thing is that Shelley has never stopped believing in me and being my biggest fan. (see 16 Things for 16 Years)
I know she has gotten frustrated and mad but I also know she is on my side. I have never questioned that.
Several years ago I got really tired and weak. During that time I was offered an opportunity in ministry that seemed like a great thing. It was more money, closer to family, in a growing church and honestly seemed like it would be easier than what I was doing. Like I said, I was tired and weak and you could add on to that, foolish.
Now I could write about how poorly I handled the decision making process but that is for another day. The bottom line was that I made a bad decision and moved my family across the country when we should have stayed where we were.
As a result, I hurt a lot of people, I was miserable, and my family paid the price.
To be fair, not everything in my life was bad after we moved. There were good moments with some amazing people who will be friends for life. I believe those friends were part of God’s grace that helped sustain me.
When I was in thick of confusion and frustration, I had lost confidence in my ability to know what was right for our family’s future. I knew we needed a change and a big part of me just wanted to quit ministry. I joked a lot back then about throwing in the towel and buying a hotdog cart. Desperate times.
There were a few people in my life who knew that I was not doing well but it was Shelley who knew the real struggle in my soul. I spent a solid two years of having no idea how to lead my family. I was not good.
Shelley had to live with a depressed, insecure, and confused husband. I know it was tough on her. But, it was her constant love during that time that carried me through and helped us discover what God wanted.
God does work all things together for the good of those that love him (Romans 8:28), and in this situation He used Shelley to help me find what was good.
This was a hard journey for me as a man but I learned some amazing lessons from how Shelley loved me.
1) As a man, it is more than “ok” to be weak and lean on the strength of your wife.
It is actually not only “ok” to be weak but it is right. I don’t ever have to put on a front that I can handle moments like this on my own. If I do that, things will only get worse. Husband and wife are meant to be “one” and oneness can be beautifully expressed when one of us is going through a rough stretch.
2) Marriage should be a place where grace is always found.
It would have been easy for Shelley to hold a grudge. She could have rightfully told me to get my act together. After all, I let our family down and she was feeling the brunt of it. But, I remember time and time again during that stretch when Shelley would encourage me, be a place of rest for me, talk sense into me, and listen to me. She NEVER complained to me about me. She was a wife of grace and as a result we grew closer.
This was one of those seasons when I knew that Shelley would be my biggest fan even in my worst moments.
What a beautiful thing to learn.
I guess the hotdog cart will wait.