My husband came home a few days ago. He was gone for several weeks. And during that time I did what I typically do when he’s gone: I forgot.
I forgot what it was like to have another set of hands to hold babies, feed babies, change babies, play with babies, distract babies, and all the other things that babies require every waking moment. I forgot what it was like to sit and chat when those babies go down at night. What it was like to go over the everyday events that make up my life, and to have someone genuinely interested in whether or not our children pooped that day.
More importantly, though, I forgot that my husband is my friend. And the truest and most trustworthy friend I could ever have. See, this ugly thing happens when you spend days, weeks, or longer alone: sometimes truth becomes a lie and lies become the truth. Things I know to be true become lies: My husband is for me. My husband is my partner. My husband wants to protect my heart.
Instead sometimes I feel my bitterness (bitter because I’m alone. Bitter because we chose this military life. Bitter because I’m a sinner and need Jesus) whispering:
-He is against you. He gets to chase his dreams while you chase a naked toddler down the driveway for the 26th time today. How selfish.
-He isn’t your partner. It doesn’t make a difference if he’s here or away. You have to do it all on your own anyhow. Never mind that he’s the most helpful husband and father you’ve ever seen; those actions have to be selfish in some way.
-Your husband doesn’t care about your heart or your feelings. You have to fight to be heard, to be seen, and to be cherished. When he comes home you should fight to make sure you don’t feel this way anymore!
And so the entire time he was gone I prepared for battle. I played out arguments in my mind. I pictured his reaction to the things I would say. I imagined my self, puffed up with pride, standing there winning every moment of every argument.
And then there he was. Exhausted, falling asleep standing up but so happy to be home. Ready to hold babies and change their diapers. Eager to sit and hold my hand and listen to every detail that he missed over the weeks. Weeks where he didn’t sleep. Weeks where he ate MREs or often didn’t eat at all for lack of time. Weeks where he walked for so long to try to get service to get a call through to me. Those same weeks where I ate too many chocolate chip cookies because I “deserved” them because of everything I was enduring on my own. Weeks where I left the dishes and decided to go to bed right after the kids. Weeks where I was angry that I didn’t hear from him.
And so there he was, running to wrap his arms around his family and his ever sinful wife. And one of the first things he said as I was still wielding my weapons, ready to strike at any sign of a fight: “I’m sorry you have to do so much on your own.”
And then I remembered. I remembered that he would do anything to change diapers and wipe noses. He would do anything to watch our daughter crawl for the first time, which he missed on this trip. He would give it all up just to be home with us. With me, the one whom his soul loves.
I took a few days to think about this cycle that I often go through when he leaves. The forgetting and then only remembering when I can see him standing in front of me. My heart has been burdened with how many other things I forget so frequently.
I forget that our toddler is still so little and yet I ask so much of him. Only in minutes where we sit down together and I see his tiny hand in mine do I remember: he’s so small and needs my grace and my patience and my attention.
I forget that our baby will only be a baby for such a short time. During the day when she needs held constantly but I don’t have it in me because the bottles need washed or a text message needs returned, I forget. I want her to be independent. “I’ll hold you later” I say. And then I look at her, sleeping with her little butt in the air and I remember: it’s all going to slip away so soon. Leave the bottles. Put down the phone.
And much like I do with my husband, I forget who Jesus is. I forget that he wants to be Lord of every aspect of my life and I try to fix it all on my own. I forget that he desires to be close to my heart and wants me to dig deeply into his Word. I forget that the harder I work to build my own life the weaker it becomes. And then I mess up and Jesus meets me there with his never changing character and Grace and I remember: “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalm 145: 17-18).
The Lord is near to all who call on him in truth. May this be the anthem of my life. May I remember the things I know to be true about my marriage, my children, and my God. Today I am thankful for the sweet friendship that reminded me of this verse today that made me remember. And please, Jesus, help me to not forget.
(Photo by Kristen Fondon Photography)