Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My best earthly friend

Women need women. Right? Many church programs, writers and speakers work off the assumption that women need intimate relationships with other women. They tell us that if we are struggling with life, our stresses would be greatly reduced if we had a ‘girlfriend’ to share our struggles with. Husbands are great, but we need someone who understands us to really connect with and unload on. I swallowed this assumption for many years and longed for a good female friend with whom to share my meandering through motherhood and daily dilemmas. God kept listening, and gently met me and loved me each morning and evening, and often throughout each day as I cried out to Him for greater strength and patience. If I could only have a fellow woman to compare notes with! And my dear, sweet husband loved me faithfully and listened compassionately.

As our schedule got busy with homeschooling and other family responsibilities, I longed to connect in a women’s Bible study and find some refreshment each week. However, for years I simply could not give up the kids’ school time, or child care was not available, or conflicts in schedules kept that from happening. God taught me individually each morning with deep words of wisdom that penetrated my soul, growing my faith. He met with me personally. And, my husband listened patiently, served me lovingly, and encouraged me daily.

Why it took so long, I’ll never know. And, yet God patiently taught, and my husband patiently waited, and I finally realized that the relationship I longed for was the one that God had already given me. It was there, listening, loving, serving, encouraging. God had already given me the best earthly friend I would ever need. He designed this relationship at the beginning of time in a garden paradise. He showed us His model for companionship -- man and woman, not same gender intimacy. My relationship with my husband had always been a solid, intimate one, but I didn’t realize all that I had.

God gave me just what I needed. My husband is an incredible man and everything that I need from a person. God fulfills my deepest needs and longings in Himself, and He also blessed me with my husband, someone to stand by me in the physical sense as well. Charles has loved me for almost 18 years now, faithfully, visibly, unwavering.

He has cared for me through six pregnancies, one that was far too short. He witnessed each birth, and was the sole attendant at one of them, four blocks before we reached the hospital! He loves each of those children dearly and wants the best for them.

He faithfully provides for our growing family. Each day he tirelessly works to fulfill his God-given role as provider. He listens attentively and contributes his wisdom as we talk about nutrition and the grocery budget. He trusts me.

The kids know we are on the same team. No matter how rough the day, how troubling the news, how aggravating the circumstance, we walk through it together. Charles doesn’t barge ahead or shy away or stand alone. United we face each day and the future.

He establishes Christ as the head of our home. Church is a priority. God is involved in our decisions and conversations. The Bible is our family handbook and policy manual as well as our spiritual light.

He brings laughter. The practical jokes, the tricks on kids, the games, the wrestling, the magic. He fills our home.

Charles is an amazing man in and of himself. He is strong and driven. He has an amazing ability to figure out almost any problem. He is a great leader with vision and focus. Hard working is putting it mildly. I never knew the depth of his being when I glimpsed this cute blond guy at youth group. God blessed me with so much more than I ever realized.

I wonder now if the divorce rate at all relates to this drive that women follow for relationships, or on a wider scale, for fulfillment outside of the home. How often have we overlooked what God gave us in our own homes?

God created Eve as a wife to Adam, and right now that is my primary role as well. Wife to Charles: my friend, lover, confidant, provider, encourager, iron-sharpener, cheerleader, adviser, comforter, and so much more. What else was I looking for?

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