“How long have you been married?”
I’ve come to dread the question. Just moved. No job. No prospects. No church. Just my husband and me. I can see them counting the ways they should pity me. I see their smiles that say, ‘you don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into’. I almost want to lie.
“About a month and a half.”
Perhaps they think we’re crazy or just young. Sometimes I get a look that asks me ‘what do you think you’re doing?’ or ‘how in the world did you grow up to be so weak—so tread-upon-able?’ as though I didn’t choose this and am just following my husband blindly. People tend to respond, “oh”, and try to change the subject.
When did this happen? When did following your husband start to look like a weakness? I can hardly say or imagine when, but I know that growing up I was taught to think this way as well. I am a woman. I should have my say. I should be able to do what I want. I shouldn’t cave to the whims of a man. I shouldn’t rely on a man. I should make my own money, eat my own food, raise my own children. I should be strong, have a job, do housework, cook dinner (only sometimes), and have a pet that I take on walks just for fun. I should enjoy the world around me, and pity the man who thinks he can move me with a word. And yet, here I am in an unknown world hardly ready to take on the next day, much less find a job—all because I’m married to a man who knows this is where God wants him.
So, am I weak? Am I less than I should be?
I remember the first day that we saw our little apartment. We had driven 8 hours the day before, in separate cars, and had arrived a mere 25 minutes too late to get into the apartment. We’d gone to a hotel, almost lost our way because the GPS kept recalculating, got separated, and somehow made it to our destination with two ‘dumb’ phones and a lot of faith. We got to the seminary the next morning, having slept pretty well, but still tired from the journey. We signed the lease, got our keys, and headed to our new home. He, of course, carried me into the apartment per tradition, and then we saw the concrete floor of the 550 square feet of a two-room-half-kitchenette-small-bathroom apartment. I wanted to cry.
I knew it was going to be small, but I still wasn’t prepared. I realized all the things we brought wouldn’t fit. I could barely swallow it. He put his arm around my shoulder and asked if I would be okay. I would. He leaned his head against mine, kissed me on the forehead, and said we had a long day ahead of us. We needed to completely unpack the truck before the day was over, and with just the two of us, it would almost be impossible. We should start with prayer.
Unexpectedly, we had enormous amounts of help, which enabled us to completely move in before noon. It was a miraculous work of the Lord. And that wasn’t the only thing that He did! Since we’ve lived here, we have seen Him give us something to sleep on, new friends, a dresser, and less selfish hearts that were able to part with things we really didn’t need in the first place. He’s also kept us warm, fed us every day, and allowed us to get groceries for less than we were expecting. He sustained us those first days, and continues to do so.
So, the question still kind of sits out in the open, waiting to be fully answered. In our society, often times, anything that goes against what you initially want to do is wrong. And if I allow myself to choose something different than what I want, I must be wrong, or weak, or both. I would argue, though, that seeing it as a choice, something that I willingly do even when I don’t want to, makes it beautiful and good. I take medicine when I am sick even though it’s nasty. I go to the grocery store to get us food for the week even though I hate shopping. I spend time in prayer even when I feel He’s not listening. I remind myself that the Lord is Good even when things are going poorly. I follow my husband even into the unknown.
I haven’t been married that long, but I have learned one thing. I have found that a united front against the world is sturdier and bolder and thicker than I, myself, could ever be. So maybe, just maybe, I am stronger than I was before. Our decisions are ours, even though he is the one to make the final one and take the responsibility, but I know that I was listened to and trusted.
It does mean relying on the man that I chose to have by my side—or rather, chose to stand beside—but while I want so badly to be independent, that’s not what a marriage relationship looks like. Supporting him and encouraging him to fulfill the dreams that the Lord placed on his heart can seem like giving up, like letting go of what the Lord put in my heart, but it’s not.
I sometimes still question the sanity of our move. We still don’t know what we’re doing. We still have no jobs. We still have no church. We still don’t venture out from our little home too often. We still feel cramped and uncomfortable at times. And because of all that, we still have to lean into the God that brought us here. If it were not for the willing ears of my husband, ready to hear where the Savior guides, we would probably be back in Georgia. But we would have less faith.
Faith. That’s probably where this story should have started. I have so little faith. The Word says to submit to my husband, but before I was married I had very little understanding of what that truly meant. “Submit” is such an anti-woman word. Or at least that is what we all are taught. But that is a lie. By allowing my husband to make the final decisions for our family, I have learned more of the Lord. My husband does not take me for granted by forgetting how I would react to each decision, rather he is seeking my good through the decisions that he makes. I may not have wanted, truly wanted, to move away from family and friends and everything that I knew, but through this move I have already grown in ways that would have been inconceivable before. I have grown in faith—faith that believes the Lord when He says, “I will not forsake you.” Faith that believes my husband when he says, “I love you.”
I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know where I will find a job. I don’t know anything about this city—I can hardly get to the grocery store without making a wrong turn. I don’t know the people here very well. I don’t like small-talk. But here I am. Trusting in Him. Trusting in my husband. Unafraid.
So, am I weak? You’ll have to decide.
Photo by Ruben Hutabarat