Yesterday at church as my husband was doing announcements before preaching, I came up from the nursery to see my 3 year old at the pulpit by his leg. He handled it well and she came back to me in the pew, while I grinned as the entire church watched this all play out. Now, how would I have responded to my 3 year old at home WITHOUT 200 eyes looking at me? Is there a gap between how I respond to things in private vs. public? If someone was a fly on the wall of my home what would they observe? Of course we are all different to a degree in the comfort of our own homes. I wear things at home I am not going to parade around church in, I have inside jokes & teasing, playful things with my husband I will not share around others. We have family quirks just for us, not for the world to see. This is not what I mean. When evaluating this area of my life in a healthy way, I am referring more to my heart, my spirit, how I am relating to God. How do I speak to my kids when giving general directions or when correcting? How do I respond when the clothes I just spent 30 min folding are thrown around the floor? In our home, how do I speak about other people not present? How do I speak to my husband? How do I use my time, my energy? How do I use my phone? Is what I post indicative of reality or making myself look good, showing my good works before men? Or is it a healthy, truthful representation of my life, my kids, and authentic? And is my phone or something else making me far less present with my family or am I exercising wisdom with my time?
Our life in private and the thousands of decisions we make when no one is looking will eventually spill over. Charles Spurgeon said, "Sincerity makes the very least person to be of more value than a talented hypocrite." And when there is too big a gap between our private & public life do we run to fix it or try harder or fake it better? No, we cannot attempt to touch ourselves up and make ourselves something other than we really are. Instead, we need to first run to Christ, the one who takes us as we are but promises not to leave us as we are. He has sent his Spirit on a mission to change every part of us, in every context of our lives. So as we depend on the Holy Spirit's power instead of our own ability to patch up our morality we slowly but surely become authentically Christian in private and in public.
If we are united to Christ, the Holy Spirit is cleaning us from the inside out, making us more Christ-like. So when we are hypocrites, when we are harsh with our kids, when we do things that make us feel the weight of our sin, we run to him for forgiveness and grace. He's lived each day perfectly on our behalf-in private and public. And then by his Spirit's grace and power we strive to close that gap between public and private a little more each day, knowing he is with us as we do so.
I specifically remember a moment almost four weeks ago where I looked at my life and thought "This is it! I am finally content, happy, and at peace with my life." This thought may sound conceited, but it was the first time in a while where I was honestly content with where and who God has called me to be. Well, all of that changed a week and a half later when my beloved husband got sick and suffered from a horrible case of insomnia as a result of a bad reaction to a prescribed medication from an injury.
There is not much that can prepare you for trials in life apart from Holy Scripture. And although we would like to think certain things might not happen to us, or could never happen to us, the truth is: stuff happens. And as this trial comes to an end with Nick being sick, I've learned so much about myself, God, my husband, and my idols.
Nick is the leader of our house, father of our children, the ear that listens to all of my babbling, and one of the hardest workers. It was so very hard to see this man that I loved sick, unable to care for himself, let alone us. I had no idea how long he would have to be in the hospital or what our lives would look like once he was out. And like most things in life, we are only able to see the here and now and are unable to look ahead into the future. As Jesus said, we do not know what tomorrow will bring.
But I am a planner, and am not the world's most patient person so this was so hard for me since I couldn't anticipate the next move. It was the prayers, texts, phone calls, cards, meals, and help of our closest friends, immediate family, and our church families (multiple congregations helped out in our time of need) that helped me through some of the most confusing, hardest, and longest days. I was daily struggling to be available to support and comfort Nick and at the same time be Mom to the boys. God consistently showed me that I cannot do it alone, nor should I. He showed me that He always provides, always is Sovereign over all aspects of our lives, and never forsakes His own children.
This trial was not one that I want to go through ever again, or that I wish upon anyone, but there was a happy ending. My husband thankfully is home now, healthy, and is back at work and more importantly 100% back to himself. God showed us so much mercy and not only healed my husband but strengthened our marriage in ways we both did not expect.
During my hospital visits with Nick I realized it was one of the few times in the last three years where we had several hours at a time to cuddle, talk, and spend time together. Just us. I also realized how much I rely on him on a daily basis and how he graciously serves and helps our family. I was shown how often I take for granted his willingness to always be there for me. Every night he is so quick to help with the boys, pursue me, and juggle his multiple callings. During my long nights filled with prayer and worry I saw how often I did not respect Nick with my words nor my actions. And although I am sad that it took something this serious to reveal to me my selfishness and sin, I am thankful nonetheless that I can now, with help, try to better serve and love Nick. This Thanksgiving is our 5 year wedding anniversary. Through every trial and blessing we have experienced together I am so thankful that he chose me to be his wife.
In sickness and in health, til death do us part, I will stand by his side. He truly is my better half.