When Larry announced in church two Sundays ago that I was back from Africa and the congregation clapped, he said, "believe me, that wasn't the reaction I had..." what he meant by that was the fact that their reaction was only a fraction of the reaction he had when I got off the plane. He was never so excited to see me. As I've said before in my posts...it was a hard week for him without me, actually an excruciating week. Nobody really knows the extent of what he went through without me in dealing with some things and nobody ever will know. This is because Larry is a very private individual and the type of pastor where a bomb could go off and he'd remain calm and just pray about it, clean up the shrapnel and mess, and bear the burden upon himself for the sake of others. That man goes through hell and back sometimes and keeps it between him and God...and me. I'm the only one he tells things to, aside from two pastor friends outside the church and even with them, he tells them about 1/3 of what he tells me or asks advice on. Even though I lined up everything for him at home and the office, there was nothing like having me here to confer with, 24/7 on everything big and small. I am the perfect woman for Larry in that I'm his absolute partner. At the same time...
I really don't know where I would be without Larry, except... quite possibly (well, actually probably) in a very confining marriage. Lisa remarked, the majority of men aren't secure enough to handle a woman like me. Many men are threatened by the calling, achievements, or opportunities their wife has. I know of a well known preacher who most would consider very secure - in fact he has held major denominational posts, and appears to be a confident leader. But he says he only lets his wife preach on Mother's Day and that one time alone is very difficult on him. This is because his wife is very gifted and in fact she has a secular job, speaking outside the church. She'd make a great staff member in the church but he has never allowed that. He hears the comments for months afterwards when she speaks about how great she is, and how the people wish they could hear her more, and in his words, it makes him feel "terribly insecure" and he wonders, "do the people like her more?" Larry has been asked by other men how he handles it when something good happens for me, but not for him. He always tells them, he's proud of me.
Many men wouldn't be proud and if I were married to them, would simply wonder why I haven't given up everything to follow them, instead of giving up everything to follow Jesus. Truth be told, many men are jealous of Jesus and the commitment their wives have to Him though they would never be so unspiritual as to admit it out loud.
I'm glad I married a man who has released me to love and follow Jesus. He looks forward to having me away again as much as having someone bash him in the head, however because of his love for the Lord and for me, he is not only releasing me to follow the call of God, but he's sending a bunch of Northsiders with me next time to Africa! His first reaction when I came home was, "ugh! don't leave me again" but then after getting his equilibrium back again after a few days he realized of course I'd go again, though not right away...if Jesus wanted me to go somewhere, of course I would and Larry would weather whatever to see that happen, for the glory of God.
God really looked out for me. When I was 19, I thought I was making the right choice about Larry but the truth is, I was too young to really know what I'd need. How would I have known at 19, that many women called of God are limited by the insecurities of their husbands? How would I have known that this would be the most constricting, or freeing decision I could possibly make - dependent upon what way I chose? I couldn't have. But God's grace covered me. Grace, grace, God's grace...greater than all our sin, our mistakes, our misjudgments, our cluelessness...powerful, infinite matchless grace.
I marvel that God knew He would want to use me in certain ways, and made sure He had it covered that I'd be married to a man who wouldn't be so insecure as to hold me back. I'm not a male basher by any stretch. All I'm saying by this post is that I know a whole lot of women who are held back by male egos and insecurity of the particular men they are married to. Of course plenty of stupid wives are holding their men back too and this is why we have men dropping out of the ministry like flies because their needy, whiney, materialistic, unsacrificial wives talk them into it. That's a whole 'nother post. But right now we're on this topic. And I just thank God everyday that my husband is different. Because if he wasn't, I honestly would feel that I might as well not live.
"That's dumb," you say. Is it really worth dying over if your husband won't release you to freely minister? Well, yes. For somebody who is called to ministry, that would make you want to die. "Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel..." Paul said. Here's the thing. Some women are content to live for a man. I'm not content at all unless I'm living for one specific man - and that's Jesus. And after that if I'm blessed to be living with the gift of an earthly man who also lives for Jesus - FANTASTIC. But if not, I'd rather do without the earthly man and just live and breathe for Jesus. Because I don't think anything in life is worth it or enjoyable without being able to abandon yourself fully to Jesus.
How great it is to be married to someone who realizes that first and foremost, you are Jesus's -- and He has entrusted you to your husband to love, protect, and fulfill. He can't do that fully without releasing you to fulfill the call on your life. (Which a Godly man will realize - is more than just a call to him, but is a call to Jesus.)
Now that I'm 41, and a few years away from 19, and I do know what's important in a marriage relationship, I realize that men like Larry are not a dime a dozen, in fact they are like needles in a haystack. Finding somebody like Larry comes along only once in a lifetime, so fortunately for me, he is my once in a lifetime.
Otherwise I'd be reading my Bible, having the Holy Ghost show me things, and lamenting that I can only share it with my kids and my dog and maybe with the church on Mother's Day once a year, being ever so careful not to out-shine my husband. Dear Lord, what a pathetic thought for someone who is called to preach the Gospel. The thought of it is a nightmare. Thank you Jesus, for your protection on my life when I didn't even know I needed protecting.