I've been writing lately about what things I would tell a young woman about to get married. Today, Part 4.
Way back years ago in the murky soup of my brain, I got the mixed up idea that to be a truly loving, supportive, submissive wife, I should defer all my interests, preferences, and dreams to those of my husband. Well, maybe not all of them, but at least those that were unlike his, or that complicated his plans and aspirations. I saw this "dying to self" as a pursuit of righteousness. (Self-righteousness, maybe!) I equated submission of my will with suppression of my personality. Very. Bad. Math.
I noticed something odd a few years back.. If Steve and I were out by ourselves (on one of those very rare occasions) and he asked, "Where would you like to eat/what would you like to do/etc.?" - I found that I had no answer to give. He asked me once, "If you had a day free to do whatever you wanted, what would you do?" I stared at him blankly. Clean the bathroom? Catch up on laundry? Iron your shirts? I knew that wasn't what he was asking. I tried desperately to remember what it was I had enjoyed doing, way back when, back before marriage and babies, back when free time was a reality instead of a fantasy. I couldn't think of a single thing.
A grim realization hit me: Somewhere over the years, so gradually that it had been imperceptible, I had completely lost myself. I had committed personality suicide.
Thankfully, God didn't leave me dead on the table. He has repeatedly applied a defibrillator - a crisis, a conversation, a sermon, a friendship - to shock me back to life. No, I'm not yet fully "awake," but, hallelujah!, there's at least a pulse on the monitor. Feels like I'm slowly tingling back to life. All this to say...
Dear Bride: You are a particular, one-of-a-kind "gift" to your husband, your family, your church, and the world around you. God has given you a distinct personality with likes and dislikes, gifts, talents, and dreams that are peculiar to you. Be careful in the busy-ness of life as a wife and mom and in your eagerness to serve and please that you do not lose the gift of who you are. Rather, work to develop your talents and interests. Be deliberate. Look for opportunities to learn and grow as a unique individual, for your and your husband's edification and for God's glory.
Steve did not fall in love with and marry me because I was just like he was, and my foolish laboring over the years to become his clone robbed us both of much growth and delight. Learn from my mistakes, little sister. Don't leave the gift of You wrapped up and hidden behind the Christmas tree. Bring it out, open it up, cherish it, nurture it, and share it with the people you love.
3 days ago