Be still and know…

Be still and know…

I don’t know when it started, but I know exactly when it ended. I will be 62 years old soon. My husband and I just celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary yesterday. It was not always worth celebrating. We got married when we were 27 and 28 years old, I am older. We had each done a 5-year stint in the Navy, and he had moved back to his hometown, and by then my parents had bought a business in his town, so although I had been raised in another town about an hour away, I ended up moving to the same little town in Iowa. Neither of us were going to stay there initially, but stay we did. We had similar backgrounds, held the same values, shared a love of all things outdoors having both been raised in weekend river cabins, but most of all, I could trust him. I had been engaged twice while in the Navy, both to guys from California, one a pilot, one an air traffic controller, but I knew nothing about their upbringing, never met their families, had no idea that not everyone shared my Midwest value system. Eventually they both proved themselves highly un-trustworthy.So, when I finally found a man I could trust, I married him. 

The first twelve years were a whirlwind of adventures. We went camping and boating all summer, fishing in the spring, skiing in the winter and took annual trips to Mexico, usually Cozumel so he could dive. We had a lot of sex, and it was good. But somehow he began to feel ok about questioning the things I did, decisions I made, and often what I packed to bring with me on a trip. This became a constant underlying issue in our marriage, and it never got addressed, aside from the blow-ups we had after he would question me, I would justify my decision, and he would decline to see anything from my perspective. I called it different things, an attempt to control me, or the feeling that I was always “under his thumb” or that I would be second-guessed. I might give him the cold shoulder for a day or two but then it would be Friday again, and if I wanted to have fun on our camping trip, I guess I’d better just let it go.

When I turned 38, I decided to get an Associate of Applied Science in Construction Technology. I loved woodworking, masonry, painting, and tile, and since I had worked in offices all my life, I thought I might switch careers into something I had a passion for, and which might lead me to be able to get out from behind a desk from time to time. I loved every minute of it, but my husband robbed me of all my new-found joy by constantly asking what I thought I was going to do with this degree, andlecturing me about spending money on something so “useless”. On a side note, my husband is in a profession where he makes really good money, and we could easily have afforded me staying home without working. (On a side note I have put that “useless” degree to good work on a mission trip or two.)

At 40, we had our first and only son. By then I was working for a boss who paid me to be a stay-at-home mom, as long as I still managed a few of my office duties. I was bringing in money, AND taking care of our son. I had the best of both worlds, and this should have been such a happy time, but here I was again under a constant barrage of questions about what I did with my time, why I packed too many or too few diapers in the diaper bag, why I didn’t just go to the store during the day so he wouldn’t have to watch our son while I went in the evening. He always had his agenda, and he cared little about mine. We were definitely not on the same page. But I was an avid Focus on the Family and Dr. Phil fan, and I was well-versed on what arguing in front of your kids does, so I let him have his say with little, if any argument.

For the next eighteen years, together we raised the most perfect, smart, talented, outgoing, personable son ever. We named him “Given”, because at 40 we said he was God-Given, and because any boy name that had two syllables and ended in “n” was popular. His whole Kindergarten class was full of boys named Jaden, Hayden, Quentin, Trenton, Dillon, Devon, & Jordan. 

All our adult married lives we were in church. We knew Godly principles, we had read the Bible, participated in Sunday School, yet we could not get it together. We had lots of friends, and participated in church events, and on the outside we probably looked like we had it all, but this underlying “thing” was always present. I was just not given permission to be myself, the woman God had designed me to be, and I knew it. 

Several months before my son graduated, I decided to host his graduation party at our home. We had a lovely home, but the kitchen was a bit dated. I had always wanted a gas range and had decided now was a good time to get one. I had some burn marks on my off-white formica countertops so I thought they should be changed out as well. And while I was at it, I would just get one of those huge farmhouse sinks which of course would need new hardware…and a new backsplash which I would do myself since I learned how back when I was in construction school. Let’s just say that NONE OF THIS was agreeable with my husband. He turned on me and hurled insults like, “why can’t you ever be satisfied with what you have?” It did not matter that the upgrades I wanted were completely affordable  (for us), would only make our home more marketable, and how many of you know that a woman’s home is her domain? 

This “discussion” went on for weeks, and then one night at our Life Group, we were having a great discussion on practical application for married life. I simply asked, “what should we do if we have a difference of opinion and simply cannot resolve it?” Then I briefly explained our dilemma. Our Life Group leader’s wife spoke up and said, “Perhaps you should just table that.” Her voice rang in my head for days afterward, and my inner being was screaming, “BECAUSE I HAVE TABLED MY WHOLE LIFE, THAT’S WHY!” I decided that at 58 years old, I have a right to be me, I have a right to make some of my own decisions, and I am either going to be granted that right within my own home, or I would leave and go somewhere I did not have to justify my every thought and decision. Lest you think I was just being a spoiled brat at this point, I should say that I had been praying for change, and I received a vision which played like a movie in my head where I got snapshots of the unkind things my husband had said over the years, and times where he was asking me to justify what I did or why I did it that way. The thought came to me that the only thing worse than living this way for 30 years would be to continue to live this way for 30 years and another day. I was done, done, DONE!

So I did nothing. And I mean really nothing. I did not speak to my husband. I did not cook for him. No errands were run, no housekeeping, no laundry, and no arguing, either. I did nothing for weeks, during which time he met weekly with our Life Group Leader mainly to complain about me. Our LG leader would listen, and at the end of their session he would simply tell my husband to go home and “love your wife”. Weeks turned into months, and our LG leader’s consistent message of “love your wife” led my husband to realize he did not know how to “love his wife”. So he bought and read books, lots of books. I do not know all the books, but the final book was, “How to Win Your Wife Back”. Then he began to change. He realized what he had in me, and he began to value me as a person. He began to see that he had not always allowed me to be myself, and that he had a critical spirit and he would not want to be judged in the same manner he had judged me. We began to be very intentional with our conversations, and we declared our home a judgment-free zone. It was slow at first, but I had gotten his attention by refusing the status quo, and if he didn’t want to be alone in his retirement years, he was (well, we were) going to have to put some hard work into being the couple God had designed us to be.

I got my gas range, and the new countertops, and sink, etc. and we had a house full of friends and relatives for my son’s graduation party. I was right about the upgrades adding value to our home, and we sold it for more than twice what we paid for it at the height of the housing grab in 2021. We downsized and bought a cabin on 22 acres with a million-dollar view. We call it “paradise”, and it truly is. We now have what we call “Cabin Rules”. Rule #1 is, there are no rules. Rule #2 is, if you don’t like it, see Rule #1. We have given each other free reign to be ourselves, make our own decisions, we laugh a lot, and we very much enjoy each other’s company. We are looking very forward to retiring next year and traveling the country. 

I almost forgot why I was writing this…it’s because my friend Jillian asked me for a testimony. The scripture I clung to through all this was Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am your God”. Some may interpret being still as simply waiting. There are plenty of scriptures that talk about waiting on the Lord. What does being still mean to you? For me it meant hold the phone, stop everything, and get this right! See what God says about us women, things like we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” yet we are to somehow balance that with being always respectful to, and placing ourselves under the authority of, our husbands. I do not believe we need to be doormats. I do not think this is a prescription for everyone who wants a new gas range or a farmhouse sink : ) Please proceed prayerfully, carefully and respectfully. 

See also Exodus 14:14, where Moses tells the Israelites to, “Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians (or the disappointment/frustration/disrespect) you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” I love it that we serve a God of “never”. I thought we would never find peace, love, joy, patience, or perseverance. I thought my husband would never change. I thought our marriage would never get any better. I was so wrong! All I needed to do was to be still and know…I just wish I had done it sooner!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *