Rainy days tend to put me in a contemplative state of mind.
I’m sitting here listening to the whir of the dishwasher in the background, sipping what’s left of my coffee before I decide to reheat it (again), and watching the baby monitor as Desirae finally drifts off to sleep. (Daylight Saving Time is just a cruel joke to all parents.) Desirae is turning one this month. Her upcoming birthday has me reflecting on this past year. A lot has changed since she was born, and we’ve made some decisions we never thought we would make. All that has me reflecting on one thing:
Never compromise the spiritual health of your family.
A year ago, Aaron and I had to evaluate the spiritual health of our marriage and our personal lives. At the time we had a baby on the way, and that drastically changed our perspective on things. Before we were married, I never realized that assessing our spiritual health was something we would have to do. (Now that I’m writing it out, it seems pretty obvious.) I was used to evaluating my own relationship with God, but I wasn’t accustomed to evaluating our pursuit of God as a couple.
When I say “spiritual health,” I’m not talking about some weird voodoo, Mother Earth, reincarnate, Light in my soul kind of stuff. I’m talking about knowing God, learning Biblical truth, and becoming more like Christ. I’m talking about evaluating the influences on our Christian faith. I’m talking about being surrounded by a Godly community that is life-giving, demonstrates grace, speaks truth, and is driven by Christ’s love. It’s important to prioritize the spiritual health of your marriage and your family and to not compromise that for anything.
Don’t get me wrong. There is always a balance. We are sinful people living in a sinful world. We, and those in our community, can be hit with life’s hardships. There is always a give and take. Sometimes you have to give a little extra grace, be more patient. Sometimes you have to stretch yourself and your family beyond what is comfortable or easy. All that stretching and extra patience can challenge you and actually strengthen the spiritual health of your family. But you should never stretch your marriage so much, or wait for change so long, or give someone so many passes that you’ve actually compromised the health of your family. I think that it’s easy, particularly in the Christian community, to let the spiritual health of our family suffer for “the good of the cause” or to somehow be more Christian or Godly. Remember that your first ministry is always to your spouse, and your second ministry is to your children. Nothing EVER changes that.
Aaron and I were both so frustrated by the situation we were in, we kind of stopped caring. There were some very negative influences in our lives, and we hadn’t stepped back to see it. Aaron and I accepted too many trite answers for too long because they were all given in the name of a Biblical principle. That affected our marriage and personal lives. We stopped prioritizing our personal relationship with God, and the spiritual health of our family was declining.
The truth is, as the husband goes, so goes the family. Don’t get me wrong, wives affect the spiritual health of the marriage and family, too, but we can’t forget that God made the husband the head of the home. I knew there were problems with the situation we were in, and I wanted to fix it. I thought the answer was to jump in deeper and try harder, but my husband was hesitant and resistant to the idea. At the time, I kept waiting for Aaron to “get it together.” I remember thinking that he just didn’t care enough, and that he should care more. I remember thinking that he was wrong, and I was right. I remember thinking that he was just too obsessed with his work, and he needed to get more involved. What I DON’T remember thinking was my husband was right, and I was wrong. He knew digging ourselves deeper into the situation we were in was a bad idea, but he wasn’t sure how to articulate it at the time, especially since he was standing alone on that island. If I had been wiser, I would have looked at where my husband was spiritually, and realized he had some seriously negative influences in his life. And if I had been really wise, I would have realized the negative effect those influences were having on me, too. My husband was ready to get us out of our situation, but I hesitated. I didn’t trust his leadership in our marriage, and I should have.
In the end, my husband remained faithful to obey the Lord’s leading, and we left the situation we were in. Even though I had doubted Aaron, God worked everything out. (Thank goodness God’s sovereignty doesn’t depend on my perfection.) The Lord changed my heart and gave Aaron the courage to address the spiritual needs of our family.
After assessing the reality of our situation, we made changes. Those changes were hard, but they were worth it. This past year has been one of the best years yet. Of course, Desirae being in our lives is a major part of that, but she isn’t the only reason. Our marriage has improved. Aaron is actively leading our family and engaging at home. I have found more grace, freedom, and value in who I am and the passions that are on my heart. Our relationship with God has improved. And we are confident that Desirae will grow up in an environment where she will be loved, treasured, and taught God’s truth.
If we aren’t careful, it’s easy to let ourselves, our marriage, and our family bleed dry. Life gets hard and busy. Don’t let busyness or good causes compromise the spiritual health of your family. Trust me. It isn’t worth it. I’m thankful that God used this situation to teach me about my marriage. I was reminded that my husband is the head, not me. In the future, I hope to trust my husband as the spiritual leader of my home before I assume something is wrong. Not because Aaron is perfect, but because God, who is perfect, is leading him.