This morning as I drove to work I prayed for my husband. The Lord brought specific things to my mind to pray for him, and as I intervened for my spouse in intercession it occurred to me that I had not always prayed for him this way. I’ve always been a praying wife, but how I pray has changed.
I thought back to about five years ago, and as I did my heart was broken. I was filled with guilt over how I had thought of and supported my spouse. On the outside, I’m sure I appeared like the perfect helpmate, but in my heart I know that wasn’t true. I had not championed for my husband to be who God intended him to be. I had rallied for who I wanted him to be.
Looking back, it causes me to wince, and it fills me with shame to speak so honestly about my inner thoughts. But perhaps by sharing my story with you, I can help you be a selfless, praying partner, unlike the one I feel I was back then.
As it was our life was wonderful. We were growing a family, and a happy one at that. We lived in a small, humble home, and we enjoyed time together as a family. It was around this time that my husband was offered an opportunity, and he brought it to me first with the request that I would join him in prayer for deciding the next step.
At the time my husband worked as the main cook for a local pizza restaurant. He had been doing this since we first got married, and although his paycheck wasn’t huge, it was enough to feed our needs and bellies. What he was offered, though, was an opportunity to purchase the store and become the owner!
I can’t explain how I reacted when he brought this to me, but I think you could guess. I was elated! You see, I really wanted something more for him, but also something more for me. It wasn’t that I was ashamed for what my husband did, but I always felt he could do better. And perhaps, if I’m really digging deep, there was a part of me that was bothered by it. I mean, other women’s husbands had jobs other than food service. It was a job you typically got as a teenager, not one you held as an adult. They didn’t even offer insurance or benefits. If someone asked what he did, I made sure and used the word “chef.” It hurts my heart to display my pride and selfishness so openly, but I was worried what others thought. I was. I was proud of my husband for the man he was, but I wanted others to be proud of him too. He had a huge heart, but people on the outside couldn’t see that. They only saw the labels used for how he provided for his family. So, it sounded good to me to be able to say, “my husband owns a restaurant,” rather than to say, “he cooks at a pizza place.”
I honored my husband by joining him in prayer, but did I honor him by praying unconditionally and selflessly? Probably not. I wanted him to accept the offer and buy the restaurant. Thoughts of a better future excited me. I dreamed of a bigger home and being able to go part-time at work. I fantasized about how this would positively impact our financial future and standing in the community. I wanted him to decide “yes,” and that’s the direction my prayers went. I prayed for my husband, but I prayed for the outcome I desired for him. I wasn’t praying for what he wanted, or even more importantly, for what God had for him.
Of course, he took the store. In retrospect, I know he did it for me. He has said since that he didn’t want to own a business, but he felt like it was best for us. I know that he knew I was in favor of it, but he didn’t have experience in owning a business. Turns out it wasn’t his forte either. Turns out he worked constantly, more than he ever did as a cook. Turns out, even when he was off work, he wasn’t really off. Turns out it was more stress for him than I ever imagined. Turns out I missed him, and I regretted that I had pressured him to take something on that he wasn’t meant to take on. In the end, the business failed, but not after years of him feeling like he was failing us.
What might have been had I supported my husband unconditionally and selflessly, focusing more on what he wanted and less on what I wanted? How might have things gone had I prayed for God’s will in my husband’s life rather than my own will for him? Thankfully I know that God works out all things for our good, and I can rest in the fact that the Lord used those circumstances to bring us where we currently are. So I rejoice in them! But I do feel awful for how I handled it back then. I wasn’t the kind of wife my husband deserved, nor the wife I wanted to be. My husband has never made me feel the way about this that I do. In fact, he’s never mentioned it. It’s just something I felt convicted of, and it’s something I was determined to improve.
Now I strive to pray not what I desire for my husband, but what the Lord desires. I pray for God’s will in his life. I’ve always adored and appreciated my husband for who he is. The Lord created in him the most loving heart I have ever known, and instead of wanting God to manifest more in my spouse, I simply pray he can be the man in this life that God has for him to be. Because I imagine God has it all figured out, and He doesn’t need my help in molding my spouse. I’ll just leave that part up to the Lord from here on out. My calling is to support my husband wherever Jesus leads him. My role isn’t to change my husband. My role is to love him.