A couple of weeks ago, my wife (Emily) and her sister went to visit their grandmother in Arizona. While this was a great opportunity for her, it presented a great challenge to me. What was the challenge? Being left to tend to six children, ranging in age from 15 years to 4 months, all by myself. The very thought of this overwhelmed me and still overwhelms me, even as I write this after it has already happened. If you are a woman reading this, do not throw the paper down, or call me a whiny baby just yet. Read the entire column and then decide your response.
As a pastor, I am very busy. I realize many people do not understand the demands placed on a pastor, but the pastorate is very demanding and never-ending work. I always say that being a pastor carries with it the greatest of all blessings, but also the greatest of all burdens. My wife helps me to be a successful pastor. She frees me up to do the things God has called me to. That means many early mornings, late nights, 24/7 accessibility, mission trips, etc. She has never once made me feel guilty or bad about answering the demands of the ministry. She handles much of the day-to-day stuff with the kids and truly allows me to focus on ministry. Do not get me wrong, I help in lots of ways at home, but she simply does so much I do not have time to do. I am beyond grateful for her.
As she prepared to leave for her trip, the challenges of ministry did not stop, but the added responsibilities mounted up, as I had to maintain my regular duties, as well as all the things she normally does. Let me just say this, while we survived without her, I would never want to have to do that on a consistent basis. I thought I knew all the things that Emily did, but there was a lot I did not know.
As I have reflected on the three days I had to be both “dad and mom,” here are a few things I learned from my wife’s absence:
First, moms are a true gift from God. God has wired women so differently than men. That unique design is essential to the health of the home. Dads can try to do what moms do and be what moms are, but it is clearly not the same. There is simply no substitute for the woman’s role in the home. Both my children and I saw firsthand how much we need Emily in our lives.
Second, parenting was never designed to be done alone. I have a great deal of respect for single parents and what they deal with on a daily basis, but we must remember how important it is for moms and dads to stay together. God has designed the marriage and the family in a special way, and both parents are needed. There are things I do that Emily cannot, and things she does that I cannot. Satan has attacked the family and continues to divide it. We must fight for our marriages and our homes and seek to follow God’s design for the family.
Third, ministry requires me to be gone much, as do many men’s jobs. I knew this, but was made glaringly aware of how hard it is for my wife when I am gone. This reality has caused me to be more selective with my travel, recognizing the burden it places on her. I have several upcoming trips, and will be more aware of how my absence affects her, and will be more conscious of encouraging her when I am gone.
Fourth, it is the little things that often go unnoticed, but are so essential to peace and harmony in the home. I normally do not think about the kids’ homework, lunches, laundry, etc. I was made aware of how many little things Emily does that I am unaware of, that simply keep things running smoothly at home. I will be more attentive as to how I can help and more encouraging to her because of what I have discovered.
Finally, and there are many other things I could say, but I was made aware of how much having my wife in my life makes me better in every way. The Bible says, “He who finds a good wife, finds a good thing.” I have found one and I am hanging on to her with all I have. Emily, if you are reading this, I love you and thank God greatly for you.