Saturday, June 18, 2011

They want to be just like you.

Have you ever packed for a trip with five people?

Have you ever packed a trip for five people with them all in the house?  Gets interesting.  The saving grace for me is my husband picking out his own clothes.  A guy who helps.  Who knew?

Single mamas, you have my utmost respect.  Mamas whose husbands are out more than they're in-town, you do too. I do not know how you do it.  I don't know how mine did, and there was just one of me!

When we're getting ready to go somewhere, I almost always do all the packing.  Since back surgery, I do the loading into the van, too.  But even without back surgery, there's always something Eric needs to be doing.  Most guys, I'll bet, would do their own thing without a thought to their wives.  My husband is the opposite.  He wants to do for me, then do his own stuff.  The only problem is that would leave him with no time to do the things he needs to do.  Pretty cool, huh. It's my responsibility as his wife to NOT take advantage of this, since I don't want to be disrespectful.

No, I really don't.  Not kidding.

I'm not into the man-bashing, war of the sexes mess so many women are.  Yes, there are differences.  Yes, at times they can be hilarious... but when hilarious turns to running over, no longer building up, and to downright disrespect and tearing down, the differences are no longer worthy of jocularity.  There's a line.

At this point I have to admit I'm not into the "dad's right even if we go off a cliff" thing.  Marriages only work when both parties are interested in the whole bible and all its truths and principles, and not just the "wives obey your husbands" part.  And it is in there, sisters.  I'm not throwin' you under the bus, girls.  Hang with me.

Check out 1 Peter 3.

1Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2when they see your respectful and pure conduct. (ESV)
This is one a lot of men sadly like to throw around, showing their ignorance of the rest of the passage.  See, the respect we are to have for our husbands should flow from the desire to first obey God, and then respect the husband who loves us.  This is where it gets easy for me.  Not all the time, mind you.  There are times I'm not in the mood to say "yes, dear".  To tell the truth, there have been times when I wasn't ready to even just tap him on the shoulder and say, "Now honey..." when I didn't think he was in the right.  All that would mean I'm perfect, and we've covered that.  I'm as wretched as anyone else until you add Jesus to the equation.

The thing that makes it easier for me to respect my husband, to revere him, to obey (yes, even when I think I know better), is that my husband read the rest of the passage.  Not only did he read it, he had one better.  His Dad lived it.  His father was and is a bible he could read by the way he treats his wife and children.
7Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.  1 Peter 3:7 (ESV)
Don't let the "weaker vessel" part throw you off.  Ever asked a man to open a jar for you?  Me too.  But I also feel cared for and respected when men do little things like open the door for me.  Call me what you will, I like being respected that way.  My husband opens doors for me, but he also knows I can do his job.  It's all about balance and respect.  Once, a repairman came to fix my Nanny's stove.  Granted, it was the mid to late fifties.  She asked, when the job was done, what the problem had been, expecting a real explanation.  Instead, she was told that the cord was bent, so the electricity couldn't get through. That is not respect, that's demeaning.  But I digress.

I did not grow up with men who really knew what this passage meant.  My childhood was filled with fear of men, as creatures who delight in exerting control.  Men were scary folk to be feared who drank too much, threw things, hit people, used bad language, and were just generally hurtful beings.  My father was one such man. Having demons from childhood he'd never worked through, such as an alcoholic, sociopathic father and a mother who liked to, we'll just say, "run around," he tried most of his life to fill the God-shaped hole in his heart with women, drugs, alcohol, work... anything that he thought would work.  He sought hard most of his life to be loved.  The problem with that was that people fail.  Work stops.  Chemicals eventually eat you alive.  The only way he knew to deal with problems was with fists, alcohol, and screaming obscenities.  I've heard stories.  Not only from him, not only when he was sober, not only when he was the opposite.  No one can ever know everything about someone, but I knew enough never to make him angry at all cost.  And that knowledge did not come simply from stories.

So imagine my surprise when, after a lifetime of this mess and not giving the "father-figure" types in my life much of a chance, I meet Eric.  Sweet, unassuming, loving Eric.  No, I did not say perfect Eric.  We both make mistakes.  But of all the men roaming the earth, he knows how to be a man.

He may not work with his hands much, but you should hear him play trombone.  You should hear the music he writes.  You should go to a concert, marching contest, or drum corps show with him, then discuss it afterward.  It's amazing what he remembers, what he heard.

No, he won't eat at Hooters with you.  He won't go to a strip club, either.  Don't ask.  No, I did not make that rule.  He made it for himself, long ago, because he was raised to respect women for real.  Yes, I am very proud of this!  It makes me stand a little straighter, feel a little better about what I see in the mirror, and know with more confidence that he really was at work when he doesn't get home until ten.

No, he doesn't drive a sportscar.  He is proud to drive the truck he has, that belonged to my Dad (stepdad).  He is absolutely cool with driving a minivan, complete with Tinkerbell steering wheel cover and floor mats.

He doesn't make getting things past me a pastime.  He's not sneaky, he is truthful.  He is home when he has free time, ready to do whatever it is that needs doing.

Yes, whatever needs doing includes diapers.  Cloth diapers, and yes, he rinses them.  Now that he's home on vacation, he learned to wash them "so that more than one of us is doing that" in his words. No, I didn't ask him to learn.

Until he had back surgery in January, for three kids, he's been the night captain.  He proudly gets up, searches for binkies, got bottles, changes diapers, finds loveys, and rocks whoever back to sleep.

He listens, and in listening, wants to understand.  He wants to understand why I feel the way I do about things.  He wants to know what I think.

As I said earlier, he will be the first person to say I can do the job he does at school.  He will also come home and ask what to do about something when he's not sure.

He'd rather I have what I want.  He's often been caught spending his own birthday or Christmas money on something for the kids.

He gives and gives, never asking for anything in return.  He knows that a true gift has no price tag.  No strings.  No guilt offering ever required.

He forgives me when I'm cranky, cantankerous, and downright ugly.

He struggles alongside me.  Not in front of me, not behind me.  Beside me.  Sometimes I may need him to step in front... but if he does, he defends me in a Christlike way.  Through autism, through parenthood, sickness, lack of everything... he's right there.  He doesn't slink away.  We deal with it, whatever it is.

He doesn't embarrass me for fun.  He does make fun of me when it's called for!  I'd go nuts without a sense of humor.

I could go on and on.  For these reasons and infinitely more than I can list, I'll be proud to have our boys be just like their Daddy.  Yes, he makes mistakes.  But he's the best father I could ask for to raise our children, and he's a way better husband than I could have dreamed.

This Father's Day, I thank the Lord for Eric... and for his Dad, too.  One great Dad and believer begat another.  I'm so thankful for the legacy that will surely pass to our boys and our girl.  The kids may not say it, honey... but every time they pretend to put on your back brace, clunk around in your shoes, or repeat what you say, they're saying "I want to be just like you."  Thank you both for doing your best to be godly men, fathers, and husbands so that we can be happy that the kids want to be just like you.

I Want to Be Just Like You
-Phillips, Craig, and Dean

He climbs in my lap for a goodnight hug 
He calls me Dad and I call him Bub
With his faded old pillow and a bear named Pooh
He snuggles up close and says, "I want to be like you"
I tuck him in bed and I kiss him goodnight
Trippin' over the toys as I turn out the light
And I whisper a prayer that someday he'll see
He's got a father in God 'cause he's seen Jesus in me

Lord, I want to be just like You
'Cause he wants to be just like me
I want to be a holy example
For his innocent eyes to see
Help me be a living Bible, Lord
That my little boy can read
I want to be just like You 
'Cause he wants to be like me

Got to admit I've got so far to go
Make so many mistakes and I'm sure that You know
Sometimes it seems no matter how hard I try
With all the pressures in life I just can't get it all right
But I'm trying so hard to learn from the best 
Being patient and kind, filled with Your tenderness
'Cause I know that he'll learn from the things that he sees
And the Jesus he finds will be the Jesus in me
Right now from where he stands I may seem mighty tall
But it's only 'cause I'm learning from the best Father of them all

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