A DEAR FRIEND RECENTLY told me the following story:
“The speaker at a women’s retreat was sharing how her husband was helping tsunami victims. He would call home so excited and passionate about his experiences.
He then suggested that they move to that location to help. The wife chose not to share her true feelings about his request. Instead, she said, ‘I chose to guard my heart from him and his ministry.’”
My friend went on to tell me that, like the retreat speaker, she knew of many times in ministry when she had thrown up a wall of protection. She then added, “It hurts me to feel that at these times I placed a guard on my heart shielding myself from the demands represented by my husband’s service to the church and his ministry.”
Her words spoke to me. Perhaps they speak to you as well. After all, there have been times in my life when I have guarded my heart—and, it seems, for good reasons. The children were little and life was so busy. As a mother, a wife, and a nurse, I often seemed to have more than enough to do and too little time in which to do it. Between work, school, kids, home, and church duties, I had a great deal to manage. “Do I really have time to listen with my heart to another ministry idea from my husband?” I asked myself “Do I have the energy to understand the latest church problem or challenging issue that my husband is facing?”
Adding to the stress was the reality that there were moments when I wasn’t sure I even cared about the issues my husband faced. In the words of my friend and
the retreat speaker, I lived with a “guarded heart.”
CARVING OUT A “PROTECTED PLACE”
Is it a lack of faithfulness to our spouse, to the church, and to God to carve out a place in our life all for ourselves—a “protected place” where we are free to be ourselves and attend to the needs of family and home and our personal desires? Perhaps you’ve been there and can relate.
In comparing notes with my friend on this important topic, we agreed that the solution is to daily bring our weariness and our needs before the Lord and ask Him to help us keep our hearts open to our husband’s needs, while at the same time being in touch with the needs of our children and ourselves. It is important to live life in balance—to be supportive where and when we can, while at the same time knowing that at times that means we may need to kindly say, “No, I can’t.”
For me, it doesn’t mean joining my husband on every visit, or being at my husband’s side for every meeting. Perhaps for you it is different. But the main point is to be open and make the time to let our husbands know we care and that we are listening.
“Dear Lord, take my guarded heart. Allow me to support and embrace the calling that is Yours through a willing and open heart, for Jesus’ sake.”