Your husband calls, and you let it go to voicemail. He calls again, and still you refuse to answer. Why on Earth would you ignore a call from your husband? Simple – you’re hurt, feeling rejected, or just downright angry.
Imagine having a husband who was never around because he was too busy chasing ill placed priorities or seeking goals that you weren’t in alignment with? I’m not talking about a husband who is working his tail end off to make ends meet by managing multiple jobs and still brings you flowers and candy in between shifts. Or even a husband who travels every week, works 15 hour days, or only the grave yard shifts and weekends, but still tries to let you know he cares. I’m talking about a husband who is happy that you aren’t around. A husband that co-exists with you, believing that you have all that you need and that you are better left alone except for when he has a need for you. Let’s make this a bit more realistic, shall we?
You’re finally ready to move into your dream house. The one that you spent a year agonizing over every detail for in solitude because he wasn’t there. The paint, the molding, the tile – all you. Simultaneously, you’ve been mothering your 3 year old, 5 year old, and 7 year old little ones making sure their needs are emotionally and physically met. Girl, you are exhausted. Raising kids alone is hard work, but building a house on top of that? You are drained. You’ve poured every ounce of you into motherhood, and are trying to build this beautiful life together, but one thing is missing: your husband. Along the way, you’ve asked for help, but he didn’t have time. You’ve asked his preference for the Owl Grey tile or the Midnight sky? Still, no response. Months ago, the architect scheduled a meeting to finalize the details of your master suite and he never showed up.
This isn’t what you had in mind when you said ‘I do’ and dreamt of forever, unfortunately—it’s your reality. So now you’re phone is ringing, it’s him, and you don’t answer. When he get homes that evening, he asks why you didn’t answer his calls and you sit there, numb in a world of beauty and supposed comforts. Inside your contradicting dialogue wants him to just love you, make you feel like a part of his life—and simultaneously you want nothing to do with him. You’re so hurt, broken and encompassed with the feeling of abandonment. Instead of meeting him with the love you’ve committed to having for him, you sit silently, in the numbness, and mentally call it quits. That night, he admits it verbally. He’s keeping the house, wants the kids…and you’re left holding pieces of what was supposed to be your fairy tale. He exclaims he will just find someone more worthy of the world he’s built them.
This my dear friends is a modern day mock up of what actually happened to Queen Vashti (wife of King Xerxes) around 479 BC. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of us today who can deeply relate to this story, myself included. You can read the real story here, Esther 1.
But let’s rewind a little bit – how do we let our hearts get to a place of such disdain for our husbands that we no longer want to answer when they call? I’m not justifying the wretched or pompous behavior and decisions of King Xerxes, or the above imaginary husband who was too busy chasing his own idols, but it seems too easy to wake up and realize we’ve let ourselves slip into a world of isolation and numbness instead of dealing with the hurt. Queen Vashti decided to react out of that hurt and it cost her everything. Embarrassingly, I have to admit, there are times in my own marriage where I’ve preferred not to answer, no matter how sweet the situation seemed on the other side of the call. Surely, I’m not alone in this, and choosing to react out of my own hurt, had a cost. Those moments, sometimes a few minutes, and sometimes days, have landscaped my marriage and caused my caring and loving husband pain. So how do we learn to work through the hurt and avoid stepping into the complacency of numb?
Well, we all have our baggage, are broken, and trying to put the pieces back together. Some of us may have a bit more super glue than others, and some of us may only be missing a small part at the moment. The beautiful thing about growth is that, it is usually a cycle: no matter the stage, you will probably repeat it and some are more pleasant than others. We were also created for relationship, and in case you missed it when you said ‘I do’, marriage is a relationship. One of my favorite quotes about marriage compares it to a box. You have to actually put something inside of it, for there to be anything to take out. In Xerxes and Vashti’s case, they probably had a pretty empty box—but that doesn’t mean they get to call it quits! It also doesn’t mean we get to sit in the place of disdain and pout, or continue to act out of hurt. Can you image how differently things would have been for Vashti if she would have showed up when he called her? There’d be no brilliantly victorious story of Queen Esther! At least not the way we currently know it. Can you imagine what would happen the next time your husband calls you after a fight and you answer? If marriage is supposed to be the most tangible and intimate reflection of Christ and the church, what does my marriage say about Jesus?
OUCH again, right? Hold on to your butts though ladies because I’ve got one more truth that knocked me to the floor as I was reading this story—how many times has Jesus called me, only for me to not show up? You don’t have to raise your hand, but you do have to answer the question in your heart. What I realized for me is that it comes down to choosing my posture; either one of respect and grace that will answer the call or guard myself into a place of that can foster bitterness and keep me in a place of unwillingness and misery. If we never allow the wound(s) to have fresh air, how will it heal? Seems like keeping it covered will likely increase the chance for infection, or even worse, amputation. I don’t want to be cut off because of my own bitterness. I choose to heal. I want to answer the call despite the hurt and talk about it with the one who chose me and would choose me again and again.
I had to ask myself, am I sitting in a place where my heart is frozen or when my bridegroom calls, am I willing to come? While I certainly deserve to be banished, and where the world would even suggest someone ‘more worthy’ should be found, His grace and mercy have saved me from the banishment available. My prayer is that I can learn to keep myself in a posture that says ‘yes’ when I’m called, whether it be Jesus or my husband, and always pick up the phone.
Lord hear my heart’s cry, to be a wife that chooses to say yes. To be your daughter, that chooses to say yes, and comes when you call. For in the glory of the Lord, there is freedom.
A Wife of Noble Character
10 [a]Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
11 Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.