“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”
I used to think I had the marriage thing down. I mean, both Stacy and I wrote on the topic. We spoke together at marriage conferences and seminars. Men would come to me asking for advice. I even used to post “Happy Husband Tips” on Facebook. Doesn’t that make me an expert?
But, I’ve discovered something – I’m not as good at the marriage thing as I thought. In some ways, I utterly failed.
Before anyone gets concerned, I still believe and support the Bible’s definition of marriage, as well as the roles of men and women in this sacred institution. But I’ve come to see that in the past, I allowed other opinions and preferences to influence what I thought to be the Bible’s definition. I’m not suggesting others are responsible for my errors – I own them all. But, in the process, I ended up being far less of a loving husband than I thought I was.
Part of this confusion came from the literal reading of Proverbs 18.22, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing (emphasis mine).
What comes to mind when you think of a “thing.” I have a few. I’m typing on a thing right now called my iPad. I’m sitting on a thing right now. I call it my chair. I’m looking through a couple of things as well – my glasses. What do all of these things have in common? Well, they are all useful. And, I love them all! They are all my possessions. Could it be that, at times, I treated Stacy like she was one of my valuable possessions? Sure, a much-loved one. But still…
True confessions, painful confessions – yes, I did.
Here’s the “thing” (and yes, I’m getting tired of that word), translators added the word “thing” to Proverbs 18.22 Bible. It’s not part of the original Hebrew text. It would be better to drop this “thing” word from Proverbs 18.22 and let it say, “He who finds a wife finds good – and obtains favor from the Lord.”
The Hebrew word “good” infers more a state of being than an object. It is a life marked with a sense of beauty, grace, and wonder. It entails a heart rejoicing, not because of a possession, but because of God’s abundant mercy and kindness.
It is also the same word that God the Father used in the Creation account, when He said, “It is not good that man be alone.” God declared that Adam’s lonely condition could not be satisfied with all the other “things” God had made. So, God fashioned Eve – and the two of them found goodness that rocked their worlds. That is until selfishness and sinfulness crept in.
I think I understood this better early in our marriage. I had a corporate job that required a lot of travel, much of it international. I would typically have a day or two of free time when I traveled abroad. I visited sites such as the Great Wall in China, the Eiffel Tower in France, Cologne Cathedral in Germany, Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, and many more. I found them all fascinating. Yet I also found them empty. Why? Because I was alone. I wanted Stacy with me, not just for her presence, but to share the experience – together.
After that, God called me to serve in ministry. Much of the time, Stacy and I labored together. But I was slowly influenced by a philosophy that seemed to hold the roles of men and women in higher regard than even soteriology (feel free to look this one up). I thought our marriage was great; I believed Stacy and I were in it together. I believe I even took pride in how much I showed her I loved her. But, what was I showing her?
Looking back, I remember times I made critical decisions without her input. And I missed so much because her counsel may have saved us from many heartaches. I forced her into social situations that were uncomfortable for her. I thought we needed to go to the events, have the group over, participate in the interviews. She followed me – but in silent pain. And countless times, I sat in the living room, surrounded by the guys, talking theology or politics, expecting her to have dinner ready and the kitchen clean.
I took her for granted; I treated her more as a possession, as my thing. Yes, a prized one, but her role was sometimes more important to me than her personhood.
Let’s say it. I know you are thinking about it. I was a stupid jerk.
Over the past few years, both Stacy and I have been dealing with a lot of junk from the past. This work has led me to consider my past actions, especially during our ministry years. And I am ashamed.
How did I lose the wonder of her gifts? I should have remembered that Stacy is a woman of great value, talent, worth, and grace. Instead of taking her for granted, I should have thanked God daily for the many ways she adds substantial beauty and wonder to my life.
I’m trying to do that now.
Stacy isn’t my thing; she is my blessing. God allowed me to find her and, for reasons unknown to me, softened her heart toward me when I proposed. I was amazed she said yes then. I lost that amazement somewhere. Now, I am astounded she has patiently forgiven me for my actions in the past.
Perhaps the most insightful observation I’ve come to regarding the topic of marriage is how little I seemed to know. There’s much for me to rethink, much for me to consider. But, at least I’ve come to remember how wonderful my wife is. And how thankful I am to be able to stand by her side.
Brothers, I encourage you to learn from my words and mistakes. Remember, God calls two to be one. But that doesn’t mean your wife becomes you. A husband and wife are two unique people with two unique giftings. Allow God to unite you together. Don’t take your bride for granted. Learn to enjoy the dance of life together, yet never underestimate her value, strength, and insight. You can do so much together. Live together, love together, serve together as those called by God to see each other as blessings.