Allowing myself to be loved and lead well

I realize that the level of gratitude I express for Nathan’s leadership and wisdom may seem a bit romanticized, but it’s grounded in how far we’ve come in our short 12 years of marriage.  In fact, for most of our marriage there was a constant struggle between dominance, gender roles, miscommunication, selfishness and surrender.  Nathan has grown in so many ways as a leader, husband, father, but it’s in the ways that I have grown and changed that has allowed him to do so.  You see, I must own the ways that I as a woman oftentimes made it very, very difficult for Nathan to lead and love me-something I really needed-especially during very challenging seasons of life.

There were times when I just needed someone else to make a decision-and he is a good decision maker.  There were times when I needed to be reminded of truth-and he is a great truth teller.  There were times when I needed to be reminded of who I am, where I’ve come from, and what I’m capable of-and he is a great encourager.  But for the first half (or more) of our marriage I didn’t allow him to do any of those things.  I let pride, fear, ego, and a lot of other things stand in my way to becoming my own best self and allowing Nathan to do the same.  I hid behind my career at first and being a stay at home mom after that.  There were things he needed in order to give me what I needed in return.  It’s a give and take, but today I own the ways that I am improving as a wife, mother, friend, community member that has allowed Nathan to serve and lead me well in return.

Nathan is a very positive person.  He may think things about people or situations, but he rarely speaks up about it.  Whenever possible he tries to see the good and as he says, “it’s always best to just focus on what you can do or are doing and stop worrying about everyone else.”   I need to listen to that advice more often.  When I bring him down about the world around us I bring him down here in our home too-something I’ve learned to take seriously.

He’s also a doer-and thank goodness he is-since most of life is really about doing and not so much about talking, planning, organizing like many of us believe (or maybe that’s just me).  To be honest, I spent years exasperating him.  Until just a couple of years ago he worked a full time job and we were basically farming full time as well.  He’d work 8-10 work days book ended by farm work from sun up to sun down.  His desire to provide for his family is unquestionably the most important gift he has given us.  I self sabotaged that at times because I wanted him to feed me, listen to me, lift me up in ways that weren’t real.  I’ve learned to lovingly give him space, to be quiet at times, to bring him the most important rather than all the rest…

Most importantly, I expected Nathan to be my God.  I wanted him to take care of things outside of his control.  I wanted to go to him when it was really God that I needed to go to.  There were also other things that I needed to do-not only for Nathan, but for myself.  Setting boundaries with unhealthy relationships and situations was a big one.  Over and over again Nathan had to take the brunt of my inability to set boundaries.  Either I took out my frustration on him or he had to pay for consequences that could have been avoided if I had simply said no in the first place.

I started taking better care of myself-exercising, eating well, taking time to write, going to counseling, feeding my spiritual life.  The better care I take of myself the stronger I am as a woman-the stronger I am as a woman-the stronger Nathan can be as a man.  I started to respect myself as a whole person-not needing Nathan to complete me, but being thankful for the ways that he loves me.

I started being honest about my feelings and while that was sometimes painful for Nathan it was much better than the silent treatment and immaturity he often faced when I was less than honest, but expected him to know the truth.  He’s simple minded-and that’s a good thing.  There was no reading between the lines for him.  My truth has allowed him to become a better leader in my life as I step into the things I am called to do.  My fear that he would love me less, or support me less, or hold me back was grounded in lies.  He was always there to believe in me and support me as I move into strength, courage, wisdom-I just needed to believe in myself first.

While I do not believe that every woman must have a man leading them in order to live a full life I have found that in my personal situation that stepping into my own calling and allowing Nathan to lead me well has been a blessing to both my family and our community.  I hope that I will only continue to grow in maturity and willingness for Nathan to protect and lead me.  There are days that I go out into the world to overcome huge obstacles and there is a lot of peace in knowing that when I come back home my husband will be there with strong and open arms, compassion and wisdom in all the ways that I need.  Together-we’re creating a new way of building a marriage, family, legacy for all things that are life giving and timeless.