A few weeks ago, my husband and I took a small road trip. Our destination: the wedding of a dear friend. Eager for our time alone, we purposed to relish the car ride without two kids strapped in car seats fighting, crying, and playing as loudly as their hearts desired. So on the way back, we whimsically veered onto a highway that drove right past our old house: the one we lived in at the birth of our daughter. And on this familiar route, we reminisced and laughed hard together.
You see, that house was half an hour away from any town…way out in its own little eighty home suburbia with nothing else but ranches, sprawling acres, and those living the country life.
And before the gift of kiddos, we’d thought all babies slept in cars. Hence, we had no worries about long commutes with a newborn. We also had no worries about colic or sleeplessness. I don’t know if we were delusional with excitement, or if we just needed to be in those shoes to really relate?
Whatever the case, I think we’d both agree that we felt thrust into a whole new lifestyle, and our precious little girl quickly became the focal point of our entire marriage. She cried the whole way to town and back. She cried through every meal and just about every activity. And because of all the crying we sought counsel from everywhere and everyone!
We faced months of trial and error. And truthfully, I don’t think anyone believed me when I’d say, “I tried that, but…”
It was rough, and I was exhausted!
My husband was exhausted, too!
And in my tired state, the little head of pride peaked. My super spiritual, restless self thought the hubby needed more patience. I mean, I could drive and tune the girl out! I could be content shouting loudly over the cries in order to have a civil conversation with my beloved groom:)
But he was different. He’d stop mid-sentence, frustrated. He’d order me to do something about the baby, when I knew nothing could be done!
Needless to say, the colic put strain on our marriage!
But God was wanting to strengthen our relationship and teach us that parenthood comes softly.
This new baby hurled us into duty, and we discovered ourselves unprepared! Really we couldn’t have been more ready: every parent is a first time parent. What the personality or health of a child brings into a family, has no bearing on how good a parent we will be: it comes from how we choose to respond to the challenges.
Well, God’s grace continued to work in our hearts and through this little one, He revealed the plank in my own eye: a lack of patience with my husband! As I began turning to prayer and responding with humility and repentance, God changed my heart and gave me grace for my husband’s personality. I began extending love through his weak moments, implementing Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
And I know my husband did the same for me as he acted patiently and kindly in my moments of ungraciousness (which is probably a bigger challenge!!).
Neither of us perfect, but both of us committed. (Both committed is key!!)
This transformed our marriage and our reactions. We found ourselves apologizing for attitudes. We found ourselves growing in self-control and responding gracefully to our child’s needs.
Then, when number two came along, God answered our beggar prayers by gifting us with a baby boy who slept almost through the night, loved long naps, and rested content in life.
Now four years later, the roles have been reversed! Our sweet precious girl is usually cheerful, while our almost 3-year-old boy is stubborn and terrorizing! These imperfect but much loved children continually challenge us to act with soft responses. And sometimes we meet those moments as blown opportunities! Oh, how we have so much more to learn and grow, but we have come a long way!
If our kiddos were on the drive to and from that wedding, the conversation and attitudes would’ve looked much different! There’d probably still be moments when I’d try shouting over the loud jabbering of high-pitched voices, my husband stopping mid-sentence, and frustration hitting a high. But repentance would’ve followed those actions. And as a result, we still would’ve laughed hard together, because that’s what grace does to us…it allows us to forgive, to enjoy, and to be a family.
Jacqui is a wife and stay-at-home mom of two vivacious children. She’s passionate about her family and loves writing the story of God’s grace upon her life. You can follow her random musings at Faith and Simplicity where she shares openly and honestly for real life connection.