|freedigitalphotos.net photo by Rawich
Packed into our 15 passenger, family van, on the drive home from our mountain pilgrimage, I found myself on the verge of a panic attack. My stomach felt nauseated as my mind conjured up visions of my whole brood rolling down the side of a mountain. Movie scenes played out in my head akin to Thelma and Louise’s final shot before the closing credits, although my mental scenes elicited far less excitement and far more terror. With each sharp twist and turn in the road, I awaited the inevitable moment when the passenger-side tire would lose grip of the paved surface and drag our vehicle headlong down the steep mountainside.
It was Father’s Day and my darling husband was manning the wheel while I whimpered and complained in the co-pilot seat. “Just close your eyes,” he advised, “and relax. We’ll be fine.” Of course, I had a choice to make in that moment (and my children were definitely clued into that fact.) I could heed his advice or I could mistrust his simple solution and continue to hold on to the misguided notion that keeping my eyes open, and uttering, “Slow down. Be careful” every five seconds, would somehow provide me greater security.
Just the day before I’d sat circled with a group of beautiful, faith-filled women. The discussion focused on how to be a better wife. You know, the kind of wife that doesn’t nag her husband into retreating to the shed, but who also manages to inspire him to paint the spare bedroom before the relatives arrive next Christmas. Our conclusion came down to surrender (on our parts) thereby allowing our husbands to fulfill their God-appointed roles as leaders in the home.
Certainly wives have an integral part in the marriage partnership. We are the helpmates, formed from the side of Adam. His equal in dignity, but not sharing the same talents and gifts. Of course, we also didn’t come from Adam’s foot to be trampled upon. But neither did we come from his head to be of the same mind on all things.
Thank goodness when you think about it, really. Were it not for my husband’s male-wired brain that isn’t afraid to take some risks, we’d probably still be living in an apartment somewhere. It was he who balanced out my security-driven reluctance and led us into home ownership. His now thriving business venture would never have been started if we’d relied on my desire to stick with the tried and proven safer path.
Definitely it was hard in those early days of parenthood when I had to bite my tongue to keep from crying out as he threw our young boys too high into the air or pushed the swing above my comfort level. Okay there was that one time when he may have dropped a little one, but our children love every thrilling moment of daddy-play. Because Daddy challenges them to go further than I would, but he’s also there to catch them when they come down or to straighten the swing when it heads off course.
Who is it they run to when they’ve defeated a new physical obstacle? Who is it they want to watch them as they climb to the highest branch on the backyard tree? Daddy, because he will praise them and encourage their independence rather than recall the dangers and beg them to stay within arms’ reach.
During our pilgrimage discussion, we acknowledged that our slanted views of wifehood have been shaped by the culture, from broken, single-parent homes to virulent feminism. Many of us heard women roaring so loudly that we’d become deaf to the harmonious, bass tones of manhood. Growing up watching Peg and Al Bundy was no help either. Wise and thoughtful Ward Cleaver morphed into this hen-pecked buffoon resigned to the couch except for the occasions when Peg’s high-pitched nags prompted his reluctant response.
So as our big, white, pro-life sticker laden van rounded the next hairpin turn, I
|freedigitalphotos.net photo by Toa55
made my choice and closed my eyes. It didn’t stop me from silently stomping the invisible passenger-side brake or placing a death-grip on the door handle, but it did allow me to turn the wheel over completely (figuratively and literally) to my husband. I used the blindness to calm my thoughts and to pray.
Of course, the realization set in that prayer was my real security. While Greg may have been manning the steering wheel, our heavenly Father was in ultimate control. He had the power to keep those four tires on the narrow roadways or to allow them to slip off. And He had placed my husband, not me, in that driver’s seat.
While my stomach was still queasy and my mind was still pulling me down the ravine, I surrendered. In the end, my husband was right, everything was fine and we made it down that mountain without a scratch or dent. My fears and worries hadn’t changed the circumstances. And had I been behind that steering wheel, we might still be stuck on that mountainside now moving at five miles an hour with my heart in my throat the whole way.
Our pilgrimage lessons didn’t really end when we boarded that van and started the engine. The drive home was merely an opportunity to put our faith into action and to test the validity of the truths we’d spent the weekend discussing. Seeing as God placed Greg as the head of this household, I need to trust that with my prayerful help and support, he is fully capable of piloting this family toward our final destination. My quiet petitions and surrender will do far more to encourage and aid him in his appointed position than will doubt and worry.
By accepting my role as navigational coordinator and supporter on this trip, as opposed to a nagging co-pilot, I gave witness to my children that Daddy (the heavenly One and the earthly one) really does know best.