When He Gets Steak, and You Get a PB & J

by Laura on October 25, 2012

I admit sometimes my eyes get a little green when it comes to what my husband gets to do and what I have to do (as if it’s not obvious from the verb choices there), but it’s always been like this.

I remember when I was a mom with toddlers and babies, staying home most of the day but not having a single. minute. alone. I remember changing diapers and wiping crumbs and stepping on Legos. Remember the nursing schedule and the time-outs and the physical exhaustion of lugging kids and those infant baby carriers that I swear weigh seven times as much as any newborn. And I can still recall how often my husband, Matt, who was a student pastor at the time, would call to check in on me during the day, and after I whined a bit, he’d tell me about the coffee he had with this person or the project he got to work on by himself (alone!). And then he’d tell me about the lunch he got to have with such-and-such, at a real restaurant, with adult conversation and a decent entree someone else paid for, made and cleaned up.

And I remember saying, “Oh, that’s great,” with gritted teeth while I choked down another peanut butter sandwich at a table with screaming babies who spit out their creamed peas and toddlers who knocked over their juice cups.

And I remember last year, homeschooling my kids in SE Asia, where the radio station of my life seemed to get stuck on the same song again.  I’d be trapped at home, unable to drive in a foreign country or play outside because it was a million-degrees-hot, battling attitudes and culture shock and loneliness, while my husband would be driving a scooter to meetings over $2 lunches at exotic cafes. With iced coffees.

“How ya doing, babe?”

Fine, just really fine.” Teeth clenched again.

And then there’s the travel. He’s seen places with his eyes that I’ve only experienced on the postcards he’s sent me. He’s packed dozens of suitcases for dozens of mission trips all over the world, while I’ve juggled the kids, who usually get sick, in the same 0l’ house,  as a single-mom for two weeks at a go.  And while I do have moments of clarity, moments of sacrificial awareness– “this is my unique way to serve, my role as a mother trumps everything, after all”– I’m not gonna lie and say I don’t struggle with envy and bitterness sometimes. Especially when he goes and I stay.

Which, in the course of our 14 years of marriage, happens a lot.

And is happening this very week, as a matter of fact.

****

And then I remembered a story this week where a friend of Jesus wrestled like me. He was a big fisherman and Jesus had just given him the spoiler for the end of this guy’s life, and it wasn’t a happy one.  Peter was going to die a violent death, just like Jesus himself endured. And Jesus drops this bomb on his friend, but he leaves out the excuses or the details or the even the “poor buddy’s”. Instead, Jesus’s next words are, “Follow me, (anyway).”

And Peter’s response? Well, it’s a little like mine– he immediately starts looking around.

“What about that guy over by the fire? Is he gonna die the same way?  It won’t just be me, right, Jesus? He’ll suffer too since that’s only fair.”

And essentially Jesus responds with, “What business is it of yours how his story turns out? I’m talking about your story and I’m asking you to follow me, even though I promise you, you’ve got a lot of pain coming down the track.”

And I get Peter, I do, because I tend to rubber-neck- it quite a bit in my life.

I miss out on the goodness, the lessons and the glory of my story– even the at-home-wiping-noses one– because I’m obsessing over the “freedom” of my husband’s. I’m the Peter saying, “What about him?” while he’s still Jesus saying, “Don’t worry about him. You follow me, anyway.”

You. Follow. Me. Anyway.

And so, I’ll fold the laundry and pour the cereal. Listen to stories from the playground and make them do their homework. I’ll lug the trash to the curb Friday morning and fight trafficking by sitting at the same computer with the coffee I made myself.

I’ll keep my eyes up, instead of peripheral– always up, never. peripheral.

And I’ll recognize that while Matt is boarding airplanes and seeing the world, he’s probably Peter, too– glancing my way and asking God why he can’t just stay home.

******

Struggling with contentment yourself these days?  

  • http://www.facebook.com/beckyjwebb Becky Gilbertson Webb

    Thanks for this post. Lots to think about. I saw your comment on Ginger Powell’s page and thought I would stop by. I have 3 littles at home, my husband travels often with Samaritan’s Purse and our littlest just has surgery on her sweet little head. I try to work part time, keep the home under control, work on my marriage with my hubby, my God, and talk care of my little ones (not in the order, well maybe sometimes). But, I do struggle with being content often. Ah, it is much harder some days than others.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Hi Becky,

      Happy to meet you! I knew Ginger a bit in college and just connected with her some on facebook and saw our husbands were out of town at the same time! Sounds like you are in the “stay home” place lots, too– it can be a challenge, right? Hard to manage. Gives me a whole new respect for single moms and military wives, though. Hang in there . . . Thanks again for stopping by.

  • marlataviano

    Um, yes. Struggling with contentment. This is hard, hard stuff. Thanks for sharing!!

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Absolutely. Thanks for reading, friend.

  • http://www.junglehope.wordpress.com/ Lana

    I would be so jealous I would probably be hitting my head up against the wall, especially the travel part (except for the scooter part; I love my motoribke, but biking in Asia is freakin’ scary). So your a better person than me.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      hahaha. It is hard not to travel, for sure. Especially when the travel is really “going back home” in a sense– to people and familiar places overseas.

      And yes, I agree, motorbiking can be quite terrifying.

  • http://www.facebook.com/richelle.wright Richelle Wright

    :-)

    I so get it… my beef was my husband working day after day in an air-conditioned studio while I was sweating it out in 120+ degree heat with power cuts and water cuts… baking bread and cooking in that heat (I’ve literally had a plastic spatula melt in my kitchen before)… keeping up with the kiddos and sweeping the desert back out of my house at least 15 times a day and sand and sweat are so uncomfortable when mixed together… I wasn’t just a little green-eyed – we had some downright ugly days – all instigated by me.

    It is a choice and some days it’s so much harder to make than others. When by God’s grace, I do – the day doesn’t seem quite so bad or hard or long. When I don’t, well… it isn’t pretty. Wish I could say this was one of those things I’ve conquered. If I did, I’d probably screw up royally tomorrow… 😉

    I do think gratitude is key – Eve had everything, but when she focused her eyes on the one thing that she wasn’t to have, discontentment entered with sin stepping right on his heels.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Lady, i love the perspective you consistently gift me with. Especially this:
      “Eve had everything, but when she focused her eyes on the one thing that she wasn’t to have, discontentment entered with sin stepping right on his heels.”

      So, so true. Discontentment can just create havoc in hearts and attitudes . . .

      Thanks, Richelle, for this today.

  • http://www.solongordinary.com/ Rebecca Cannon

    I have been feeling this way for quite some time – you totally nailed it. As a wife to a missionary pilot who does all sorts of amazing things everyday, it can be so hard to always be the one who stays behind…doing dishes, homeschooling kids, trying to figure out dinner. He flies to remote villages, lands on the rivers like a superhero, evacuates really sick people to better medical care (likely saving their lives) and meets governors and even local celebrities. Me? I clean out the kitty litter. Maybe force myself to make. another. loaf. of. bread. Yeah, I get bitter and feel sorry for myself. But then my husband comes home and he tells me how exhuasted he is and how his day literaly squeezed everything out of him and he appreciates the meal I so grudgingly made for him. And I feel awful because I know I’ve been petty and selfish and short-sighted and glory-seeking. Ugh. I’m so grateful for new days and God’s grace.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Rebecca– I was nodding my way through this whole. entire. comment. Thanks for being honest and real . . . .

      and making that bread and cleaning out that kitty litter.

      I reckon glory and service comes in all forms, eh?

      Happy to hear your words today . . . .

  • Terissa Miller

    holy cow, do ya have a hidden camera in my house?????

    I mean, why can’t I go have lunch appointments with my clients at Joanies? Oh yeah…my clients still need things like a nap, and someone to wipe their butt…
    Dis.Con.Tent.
    ugh.

    Yet…back into the practice of gratitude…and I feel the cloud lifting…

  • Tamara Ludlam

    Thank you for this post! We are preparing for our time as “missionaries”. Often it’s hard “being in 2 places”…this waiting place. I talk to my friends that are currently missionaries and hear about all the serving that they are doing…then I get really discontent! TODAY is one of those days…and I really needed to hear this at this moment. I love your blog! Thank you!

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Glad you felt encouraged, Tamara. It’s hard to be there and yet not be there quite yet. Hang in there . . .

  • http://www.angiewashington.com/ Angie Washington

    I did a blog series on envy once. Common struggle for you and me, friend. Someone asked me, “You do realize that so many people are jealous of you, right?” It usually helps me to remember that.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Totally. WHile the grass looks greener in her field to me, mine looks greener to her.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mink.wiroonchatapunth Mink Tuangporn Wiroonchatapunt

    laura, my mind raced back to the devotion i read this morning, written by oswald chambers. it’s gonna be a little long but i wanna share it with you.
    “In the scriptures, the great miracle of the incarnation slips into the ordinary life of a child; the great miracle of the transfiguration fades into the demon-possed valley below; the glory of the resurrection descends into a breakfast on the seashore. This is not an anticlimax, but a great revelation of God.
    We have a tendency to look for wonder in our experience, and we mistake heroic actions for real heroes. It’s one thing to go through a crisis grandly, yet quite another to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, and no one paying even the remotest attention to us. If we are not looking for halos, we at least want something that will make people say, ‘What a wonderful man of prayer he is!’ or ‘What a great woman of devotion she is!’ If you are properly devoted to the Lord Jesus, you have reached the loft height where no one would ever notice you personally. All that is noticed is the power of God coming through you all the time.
    We want to be able to say, ‘Oh, I have had a wonderful call from God!’ But to do even the most humbling tasks to the glory of God takes the Almighty God Incarnate working in us. To be utterly unnoticeable requires God’s Spirit in us making us absolutely humanly His. The true test of a saint’s life is not successfulness but faithfulness on the human level of life. We tend to set up success in Christian work as our purpose, but our purpose should be to display the glory of God in human life, to live a life ‘hidden with Christ in God’ in our everyday human conditions (Colossians 3:3). Our human relationships are the very conditions in which the ideal life of God should be exhibited.”

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Mink, HI! Glad to hear from you and hope you are doing so well there!

      And, this quote? IT. Was. PERFECT.

      Thank you for sharing it. I will be thinking about this for days to come.

  • Dawn F.

    Oh, this is good. My husband (who you and Matt have already met) is self-employed and travels (and it will be the same in Thailand) and I’ve struggled with so many of the same things you have talked about. Poor guy – he’s to the point where he almost dislikes mentioning that he will be meeting someone for lunch or coffee (which is to my shame), although we have gotten to laugh about it more and more. He will now even joke that he’s going to the 4-star (highest starred place in this area) to meet with a client and we always have a good laugh. But this line of yours, “And I’ll recognize that while Matt is boarding airplanes and seeing the world, he’s probably Peter, too– glancing my way and asking God why he can’t just stay home” … yes! We often talk about the fact that when he’s traveling, A) he’s not on vacation – he’s working! and B) that he hates leaving us even thought he loves doing what he does. Such hard stuff for me to remember, so I appreciate your honesty and your gentle rebuke 😉 to look up and not peripheral. Thank you!

    I have to add that I am learning that, when my husband travels with my “blessing,” it’s so good for his heart (and really, for mine!). By God’s grace, I will give that blessing more and more and learn to appreciate our the differences that come with the different jobs we have more.

    Thanks again – I will be in touch about meeting up sometime this month!

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Dawn,

      I feel ya. Even now, I am in the same boat, with Matt traveling. But you are right in that when I get my eyes on him and not HIM , I lose perspective, grace, purpose, and overall niceness to my kids.

      A good reminder for me, to– look forward to meeting you! :)

  • The Messick Crew

    again, wow. I am so thankful to read your words tonight…so many of my emotions so well worded. Thank you for this gift, Lord. My peripheral gaze needed a shaking!

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Glad it was encouraging. :)

  • Amanda L

    Just read this now and it couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I am part way through a 5 week stint where my husband is in an exotic location serving and I am ‘stuck’ at home with a sick toddler, a complaining toddler and my pregnant belly. ‘Eyes up’ is going to have to be my motto this week. Thank you for your honesty.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Oh, wowsers– that DOES sound hard! Five weeks is a long time– especially with little people and pregnant! Ouch.

      I am praying RIGHT NOW for a new hope and perseverance. That you would be able to take care of yourself and reach out for help. And that your kids would behave exceptionally well this weekend. :)
      Thanks, Amanda– lots of love from here.

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