The celebration was about to begin. “One more paper to grade and this trip becomes gravy,” I said aloud, my voice echoing against the empty walls of my hotel room.
It was 11:25AM late Friday morning. Scheduled to speak in five services that weekend, I was about to have lunch with the pastor of the church at noon.
This last paper marked the close of a demanding week where I had already spoken five times, was promoting a newly released book, and maintaining my university end-of-term grading. It all happened to fall in the same week. A perfect storm that resulted in four hours of sleep each night as I bounced from message preparation to relationship-building, to grading papers, to speaking, to book-marketing and radio interviews.
Needless to say, I was consumed.
However, I was also encouraged. The feedback from the book exceeded my expectations. I was ready to finish all other responsibilities, focus on the weekend services and celebrate a full, but fruitful week.
I uploaded that final paper, sent a few words of encouragement to the student, and hit the submit button.
Boom! Time to celebrate.
Not more than a minute later my phone vibrated from the desk. Looking down, the words “My Love” shined from the screen. I couldn’t wait to invite her into my party.
“Hi my love!” I answered excitedly.
Christi was in tears. This was her 11th straight day at home with a “spirited” three-year-old boy and fifteen-month-old girl without me.
After 37 ½ seconds, my celebration was over.
Being away from home to speak about family, especially parenting, is kind of a Catch 22. When your wife is crying because she needs your help and feels overwhelmed, it can feel quite awkward standing on stage as if we have it all together.
My first thought, “I need to fix this so I can celebrate again.” #SelfishFool
As I drove to meet the pastor, Christi’s plea traveled through my headphones and nearly deafened my eardrums.
“Josh,” she said in a quiet but definitively sad voice, “just tell me I’m doing a good job.”
I was silent.
She continued, “You’re on the road getting all of these accolades when you speak. I just need to know I’m doing a good job, too.”
Christi was the one at home in the trenches doing the work that mattered most. I became so consumed with my work responsibilities that I took for granted my family responsibilities—which begin first by checking in with Christi’s heart.
After 11 days, she was very alone—and feeling as if what she was doing was insignificant.
Christi is such a strong woman. She’s resilient. She’s kind. She has this effect of shaping another’s character just by spending time with her. I never question whether she’s doing a good job. But she didn’t know that.
I needed to tell her. What’s ironic is how often we tell our kids of the great job they do with a puzzle, a school project, or their manners. Yet, we rarely give our spouses the same consistent praise.
I began each talk that weekend giving Christi the accolades—a gesture I now make a common practice.
The church I spoke at was also comprised of 85% military families—many of them moms who stay home while dad is deployed. In some cases, it’s the other way around.
Mom and Dad, you have the most significant role on the planet, shaping the hearts and minds of those precious children God has entrusted you with.
One of the most encouraging and perspective-changing moments for Christi was when her Mum told her, “God picked you to raise those children. He entrusted you with those precious little hearts.”
We certainly don’t have it all figured out. Parenting really is on-the-job-training. But one lesson I’m learning is that parents—moms especially—need to know that what they’re doing matters, especially from the one whose opinion matters the most—their spouse.
- Start today by taking notice of your spouse’s #parentingwins. Send him a text message about how sweet it is when he cuddles your little girl. Buy her flowers with a card that details how you noticed her teaching your son how to control his anger.
- Honor your spouse publicly by sharing and tagging him/her in this post and commenting on what he/she specifically does well with your kids.
- If you know a single parent, honor her today by picking up the phone or tagging her and giving her the accolades. She definitely deserves it.
Let’s join together as a generation of parents who eradicate loneliness and shame from our homes, and replace those with an environment of togetherness and respect.
You can join this type of a community on our Facebook page by clicking here or becoming a #SafeHouseFamily member. We put together free resources to help you coauthor beautiful stories for your kids. Click here to join and learn more.