Serving Joyfully

For the past eight months, Wes has been in training for the Ironman.

What’s the Ironman?  It’s a race where he swims 2.4 miles, bikes 112 miles, and runs 26.2 miles.  All in the same day.  For fun.  (I know.  I don’t get it either.)
Despite what you might think, this isn’t something he or anyone else can just wake up and do.  There are hours and days and weeks and months of training that have to go into it, and we knew this long before he registered for it.  It was going to involve a lot of his free time.  It was going to keep him away from home.  It was going to require a whole lot of him.  It was going to require a lot of us as we made do around here without him.
And it has.  To all of the above.
We’re at the “halfway point” in his training.  He’ll compete in a 70.3 event this weekend where all the distances are half of what they’ll be for the Ironman in May.  At this “halfway point,” Wes works out for three hours a day six days a week.  With his already hectic, demanding schedule of being on call as a pastor around the clock, this has made him far more inaccessible to us than he’s ever been.  Most days find me doing everything around the house and with the girls by myself.
And I’ve been really gracious, kind, and loving about it.  
No.  No, I haven’t.
Even though I’m the one who encouraged him to do it, knowing that his heart was in it and it would be a blessing to him, I’ve found myself irritated more than once that I’m left with “all the work.”  I’ve found myself making snide comments when he comes back from working out with beaming exclamations that he conquered another distance in the pool.  I’ve found myself resenting all the time he can spend biking around new undiscovered places with his cycling group, having a blast.  I’ve found myself angry with him when he can take his time on long runs because we’re doing fine here at home.
It’s so easy to say that we’ll love someone and serve them gladfully… until it actually requires something of us.  It’s so easy to say that our love will be sacrifical… until it actually calls for sacrifice.  It’s so easy to say that my greatest joy is helping Wes… until the help is actually hard.
I fail more often than I succeed, and my heart is showing itself for what it really is — selfish, jealous, and mean.
I think of my amazing friends who have husbands in the military and how they, for months at a time, keep their homes, lives, children, and marriages functioning and thriving during deployments.  I have a friend whose husband deployed when they had four young children and a baby on the way, only returning months later after she’d given birth… with him halfway around the world!  (And there were no grandparents close by either.  She did it all by herself!)  When I think of what our study said this week about serving our husbands, I think of her, unselfishly and gladly doing all that she did here in the US, blessing her husband and honoring Christ by being the helper God had called her to be.
And while I don’t equate training for an Ironman to being overseas for a military deployment (Wes still comes home at night, and he’s not facing any real danger), it’s been easy to compare my heart attitude to hers and to be SHOCKED at how different they are.  Where’s the joy?!  Where’s the love for Wes?!  Where’s me gladly keeping the promise I made to him when I encouraged him to go for this?!
It’s a good reminder to me that serving our husbands and loving them means more when it costs us something.  Vowing today to be more joyful and more committed in that.

How about you?  What is your heart’s intent when you serve your husband sacrificially?

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