Recently, I knew something was bothering my wife.
I had clues about the reason--a recent cut in pay, a second baby due to be born in a few months, a list of things we wanted to accomplish that wasn't getting shorter, not to mention the aches and pains of the third trimester after long days mostly alone with a toddler. No shortage of possibilities here.
But what could I do about it? How can I help? This was the question I posed to God while driving home.
God gave me this right while I was driving (as in, this thought popped into my mind and it made a lot of sense, gave me peace, and would not be something generally that I would thing): He told me to talk with my wife and write down all the things that were concerning her or needed to be done, big and small. Then, pray for those things and trust Him.
I've had enough of these thoughts sweep into my head in prayer before to believe right away it was from God, and it immediately lightened my spirit and made me excited to arrive home.
Once inside I initiated the conversation with a question, "Honey, what are the things on your mind, tell me everything that maybe concerning you?"
She opened up quickly, and the first few were directed right at me. A less grown version of me would be defensive or discouraged, yet I was almost excited! The sense that God gave me in the car established my foundation; I began to write the list:
A brief interpretation of this list goes like this...
1. Man Up - when the baby comes, I need to be stronger. I can't repeat some of the antics from baby #1, such as telling my wife to "suck it up" or wonder aloud how women without modern conveniences "do it."
2. Hear + Wake Up - my wife is concerned that when the baby cries, I won't wake up, and she'll be left handling both the toddler and the newborn all the time. As a deep sleeper, I need to be more sensitive to getting up.
3. Be Joyful - when I help out with the kiddo in the morning, I tend to walk around like a big sleep deprived grump, and my wife, whether she feels good or not, is always joyful. She does this, she says, so that our children are shaped by our joy. I need to adopt that approach.
4. As we talked about the birth, it became clear she felt alone the last time around. I wasn't much help, as I was concerned for her and not great at the techniques we learned in class. Could someone else like a family member or doula be in the room to help out?
5. The last birth was a tough healing process, all kinds of soreness and flare ups. Let's ask God for a better time around.
6. It's hard to find people to talk to, that listen, don't continually add their own stories, know when to encourage, and so on. We want that person for Whitney here.
7. Could Whitney's family be here to help? That's the prayer.
8. Could my family come out to help afterward too? We hope and pray.
9 & 10. We want a safe, secure, organized space for the baby, which we don't have now.
11. Lord, let the feeding be easier this time around. Boden, our first, had a number of issues that caused both he and mom a lot of pain.
As this list came out of our conversation, I felt that I was gaining understanding of where my wife was physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Immediately I prayed over this list and the results were incredibly fast! Literally that same night I saw the whole tone of the conversation shift from one of being anxious to hope.
We started to explore in conversation how we could make things work. On the back side of this paper, I began to write down tasks to move things forward. By the next morning, several of the larger issues, such as feeling a weight that we needed more space, even a new place to live, had melted away. Within two days, as I began to finish some of the tasks, we began to delight in our existing place and didn't want to move if we could. Within a week it was a new narrative altogether, and I found extra energy to tackle the list of tasks, skipping weekend naps to be productive, which impressed my wife.
While one might point out my extra effort as the reason for the lifted anxiety in our home, I know that it started in prayer in my car lead by the Holy Spirit to a solution I would not have thought of on my own, gave me a resolve to see it through even when I had to take some criticism, and propelled me forward with a new energy. This is the hand of God and as I look back I stand in awe that God could do so much so quickly in our hearts, marriage, and in our home.