The conversation on Sunday night was unexpected.
First, he was awake.
Wives, women, you very well understand that having a man awake during conversations just makes things go so much more... mutual. In our marriage, bedtime conversations are rare; he's usually asleep before his body is horizontal. This alone made the conversation unexpected, but it's really the topic that took me by surprise.
What I might have expected (other than snoring, that is) was "let's go somewhere this weekend and do something..." or perhaps "what are your plans for tomorrow?"
Not "I want to go back to school and completely change career fields."
(**cue screeching halt and chirping crickets **)
My husband has been in the architectural engineering field for so long that in many ways, it has become a part of who he is. For years, this identity consumed him and fought for first place in his life. Too much weight was placed on his workplace successes in order to compensate for the lack of control or successes he felt in other areas of his life.
He recalls the years when work was an escape and admits that it was a vicious cycle; life at home was difficult because of his workaholic ways, and the difficulties at home only served to further his devotion to work. It matters not as much what came first, the chicken or the egg, as much as it matters that the cycle has been broken.
When I began to pray for Christ to change me, everything changed, especially our home life.
Gone were his 70 hour work weeks and the identity so intertwined with his profession that one did not know where work ended and life began.
Although he still enjoys his job and takes pride in working hard and being respected in his field, his heart is changing. Where work was once life, life is now lived with family, seeking more meaning, more depth, more truth. Peace was found.
I had held the power to push him away, but when I gave up that power and surrendered to Christ, Christ gave me what I needed to draw him closer -- an extreme heart makeover.
The changes in my heart have changed his heart, and evidence of his heart's softening has been growing over the last few years. Although it has become evident in big ways, such as his desire joining mine in wanting to grow our family through adoption, it's often noted the most in little things, the ordinary miracles. No matter how little, they take me by surprise and aren't taken for granted. Remember the crayons? Or how about the dying moose?
The source of the changes is evident; I am awed by how gently and sweetly Christ is moving his heart. I can't help but wonder if he is aware of what's happening, if he notices the changes in his life, in his heart, and if he knows the difference is Jesus?
Even if he's not aware of the changes, I'm noticing.
Last night's conversation was evidence of that change.
"I'm no longer satisfied working in an environment designed to make someone else rich... there's so much more to life. I want to make a difference, to do something meaningful... I want to do something that helps people."
"I've been thinking about my father, how he grew up with dreams of becoming a pilot. Whether through circumstances or choices, those dreams went unfulfilled... those dreams died when he did. I don't want to follow the same path. Life's too short to waste it doing something that doesn't have meaning. I grew up wanting to be a policeman, and although I'm successful at what I do in the design & engineering field and I've enjoyed my career... more and more, my heart is longing for something else. I think it's time to consider making some changes and following through on those dreams before it's too late."
I've always known about his dreams to join the police force. Truth be told, I had apprehensions all along because I had doubts that his motivation was in the right place. Now, although his dreams are the same dreams he had as a child, his heart has changed his reasons and erased the doubts I had.
He is searching for truth, truth that is stealthily taking a hold of his heart leaving him hungry for more. He wants to make a difference in the life of someone else. He wants meaning and purpose, he wants to help those in need.
Remarkable... remarkable for a man whose response years ago to those in need was "that's not my problem". Especially when it came to helping people in developing countries. "Their government should be helping them, not us. It's not our problem." Finally, something we agreed on -- it isn't our problem...... but it's our opportunity -- our opportunity to help, to be His hands and feet.
He sees things in extremes, in black and white, without middle ground. People who see things only in black and white and extremes are more prone to depression and negativity. In his eyes, if he can't help them all, he won't help at all -- helping just one frustrates him and overwhelms him because rather than appreciating the miracle of helping one, he looks around and only sees the ones not being helped.
Sometimes, the sheer magnitude of problems faced: the lack of clean water in developing countries, 147 million orphans, over 20,000 children dying daily... the overwhelming magnitude stuns him dead in his tracks and stops him from helping. The difference between he and I is that while he sees only problems that are insurmountable and hopeless, I see only God through Whom nothing is impossible or without hope.
Our focus is simply different.
I knew that underneath all of the tough exterior was a big heart, I just didn't know how to help him, how to change the situation, how to reach his heart and rescue it from being buried alive.
The key wasn't in changing him, it was in changing me.
1 Peter 3:1 -- Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.
Surrender gives life to change. The more we surrender to Him, the more we change. The more we change, the more everything around us changes. The more everything around us changes, the more our life is changed all over again.
ALL in His ways, not ours.
ALL in His time, not ours.