Thursday, May 11, 2006

Why family for men? The crucible

I was going to post the next entry in my series on why men should marry and have children last night, but instead I spent most of the night at the emergency room. Moving into the second trimester of her pregnancy, Candice was just getting over morning sickness when she had her worst day yet. She woke up with a migraine and nauseau and then found she couldn't keep down any of the medicine that would treat those problems. She threw up multiple times. Eventually, the doctor's office encouraged us to go to the emergency room and get an IV drip going to avoid dehydration and a health risk for the baby.

Candice needed me through all this:
  • to bring her breakfast (that she threw up)
  • to bring her ice chips (that she threw up)
  • to feed the kids breakfast
  • to re-arrange my work schedule so I could take our daughter to pre-school
  • to clear the rest of my work schedule because now Candice really needed me:
    • to run to the drugstore
    • to pick our daughter up from pre-school
    • to feed the kids lunch
    • to handle numerous phone calls and visitors at the door
    • to feed the kids dinner (with help from some generous friends)
    • and then to pack up supplies and arrange for someone (specifically those same generous friends) to take care of our kids while we took off for the emergency room.
So what was the topic I was planning to address in my post last night? The crucible of marriage and family, with crucible defined as "the state of pain or anguish that tests one's resiliency and character." Now my day yesterday is nowhere near the family crucible hall of fame. It's fairly routine for pregnant women to need this level of care and I'm aware of several who needed much more help because of greater complications.

Pregnancy is, however, prime time for me in my roles of provider and protector. It's also a reminder that the blessings of family are interwoven with the responsbilities and challenges. My problem is that it doesn't come naturally for me to lay down my life for my family. I do it because they need me to--because they're counting on me.

In the past nine years of marriage and six years of parenting, I've discovered servant muscles I didn't know I had. When I was single I thought I was a fairly altruistic guy. Having a family has helped me realize how selfish I really was (and can still be at times). Like the crucibles used in the labs to heat substances for refining, the responsibilities of family flare up and work to refine the selfishness out of me. God calls us all to think of others before ourselves--family tests our ability to do that on a regular basis. It adds a level of high heat that is rarely equaled in other settings. It's true that some people melt under the heat and either try to leave the kitchen or let the heat burn the wife and/or kids who need their help (I've been there), but if they can keep the heat contained in the crucible, it can do it's refining work. This is consistent with Romans 5:3 and 4: "We also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character and character, hope."

Reflecting on the difficulties of maintaining happiness within family, Gary Thomas observed that maybe God didn't give us marriage and children to make us happy, but to make us holy. A pervasive myth in our culture is that commitment and sacrifice are barriers to our fulfillment--the crucible of family proves that they are instead the path.


At 6:25 AM, Blogger knit_tgz said...

Thanks for all your posts. May God bless you and wishes of a happy pregnancy to Candice!

At 7:11 AM, Blogger Ashleigh said...

I pray Candice is doing better! The first trimester can be so hard ...


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