As I sat down to write my potential first blog post, Bobby ambled into the living room and asked if I was journaling about seminary. I smiled a little sheepishly and nodded, and then he mocked me in a girly-like voice, “Yesterday Bobby dropped a bomb-shell on me, and today he made me cry….. One hundred ways to ruin your wife’s life.” His laugh trailed into the hallway, as I continued typing, rolling my eyes.
We tried today to talk about non-seminary things, but everything else just seemed… irrelevant. The thing on both of our minds was seminary. Everything else seemed unseminary-like and lame. We talked, dreamed, and probably threw in a million “what ifs” or “what abouts.”
Going to England, by the way, was long gone since yesterday. But maybe Pillar Seminary housed in Omaha. Or maybe Bethlehem. Yes. Bethlehem Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
We talked about Bobby’s calling, his angst in his career, and the fact that basically since day one that he became a Christian, seminary was pretty much what he had always longed for. He talked about insecurities, doubts, it being too hard, getting out of our comfy, little bubbled life here in Papillion. I thought about our little house that we’d worked so hard to make our own—our own little paradise, perfectly suited for our family, and hosting, and life. We played a “reasons not to go to seminary game,” in which we talked back and forth about bad reasons to go (which is how he “made me cry” although he didn’t really “make me,” I think it was just little insecurities creeping up, and I lost my cool. Anyway.). We wondered if his parents would move with us. I planned that maybe I could come back to Nebraska once a month for a week, just because I could. Bobby reflected on his conversations with Davy, and we, together, reminisced about when he witnessed his closest friend transform from dreamer-like-friend to a firm, settled, and mature pastor-like-friend after seminary. He talked about how Davy saw seminary being about stewardship.
We wondered if this would become one of those ideas that we got and started running with, only to soon find out that it wasn’t our reality. For some reason, this one feels different.
The way Bobby describes seminary is different. His attitude seems different than other dreams or suggestions he’s had for his life. He is solemn. He is humble. He is nervously confident. He is surrendered. It’s radical for him, but strangely enough at the same exact time it seems like the most firm, foundational, and and obviously radical thing he’s ever said.
He is such a good husband. He apparently has had seminary on his mind since forever. He might have mentioned it to me before, in passing, or as a joke, or as a real topic in itself. But I do not recollect him doing so. I was actually very surprised by how serious he was, how thoughtful he was, how long-coming this was. That might have explained his attitude when he brought it up in such a dramatic, but surrendered way. I think he has tried to explain it away. I think he has tried to accomplish it on his own. I think he saw marriage as in his way. I think he felt—as a husband—that he had to create a perfect little life for me— one in which I was happy, content, given everything I needed and wanted, and one in which I was comfortable and painfree. I think he has stuffed the idea of seminary away because he thought maybe it was selfish of him, or too hard, or giving up too many good things God had given him and his wife here in Papillion.
I really don’t know the exact reasonings in his head. But what we concluded—was that him going to seminary might give me something that I otherwise could never have.
At first glance seminary might take away my husband. Seminary might strip our marriage, or put us in a place of neglect, alienation, and strain. But maybe, just maybe, seminary would do none of these things. Maybe, seminary would give me, as his wife, the most potential. Maybe my seminaried husband (yes, I just made seminary into an adjective) would make me the richest wife that I could ever be. In other words, NOT going to seminary, would actually be withholding something from me. Not going to seminary would be withholding my true potential as his wife—because would not be living out his true potential as my husband. I will be most satisfied in our marriage, when Bobby is living out his life full of radical obedience. Maybe, instead of Bobby thinking, “I can’t go to seminary because of my wife. I don’t want to be selfish. I want to give her the best life possible.” Maybe it’s actually, “We need to go to seminary because of my wife. In me pursuing this God-given longing, this God-given discontentment, this God-given passion, she will be most invigorated in our marriage when I don’t suppress my longing for learning, spiritual ecstasy, and drive to know Jesus.”
I compared it to my life’s longing. Ever since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to be a teacher and a mom. All my jobs were with kids. I started babysitting when I was 12, took child development early in highschool, did practicums, volunteered in classrooms, worked at an after-school job, as a nanny—everything. I went to college to be a teacher and I had jobs that revolved around kids. I saw my older friends and all their kids and just soaked in every single second of everything of what it would look like to be a mom. I never saw children and didn’t dream of having kids of my own.
So let’s pretend I got married, and for whatever the circumstances, we decided not to have children. I could find all the logical reasons why not having kids would be a good option for our life. I could say we could devote more time to the church, maybe we could give all our money away, our marriage would be completely perfect, uninterrupted, whatever it may be. But even if it all made sense in my mind, I think there would be this hole in my heart, this crippling hole, that I’m not living out my God-given passion. If I never became a mother, I honestly think I would be somewhat lesser than who God intended me to be. And as a result, I would at the core, be withholding myself from my husband. My whole being would not be satisfied, despite all the ways that I would try to itch my God-given desires. So in not having kids, it wouldn’t be like a sin, but it would be withholding something of my inner being from my husband. Not because I expected having kids, or because I deserved them, or because it’s the right thing you do, but because that is how God has oriented my entire life! My passion for children culminates in having my very own kids. There is something about staying home with my babes that satisfies my total being. Now, that is not saying it’s been easy. In fact, being a mom has been probably the hardest— most unexpectedly difficult—thing of my whole life. Nonetheless, it has been God’s purpose for me since the beginning, and he has crafted my desires to only increase toward kids.
So, this might just be exactly how Bobby feels about seminary, and of course the potential future that seminary could bring him, could bring us. Since day one of his career, he has ALWAYS been dissatisfied. Always discontent. Always dreaming up new ways to fix this longing in his life. He has sought every option, explored every gifting, and nothing has cured his career quandary. He has always been confused in his career. He has always had a bad case of career unrest. Is he Music Bobby? Is he Bible Bobby? Is he meant to be a pastor? Should he just quit and get a normal 8-5 job? Should he just gig his life away? How can he be a steward of his abilities when he’s so good at everything? On and on and on it has gone for 10 years.
We can suppress the idea. We can find all the reasons “not to do seminary,” and create our perfect little, happy bubbled life in Papillion. We can even slap a God-sticker on our life and say, “He has blessed us with so much here. We would be bad stewards to give it up!” But when it comes down to it…
Bobby needs to have his baby.
Now, to him that might sound dorky. But to me, it makes perfect sense. God has clearly been crafting Bobby’s desires for something else. I think we have always seen Bobby’s discontentment as sinful discontentment. We diagnosed him with “greener grass syndrome,” and I just resolved that he would never be satisfied. I literally one morning, decided that he would always be rethinking his career, and I’d better just be ready for him to always re-think it.
But now, I think instead of seeing it as sinful discontentment, it’s actually a God-given discontentment. Bobby’s whole being has been craving more and more and more of Jesus. More learning. More joy. More people. More dreams. More theology. More epiphanies. More.
And a’last. Here we are. Maybe, just maybe this is the start of a new life. Maybe, as in my illustration, Bobby’s pregnant. We’re pregnant. And the climax of his life, will be beheld when he births his baby: seminary. And the maturing of this baby… who knows what will become of it! Who knows?! All I know, is that this baby is going to give us life. It’s going to give my husband life. And in return, I’m not going to suffer. We are not going to suffer.
So really, it’s not, “100 ways to ruin your wife’s life,” But “100 ways to give your wife life.”