May 01, 2012

Fall used to be my favorite time of year. Until I married a hunter.

I hate hunting season.

Let’s be brutally honest. While my husband is off to the deep woods communing with nature, I’m stuck at home on mommy overtime. These little people want their Cheerios now even though I barely catch a spare moment to peel myself a banana in two days.

Don’t get me wrong—I love my daughters to the core of my soul. It’s an enormous blessing to be home with them. I just breathe a lot easier when “home” is defined as the happy place where two parents are on hand to share the load.

Hunting is my husband’s passion. I support his love of the great outdoors, I truly do. Tree stand retreats fill his spiritual tank.

But there’s no getting around the fact that his absence is hard on me. It’s hard on the kids, too, who are growing old enough to miss Daddy when he’s gone—and to take out their frustration on their mother.

That is why, when my husband stands in the kitchen with his camouflage backpack and turns to hug me goodbye, I walk a fine line between rushing to return his embrace and dodging out the door to set his truck on fire.

But hold on a second. Is this about me? God says no.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others,” (Philippians 2:3–4).

Why do I complain about hunting? Because my husband gets time away, and I don’t. Because the kids drain me while he’s napping at the cabin. Because he misses me when he’s gone but not quite enough to skip the rut.

I, I, I, me, me, me. Yet God says, consider others better than yourself. Look also to the interests of others. Who are these “others” if not the people we love best?

Jesus did it for me. The day he dragged my backbreaking cross to Calvary, I’ll bet he was not thinking, this just isn’t fair. He understood selfless love in a way I never will, at least not on this side of heaven’s gate.

Maybe hunting isn’t your trigger. Maybe your husband is into sports, cars, computers, guitars, whatever. If the pursuit infringes on family time, even the holiest wife can trip toward resentment.

That’s when I give it to God. He knows exactly where my husband is, and it’s possible the man is closer to God on those hunting trips than when he’s sharing the chaos of my household. This is a hard concession to make, and it’s one I’ve had to remind myself to make repeatedly—every hunting season, every time Daddy drives away, every long hour when I’m on my own. But it’s what God asks of me, and it’s for my own good.

Ephesians 5:33 tells us, “Each of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” If I expect my husband to treat me as his cherished lady, wholly loved and valued, then I ought to respect him as a man.

For some, like my beloved, manhood involves an innate desire to hunt, to conquer, to provide. It’s a healthy, God-given thing. I shouldn’t squash it, criticize it, or dread it.

What if, instead, I actually praised the Lord for creating my husband this way? What if I prayed for God to speak to my husband in the woods—to grow him, equip him, and affirm him? Imagine how that could change my own heart.

Every winter, my mighty hunter hangs up his bow for another year. I’ll have organic steaks in the freezer and a co-captain for my children—halleluiah! But do you know what else I look forward to? My turn. I’m thinking frothy mocha lattes and a chick flick. Ladies’ night out, anyone?

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