Joe McKeever has been a disciple of Jesus Christ more than 65 years, been preaching the gospel more than 55 years, and has been writing and cartooning for Christian publications more than 45 years. He blogs at www.joemckeever.com.
My sister Carolyn sent me a list of lame excuses men use as to why they didn’t get their sweethearts anything for Valentine’s Day. “The Hallmark store was closed and I refuse to give you anything but the best.”
That sort of thing.
At the end, her list cited a quote from the old comic Red Skelton.
“All men have flaws; but married men find out them a lot sooner than others.”
You think that’s funny, but it’s not. A lot of truth to it. And good truth, may I say.
This will be my first Valentine’s Day without Margaret, who left us for Heaven a few days ago. My first anything without her, as a matter of fact. And I was thinking….
–Who will tell me not to wear those shoes with that outfit? She did, just recently. I tried to reason with her that men wear sneakers with sport coats and slacks these days, but she would have none of it. So, I changed into dress shoes. After all, she was dressed up, why shouldn’t I be? (We were headed to church for the Christmas luncheon for seniors.)
–Who will listen to my blog in the mornings when I am halfway through and stuck and need to hear the perspective of someone whose brain actually works. And, may I add, works differently from mine. Her thoughts were almost never my thoughts, nor her ways my ways, I think with a smile, a corruption of Isaiah 55:8.
–Who will listen to a sermon idea I’m working on and ask a question I never thought of, which changes everything about what I was about to do?
–Who will call me back to earth when Facebook friends or church members tell me how wonderful I am? Without her, will I start believing that stuff? (She would not dispute the compliments they were sending my way, but just smile. That’s all. Such a poignant smile, as though to say, “Ha! If they just knew.”)
Who’s going to do that for me now?
Right now some of my longtime buddies are thinking of picking up the phone and volunteering to be the one to put me in my place, to pop my little pretensions, but thank you. No. I’ll pass on it.
No one does these things better for a preacher-husband than a wife who has shared his life for almost all of it.
We preachers sometimes think our wives do not know how wonderful we are or appreciate the great work we do. (A hint of a smiley-face goes here.)
We preachers sometimes think our wives and Job’s wife have a lot in common. You will recall she gave him no sympathy in his distress but suggested he “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). In other words, “Quit moping around here. Just get it over with.”
No sympathy here for all our hard work and long hours.
I recall something Franklin Graham said a few years back when his wonderful mother, Ruth Bell Graham, was alive. His father, Dr. Billy Graham, was telling his wife how badly he felt. “I feel like I’m about to die.” She said, “Oh, that must feel wonderful.”
We all laughed. Franklin said, “Dad is not going to get any sympathy from Mother.”
Every preacher-husband understands.
The fact is the wife has her own load to bear, her own burdens and hardships and demanding schedule (of one type or other), and she knows many things about her preacher husband.
She knows that when he wants to, he can close the door and have the secretary protect him from visitors and phone calls for an hour or two. She has no office and no secretary.
She knows that while her preacher-husband does have a lot of demands on him, he still gets tons of compliments and appreciation. He goes somewhere to guest-preach and people tell him he’s the greatest since Spurgeon, and he eats it up.
She knows him. She has seen him broken and angry and when he has lost his temper. She knows him as well as anyone on earth.
And if you want to know the truth, that bugs the preacher-hubby just a tad.
He sometimes thinks he would like a wife who worships the ground he walks on, and who counts as her greatest blessing in life the fact that he married her.
He thinks that sometimes.
But in his sane moments, he knows better.
God made her different from him for a reason. The pastor-husband needs the balance she brings to him. The ballast, if you will.
If he’s like me, the husband will realize it most when she leaves and there is no one to provide that any more.
That’s an awful feeling, friend, believe me.
I do miss my valentine today.
Treasure yours, pastor friend. She does for you something no one else could ever do, whether you are smart enough to appreciate it or not.