Ten Week Positive Adjective Challenge: Week Four

EDIT: The blog to which I had been linking is, apparently, gone. The challenge remains.

The challenge: Once a week, for 10 weeks, choose one emotionally descriptive word that positively describes my wife.

The intent:

  1. As a man, I broke through the boundaries of emotional simplicity and began to explore emotional complexity.
  2. This challenge forces me to positively define my wife.  By doing this, I have to accept what I positively say to be true.  Thus, it being written in black and white, the things I write become a permanent fixture here and most likely in the minds of the readers – including her.
  3. Growth.  Always growth.

Since things are difficult in the wake of having one’s second child, I decided to take up his gauntlet and make the attempt. Here is week four.

Protective

This word is generally associated with moms. They are understood to be protective of their children. Even in the animal kingdom, mothers protect their young. But my wife goes beyond the basic, mother-requisite level of being protective.

She is, absolutely, protective of our children. There are times, if I am honest, when I think she goes too far in protecting our children. That, I think, is part of the reason that God involved both she and I in our relationship and as parents to our children. Balance. But her protectiveness with regard to our children is endearing. There are mothers out there who do not want to protect their children; who have this laissez-faire attitude about rearing their young. In the few years I spent as a teacher, I crossed paths with the results of these women. Knowing that such women exist and knowing that my wife is not among their number is both a source of comfort and something that draws me closer to her (even when I find myself wanting to tell her that she needs to relax a bit).

She is also protective of our family as a collective whole. She is not so much protecting the people in the family as she is protecting some intangible thing that is the family itself. She is concerned about protecting something that I am uncertain that I could put my finger on, but agree needs protection. Since I cannot seem to nail it down and understand what, precisely, I am trying to protect, it is good that my wife does.

She is protective of our time together. There is an element of me cringing as I type these words, knowing that she will disagree to an extent. But she protects our time together. She is, as I call her, the Keeper of the Calendar and it is to her credit that we ever have a weekend or day off in which there are not wall-to-wall plans and activities. Moreover, she acts as a check when I would stretch myself too thin and try to be in too many places at once. I would love to be all things to all people, but she reminds me that I am to be first a son and disciple to my God, then a husband to her, then a father to our children, and everything else can take a number. This means that she will sometimes remind me that my cell phone and the games and social media apps on it have a tendency to suck me in and prevent me from being present in the moment with our family. This sort of protection is something that has probably been helpful in times past, but I suspect it has become imperative in the Digital Age.

She is protective of me. A couple entries back, I noted that men are fragile creatures underneath the bluster and bravado that we front. My wife is protective of this inner fragility. I think she tuned in to something that I am only beginning to comprehend. It is out of this fragile; this vulnerable center that flow humility and gentleness and several other virtues that God inserts in unexpected places. Most notably, it is from this fragile and vulnerable center that flow love and hope. To love is to be vulnerable, as C.S. Lewis wrote, and to hope is to expose ourselves to the possibility of frustrated or shattered hopes. Men are so wont to wrap that vulnerable core up in layers of whatever we think will keep it safe that having is wrapped, instead, in my God and my wife’s protection is helpful in allowing it to remain exposed. Even this blog owes its existence, in part, to the protection that my wife affords me.

My wife’s protectiveness also serves as an illustration of an aspect of God’s protectiveness that would otherwise be veiled to me. Men, myself included, seem to have a proclivity to want to attack whatever threatens those we protect. While God often shows Himself a Mighty Warrior on behalf of His own, there is another aspect of His protection that can easily go unnoticed. My wife’s way of protecting is to try to put herself between those she protects and the thing that threatens them. This is what Christ did by going to the cross. God stepped in between death and everyone who puts themselves under God’s aegis; He shelters us from the punishment that we deserve for what we have done wrong. My wife’s protectiveness and the way in which she protects reminds me that God does not always protect by going out onto the battlefield for us, but oftentimes covers us with Himself and lets the blows fall on His back instead of ours.

There is so much more of which my wife is protective. So very much more. But this entry is waxing long and I am finding myself somewhat at a loss for how to close it.

Being protective is part and parcel of being a husband and a parent. Being protected brings comfort and a measure of peace that is beyond price.

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